A meeting of minds

I wasn’t sure whether or not to write about the recent meeting between some British climate scientists and a group of “skeptics”, that took place during Anthony Watts’s recent trip to the UK, but since there are some reports about it, I thought I might make some comments. I believe that Tamsin Edwards is writing a post, but the most recent available is an article in the Guardian by Sophie Yeo. This quotes David Whitehouse (an Academic Advisor to the Global Warming Policy Foundation) as saying

Both sides are really fed up with the outrageous alarmists who are not representing science properly. Both don’t like those who shout about it and call people names and take a polarised point of view

Now, I don’t know if this was really the view of all present at the meeting, but this irritates me for a number of reasons. An obvious one being someone using the term alarmist while complaining about name calling (irony is something many seem to not understand). Another is that the term alarmist is often aimed at those who are simply alarmed by the possible risks associated with climate change. Being alarmed about some possibility is not the same as being an alarmist. Additionally, even if there are some genuine alarmists (and there are some) who exaggerate the risks associated with climate change, there are very definitely a good number of people who do their utmost to minimise the risks. Some of the most vocal of those people were at this very meeting and for them to complain about another group “misrepresenting the science” is ironic beyond belief.

If there is any symmetry in this situation (and I’m not convinced there is) it is between those who exaggerate the risks and those who minimise the risks (with most people sitting somewhere in the middle). I really hope this wasn’t a meeting between two “groups” who spent some of their time complaining about a third group who weren’t even present.

Sophie Yeo’s article goes on the say

For the sceptics, the motivation for the meeting centered on shifting the perception of them as “denialists” to proficient scientists who can contribute to the debate.

Really? If so, this is quite remarkable. Of the “skeptics” present, only Nic Lewis has any kind of scientific credibility (I know Anthony Watts has published a paper, but that doesn’t really make him a proficient scientist). I realise that I’ve been putting inverted commas around the word skeptic (because I really think many of those present are really pseudo-skeptics), but this isn’t really fair for Nic Lewis. He is doing exactly what people like myself encourage “skeptics” to do. He’s doing research and publishing papers. I may disagree with some of what he says, but I think he’s making a positive contribution and I certainly don’t perceive him as a pseudo-skeptic. Based on what I know of some of the others, though, they appear to have very little – if any – scientific ability or credibility.

If the “skeptics” in the room want people to perceive them as proficient scientists, then maybe they should actually do some research, publish some papers, go to conferences, and spend some time talking to actual climate scientists. Running a blog where you allow people to denigrate climate scientists is unlikely to do it. Writing newspaper articles where you focus only on the views of the tiny minority who disagree with the mainstream position is unlikely to do it. Associating with an organisation (the GWPF) that does both is also unlikely to do it. You can’t change people’s perception by asking them to change it; you change it by behaving in a way that convinces them to change it.

As you can probably tell, I’m rather cynical about the value of this meeting. On the other hand, it is probably worth a try and I certainly don’t criticise those who took part (well, unless they really did spend their time complaining about alarmists). Maybe it will help. Maybe the dialogue will improve (although based on some of Anthony Watts’s more recent posts, I’m dubious). Maybe the “skeptics” will start thinking a little more deeply about what mainstream scientists are saying. On the other hand, if it requires pandering to people who are almost certainly wrong about the science, then I think it will be a dismal failure and a complete waste of time. Here’s my challenge though : prove me wrong!

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Anthony Watts, Climate change, ClimateBall, Science, Watts Up With That and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

310 Responses to A meeting of minds

  1. I wanted to add a quick comment to this. This topic has – at times – created a bit of a moderation nightmare. Can I ask that those who comment be a little circumspect. I don’t mind people commenting on what happened and their view of what happened, but let’s avoid saying things that may be personally insulting towards those who took part.

  2. I assume the deniers organised/attended the event with the intention of a) giving legitimacy to their views by identifying the scientists (and hence science) as being on the same side of the fence as themselves and b) with the aim of influencing the manner in which the attending scientists communicate with the public and their twitter followers. I do not believe the deniers have any intention of changing their views as a result of this cosy tête a tête.

  3. Chris,

    I do not believe the deniers have any intention of changing their views as a result of this cosy tête a tête.

    Yes, that is my view too. This is, almost certainly, an attempt to get the scientists to move towards their position, rather than an attempt to understand the science any better than they now do. I also got no sense that there was any attempt by the scientists present to put any pressure on the “skeptics” to reduce their unpleasant rhetoric. As I see it, the pressure is all coming from one side.

  4. jsam says:

    The proof will be in the pudding. If the self styled sceptics cease the baseless accusations of hoaxes, fiddling data and peddling conspiracy theories and pseudo-science then it will have been worthwhile. I’m not optimistic but hope I’m proven wrong.

  5. Michael says:

    jsam,

    +1

    Let’s see substance, rather than hyperbole, rhetoric and vilification.

    I’ll believe it when i see it.

  6. I found the Postscript of the Guardian article appropriate.

  7. BBD says:

    Another endorsement for jsam‘s 12:06pm.

  8. Sou says:

    Different pudding. I don’t think the measures jsam is using to judge success are consistent with why the scientists are doing this. I don’t think they have any illusions about the people they are dealing with.

    Whatever results the scientists want, I hope they achieve them soon. The longer they string it out the higher the cost – to them and everyone else. The cost goes up exponentially with time. This sort of thing doesn’t come cheap.

  9. A climate change forum hosted by New Scientist took place at Conway Hall in London last week, and Friederike Otto,Alice Bows-Larkin, Peter Stott were featured speakers.

    A skeptic took up the front and center spot for questions, and proceeded to shout and run on obnoxiously that it was all a ___. Check tweets for audience reactions #NSLive

  10. I am quite sure there was no consensus that alarmists are the biggest problem. It they were, they would have been at the table. Also on the blogs, I only know a few.

    You could make the statement fit, if you would include in the group of alarmists the alarmists about our fragile economy that collapses in the face of any kind of change, the mitigation sceptics.

  11. Victor,
    Indeed, I meant to make that point in the post. Those who complain about alarmist appear entirely comfortable with people making alarming claims about what any attempt to mitigate will do to our economy. It seems that alarmism is only wrong when you disagree with what is being communicated.

  12. OPatrick says:

    I’m prepared to criticise those involved, though not necessarily for their motivations. In my view this is nothing more than an exercise in shifting the Overton window and in the long term we are far better served, as Pekka might argue, by relentlessly sticking to communicating our best understanding of the science rather than trying to adapt a message to fit what people are willing to hear.

    One frustrating consequence of this sort of initiative is that anyone who criticises it inevitably becomes seen as justifying the need for the meeting in first place, as can be seen in repeated comments on the Guardian article. It’s a catch-22 situation. This isn’t the fault of people like Tamsin Edwards or Richard Betts, but I hope they acknowledge the problem when addressing these criticisms.

  13. Lars Karlsson says:

    This was interesting in the Guardian article:

    A survey of the table at the end of the meal revealed that the views of scientists and sceptics on the level of “transient climate response” – or how much the world would warm should levels of pre-industrial CO2 be doubled – differed only by around 0.4C, recounts journalist David Rose.

    “This is a difference which does not justify the fear and loathing and vitriol that’s poured on so much of the debate,” he said.

    Shepherd agreed that the difference was fairly small – and said even the sceptics’ lower estimates did not justify delaying action on climate change, as the current rate of emissions will still tip the world over the catastrophic warming threshold sooner or later.

    “No matter what your view is, as long as you accept there is global warming, even if you take the best case scenario, you’re still going to take action at some point. That’s the sort of thing that was talked about a little bit.”

  14. OPatrick,
    I saw you were commenting on the Guardian piece. Although I’m reluctant to criticise those involved as it may be worth trying, I agree with your point about the Overton window and sympathise with your last sentence. It would be nice if those involved at least seemed to recognise why some might criticise them. The general impression I have is that, if questioned, they would say “I don’t care about my critics, I’ll do what I want”. In a sense, that’s fine, but there’s a difference between doing something that people might criticse and recognising their criticisms, and doing something that people might criticise and not caring.

  15. What’s interesting is that, according to reports, the meeting in question was held under ‘Chatham House’ rules. Anthony Watts was the first to blog about the meeting and appeared to interpret CH rules as meaning he couldn’t discuss what was said. If you look up what ‘CH rules’ actually means, it’s more that ‘who said what’ cannot be revealed, which is not at all the same. Subsequently, AFAIK, everyone now writing about it was not present at the meeting and therefore it seems what’s being said is either conjecture, or someone has learnt about what was discussed second hand: ie., it’s hearsay.

    I really would like to know who instigated the Chatham House rules policy, though by definition, we can never know. Was it the ‘sceptical’ camp?

    So now—by design or otherwise, I know not—the CH rules policy appears to be enabling other, non-participating, ‘sceptics’ to rewrite the aims and content of the meeting for their own dubious ends. Arguably, the scientists present at the meeting have been used—unless, of course, they come out and correct ‘Whitehouse’-style interpretations. All they need to say is, “x wasn’t at the meeting so cannot know what was discussed and why”.

    I am reminded of the saying—which I deliberately paraphrase—”for denial to flourish all that’s necessary is for good people to keep schtum”.

  16. I think any calls for civility or even more civility are ill advised, given the situation far beyond just the problem of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

  17. BBD says:

    And +1 for John Russell.

  18. WHT “A skeptic took up the front and center spot for questions, and proceeded to shout and run on obnoxiously”

    I wish more would have the guts to do that at every event. It would soon irreparably damage their credibility.

  19. Lars,
    I did see that and it is interesting. My one thought was that it again ignores that this is a risk assessment issue. The decision to act (or not) is not based on “knowing” what climate sensitivity is, but is based on minimising the risk (both from climate change and from whatever policy options we may be considering). Saying “the difference is small” rather ignores that the ranges have a large overlap. Given that none of the low estimates reduce the chance of a high sensitivity from (for example) 5% to 0.000001%, this all seems a little irrelevant given our normal risk aversion.

  20. AnOilMan says:

    [Mod: Ad hominem]

  21. Raymond Arritt says:

    There is a very serious factual error in the Guardian piece, which is the statement “Sceptics, who generally work outside of academic institutions, are rarely accepted to present papers at scientific conferences.”

    If they aren’t “accepted”, it’s because they don’t bother to submit. At AGU sessions the session chairs don’t have the authority to reject a paper even if they want to. A recommendation for rejection has to be submitted up the chain of command to the Program Committee.

    As a frequent organizer of conference sessions at AGU and elsewhere I’ve never even heard of an abstract being rejected outright. (It may happen, but it’s exceedingly rare.) To the contrary I’ve seen presentations and posters by Scafetta, Singer, Spencer and other names you’d recognize.

    Repeating the old saw that skeptics aren’t given a hearing is an irresponsible bit of journalism that only contributes to the “venom” that the Guardian author complains about.

  22. Joshua says:

    This is quite amusing – putting together something you said and something from the article excerpt:

    ===> “that took place during Anthony Watts’s recent trip to the UK, …This quotes David Whitehouse (an Academic Advisor to the Global Warming Policy Foundation) as saying..”

    …Both sides are really fed up with the outrageous alarmists who are not representing science properly. Both don’t like those who shout about it and call people names and take a polarised point of view

    So, Anthony Watts doesn’t like those who “call people names and take a polarized point of view.”

    Hmmmm.

  23. Yet again, alarmism about alarmism stretches the limits of justified disingenuousness.

  24. I will watch for the YouTube video of the NewScientist event and link to it when it becomes available.

  25. WHT: I hope they don’t edit it out. They’ll miss a great PR coup if they do.

    If they include it (or release it separately) I’d encourage everyone to blog it, retweet it and draw attention to it in every way possible.

  26. Bobby says:

    That article was painful to read. I don’t think I’ve rolled my eyes that much per word before. My eyes fell out of the sockets on this one: “These are not policymakers – and, if you take them at their word, neither the scientists nor the sceptics are politically motivated.”

  27. Bobby,
    Yes, and this too was rather ironic,

    Yet, when it comes to details, the scientists are as willing to admit it as the sceptics: the science is not settled – not fully – and the insults slung around online only hinder the process of rational scientific debate.

    Although, from what I’ve seen, the comment, “sorry, but I think you’re wrong” is regarded as both an ad hom and an insult by “skeptics”, and calling climate scientists “frauds” is speaking truth to power.

  28. Bobby,
    In fact, that comment is even more ironic given who it supposedly came from – David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

  29. BBD says:

    The spin-out from this episone is why I tend to side with those who think sitting down with the pseudosceptic ringleaders is a bad idea. They invariably attempt to insinuate themselves closer to a position of (seeming) legitimacy while relentlessly peddling their political agenda.

  30. BBD says:

    WHT

    I will watch for the YouTube video of the NewScientist event and link to it when it becomes available.

    Thanks – I’d appreciate that.

    Does anyone know who the voluble pseudosceptic was, btw?

  31. > When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.

    http://www.chathamhouse.org/about/chatham-house-rule

    RELEASE ALL DATA!

  32. rockyrex says:

    On the Guardian discussion, there were comments from Tamsin Edwards and Richard Betts.

    I took the opportunity to put the following to both of them…..

    “Science as we know it came into existence as part of the Enlightenment.

    So …. when Mr Rose and Mr Watts produce their stuff, are they aiming to spread enlightenment …….

    or endarkenment?

    This is not a flippant remark…it goes to the centre of determining their purpose.”

    Neither has yet responded.

  33. Yes, Willard. And interestingly, Anthony Watts wouldn’t reveal the information received, but went ahead and told us who was there and what organisations they worked for. He got Chatham House Rules completely arse about face.

  34. The first rule about ClimateClub ™ is – Always speak about ClimateClub ™

  35. Eli Rabett says:

    You do remember Lisbon, we will always have Lisbon, Rick

  36. ATTP:

    It would be nice if those involved at least seemed to recognise why some might criticise them.

    I guess you must have missed this bit from the Guardian / RTCC piece:

    He [Betts] added that one of the criticisms that could be launched at his decision to meet with the sceptics was that it could be seen as condoning the more extreme views that he says they “let be taken seriously” on their blogs.

    😉

  37. Fair enough, I did miss that. Point taken 🙂

  38. > [I]t could be seen as condoning the more extreme views that he says they “let be taken seriously” on their blogs.

    I thought AT and O’Patrick’s referred to stretching the Overton Window, not “condoning the more extreme views”.

    The Overton Window does not work by condoning the more extreme views. On the contrary. It works by portraying yourself as the middle ground between two other views portrayed as “extreme”.

    One way to portray a view as “extreme” is to call it alarmist 😉

  39. The Overton window was OPatrick’s point (with which I agree) my further point was indeed related to what Richard highlighted.

  40. verytallguy says:

    Richard Betts

    Thanks for commenting here, it’s appreciated.   Re 

    Both sides are really fed up with the outrageous alarmists who are not representing science properly.

    I wonder if you could clarify if you agree with this, and if so name a couple of these folk ?

    Thank you!

  41. “Does anyone know who the voluble pseudosceptic was, btw?”

    I can’t top these descriptions from other attendees:

    and

  42. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    As far as I know, the people in the room were just trying to keep the discussion civil.

  43. Richard,
    Yes, I can see how that might tick you off. Although, if the meeting did manage to improve the civility of the discourse, you’d stand out more.

  44. > related to what Richard highlighted.

    Related perhaps, AT, but not exactly the same:

    Although I’m reluctant to criticise those involved as it may be worth trying, I agree with your point about the Overton window and sympathise with your last sentence. It would be nice if those involved at least seemed to recognise why some might criticise them.

    The problem O’Patrick underlined:

    One frustrating consequence of this sort of initiative is that anyone who criticises it inevitably becomes seen as justifying the need for the meeting in first place, as can be seen in repeated comments on the Guardian article.

    I don’t see this as equivalent to “it could be seen as condoning the more extreme views”.

    ***

    Instead of parsing sentences, I might state my problem more directly. Here it is: it seems easier to define the lower bounds of justified disingenuousness than the upper bound. We know that the lowest bound is lukewarm. We know that above that there’s warm, although we don’t know exactly where’s the dividing line between lukewarm and warm, a fuzziness that gets exploited time and time again. But what about the upper bound of what’s warm, when is warm alarmingly so?

    ***

    Look. I don’t want to be too cynical here, but all this sounds a lot like the narrative I’ve heard for years at Keith’s. (Perhaps he’s still at it.) Isn’t it a time for something new?

    If scientists are to play identity politics, they might as well play with the seriousness we attribute to them. So here’s a modest proposal. I suggest someone gets paid to listen to such concerns. Some kind of Climate Ombudsman.

    As far as I am concerned, Richard Betts could very well talk to anyone he fancies. That fact increases his own INTEGRITY ™ way more than the ones to whom he speak. He’s not the Pope, and can’t sanctify anyone to whom he speaks. But as a representative of the MET Office, or a climate ombudsman, that he goes and talk to Willard Tony would be more than reasonable – it would be perfect.

    Professional room service is exactly what we all need. With more budget, we could extend to Willis, the Monktopus, Dick, Tall One, Pointman, even Brad. But then we come again to a list of alarmists, which is still an empty list.

    ***

    One does not simply make extremists disappear by ignoring them.

  45. Willard,

    But as a representative of the MET Office, or a climate ombudsman, that he goes and talk to Willard Tony would be more than reasonable – it would be perfect.

    Agreed, but doesn’t this include being more than willing to tell them that they’re wrong about some (most?) things associated with the science? Simply talking may not be enough.

    But then we come again to a list of alarmists, which is still an empty list.

    Indeed, although I don’t think it is quite a null set.

    Although there is maybe some kind of symmetry I do think there is subtlety that maybe is overlooked. Those who are alarmed about climate change, are essentially alarmed about something that we can’t directly influence – our climate sensitivity. In other words, if we choose to do nothing and continue to increase our emissions, how our climate responds is determined by physics, not by how we’d like it to respond. On the other hand, this isn’t quite true for those alarmed about the economic consequences of acting. There may well be risks associated with taking action, but how our economy evolves is not uniquely defined. It depends somewhat on how we choose to respond to these changes. We can influence whether our society is generous or not. We can influence whether or not we live in a society where taxation is seen as something that is for the common good, or something that hampers growth. We can live in a society where we give generously to charity, or not.

    It’s a bit late, so that may not make as much sense to those reading it as it does to me writing it, but I do think that even if there is some kind of symmetry, it’s not quite a symmetric as some might like to think.

  46. tallbloke says:

    A survey of the table at the end of the meal revealed that the views of scientists and sceptics on the level of “transient climate response” – or how much the world would warm should levels of pre-industrial CO2 be doubled – differed only by around 0.4C, recounts journalist David Rose.

    Thank goodness the eminent and well published atmospheric scientist Dick Lindzen wasn’t in the room eh?!
    Convergence and reconciliation would have looked a little sorry for themselves. 😉

  47. BBD says:

    I seem to be permanently one step behind on this thread 😉

    Yes to what ATTP said. If science communication with contrarians centres on explaining why they are mistaken then they don’t get to say, look, scientists are taking us seriously over dinner.

  48. Tom Curtis says:

    Anders, an abstract point (although I believe important), but a set is an unordered list. Ergo an empty list = the null set.

    More directly on topic, talk about “alarmists” by scientists whose estimate of climate sensitivity or impacts are in the lower half of the IPCC range look to my like attempts to delegitimize the views of scientists whose estimates are in the upper half of the range, without all that troublesome work of publishing papers and shifting the scientific consensus by weight of evidence. It is a pretence that the views of (to quote a probable example) Hansen are not sincerely held, and not based on scientific evidence. If that is not what it is, scientists using the term should make sure they have a clear definition in the public domain of how they are using it. Failure to do so merely tarnishes the public perception of legitimate scientists with sincere and evidence held beliefs in an attempt to appear chummy with (primarily) pseudo-scientists.

    My criticism here is certainly directed at Richard Betts, who has found it important enough to correct one (minor) misinterpretation of his views here; and as he has not corrected the statement about alarmism, can therefore be presumed to agree with it. He may not owe us a list, but he certainly owes us a definition. Absent that, he should be regarded as a scientist who is trying to shift scientific views by verbal abuse (insults not technically being ad hominens).

  49. > differed only by around 0.4C

    Is that the mean or the median? 😉

  50. John Mashey says:

    Next time I see Ray Bradley, I’m sure he’ll be pleased to hear that Richard Betts and Tamsin Edwards reach out to folks like Anthony Watts, with hopes of meeting of minds. Ray actually tried this once at WUWT.

    10/18/2010 (Charles the Moderator from McIntyre, but OK at WUWT), 85 comments:
    Bradley Copies fritts.
    Bradley(1999): Plagiarism! Academic misconduct!

    “So who is going to put in the plagiarism complaint against Bradley then?”

    “The hypocrisy of Bradley is absolutely stunning. … I wonder if the “team” will ever learn to keep their mouths shut as each time they open them they show just how sleazy they really are. Excellent work Steve and thanks for posting this Anthony.”

    “It would appear that Bradley 1985 and 1999 infringed on Fritz’s 1976 copyright. This does not appear like “fair use”, particularly when Bradley 1999 did not cite Fritz. (sic) It would appear that Fritz or heirs should have the right to sue.”

    (Nick Stokes explains …. but it does little good)

    “Steven Mosher October 18, 2010 at 7:52 pm
    I think bradley’s book should be withdrawn from book shelves.”

    Etc, etc great glee.

    As Nick had explained: McIntyre had had overlooked the extensive Copyright Acknowledgements, pp.595-599 in my copy. McIntyre also seemed clueless about textbook construction.

    11/24/2010 Watts
    Dr. Ray Bradley’s amazing photo

    That got 295 comments, such as:
    “It’s Ray’s poster trick.”

    “That is why the deception is significant.”

    “So I don’t think its right to say Bradley ‘made this up’, rather I think he simply plagiarized it.”

    “Why are some posters here trying to rationalize a graph that is CLEARLY WRONG AND DISHONEST!?”

    About halfway, Ray comments & explain the science. That’s about halfway through.

    That increases the disdain, especially among the commenters who know paleoclimate far better than Ray:

    “J.Hansford
    November 24, 2010 at 7:52 pm
    Ray Bradley said………….”Your readers may be interested to learn that it takes many years before gas bubbles in polar ice sheets are sealed from contact with the atmosphere. ”
    ========================================================
    Pfft. No news to us mate. We probably knew that before you did. Don’t come the all knowledgeable omnipotent one with us.
    …So you willingly admit that the graph that appears behind you is wrong, misleading and meaningless….. You admitted you spliced the proxy with the instrument record without labeling that fact on the graph…… Bit silly wasn’t it? …”

    “Sean Peake
    November 24, 2010 at 8:01 pm
    @Ray Bradley, I’m sorry professor but your excuse doesn’t wash and borders on fraud, despite your argument from authority.
    Fix Bayonets.

    “David Ball November 24, 2010 at 8:06 pm
    Can you believe Mr. Bradley implied that we don’t understand the subject matter?”

    “Smokey (aka dbstealey, a key moderator on Team WUWT) November 24, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    Bradley, your credibility is shot.

    The scientific method requires that you provide your raw data, metadata and methodologies to any skeptical scientist [the only honest kind of scientist] who requests it, and answer their questions. Instead, you hide out.

    You and your clique of grant hogs ignore the scientific method, making you anti-science. You have made climatology akin to Scientology, phrenology and astrology. McIntyre and McKittrick have your back up against the wall, and you’re desperate.

    People are onto your CAGW scam. You are no longer believable or credible. And it is your own doing. You have sold out scientific integrity for grant money and notoriety. But the worm is turning, and CAGW charlatans are now playing defense. And it will only get worse.”

    (and many more).

  51. I personally did not use the word ‘alarmist’ at the dinner, but I do agree with the general point that a some people go too far in unnecessarily promoting fear. My guess is that others at the dinner think this about more people than I do.

    I’m not going to mention names here as I think it’s unnecessary, but those who follow me on various social media outlets will probably have a good idea of at least one or two people who I think go too far.

    Of course, I also think others go too far the other way in saying that anthropogenic climate change is nothing to worry about.

    The key discussion point that divided the table was not the range of Transient Climate Response, but whether a small to medium amount of warming was thought to be good or bad.

  52. OPatrick says:

    Richard, I disagree that it is unnecessary to identify who you consider to be being alarmist. I think it’s important to be looking at examples of this to get a proper perspective on where the balance lies in the debate.

  53. OPatrick says:

    Or at least, as Tom Curtis says, a definition of what counts as alarmism.

  54. BBD says:

    Richard Betts

    The key discussion point that divided the table was not the range of Transient Climate Response, but whether a small to medium amount of warming was thought to be good or bad.

    So along the well-worn lines of “I fell out of a window but the first vertical eight feet were okay”.

  55. Eli Rabett says:

    Oh goody, the Richard Tol memorial gremlin fest. How lukewarmer.

    Now some, not Eli to be sure, might think that you know what I mean is a fine ClimateBall strategy. Eli, he would rather waste his time on a fine carrot souffle, full of hot air too and easy to collapse, but tasty

  56. My definition of alarmism would certainly include misinterpreting or misrepresenting the science in the direction of greater alarm, such as here. I would probably also include giving undue certainty to low-probability, high-impact outcomes – I think we should bear these in mind as possibilities in order to inform a responsible risk assessment, but not give the impression that they the most likely outcome. Mainstream media do this sometimes.

    The reason I suggested it was unnecessary to give examples was because I don’t want to restart old arguments or derail this thread into a discussion of the specific examples. However I agree it’s fair enough to give these as context to my comment above.

    Goodnight!

  57. BBD

    Ha, yes, indeed!

  58. The ghost of present ClimateBall ™ will revive the ghost of ClimateBall ™ past whether you provide examples or not, Richard Betts. Thank you for this example. It shows that as a climate ombudsman, you’d intervene to correct when misinterpreting or misrepresenting science occurs.

    Goodnight!

  59. izen says:

    @-“Both sides are really fed up with the outrageous alarmists who are not representing science properly. Both don’t like those who shout about it and call people names and take a polarised point of view”

    The ‘outrageous alarmists’ in this context of the ‘two sides’ are perhaps best represented by the two people who Anthony Watts travelled to the UK to hear. At least from his POV!

    Cook and Mann are examples of people who take the acknowledged fact of detectable warming and a positive climate sensitivity but work from the unstated assumption that any climate change can only cause serious damage. Or at least they will only reluctantly allow for the possibility that such change may be of some benefit or insignificant in its effects compare to all the other factors that impact the stability of human societies.

    Because of this a prior the outrageous alarmists then disparage anyone who questions the magnitude of the impacts as someone who denies the science.
    Lists of the errors made by the other side are built into a complex taxonomy of identification that can be used to identify the enemy, and label them with a D. The large agreement among scientists about the physics is then brandished -97%-! with the magical substitution of the absolute harm of AGW replacing the absolute certainty of the physics.

    As has been observed before, the controversy is really all about impacts and how capable human civilisation is in responding, adapting or mitigating those impacts. The resilience or otherwise of the communal systems and political institutions which organise human societies are a much more uncertain factor than the digit after the decimal point in the TCR or ECS.
    However the arguments about climate sensitivity become a proxy indicator of the underlying disagreement between those who have a range of views about the magnitude of the impacts, and those that assert the impacts are unremittingly negative. An existential threat to human society beyond any other we face.

    (/sarc off)

  60. raff says:

    I don’t understand how Richard Betts and colleagues expect to have a productive discussion with people who do their utmost to misrepresent and de-legitimize not just climate science but climate scientists and the very organization for which he works. It is not even worth him asking them to desist from such behavior – it is a core characteristic of climate science “skeptic” blogs. They might be polite round the table Richard, pass you a slice of lemon and a crisp bread roll, but that wont stop them calling you a “scientivist” and denigrating you and your profession at every turn. You’ve been played.

  61. jyyh says:

    (sarc) I’ll admit there is some disagreement on whether ‘science’ is a subsection in an industrial economic report or audit or some sort of magical explanative system of belief about the world and it’s workings, Mind you the ‘world’ is not of this ‘universe’. Is there a ‘sky’ or ‘environmental damage’ if there’s no one observing (rhetorical). (/sarc off)

  62. Michael says:

    Should geneticists talk more to the ID people to take some heat out of the debate?

  63. Steve Bloom says:

    +1 raff

  64. izen says:

    @- Michael
    “Should geneticists talk more to the ID people to take some heat out of the debate?”

    It has been tried…
    There was a quite an active dialogue between geneticists and Behe a few years back. With little apparent effect on either side.

    Both sides of the ID/Evolutionist debate regard the other as in thrall to a theology or ideology that blinds them to the facts/truth and is inherently inimical to the world-view of their opponents.

  65. Lars Karlsson says:

    Izen:”Because of this a prior the outrageous alarmists then disparage anyone who questions the magnitude of the impacts as someone who denies the science. Lists of the errors made by the other side are built into a complex taxonomy of identification that can be used to identify the enemy, and label them with a D.”

    If you look at the SkS list it is mainly about the physics including observations, and a few points about the impact on the biosphere. #3 is the only one in the top 50 that is specifically about impact on human societies. And these are arguments that “skeptics” actually make, many of the routinely.

  66. OPatrick says:

    Blimey, this alarmism business is an arcane matter. I was expecting examples of alarmism on a par with major media outlets printing articles with headlines like “The crazy climate change obsession that’s made the Met Office a menace”. The cartoon uknowispeaksense links to seems particularly apt. It’s early and I have a lot of other things I should be doing, so can anyone summarise exactly what the nature of the alarmism in the Aubrey Meyer example is?

    This seems to be the same example you gave previously Richard, or at least it is the same person, and I haven’t heard these issues being raised outside of your quoting of them. Meyer may well be being alarmist, I really can’t tell at a glance, but doesn’t alarmism need to be trumpeted for it to be a serious problem?

  67. OPatrick says:

    Is this, from the BMJ, alarmist?

  68. ATTP wrote, “Now, I don’t know if this was really the view of all present at the meeting, but this irritates me for a number of reasons…..If there is any symmetry in this situation (and I’m not convinced there is) it is between those who exaggerate the risks and those who minimise the risks (with most people sitting somewhere in the middle)…..I wanted to add a quick comment to this. This topic has – at times – created a bit of a moderation nightmare. Can I ask that those who comment be a little circumspect. I don’t mind people commenting on what happened and their view of what happened, but let’s avoid saying things that may be personally insulting towards those who took part.”

    If I may, please allow me to share what irritates me in relation to this topic:

    It seems to me that if we are going to treat two sides even close to equivalently in some way, even if a debate is really just a “debate”, then there has to be at least something at least close to an equivalence with respect to the two sides’ qualifications to speak on the matter of risks.

    If this is right, then it also seems to me that if there is a massive asymmetry with respect to who is qualified to speak on the matter of risks – eminent mainstream climate scientists on one side and deniers like Watts on the other, then it would be massively insulting – even massively personally insulting – to the side with the massively greater qualifications to have the mainstream media (or any other group supposed to be fair-minded and truth-oriented) treat the two sides anywhere close to equivalently with respect to who is qualified to speak on the matter of risks, which goes to what they call in courts of law expert testimony (what goes on in courts of law is not the informal fallacy of appeal to authority):

    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Expert+Testimony

    There are certain parts of the factual, historical record on this important issue of qualifications that I did not know until relatively recently. I’m not happy that I did not know about this sooner. I think that the public has a right to know the factual, historical record. And so, for the sake of the reading public’s right to know, even if many who comment here already know, here goes, and please note that some of the following reported at Sourcewatch actually corrects some incorrect information given by some media outlets on certain qualifications or certifications in the United States:

    Sourcewatch
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SourceWatch

    is published by the Center for Media and Democracy:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_for_Media_and_Democracy

    http://www.prwatch.org/cmd
    Quote: “Our recent awards include:
    * the “Izzy” I.F. Stone Award for outstanding achievement in independent media (shared with Democracy Now) from the Park Center;
    * the Sidney Award (shared jointly with The Nation) from the Sidney Hillman Foundation; and
    * the annual Professional Freedom and Responsibility Award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Culture and Critical Studies Division, whose past recipients include Izzy Stone, Bill Moyers, and Molly Ivins.
    * and a “Benny” from the Business Ethics Network.”

    They say:

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Anthony_Watts

    Quotes:

    “Credentials held
    Watts held an American Meteorological Society Seal of Approval (a discontinued credential that does not require a bachelor’s or higher degree in atmospheric science or meteorology from an accredited college/university)[7] with a status of “retired”.[8]

    Credentials not held
    Some online lists incorrectly refer to Watts as “AMS Certified”[9], but this is incorrect; the American Meteorological Society reserves its “AMS Certified” designation for its Certified Broadcast Meteorologists and Certified Consulting Meteorologists[10], and Watts posesses neither certification.[11],[12]

    Education
    Watts attended Purdue University from 1975 to 1982 but left without graduating.[2] A number of direct queries to Watts to find out if he graduated from college were rebuffed,[3] but a direct query to Purdue revealed that he did not obtain a degree from the university.[2]

    The latter is also stated by Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Watts_(blogger)
    Quote: “Anthony Watts attended Purdue University.[9][10] According to writer John Grant, there is no record of him graduating and he has been unwilling to discuss his education.[11]”

    Yes, Watts has published a peer-reviewed paper as a coauthor, as an amateur, and I applaud that accomplishment, since it is something of which to be proud, especially for an amateur. But is that enough? I have a bachelor’s in mathematics (but did not start a master’s) and published a peer-reviewed paper as the sole author in a mathematics research journal of high enough quality such that all its articles are in Mathematical Reviews. (I’m close to finishing two more, where one follows up the former, but we’ll see whether the results are interesting enough to publish at the same level as before.) But even so published, I with so little formal education in mathematics would never accept the title of “mathematician” or “expert on research mathematics” or something similar. If I did, I believe that I would be insulting even personally those who properly paid their dues to actually get a degree advanced enough with at least some work in the field including some publishing as a professional to earn such a title. Similarly, if I did not have even a bachelor’s degree (fully earned and fully accredited) in at least something, then even if I did manage to get published as a coauthor of a peer-reviewed paper, I would still reject the title of “meteorologist” or “climate or atmospheric scientist” or as an expert in these areas or something similar. As before, my doing so would I believe be even personally insulting to those who properly paid their dues academically, even to those with only a (fully earned and fully accredited) bachelor’s degree in these or similar areas.

    Side note: In addition to the massive asymmetry as to qualifications, note that there is massive asymmetry with respect to which side is upfront about their qualifications.

    Above, raff said, “You’ve been played.”

    And I ask, “How many – and this includes those in the mainstream media – have been played into thinking that there is even remotely some sort of equivalence here with respect to which side has the qualifications to speak on the matter of risks and who to go to for the truth in general on climate science, especially given that there is a massive asymmetry with respect to which side is upfront about their qualifications?”

  69. Richard,

    The key discussion point that divided the table was not the range of Transient Climate Response, but whether a small to medium amount of warming was thought to be good or bad.

    Maybe you could elaborate on this. As I see it, this is all a risk analysis problem. Even if we knew that a small to medium amount of warming was good, presumably we’d still want to minimise the risks associated with a large amount of warming? Additionally, we can’t rule out that climate sensitivity is on the high side, which means that even if we follow a lowish emission pathway, the warming could still be high. Is that, in your view, a fair assessment? If so, did the discussion actually delve into this or was it essentially “we think climate sensitivity is low and therefore if small to medium warming is good, we’ll be fine” (which is what I would guess, if asked to do so).

  70. Rob Painting says:

    OPatrick – I couldn’t be bothered reading right through the links either, but the IPCC Third Assessment report had a graph of how much carbon dioxide the carbon cycle models are expecting the land-based vegetation to remove from the atmosphere – an average of around 22 billion metric tons by 2050. We emitted a record 36 billion tons last year. So they anticipate a tremendous increase in carbon uptake by plants due to the CO2 fertilisation effect. If that fails to materialize it will be rather alarming…..oops, I mean reason for concern.

    AFAIK Richard Betts and colleagues recent efforts contradicted previous research which suggested a future collapse of the Amazon rainforest. The updated carbon cycle models indicate that carbon dioxide fertilization staves off collapse. It would be nice to see some unequivocal evidence that this is actually where the extra CO2 from human emissions is currently going, and not largely into secondary forest regrowth.

    In the meanwhile, the Amazon is exhibiting high sensitivity to warming and a lack of rainfall with once-in-a-century droughts in 2005 and 2010. This is connected to the El Nino effect on the Walker Circulation ,and Atlantic sea surface warming, which pulls moisture away from the Amazon over its wet season. I think we’ll get a better idea of the Amazon’s potential for collapse (or not collapse) when the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) switches to its positive, El Nino-dominant, phase.

  71. Rob Painting says:

    The key discussion point that divided the table was not the range of Transient Climate Response, but whether a small to medium amount of warming was thought to be good or bad.

    Richard, a proper assessment of risk would not blithely ignore ocean acidification that comes with increased carbon dioxide levels. And further warming is only going to be bad for the coral reefs of the world, as they now hover about an upper thermal tolerance threshold. The tropical sea surface warming that accompanies the positive IPO phase could potentially be devastating. Certainly that is what the accumulated scientific evidence suggests.

    These, and other impacts, need to be included in any public discussion. But I don’t expect private discussions with people resistant to mainstream science to consider all the ramifications.

  72. izen says:

    @-Lars Karlsson
    “If you look at the SkS list it is mainly about the physics including observations, and a few points about the impact on the biosphere.”

    I Know, I was trying to construct the ‘Best’ justification for the obvious classification as ‘outrageous alarmists’ that is evident from WUWT, the GWPF and Dr Curry. Who I suggest see Cook, Mann and the rest of the ‘team’ as outrageous alarmists along with fat Al Gore of course.
    Hence the (sarc/off).

    I am well aware of the asymmetry with one side explicitly rejecting the physics. Examples would be Salby and the anthropogenic source of CO2, Morner and sea level rise and the ‘Dragon Slayers’ who dispute the GH effect and the thermodynamic validity of back-radiation.
    And then there are people like Smokey/DB Stealy quoted up-thread who clearly consider dismissing the content of a key textbook on the physics of the climate perfectly justified along with impugning the integrity of the author despite the rather large differential in the scientific qualifications, published research and authorship of definitive works in the field he has, compared to Bradley.

    But this is part of the context of the controversy. While the SkS debunking lists may invoke physics to refute the top denier memes, that does not mean those response that deniers make to AGW are based in a ignorance or misunderstanding of physics. Most I would suggest are feelings of ‘common sense’ that elicit objections to a complex explanation with unwanted implications. Along with a Dunning-Kruger effect making them myopic to the increased legitimacy that better knowledge and understanding of a subject confer.
    Sometimes they are called zombie ideas because however often they are refuted by physics or logic they still return…
    Perhaps they should be renamed vampire arguments as shooting them in the head is ineffective, you need to go for the heart!
    (grin)

  73. Steve Bloom says:

    Tipping points, Anders, not in the models.

    Rob, that model finding for the Amazon was recently overturned by observations,

  74. Steve,
    Indeed, that’s what I was getting at in the latter part of my comment. We can’t rule out severe impacts even if we follow a low/medium emission pathway.

  75. Rob Painting says:

    Steve, overturned by what observations?

  76. izen says:

    @- OPatrick
    ” It’s early and I have a lot of other things I should be doing, so can anyone summarise exactly what the nature of the alarmism in the Aubrey Meyer example is? … Meyer may well be being alarmist, I really can’t tell at a glance, but doesn’t alarmism need to be trumpeted for it to be a serious problem?”

    It is obscure, but I took it that It is the MET that are being fingered as the ‘outrageous alarmists’ for failing to highlight the replacement of one estimate of a carbon cycle feedback with a newer assessment with less serious implications. The MET were being alarmist by emphasising the worst case scenario rather than giving a properly balanced view.
    The MET’s defence seems to be that given the uncertainty of any of the feedback figures, even to their sign, including the worst case model and giving it more weight is justified in the context of future risk analysis.

    However I agree it is difficult to parse the issue, it hardly seems a mainstream headline issue and I may have got it completely wrong. Any further elucidation from those more closely following this niche of the controversy would be welcome.

    However I think it is clear from the past statements about specific scientists from Watts and others on the ‘sceptic’ side at that dinner, that the ‘team’, anyone who appears in the climategate emails and the statements published by the major scientific institutions globally, are clearly in the ‘outrageous alarmist’ set as far as they are concerned.

  77. Commenting about alarmism, Richard Betts writes:

    “I would probably also include giving undue certainty to low-probability, high-impact outcomes – I think we should bear these in mind as possibilities in order to inform a responsible risk assessment, but not give the impression that they [are] the most likely outcome. Mainstream media do this sometimes.”

    I completely accept the point that scientists, when acting in their professional capacity, communicating their science, should not exaggerate the possibility of low-probability, high-impact outcomes occurring. However as members of the human race, knowing what they know and witnessing the huge influence of ‘sceptical’ fossil fuel companies, lobbyists, politicians and armchair internet-pundits all playing down the effects of climate change, it’s only natural that they should find themselves redressing the balance by stressing the risk of ignoring those rare but potentially existential outcomes to which RB refers.

    I say this because anyone who has studied the history of human civilisation knows that ever since our species came down from the trees, our societies have been often shaped most dramatically by low-probability, high-impact events; and this is especially the case as our societies have become more complex. These high impact events matter so much because they’re difficult to anticipate, and occur so rarely, that they tend to catch us unawares.

    So the measure of importance of the different levels of climate sensitivity are not linear, they form yet another hockeystick, with the very worst-case outcomes posing, indeed, an existential threat. It’s therefore not surprising that some of us lay and media people, and many climate scientists, are very alarmed at the prospect that these outcomes are even remotely possible.

  78. > what the nature of the alarmism in the Aubrey Meyer example is?

    Here:

    I called Aubrey Meyer a scaremonger and alarmist because he keeps talking about runaway climate change and “loss of control” without any real evidence for this. He accuses the Met Office of misleading the EAC and downplaying the risks of runaway climate change, but these accusations are simply based on Aubrey’s misunderstanding of carbon cycle modelling.

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2013/6/17/an-odd-coupling.html?currentPage=2

    So there are three kinds. The first is about physics. The second is about black helicopters. The third is about computing. In Aubrey’s response to Richard later in the thread, the first and third are begged and the second gets played in a way that gets abusive. Aubrey and our beloved Bishop seem to agree about the impression that the UKMO may be lukewarming. Their affect is opposite.

    A fine Climateball ™ player we have there. Too bad Richard decided to remain professional. Aubrey’s performance was worthy of responses with more smileys.

  79. BBD says:

    We don’t need sensitivity to be at the top end of the estimated range for BAU to be potentially alarming. Best estimates (L&C is not a best estimate) for TCR and ECS will suffice.

    Something else that infuriates me is the way these lukewarmer dialogues implicitly have warming stopping dead at 2xCO2 on a rock-bottom TCR estimate.

    It will not stop dead. Warming will continue until equilibrium is reached. Transient means transient.

    Judging from his response to me above, Richard Betts acknowledges that the contrarians are deliberately ignoring this as they argue that little or moderate warming (lowballed TCR estimate) will not be dangerous. It’s just more intellectual dishonesty.

  80. Michael says:

    What bothers me most about his…..stuff, is that the ‘skeptics’, without a hint of shame, lay the blame primarily at the feet of scientists. Sure, sometimes, they lay on the ‘both sides’ schtick, but it’s a facade.

    We have a long history of ‘amatuers’ working with scientists, especially in the natural sciences and anthropology, with generally quite amicable relations.

    There are two very clear exceptions.

    We’re talking about the first and the other is evolution.

    They share the same characteristics; that of a strong ideogical perspective hostile to the actuality, or the implications, of the science.

    Again common in both these exceptions, we have ‘amateurs’ who already know the answers and want scientists, and science, to agree with them.

    And both have demonstrated a tactical trajectory of outright attack, and then realising that this was not very effective, adopting, a ‘hey, let’s talk about this, we’re all just interested in science’ blah, blah.

    I understand people who can’t be bothered giving this the time of day, even if the ‘skeptics’ use this as part of their political attacks on science. Richard Betts approach may be smarter in some ways, but it requires the patience of a saint, and that is not everyone’s cup of tea.

  81. Tom Curtis says:

    BBD, if we hit 2xCO2 and stop all future anthropogenic emissions thereafter, the rate at which temperatures approach equilibrium approximates to the rate at which CO2 is initially drawn down by equilibriating with the deep ocean. The consequence is that for conventional estimates of ECS, temperatures will be approximately flat, with equilibrium reached for a lower CO2 level which will approximately match the TCR for the peak CO2 level.

    That picture changes a little with the “luke warmers” assumed low ECS. The low ECS also means that the ECS will be reached much more quickly. Within a couple of decades rather than a couple of centuries, and hence long before any significant drawdown of CO2. Ergo a lower ECS paradoxically means a higher peak temperature in the short term if we cease all emissions. However, after that temperature peak is reached (a few decades of emissions cease), temperatures will then fall slowly along with the drawdown of CO2, so that unlike the medium range case temperatures will not plateau.

    The danger is that in this scenario people will believe that we can keep on emitting at low levels. The problem is that even 5-10% of current emissions will match the drawdown rate of CO2, preventing any fall in CO2 levels. Therefore, in that case we rise to the full value of ECS response (and further as slow feedbacks come into effect). Worse, within a few centuries the deep ocean wil equilibriate, and the ongoing chemical drawdown is at a much lower rate, meaning CO2 levels will start to rise again.

    The upshot is that a low ECS is good news, on balance – but that regardless of the ECS value (for any reasonable estimate), humans must cease all net emissions in this coming century, and ideally by 2050. Failure to do so just commits us to long term warming regardless, with TCR and current policy merely determining how high the initial value of that ongoing rise starts from.

  82. Steve Bloom says:

    Here, Rob. Note that the drying trend is present even if the 2005 and 2010 droughts aren’t included. IIRC there may be one other relevant study, but I don’t have time to look for it right now.

  83. Steve Bloom says:

    Shorter: Denialists would like to steer the conversation toward the smallest possible numbers. Some scientists like to help them.

  84. Steve Bloom says:

    Tom, I continue to view these discussions about low ECS/TCR as pretty much surreal given the poor-to-nonexistent model representation of slow feedbacks and tipping points.

  85. Steve Bloom says:

    Aha, Rob, the other study (press release) popped up more easily than I thought it would. There may well be yet more by now, though.

    See also this recent article, although it seems to be describing a different drought pattern. There’s as yet no science on it AFAIK. Apparently southern Brazil, which is a key agricultural zone, would be a subtropical desert were it not for Amazonian moisture.

  86. Steve Bloom says:

    Sure, Willard, AM is a scaremonger and alarmist, although I would point out in his defense that the more scared people get about the climate future the more we’re going to be seeing that sort of thing (and is our proper response to mock them?), but what is the corresponding thing that RB is? Just curious. Or having been deemed a skilled Climateball player, is he exempt from that sort of analysis?

    I do look forward to Richard and Tamsin sitting down with AM at a posh dinner provided by a wealthy science dilettante who dabbles in deriving high TCR estimates. Oh wait (on more than one ground).

  87. Steve Bloom says:

    Vultures gonna circle and feed, it seems, even if many say they don’t believe in carrion. There’s an interesting cultural effect going on here, similar to the syndrome wherein investors cheer on the likes of Rick Santelli even while not being foolish enough to go broke (and they would have) taking his advice.

  88. > Or having been deemed a skilled Climateball player, is he exempt from that sort of analysis?

    Since Climateball ™ started as a model for the fiercest player in the history of ClimateBall ™, the rhetorical question has little merit.

    Also, the ClimateBall ™ skill was attributed to Aubrey. Aubrey has style and gusto. Go check it out.

    Finally, I suggested that RB becomes an ombudsman, or that we finance a position for that kind of activity. Listening, being thankful for concerns, correcting misrepresentations, issuing smileys, all that jazz.

  89. Interesting comment from Ben Santer on a recent WUWT post. Seems that he doesn’t feel that AW has reciprocated after being treated you with courtesy and respect when they last met.

    I notice that there is also an entire post about Sou, the comments on which are worth avoiding.

  90. Vinny Burgoo says:

    OPatrick: ‘Is this [editorial], from the BMJ, alarmist?’

    Calling climate change a public health emergency could be termed alarmist but its most obvious characteristic is silliness. It’s a silly stunt.

  91. Steve Bloom says:

    It sounds like I took the wrong meaning, Willard. I’m already quite familiar with AM, FWIW.

  92. Steve Bloom says:

    Don’t be ridiculous, Vinny.

  93. Here’s a Dutch book:

    Climate scientists evade us. We are being ostracized. Boo hoo.

    (Hurray!)

    Climate scientists welcome us. We are being recognized. Hurray!

    (Boo hoo?)

    You spin me right round, baby. Right round like a record, baby. Right round round round.

  94. Vinny Burgoo says:

    OT re Steve Bloom’s ‘Vultures gonna circle’: While looking for something else a few weeks ago I chanced upon a debate in an Australian parliament (Victoria?) about whether investors should be allowed to gamble on something to do with the greenhouse effect. It was very early for such discussions, mid to late ’80s, I think. The gist of the debate was that, while it might be distasteful to place bets on such things, Australia was a free country and people could gamble on anything they chose. The planned speculation had been outlined in an article in one of the big newspapers.

    I haven’t been able to relocate this debate or anything about the speculation. Does anyone know anything about it? I’d like to know what they planned to gamble on and whether they went ahead. Also, the debate was interesting because, unlike today, Ozzie pols seemed to be uniformly worried about global warming.

  95. OPatrick says:

    I know very little about Aubrey Meyer, and nothing about any recent positions on climate change, which suggests to me that his views are far from prominent – Steve (or anyone else), can you tell me if this is the case or does he get attention in parts of the media I’m not familiar with? My feeling is that ‘alarmism’ means standing up in a theatre and shouting fire. Going to the theatre manager’s office and saying there’s a fire doesn’t seem quite the same. Especially if the theatre manager largely ignores you.

    As with many well-practiced ‘sceptics’ his arguments certainly appear to be credible from an outsider’s perspective. Is it as clear cut as omnologos suggests here:

    Despite repeated attempts on Twitter I can confirm that Aubrey is simply prisoner and victim of a maths-based philosophical outlook that paradoxically can only force him to automatically (=mindlessly) dismiss anything that isn’t extremely alarmist.

    His conspiracy theorism against Betts is easily explained by this confusion between reasoning and fooling oneself about reasoning.

    and Richard Betts appears to concur:

    Thanks – glad someone else has seen through him!

    Aubrey appears to be trying to make the case that the Climate Change Act doesn’t go far enough, but his argument is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the science.

  96. Vinny Burgoo says:

    OPatrick, The Independent on Sunday ranked him as Britain’s sixth most effective environmentalist in 2008. (Right behind Peter Wadhams, who is also considered an al@rmist – whoops, sorry about the typing – by mainstream scientists. Keeley Hazell, the ‘World’s third sexiest woman’, was 99th. Her Maj, PBUH, was 100th.)

  97. Vinny,
    Except, the only real reason I know about Aubrey Meyer is because I’ve noticed him and Richard Betts arguing on Twitter and the only time I’ve heard of Peter Wadhams is when Gavin Schmidt (and others) were criticising the methane bomb scenarios. So, it seems to me that the alarmists are not cheered on by many. I wish I could say the same for those who minimise the potential risks due to climate change.

    Here’s an interesting challenge. Can anyone find an alarmist blog with lots of commenters who cheer on the host for writing posts about how climate change will be catastrophic (i.e., in a similar fashion to what seems common on WUWT or Bishop Hill). Of course, some might characterise this blog in that way, but I can’t really help that they have problems with basic reading comprehension.

  98. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Wotts, I don’t read as many blogs as I used to. Some of the blogs at the Guardian probably fit your description but I never bothered much with the comments. (Did anyone ever find out why Nafeez Ahmed left?)

    This blog certainly has its share of catastrophists but…

    Just but, is probably enough.

  99. Vinny,
    Okay, Nafeez Ahmed writes catastrophic stuff, but that seems to be about quite a lot more than just climate change. In case it wasn’t obvious, my point was about people who claim it will be catastrophic, not it could be catastrophic.

  100. OPatrick says:

    Peter Wadhams has had some airing in the mainstream media. He’s fairly clearly someone who fits the description of alarmist and has been roundly criticised as such. My view is that he is a rare case of ‘the exception that proves the rule’ actually fitting the reality. There really are very few genuine alarmists that get any significant attention.

    I believe that Aubrey Meyer has made some significant and positive contributions in the past. What it would be interesting to know is whether his more recent contributions are as confused as Richard Betts suggests.

  101. jsam says:

    You can bring a “climate sceptic” to dinner but you can’t make him learn.

    http://davidappell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/anthony-watts-gets-shamed-with-decency.html

  102. Joseph says:

    i guess one distinction between those who accept AGW and mitigation, is between those who say they know there will be catastrophic consequences by the end of the century and those who think it is a possibility given our current and projected emissions path. Those who think it is possible also think we should mitigate against against these extreme risks. I am in the “possibility” camp, but I think we should as rapidly as possible reduce our emissions to avoid those risks. So I don;t think anyone should or needs to exaggerate the risks to get action.

  103. John,
    Done.

    Joseph,
    Yes, that is largely my position too. Wanting to minimise the possibility of potentially catastrophic outcomes is not the same as being certain that they’ll happen. It’s especially frustration as it is pretty much all within our control.

  104. Joseph, if you do not KNOW that there will be catastrophic results across the board by the end of the century if human business as usual continues then you simply are not paying attention to reality. Digging out of this hole is going to requires some major changes in human behavior and some major breakthroughs in engineering and quantum physics. Those, my friend, are the facts.

  105. as it is pretty much all within our control

    In whose control?

  106. jsam says:

    Man made it. Man can probably unmake it.

  107. BBD says:

    Pekka

    In whose control?

    The people with the most money 🙂

  108. BBD says:

    jsam

    Man made it. Man can probably unmake it.

    A fine heretical twofer, at least according to the dominionists. Bless ’em.

  109. Joseph says:

    As a lay person I am inclined to trust the IPCC and when they say 1.5 to 4.5? as the likely range, I would say there is some uncertainty about what the real value will be. And in the research on impacts there is still uncertainty on what impacts will result from what temperature increase. i think we can say we will see more heat waves, extreme droughts, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and probably flooding with other effects being more uncertain. But when exactly that will become catastrophic is also uncertain. For me not knowing is a little more concerning, because we may not do enough.

  110. My question was not a joke. There may be a widespread agreement that something must be done, but agreeing on that does not automatically lead anywhere. To control the situation, a lot is required, decisions have been made that have some influence, but to control – no.

    I cannot see the targets that have been set in EU as easy, and having EU to fill those targets is a very small fraction of what’s really significant.

    We do not really know what are the concrete changes that are both effective and without too high costs to well-being. Even if we knew, we would probably not know, how the world could be led to implement those.

    We do not know how those people who might join with us in trying to influence the rest should proceed to have a real influence. It’s important to think seriously what kind of approaches are most likely to succeed in making an effect in the real world of different political views, and different nations with different political systems. Noting that humankind as whole could do it, is of little value, if there’s no way to lead the humankind to do it, short of some extremely unpleasant alternatives. The real solutions must take into account the many different interests, including interests of companies that are so big, because they are offering something many enough value so much that they spend their money on that.

  111. jsam says:

    It might not be easy. But, man made it. Man can probably unmake it, if he wants to.

  112. BBD says:

    Pekka

    My question was not a joke.

    Nor was my response, as your last sentence acknowledges.

  113. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: In the main, I agree with your asessment as statyed in the OP.

    I favor the no-holds barred approach in putting the climate science deniers in their place.

    An excellent recent example of a prominent climate scientist who has publicly done this is Raymond T. Pierrehumbert In his Slate article, Climate Science Is Settled Enough, Pierrehumbert pulls no punches in critiquing the Wall Street Journal’s fresh face of climate inaction, Steve Koonin.

  114. John Mashey says:

    ATTP “Interesting comment from Ben Santer on a recent WUWT post.”
    I know Ben, who is one of the mildest folks around, as well as a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences, who of course was attacked by Seitz and Singer in the WSJ for his role in the IPCC SAR, hassled for a long time, had an eviscerated rat left on his doorstep, etc.

    Just as they did with Ray Bradley, commenters showed their superiority and disdain for Ben, although I didn’t notice any mention of bayonets this time.

  115. Nick says:

    The triumph of hope over experience has been fleeting. Food sounded yummy.

  116. anoilman says:

    Nick: Apparently there is some controversy over the food. 🙂

  117. Pekka,
    Surely my comment is self-evidently true. It is all within our control. It may be difficult, there may be no easy solution, but that doesn’t change that we’re doing it and that we could choose to do something different. Are you really suggesting otherwise? That somehow our burning fossils fuels and, currently, appearing to be on track for something close to a high emission pathway, is not our choice? That something is making us do it?

  118. Pekka,
    I think you may have misunderstood my use of the word control. I simply mean that it is us and that we can make choices as to what we do in the future. We have control over what decisions we choose to make. That is really all.

  119. Rob Painting says:

    Steve Bloom, thanks for pointing out that research.

  120. Eli,
    If my home were in U.S., I might have more trust in proposing a lot of action. Living in Europe that has tried more, and not always wisely, I’m more skeptical.

    I have maintained my skepticism of many American choices since the time I lived there (1974-75). Two of the observations I made were:
    – Heat losses trough the very large single-glass windows of my office at Argonne National Laboratory that lost a lot of energy both during the cold Chicago area winters and during summers when strong condensation took place on the outside surface of windows cooled by AC. (In Finland we had already triple glazing.)
    – A freezer that had heating elements connected to the outer surface to prevent condensation, when the insulation was not good enough for that.

  121. Andrew Dodds says:

    Pekka –

    Take the French example.

    They made a decision in 1974 – after the first oil embargo – to go all-out on Nuclear power. Within 20 years they had created a practically fossil-fuel-free electric grid. Today their per-capita CO2 emissions are c. 60% of German levels, c. 70% of UK levels and c. 35% of US levels.

    The interesting thing is had emissions being the goal, rather than a side effect of energy security, they could have continued ramping up the program for a full replacement of domestic energy use – without any drastic side effects.

    So we have a clear worked example of a country that decides (admittedly for different reasons) to decarbonise it’s electricity grid, and then does it. That’s a practical example; you could no doubt come up with something similar for a 100%-renewable grid.

    The critical point here is that we have worked examples showing how it IS in our control – and, incidentally, not ruinously expensive – but we are not doing anything about it.

  122. Andrew,
    There are certainly things that can be done. Quite reasonable proposals have been made from many directions. I hinted to energy efficiency improvements in my examples of U.S. around 1975. IEA (of OECD) considers energy efficiency the most important component of action. Supporting development and gradual implementation of renewable energy is justified for multiple reasons. Many consider also nuclear a viable component, but support for nuclear is certainly not unanimous.

    Policy approaches include government controls, economic incentives, and putting main trust on the free markets with some limited push.

    Promoters of each alternative explains, why the other approaches are likely to fail, but their favorite will succeed. System analysts build models, but are forced to guess some really crucial parameters (I know, as have have been heavily involved in that on multiple occasions, and in contact with some leading groups).

    I may be more pessimistic than some others, but I really don’t believe that major changes will be easy. Something can surely be done, and that’s important, but maximizing the overall effect in the real world requires a lot from the promoters of change. Pushing too aggressively in a controversial direction may be detrimental in many ways. People are seldom convinced by someone who tells that they are totally wrong, those who accept also their concerns and maintain gradual pressure, may have more success.

  123. izen says:

    @- …and Then There’s Physics
    “Surely my comment is self-evidently true. It is all within our control. It may be difficult, there may be no easy solution, but that doesn’t change that we’re doing it and that we could choose to do something different.”

    I think I agree with Pekka on this point.
    It may be theoretically true that it is logistically possible for the collective global society to choose to limit emissions and leave most of the remaining coal in the ground. French decarbonising of energy generation in the 70s is apparently an example of the feasibility.

    But the nature of the global political system and the deeply embedded social systems that are strongly supported by the majority of the population and also by the most wealthy and politically powerful of the private businesses would need to radically change for that choice to be made.

    @-” Are you really suggesting otherwise? That somehow our burning fossils fuels and, currently, appearing to be on track for something close to a high emission pathway, is not our choice? That something is making us do it?”

    Strawman I think.
    The high emissions pathway IS our choice, the ‘something’ that is making us do it is the deep structure of the economics and political governance of our global civilisation.

    @-” I think you may have misunderstood my use of the word control. I simply mean that it is us and that we can make choices as to what we do in the future. We have control over what decisions we choose to make. That is really all.”

    I think that ‘control’ is severely constrained. Not just by the material physics, as has been mentioned whatever the ECS, the changes already wrought commit us to significant climate change. But our choices are extremely limited as well by political feasibility in the present economic-political system.

    The radical change in emissions required cannot be confined to an engineering problem. It will also require a radical change in the political governance and the underlying economic system that is presently dominant globally. The is scant evidence for, and abundant evidence against the possibility that such large scale global changes in politcs or economics are rapid. There is an inherent time-scale for radical political and economic change. Unless it is from prosperity to collapse!

    Because of the economic position we start from I do not think we (the global system) is inherently capable of making the emissions changes science suggests are required in the time available. As with the physics, the politics commits us to a inherent delay before major changes take place.

    It is likely that we are changing the physical behaviour of the atmosphere rather faster than we can change the political and economic behaviour of the global community to act in response.

    Cosy meals shared by tolerant scientists and political conservatives are unlikely to be a major factor in increasing the speed of the required economic-political changes that would enable the control and choices you claim we have.

    On the other hand, it will only take a few ‘rare’ extreme events with significant economic and human impacts that are linked in the public mind with climate change and an alarmists driven rapid revolution in political response by popular demand and the threat of political unrest COULD ensue. This would be a ideological belief based movement driving the speed of change, not a rational choice of optimal options.
    As long as the easiest response to public unrest is not applied, demands for change are most often met with totalitarian repression, another delay that pushes those choices further down the pipeline.

    izen

  124. TrueSceptic says:

    ATTP said

    I notice that there is also an entire post about Sou, the comments on which are worth avoiding.

    Actually, I disagree. I strongly suggest that, in particular, Richard Betts read those and then ask himself if the owner of that blog is someone deserving of anything other than absolute contempt.

  125. izen,
    I agree with you and I don’t specifically disagree with what Pekka is saying. My point was simply that it is up to us. I think that is true whether or not it is actually possible to do so in a sensible way. I think you’ve both over-interpeted a single sentence I wrote last night.

    But the nature of the global political system and the deeply embedded social systems that are strongly supported by the majority of the population and also by the most wealthy and politically powerful of the private businesses would need to radically change for that choice to be made.

    I agree and this is a real issue. That still doesn’t mean that the problems we will face are not a consequence of our actions, past, present and future. I’m certainly not trying to trivialise it or suggest that the decisions are easy or obvious – or even that there are any options that will work given the system in which we currently live.

  126. Maybe I realise where the confusion has come in with my comment about being within our control. The word our was intended to mean everyone, including those who are comfortable sustaining the political and social systems in which we live. It is clearly within our (human beings) ability to change the political and social system within which we live. Doing so is, of course, extremely difficult and maybe impossible but – IMO – that still doesn’t mean that it’s not within our control.

  127. TrueSceptic,
    Indeed. As much as I’m willing to accept that engaging with such people may end up being constructive, when I see comments like those on Bob Tisdale’s post (who may well be pseudonymous, which is ironic given AW’s hatred of anonymous trolls) I find it hard to understand how sensible people can sit down and have a friendly chat. Of course, if after such a chat the standard had improved, I would be more convinced of its value. Given that it hasn’t it’s hard to see the point.

  128. The guy by the name of “Bob Tisdale” sets honeypot traps with his numerous graphs. As a warning, do not go after him if you don’t want to receive his special form of retribution.

  129. I was tempted to write a post about this, but I’ll put it in a comment instead. I can understand Bob Tisdale disliking what Sou does. She calls him perennially puzzled Bob. I can understand how he might retaliate with a post calling Sou’s post silly. What I can’t really excuse is a comment that appears to be encouraging and applauding the misogynistic comments on his post. I think that’s just despicable.

  130. BBD says:

    Doubtless not one of those responsible for the viler comments would have the nerve to say it to Sou’s face. Beneath contempt, the lot of them.

  131. Unctuous is the word that best describes the “Bob Tisdale” technique — used to describe someone who speaks and behaves in a way that is meant to seem friendly and polite but that is unpleasant because it is obviously not sincere

  132. John Hartz says:

    ATTP:

    Anyone who embraces the overwhelming body of scientific evidence about manmade climate change and its consequences should openly and proudly embrace being an “alarmist”.

    Winston Churchill was indeed an alarmist when he warned about the rise of Hitler and his Nazi Party prior to the outbreak of WWII.

    Churchill’s example should inspire each of us to be an alarmist about manmade climate change.

    Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

  133. tallbloke says:

    Question 1: If as the above article states the upper ocean has been gaining in energy content since 2005, why is this not reflected in SST’s?

    Question 2: Why does ARGO data for the upper 700m which shows an increase from 2004-2009 used to show a decrease from 2004-2009 before 2010?

    Question 3: If as the above article states, the warming of the upper ocean (even after the 2010 adjustment) isn’t enough to account for the ‘missing heat’, isn’t it likely that the sensitivity is lower than IPCC estimates, since there’s nowhere else for the ‘missing heat’ to hide (except somewhere past Alpha Centauri).

  134. tallbloke,
    Question 1 : I don’t know. I don’t think they’re flat.

    Question 2: No idea.

    Question 3: I’m not sure if that is all that relevant given that a rough estimate for the planetary energy imbalance for the last decade is around 0.7 Wm-2 for the upper 2000m.

  135. anoilman says:

    John Hartz: I’m not convinced a solution will be reached, as the real problem is pretty self evident.

    As a back up plan I’ve been looking into real estate in Greenland. Future generations could open a growth business like Swim Suits or Polar Bear Taxidermy. (Hmm… Polar Bear Swim Suits!)

  136. anoilman says:

    tallbloke: Those all seem to be Climate Ball Move #1. Look at short time lines and conclude all of global warming is somehow over. Most of the time, that myth requires a presumption that temperatures must continuously and monotonically increase. And no one, except people like you, say that.

    For instance we use ensemble averages for our simulation data. Actual simulations do show times of global decrease on the way up.

    In any case, the answer to this will be solved by professionals, not amateurs.

    To quote your article that confuses you;
    “The sea level is still rising,” Willis noted. “We’re just trying to understand the nitty-gritty details.”

  137. BBD says:

    Tallbloke

    Give over with the strawman. Nobody claimed the the abyssal deep was home to fugitive energy. Let’s read the relevant bit of the NASA press release again:

    Coauthor Felix Landerer of JPL noted that during the same period warming in the top half of the ocean continued unabated, an unequivocal sign that our planet is heating up. Some recent studies reporting deep-ocean warming were, in fact, referring to the warming in the upper half of the ocean but below the topmost layer, which ends about 0.4 mile (700 meters) down.

    Landerer also is a coauthor of another paper in the same journal issue on 1970-2005 ocean warming in the Southern Hemisphere. Before Argo floats were deployed, temperature measurements in the Southern Ocean were spotty, at best. Using satellite measurements and climate simulations of sea level changes around the world, the new study found the global ocean absorbed far more heat in those 35 years than previously thought — a whopping 24 to 58 percent more than early estimates.

  138. Joseph says:

    Why does ARGO data for the upper 700m which shows an increase from 2004-2009 used to show a decrease from 2004-2009 before 2010?

    I think you left out the 700m to 2000m data…

  139. BBD says:

    This is, as AOM indicates, a case of short timescales but also one of terminological confusion and misrepresentation by contrarians who in some cases should damned well know better.

  140. Here is a quote from the link given by tallbloke on the new NASA results – I note that this quote is not from one of the authors of the NASA study, but from the writer of the article:

    Quote: “The temperature of the top half of the world’s oceans — above the 1.24-mile mark — is still climbing, but not fast enough to account for the stalled air temperatures.”

    But this seems to not be consistent with the recent Tung and Chen paper, at least by a quote from Tung himself. Note Tung’s claim below, “We did find enough heat stored in the North and South Atlantic that, if it had remained on the surface, it would have resulted in rapid warming”, where the following is a very good report on their results, complete with graphs and lots of quotes from author’s and other scientists – I strongly recommend it:

    “Has Earth’s Missing Heat Been Found?”
    http://www.livescience.com/47487-new-theory-global-warming-pause.html

    To quote the author(s) of this Tung and Chen study:

    “”It’s important to distinguish between whether ocean heat storage is responsible for the hiatus versus not enough heat reaching the surface of the Earth,” said study co-author Ka-Kit Tung, of the University of Washington in Seattle. “We did find enough heat stored in the North and South Atlantic that, if it had remained on the surface, it would have resulted in rapid warming.”

    Scientists have blamed the oceans for the global warming pause before, but they pointed their fingers at the Pacific, not the Atlantic. However, in seeking to test this idea with temperature data, oceanographer Xianyao Chen, of the Ocean University of China in Qingdao, and Tung, an atmospheric scientist, said they couldn’t find the missing heat in Pacific Ocean temperature measurements.
    “If these models are true, we should be able to find the missing heat, and under the Pacific we couldn’t find enough heat to explain the hiatus,” Tung told Live Science.

    Tung and Chen then searched ocean by ocean until they hit on the North Atlantic, where the heat was playing hooky.

    Tung and Chen noticed that the North Atlantic’s heat content (a measure of stored energy) shifted in 1999, about when the hiatus began.”

    So now I have a question:

    Did the heat play hooky again, with respect to where these NASA researchers were looking? That is, did they miss the missing heat by not looking where Tung and Chen looked, by not finding the heat that Tung and Chen found?

  141. anoilman says:

    BBD: This kind of promotion isn’t new for Tallbloke;
    https://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/friends-of-science-billboard-seems-sensible/comment-page-1/

    As an additional tid bit here… Michele Stirling in those comments is head of PR for the Friends of Science.

  142. Eli Rabett says:

    Pekka, we all enjoy living in the past, but we should work today to make it better, not worse, to live in the future. When you write:

    I have maintained my skepticism of many American choices since the time I lived there (1974-75). Two of the observations I made were:
    – Heat losses trough the very large single-glass windows of my office at Argonne National Laboratory that lost a lot of energy both during the cold Chicago area winters and during summers when strong condensation took place on the outside surface of windows cooled by AC. (In Finland we had already triple glazing.)

    Well, windows are not much more sophisticated these days and you know, there are these things called building energy codes which make a huge difference. There are even international energy codes. Sorry Pekka, this is trying to make your not knowing, our problem. Could things be more stringent, yes. Are they nonexistent, no

    – A freezer that had heating elements connected to the outer surface to prevent condensation, when the insulation was not good enough for that.

    You been Rip van Winkling on us Pekka ?

    Refrigerators and freezers in the US were least efficient in 1975. Since then efficiency has increased by a factor of ~3.5 thanks to regulations and energy efficiency labelling

  143. Eli Rabett says:

    Oh yeah, sorry to have forgotten, remember how the Montreal protocols were going to make it impossible to have good refrigerators? Another disaster driven by regulation and the UN. . . . which never happened.

  144. John Hartz says:

    There have been a number of MSM articles published in the last two days about ocean heat content and sea level rise including,

    Different depths reveal ocean warming trends by Jonathan Webb, BBC News, Oct 5, 2014

    Oceans Getting Hotter Than Anybody Realized by John Upton, Climate Central, Oct 5, 2014

    Both articles summarize two papers published yesterday in Nature.

  145. anoilman says:

    jsam: Denial Patterns in Physics are very consistent.

    Like pop music;

  146. Vinny Burgoo says:

    OPatrick: ‘There really are very few genuine alarmists that get any significant attention.’

    Apart from lots of celebrities and politicians and most of the big activist NGOs, that is. Then there are the editors, pundits and journalists who don’t get much attention personally but whose drip-drip-drip of misinformation certainly has an impact. Various UN bodies and spokesmen – UNEP, UNISDR, Ban, Pachendra – also sometimes get unwarrantedly doomy or inflate climate change’s role in things.

    I’ve tuned out the likes of Bill McKibben and Al Gore in recent years so I don’t know if they still qualify as alarmists – indeed I can’t remember whether Al Gore ever did or whether he was just confused.

    There’s Paul Ehrlich but he might be considered a fringe figure these days.

  147. BBD says:

    Oh FFS, Vinny, give it a f***ing rest, will you.

  148. verytallguy says:

    Tallbloke,

    Excellent effort, 9 out of 10 on the fo-de-rol scale

    Question 1: If as the above article states the upper ocean has been gaining in energy content since 2005, why is this not reflected in SST’s?

    Answer 1: Because the SSTs are fixed by nefarious communists engaged in a plot to impose world government. How the current record high got past the, who knows, heads will roll!

    Question 2: Why does ARGO data for the upper 700m which shows an increase from 2004-2009 used to show a decrease from 2004-2009 before 2010?

    Answer 2: Because the ARGO data was fixed by nefarious communists engaged in a plot to impose world government.

    Josh Willis is a sleeper!

    Question 3: If as the above article states, the warming of the upper ocean (even after the 2010 adjustment) isn’t enough to account for the ‘missing heat’, isn’t it likely that the sensitivity is lower than IPCC estimates, since there’s nowhere else for the ‘missing heat’ to hide (except somewhere past Alpha Centauri).

    It’s not *likely*, it’s certain. There’s no way the IPCC summary of all the work done by thousands of scientists is more likely to be correct than you. They’re all in on it, you know.

  149. Vinny Burgoo says:

    BBD, today I rediscovered an excellent Times article by a government scientist.

    ‘This rather ingestible diet [of environmentalist writings] seemed to me to indicate that many of those who spoke in the name of “ecology” were telling so many half truths, that they were destroying the credibility of the scientist, and that by denigrating technology and the technologist they were accelerating rather than preventing the onset of the disasters about which they wrote. Their solutions were also either almost childishly impracticable, or so horrible as to make Orwell’s 1984 seem utopian.

    ‘…There are some who call themselves ecologists who appear to hate science as such and to rejoice in its failures. They seem to get a nasty sort of pleasure from foretelling doom.’

    — Kenneth Mellanby, March 1972

    Not all of that fits all of today’s environmentalists but bits of it apply to lots of them. The half-truths thing is especially prevalent.

  150. John Hartz writes:

    “Anyone who embraces the overwhelming body of scientific evidence about manmade climate change and its consequences should openly and proudly embrace being an “alarmist”.

    The dictionary definition of ‘Alarmism’ is…

    A person who needlessly alarms or attempts to alarm others, as by inventing or spreading false or exaggerated rumors of impending danger or catastrophe.

    So it’s a word used by pseudo-sceptics as an insult. And ‘alarmist’ is a description I reject. As ATTP has said on more than one occasion, “we’re ‘alarmed’, not ‘alarmist’.”

  151. TrueSceptic says:

    BBD

    Doubtless not one of those responsible for the viler comments would have the nerve to say it to Sou’s face. Beneath contempt, the lot of them.

    Let us not forget that WUWT is heavily moderated and none of those comments would appear or remain for more than a few minutes if they were not allowed to so by the moderators. Indeed, one of the perpetrators, smokey/dbstealey, is a moderator himself. The failure of Watts to take any action to clean up his own blog makes him equally culpable.

  152. Eli Rabett says:

    Eli knows who this smokey, but who is dbstealey?

  153. BBD says:

    Vinny

    I have forgotten how many times I have warned you not to conflate physical climatology with “the Greens”. It is a false equivalence fundamental to your self-serving, intellectually dishonest and fantastically tiresome shtick.

    I don’t think I can express myself more clearly than I did in my previous response to you.

  154. BBD says:

    Eli

    As TrueSceptic says, dbstealy and smokey are one and the same. Also ‘dbs’ IIRC.

  155. BBD says:

    TrueSceptic

    Agreed. Watts is directly culpable through inaction. And I never doubted it. One has to admire Richard Betts’ iron stomach and diplomatic resolve. A whole evening. It cannot have been easy.

  156. Vinny Burgoo says:

    BBD, opinions are not formed by physical climatology

  157. Vinny Burgoo says:

    An interruption at this end. I meant to say…

    Well, who cares. Your mind is made up. That doesn’t trouble me. So I’ll leave that fragment as it stands.

  158. BBD says:

    BBD, opinions are not formed by physical climatology

    Speak for yourself.

    Goodbye, Vinny.

  159. Vinny,

    Not all of that fits all of today’s environmentalists but bits of it apply to lots of them. The half-truths thing is especially prevalent.

    What half truths? On the “other side” we have Ridley, Rose, Booker, theGWPF, in fact anyone who’s said “Arctic sea ice has recovered”, “it hasn’t warmed for 16/17/18 years”, “the hockey stick has been debunked”, “Antarctic sea ice is at record levels”. These are all common themes in certain circles and the term “half-truths” is being generous.

  160. John Mashey says:

    Eli:smokey/dbstealey :Team WUWT dinner photo.
    Then PDF search for {dbstealey in PDF attached to Pseudoskeptics Exposed in the SalbyStorm.
    You get 24 hits, which can let you assess the calibre of his thinking.
    The first is:
    “July 9, 2013 at 2:56 am
    Agree with the remedy of legal action. Such action should be taken under U.S. jurisdiction, where there is a better discovery process. Prof Salby was enticed from the U.S.; actions were taken within this country, by agents of Macquarie. Dr. Salby suffered subsequent financial loss and damage to his professional reputation, which the university must be forced to explain. There are ongoing damages being incurred.
    As always, if financial support is required to right this wrong, I will contribute.”

    Hopefully he sent Salby a check 🙂

  161. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Wotts, half-truths on the righteous side come in many guises but a common one is to say something like, ‘The science says that climate change will do Thing X to Number Y people by Year Z’ when what the science actually says is ‘Climate change and several more important factors might do Thing X to as many as Number Y people starting in Year Z’.

  162. Vinny Burgoo says:

    No, that’s not right. Forget the Year Z thing.

  163. Vinny,
    How often do you see that? Also, how often is it suitably qualified and such qualifications are ignored by those who shout “alarmist, alarmist”? I don’t know the answer, but it seems to me that a journalist just needs to mention an extreme weather event and global warming in the same article to be called an alarmist by those who seem to have trouble with basic reading comprehension.

  164. tallbloke says:

    “The sea level is still rising,” Willis noted. “We’re just trying to understand the nitty-gritty details.”

    Josh Willis knows as well as any engineer who has bothered to read the specs that the satellite altimetry used is accurate to around +/-75mm. To ‘improve’ on this, they have calibrated the curve to theory, not any physical benchmark.

    Meanwhile the mean high water mark on the isle of the dead carved into the rock in 1841 remains obstinately visible around mean high water.

  165. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Wotts, I’ve got a lot of examples of such righteous half-truths from over the years, mostly relating to two or three specific scientific claims and their non-scientific amplifications in the press and by NGOs. I’ve stopped tracking such things regularly – it takes a lot of time – but they still happen, although I suspect less egregiously since Copenhagen, which was proceeded by a frenzy of scientific misrepresentation. I’ll keep an eye out for a fresh example.

  166. jsam says:

    Odd how the oceanographers disagree with Tallbloke. Odd that Tallbloke hasn’t published. Is there a pattern?

  167. I’m certainly starting to recognise one.

  168. pbjamm says:

    jsam you may have ‘studies’ and ‘data’ but VInny and tallbloke have anecdotes. Who is to say which is more valuable? I am just a simple country Hyperchicken, not a scientist.

  169. OPatrick says:

    It’s a tedious game, trying to winkle out the concrete examples of alarmism. I’ve played it far too often recently. It should be easy to find examples given that they are apparently so prevalent, but somehow they never seem to emerge. At least Richard Betts did eventually point to one, though I’d still like to hear more about it from people who know. As you say Anders, when we do get examples they almost inevitably seem to have plenty of suitable qualifications.

  170. anoilman says:

    Vinny Burgoo: Before you jump on the “righteous people are telling other what to people” bandwagon, I’d caution you that, that kind of vacuous argument has been made many times in the past. Notably to defend low cost work in the form of slavery, and child labor. Both of which are now considered repugnant to modern society.

    “How dare we step on the rights of the freemarket economy?”

    I dare Vinny. You need a better argument.

  171. anoilman says:

    tallbloke: Grow up. Really. Its never too late to start the process.

    We’re talking about ocean rise, not ‘Isle of the Dead’ rise.

    You are still using Myth #1. No one says all locations on earth will steadily and monotonically have their sea level go up. Although you are implying exactly that. Ocean height varies for a variety of reasons, and not just satellite data. Continents sink down and float up, gravity varies, currents and ocean patterns can cause build ups of water which raise or lower ocean local ocean heights. (Maybe in your world, there’s no El Nino, but the rest of us know better than you.)

    The “Its not the same in my personal private backyard” argument doesn’t exactly cut it for the scientific method. But I guess its good enough for you.

  172. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ‘Preceded’, ‘science misrepresentation’. Ho hum. Clearly time for Bedfordshire.

  173. Eli Rabett says:

    John, BBD, does Eli need to fly irony flags? Smokey was and is Smokey

  174. Eli Rabett says:

    As to time ill spent, Eli had a very boring time talking with Mosher and Watts at AGU. Think of a swamp ocean model but not intellectually quite so deep. Mosh was a bit better.

  175. jsam says:

    Tallbloke needs a dose of Jerry Mitrovica. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhdY-ZezK7w

  176. TrueSceptic says:

    BBD

    As TrueSceptic says, dbstealy and smokey are one and the same. Also ‘dbs’ IIRC.

    For completeness, also David B Stealey.

  177. Steve Bloom says:

    Nice work on the Times find, Vinny. It really captures the flavor of the vicious attacks on people like Rachel Carson. But did the article contain any, um, substance?

  178. Eli Rabett says:

    jsam, that is indeed a UTube highlight

  179. jsam said:

    “Tallbloke needs a dose of Jerry Mitrovica. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhdY-ZezK7w

    I was intrigued so I watched the video. Two statements that Jerry M made (1) engage your skeptics and (2) quoting F.Scott Fitzgerald “Conflict has a value beyond victory and defeat”

    I tend to feed off of skeptics because they often have a knack for finding corner cases that they themselves don’t quite understand, but that we can gain insight from and strengthen our case. Jerry M pointed this out with 3 different examples concerning sea-level rise.

    Worth viewing the video. The other thing is that he suggested that the research that spans the region between geophysics and climate sciences is also a prime area for insight.

  180. tallbloke says:

    Well, if there is uplifting of the Isle of the Dead (and large amounts of the rest of Australasia), and the post Roman coastlines of Italy, the sinking of post Roman England’s south coast, blows Jerry Mitrovica’s first refutation out of the water as a couple of cherry picks.

    Maybe I’ll watch the rest another day.

  181. verytallguy says:

    Tallbloke

    Josh Willis knows as well as any engineer who has bothered to read the specs that the satellite altimetry used is accurate to around +/-75mm

    Ah, the gish gallop has moved on from OHC. Excellent. And obviously Josh has fiddled the figures. I told you, he’s in on it.

    Trip trap, trip trap.

  182. jsam says:

    Reading another conspiracy theorist’s blog always hurts my head. SLR is mythical. Divining is real. http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/doug-proctor-dowsing-and-divining-the-direction-of-debate/

  183. verytallguy says:

    AOM,

    I assumed the “Isle of the Dead” is where zombie myths rest when they’re not touring denier websites.

  184. tallbloke says:

    [Mod : Sorry, just a bit too much of a conspiracy theory tone to this one.]

  185. Tallbloke,
    What do you actually hope to achieve here? As I understand it, you deny the basic greenhouse effect, you think Einstein is wrong, you think variations in our climate are caused by variations in the orbits of the planets which you determine via some kind of pattern recognition, and you dismiss what a renowned expert says with a couple of throwaway lines without linking to any actual evidence. Put yourself in my shoes. Would you waste your time?

  186. verytallguy says:

    ATTP,

    Tallbloke is blatantly trolling – nicely posed rhetorical questions implying malpractice I thought. I wonder, is Tallbloke still beating his wife?

    You can choose to ignore, rebut, mock or moderate. It can be interesting to learn from trolls – I hadn’t read any of the details about the ARGO/XBT calibration issue before, and depressingly, google pointed me at tallbloke and WUWT ahead of Josh Willis.

    It’s utterly pointless to engage.

  187. VTG,
    I suspect that all this calibration issue ignores that taking a lot of measurements allows one to determine a change in some quantity that is much smaller than the error/uncertainty on each measurement.

  188. BBD says:

    ATTP

    That would be my impression too.

  189. Instrument accuracy and uncertainty is poorly understood by many *knowledgeable* people – much less those with only a cursory exposure. The issue is very similar to public opinion or political polling. Many people just refuse to believe in the power of statistics and sampling.

    I’ve shown calibration technicians that theoretically a set of measurements from multiple 6 1/2 digit voltmeters are more accurate than a set of measurements from a single 8 1/2 digit voltmeter – even though the accuracy of the 8 1/2 digit voltmeter is nearly 100 times better than the 6 1/2 digit voltmeters.

    Even after an actual in-lab demonstration (using the average of thirty 6 1/2 digit voltmeters) I’m not sure they all actually believed it was true and that I hadn’t pulled off some sort of ‘trick’ 🙂

  190. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Steve B, Mellanby was a supporter of Carson. He wasn’t a total fan of ‘Silent Spring’ but he said it was more balanced than some of the attacks on it, some of which he thought ‘disgusting’. (Book review in New Scientist.) That of course doesn’t mean that his Times article isn’t similar in tone to the attacks, which I haven’t read, but if it is I would have to respectfully disagree with Mellanby about those attacks, because they couldn’t have been in the least bit disgusting. On the whole, Mellanby’s article is measured and constructive.

    It was a response to Teddy Goldsmith’s ‘Blueprint for Survival’ and similar writings. And, yes, there’s plenty of substance. He busts various myths about pollution and agriculture and puts the case for more and better use of technology rather than ‘a return to the ways of neolithic man’.

    Incidentally, one of the Blueprint’s signatories was a ‘Prof. The Marquess Of Queensberry’. That must surely have been one of the last times that an aristocratic academic went by his academic and aristocratic titles rather than academic plus name.

    (Incidentally, Part Deux: The Marquess’s bastard son’s half-sister married two half-brothers of Osama Bin Laden.)

  191. pbjamm says:

    “He busts various myths about pollution and agriculture and puts the case for more and better use of technology rather than ‘a return to the ways of neolithic man’”

    I can not take anyone seriously who uses this argument. If you want to argue that mitigation of AGW leads back to the stone age I am going to insist that you produce at least one scientist or politician that is advocating for this. Saying that weening ourselves off of oil and coal will, in your opinion, lead us to a future Dark Age is not the same as providing evidence that some group is actively working toward that goal.

  192. jsam says:

    Not tackling climate change might take us backwards. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1909928

  193. Re:”…the vicious attacks on people like Rachel Carson…”

    Google: War Against the Greens David Helvarg

    Sadly ironic that the environmental activist that recommended the book to me shortly thereafter had his house burned down while he and his wife were out of town. The state investigation immediately ruled arson, but the records were ‘lost’ for several years preventing them from collecting insurance. As I became active I was told to just assume my phone was being tapped by local law enforcement. Paranoia? Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get ya — and it wouldn’t have been the first time was phone was tapped 🙂

  194. Marco says:

    Guys, are we talking accuracy or precision?

  195. Vinny Burgoo says:

    pbjamm, that was a summary of a 1972 article responding to calls for man to abandon modern agriculture and many modern technologies and return to a ‘natural’ way of life in communities of no more than 500 people. While that bears some resemblance to what various of today’s wacky primitivists are calling for as a response to climate change, I didn’t intend to suggest that parallel. I was just answering a question.

  196. anoilman says:

    tallbloke: So… All you need are several thousand more tide gauges to agree with you in order to be taken seriously.

    Cherry picking single data points and expounding on them is the staple for deniers, but you need to do better than that. I suppose this is an excellent method to support Myth #1, but a professional scientist would in fact try to evaluate whether it is a usable data point or if there was other information to be determined about the site.

    When you suppose, “if there is uplifting of the Isle of the Dead”, you are indeed avoiding reading many other possibilities for tide rise. And you have yet to show a degree of skepticism about the single data point in question. What gives it this god like, absolute accuracy that you ascribe to it?

    Would you buy a product for which the engineers said, “It worked only once.” I’d prefer something a bit more consistent and better understood.

    Here’s Peter Hadfield going over a similar story where in the media got it wrong.

    FYI: I have it on good authority that this video was shot on the Isle of the Dead;

  197. Marco – I can’t speak for anyone else, but the example I gave encompasses accuracy, precision, and measurement uncertainty. The 8 1/2 digit meter is inherently more accurate, more precise, and has far lower uncertainties than any 6 1/2 digit meter. But by using multiple 6 1/2 digit instruments it is possible to surpass the 8 1/2 digit meter in all three areas.

  198. Steve Bloom says:

    Nice to see you admit that you made no point of substance, Vinny. The question was about providing a current example of your claim. An out-of-context quote from over 40 years ago isn’t such. All it does is prove that you like over-florid attacks on greens, but I think we already knew that.

  199. Steve Bloom says:

    You’re very welcome, Rob.

    More today re the Amazon (press release summary):

    Because of the deforestation of tropical rainforests in Brazil, significantly more carbon has been lost than was previously assumed. The effect of the degradation has been underestimated in fragmented forest areas, since it was hitherto not possible to calculate the loss of the biomass at the forest edges and the higher emission of carbon dioxide.

    I don’t envy carbon modelers trying to account for this stuff, and to repeat what I said above I’m not criticizing Richard and colleagues for having not gotten it right on a first pass.

    Summing this new study up with the other recent Amazon ones I linked above, a near-future collapse of large portions of the Amazon rain forest seems like a distinct possibility (“collapse” meaning conversion to savanna, primarily by drying-enabled fire but also by continued deforestation), with a secondary effect of wiping out much of southern Brazil’s agricultural capacity.

    Another recent study found that California could actually adapt fairly well to a megadrought (perhaps already begun), with a loss of only about half of its agricultural output. The problem is that many of the key agricultural zones around the world seem to be vulnerable to these sorts of changes. Add them all up and I think we have the basis for a rather larger problem. But after all, as the planet continues to sharply warm, why would we expect that the inevitable shifting circulation patterns would do us the favor of sparing our crops? If anything, we should expect the opposite.

  200. Vinny Burgoo says:

    No, Steve B, the promise of a current example came later. The question (yours) that I answered was whether there was anything of substance in an article I had mentioned in the comment that led to me promising Wotts the current example, which was to be of something the article had alluded to. The example is still pending. (I’ve got one about walruses but I’m sure I can do better.)

    Perhaps you are reading the comments thread upside down.

  201. Steve Bloom says:

    Don’t think so, Vinny. And as no one here takes your word for anythng, may I suggest in future complete quotes and links.

  202. John Mashey says:

    I assume people do know the Ilse of the Dead was a favorite of John Daly, famed non-scientist “science advisor” for the Western Fuels Association, i.e. Powder River coal. The WFA annual report (worth perusing) was found at website of John Robert Hunter, who led The Sea Level at Port Arthur, Tasmania, from 1841 to the Present, in GRL.. There may be a difference of credibility.

  203. Steve Bloom

    I do look forward to Richard and Tamsin sitting down with AM at a posh dinner provided by a wealthy science dilettante who dabbles in deriving high TCR estimates.

    Actually this did already happen – Tuscany, July 2004 (well, Aubrey and myself anyway, not Tamsin).

    Somewhat embarrassedly, Al Gore came after me on the programme and gave pretty much the same talk, only with flashier graphics….

    “Steve Bloom (October 7, 2014 at 5:55 pm)”

    I don’t envy carbon modelers trying to account for this stuff, and to repeat what I said above I’m not criticizing Richard and colleagues for having not gotten it right on a first pass.

    …and actually our ‘first pass’ was for rapid Amazon die-back. Other models didn’t give such an extreme result, and neither does the more recent Met Office Hadley Centre model (which I suspect is the study you linked to me above?). However, I think it is still too early to constrain these projections with observations, so we still don’t know which regional climate scenario for the Amazon is the right one. A few years isn’t really enough.

    Funnily enough I spoke about this at the Royal Society on Monday. I pointed out that a key uncertainty is the role of CO2 fertilisation and increased water use efficiency in potentially offsetting or reducing the effects of regional climate warming and drying. Again, we don’t really have the data to constrain the models in the response of tropical forests to elevated CO2.

    See twitter hashtag #SEARRPmeeting for audience commentary on my talk and others.

  204. Richard,
    Given Peter Wadhams’ response to the tweeting during the Royal Society meeting, you might be needing to have a dinner with him at some point in the future 🙂 (okay, that’s a joke). I think what he’s done is remarkably poor, especially complaining about Mark Brandon, who seems to be one of the mildest and thoughtful people I’ve encountered since engaging in this topic. Not that I think his complaints about anyone is justified, and it just seems to be a combination of not understanding social media and being too defensive about what people say about his work.

  205. Richard,
    Actually, I think the RS meeting you referred to is not the one that Mark organised. My point about Wadhams still stands though.

  206. [Mod : Edited to remove a correction to an earlier comment – that has now been corrected.]

    And yes, it was a different RS meeting. This week’s was on ‘Threats to tropical rain forests in an era of rapid environmental change’. I gave the opening talk on regional climate change in the tropics.

    I agree with you about Peter Wadhams. The Arctic death-spiral stuff was another example I could have given to O’Patrick above, especially since it got a lot of MSM traction.

    Cheers

    Richard

  207. Richard,
    The Arctic death-spiral stuff did get a lot of traction in the MSM but – IIRC – it also got a lot of criticism from climate scientists (Gavin Schmidt, for example). It doesn’t seem to support that the claim (that some make) that alarmist ideas are presented in the MSM without criticism from scientists.

  208. OPatrick says:

    I did mention Peter Wadhams above as someone who seems to be definitively alarmist. The contrast between his case and the others that routinely, albeit rarely specifically, get called alarmist is marked, in my opinion.

  209. andrew adams says:

    I agree that Wadhams’ preditions about the speed of the Arctic ice decline would be classes as “alarmist” (see also the “methane bomb”).

    But the ice is receding at a faster rate than was anticipated and so to use the failure of Wadhams’ predictions as evidence that actually the situation is not as serious as feared, as some skeptics do, is somewhat disingenuous. As for the term “Arctic death spiral”, it may be a bit over dramatic for some peoples’ tastes but as long as he expected timescale is made clear I don’t think it’s unacceptably “alarmist”.

  210. Andrew,
    In principle, yes. The issue with what Wadhams presents (as I understand it) is that his analysis is often based on poor data or on projections that have no physics. Not all of what he does, of course, as I think some of what he does is very well regarded.

  211. OPatrick says:

    Alarmism, of course, is any prediction that turns out to be too pessimistic.

  212. Paul S says:

    Andrew adams,

    But the ice is receding at a faster rate than was anticipated

    Well, it was, but 2013 and 2014 are pretty much on-trend for CMIP5 projections. It remains to be seen which of 2007-2012 and 2013-2014 are a blip on the true trend. My suspicion is that sea ice losses between 2007-2012 were a manifestation of the variability that caused a flattening of global SST trends over about the same period. Global SSTs are now setting records every month.

  213. Joshua says:

    Richard Betts –

    I wonder if you discussed with your fellow dinner guests, the following type of “alarmism”

    ==> “[Benny Peiser] explains that we are now in the midst of a “crisis of credibility” because the global warming – and accompanied ‘Doomsday’ effects – that we were once warned about has not happened.”

  214. OPatrick says:

    Actually this did already happen – Tuscany, July 2004 (well, Aubrey and myself anyway, not Tamsin).

    Richard, would you have considered Meyer to be alarmist at the time of this dinner? My impression, and as I’ve said I know very little about it, is that he made many well regarded contributions prior to his more recent work which you are critical of.

  215. Willard says:

    > Alarmism, of course, is any prediction that turns out to be too pessimistic.

    This can be extended to claims that are laid down like natural laws, e.g.:

    In the national interest, the Global Warming Policy Foundation wishes the new Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government every success. We welcome the fact that its first priority is to reduce substantially the alarming and unsustainable deficit in the public finances, which is leading to a rapidly-growing burden of public debt. In the circumstances, it is clear that the UK cannot afford, above all unilaterally, to move to a low carbon, let alone a zero carbon, economy. A low carbon economy means a high energy cost economy.

    http://www.thegwpf.org/gwpf-calls-for-suspension-and-review-of-unilateral-climate-targets/

    It would be interesting to compare how the UK’s debt evolved along the first [Tatcherite] measures instigated by the GWPF chairman.

  216. Scratching my own itch:

    > Since 1985, the UK has experienced a prolonged current account deficit. In the Lawson boom, the deficit reached 5% of GDP.

    http://www.economicshelp.org/blog/274/uk-economy/economic-impact-of-margaret-thatcher/

    A non-alarming chart:

  217. andrew adams says:

    Anders,

    AIUI, Wadhams does have serious credentials as an Arctic researcher so it’s understandable that his views have been given prominence in the past, although one would expect journalists to include more conservative viewpoints for context. It does seem to be increasingly the case though that his views are at best on the fringes and at worst completely unsupportable. But even if we are not seeing an “Arctic death spiral” by Wadhams’ definition, it is arguable that what we are seeing is quite dramatic.

    Paul S,

    Fair enough, and it will certainly be interesting to see how things pan out in the next few years. But the IPCC certainly changed it’s view from AR4 to AR5, from an ice free arctic by the end of the century to the likelihood of it happening by 2050.

  218. Several years ago at Neven’s I wrote: “In the end, you’re pretty much right to wonder … doesn’t seem there are any realistic lifelines left for the arctic. We’re left with an office pool guessing how many years until it’s ice free: 5 yrs, 10 yrs, 30 yrs — not even the blink of an eye geologically.

    What is ‘alarmism’ vis a vis arctic sea ice? One of the premier researchers in the field told me his personal belief is that the Arctic Ocean hasn’t been ice-free in ≈50 million years. Is it alarmist to claim that ice that has existed for 50 million years can be erased by humans in a few decades?

    The ‘Arctic Death Spiral’ was fueled in large part by Dr Wiesław Masłowski of the Naval Postgraduate School. Maskowski said that the Arctic could be ice-free by 2013, which was later revised to 2016 +/- 3 years. What often gets lost is that Maslowski’s definition of ‘ice-free’ was an 80% volume reduction from the 1979 to 2000 mean. 2012 saw that percentage reach 76%; his prediction very nearly came true. Another year with weather similar to 2007 or 2012 would probably push volume below his 80% threshhold.

    Now, in what sense is any of this alarmist?

    Many are unable to see the forest for the trees. That we can affect the ice to such an extent at all over such short timeframes is alarmist – but it’s true. It matters not whether we believe Maslowski’s prediction or the ensemble mean of the GCMs — we *should* be alarmed.

  219. andrew adams says:

    Willard,

    Ah, deficit alarmism.

    It’s rather ironic that our beloved Chancellor has described those of us who don’t share such views as “deficit deniers”.

    It’s also the case that our previous serious recession in the early 1990s has been attributed at least in part to the “Lawson boom”.

  220. Joshua says:

    ==> “It’s rather ironic that our beloved Chancellor has described those of us who don’t share such views as “deficit deniers”.

    It is always instructive that those who take such deep, deep offense at being called “deniers” then turn around and use the term to describe others. Almost makes me question whether their deep, deep offense is more rhetorical than heart-felt.

    I’m such a cynic.

  221. andrew adams says:

    Joshua,

    Quite. the term is certainly unfair, but no more so than various other labels that get used in political debate and it’s never occurred to me for an instant that I was being compared to a Nazi sympathiser.

  222. andrew adams says:

    Actually, I think there’s an interesting post to be written comparing how people react to the threat of climate change (and proposed policies to address it) compared to other “threats” we face such as the deficit and (in particular) terrorism. I’m sure there are inconsistencies on all sides.

  223. Joshua says:

    Andrew –

    ==> “I’m sure there are inconsistencies on all sides.”

    The way that people react to risk in the face of uncertainty is significantly influenced by identity orientation. Another beautiful example is how right-of-center folks are reacting to the situation with ebola, where many are demanding centralized policies to be implemented by the same government they want to drown in a bathtub.

  224. Vinny Burgoo says:

    I’m still awaiting the arrival of a nice new example of the media or an NGO telling half-truths (or worse) about climate change-related science. It might take a few days, or even a week or two. They’re like buses, you know.

    In the meantime, here are some fun headlines from the last few years.

    ‘UN: greenhouse gas emissions nearly doubled in first decade of 21st century’

    ‘If you’re 27 or younger, you’ve never experienced a colder-than-average month’

    ‘Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we’re nearing collapse’

    ‘Ice-free Arctic in two years heralds methane catastrophe – scientist’

    ‘”Unprecedented”: 97% of Greenland ice sheet melts within 4 days’

    ‘Cheetah struggling to reproduce due to climate change, scientists warn’

    ‘Global Warming About to Claim Three Quarters of a Billion People’

    Different types of alarmism in there. One was a misleading half-truth. Two accurately summarized researchers who were going beyond what their research could support. Two misrepresented research. One misrepresented a misrepresentation of research that was itself a misrepresentation of earlier research. One accurately summarized the research outlined in the article but that research didn’t actually exist.

  225. pbjamm says:

    Vinny it is hard to take any of that seriously without links to the sources. For all we know those are pulled from the Weekly World News or The Onion or the Daily Mail.

  226. andrew adams says:

    Joshua,

    Yes, I also get the impression that people on the right are more relaxed about the kind of state surveillance techniques revealed by Snowden than some of us on the left. We also have a situation here in the UK where we right wing government, cheered on by many others on the right, is promising to abolish the Human Rights Act, so diminishing the protection of individuals against abuses of power by the state.

  227. OPatrick says:

    Vinny, if your examples of alarmism are purely headlines then I doubt you’ll get any arguments about that from anyone here. Headlines appear to be universally atrocious, and clearly that’s true from both ‘sides’ of the debate.

    However, your failure to come up with any actual credible examples is increasingly telling.

    Perhaps this will count as alarmism? According to at least one commenter

    It’s an alarmists viewpoint of the science to scare people into believing its caused by man, and It will be catastrophic, when in fact there us no consensus regarding this. Merely an attempt at brainwashing, how can you not see this, it’s so obvious.

    Do you think it’s so obvious?

  228. Vinny Burgoo says:

    pbjamm, one was from a dodgy source (The Examiner, which I think is written by members of the public) but the others were from big outlets that most here probably regard as credible: four from the Guardian, one from Grist and one from Thom Hartmann.

  229. anoilman says:

    Vinny Burgoo: You are conflating a bunch of issues ad hoc with no understanding of what you are even looking at, or even attempting to understand the source. (I used to think better of you than that.)

    Newspaper reporters aren’t NGOs, or scientists. I don’t generally look at the kind of material you are quoting without a hefty degree of skepticism, and I always try to track down the origiinal sources.

    Here is an excellent video on exactly the kind of BS you are raising here;

  230. Vinny Burgoo says:

    OPatrick, you’d be startled by the alarmist tosh in the articles beneath some of those headlines. Alas, they for various reasons – mostly they are too old – they don’t fit the criteria I have set myself.

    I don’t feel like delving into the article you linked to but the signs aren’t good. It’s by Suzanne Goldberg, whose articles are usually full of howlers; it’s about something produced by the UCS, which I don’t trust; and it doesn’t mention subsidence.

    To keep you amused while you’re waiting for a proper, recent example, here’s a link to the article below the Thom Hartmann headline above:

    http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/19061-global-warming-about-to-claim-half-a-billion-people#14127839834721&action=collapse_widget&id=6776623

    (Forget the authorship tags. That is by Hartmann – or at least he’s happy to put his own name to it elsewhere on the Web.)

    Count the errors! Feel the doom!

  231. Vinny Burgoo says:

    anoilman, this corner of the discussion is about alarmism in the press. (Would I be wrong in thinking that you are happy to discuss denial in the press?)

  232. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Goldenberg.

  233. OPatrick says:

    Sadly it seems I will never know if I’d be startled by it or not as you appear not to think it necessary to link to examples you give. Oh, no – wait a moment – you have linked to an item … from an obscure blog from over a year ago. Are you actually trying to prove exactly how little alarmism there really is out there?

  234. anoilman says:

    Vinny Burgoo… then I am wrong.

  235. Steve Bloom says:

    IIRC the “death spiral” phrase comes from, or at least was popularized by, that woolly-headed radical Mark Serreze, not Wadhams, although the former associated it with ~ 2030. Is that still a death spiral? Yeah, I’d say so.

  236. Steve Bloom says:

    Richard, I’m aware of the history of your Amazon modeling efforts, at least in general terms. It remains that your recent published efforts (using the new model version) have been refuted by observations, to the extent that the papers I cited went so far as to say so. The climate system is full of surprises, especially on such short timescales, and as with Paul S’s speculation above about the Arctic sea ice *maybe* the Amazon drying will reverse or at least proceed less quickly as the “hiatus” goes away, but I doubt it. I’m aware that you and your colleagues (appropriately) caveated your recent results; the pushback you got from me related to your insistence (order? command? bullying even?) that I should accept them absent specific contradicting work. As noted that work has appeared, but even absent those papers I felt that the 2005 and 2010 droughts were just too large of an elephant in the room I also thought, I think correctly, that the combined effect of the biggest threats of abrupt change in the Amazon, rapid conversion to savanna via fire and continuing deforestation, didn’t get an adequate treatment (although to be fair, probably they couldn’t have).

    The last paragraph of the press release for the Brando et al. paper published in April in PNAS corroborates my point nicely:

    “None of the models used to evaluate future Amazon forest health include fire, so most predictions grossly underestimate the amount of tree death and overestimate overall forest health,” said Dr. Coe. The results of this project show that extreme droughts may interact with fires to push Amazonian forests beyond a tipping point that may abruptly increase tree mortality and change vegetation over large areas.

  237. jsam says:

    I see nothing alarmist here, http://www.theguardian.com/profile/suzannegoldenberg. Any specifics Vinny?

  238. jsam says:

    It seems mild compared to the denialism here,
    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/

  239. Steve Bloom says:

    Can we get some due diligence from you, Vinny? In this case that would involve linking to the source article and checking the AR5 for corroboration or the lack thereof.

    As a general matter, as you don’t live in a region vulnerable to this type of change you are perhaps not aware of how important dry season run-off is. Note that it’s not just a matter of glacier loss, but also (as here in California) of snowpack vulnerability to warming and enhanced drought.

  240. Vinny Burgoo says:

    OPatrick, that Thom Hartmann article was a transcript of a segment from ‘The Daily Take’ on RT. Dunno the viewing figures but they’re not tiny.

    The video was even worse than the repackaged transcript (which was also repackaged at Alternet with the clunkier but still marvellously doomtastic headline, ‘Almost Too Horrible to Contemplate: Global Warming Could Destroy the Lives of 750 Million People in the Short Future’) because it included an inserted segment about how climate change had depleted Kilimanjaro’s glaciers (disputed but probably mostly false), thereby drying up rivers and forcing women to walk many more miles to fetch water (they might have to walk further but the sublimating glaciers have little or nothing to do with that).

    The comment threads here can be very frustrating. You lot are addicted to the relocation of goalposts. But the point about links is fair, I suppose.

    Here’s a link to the video (with a label and URL indicating that it was probably updoomed at the last minute and, bafflingly, some stuff about squirrels, horses and racoons):

    http://www.thomhartmann.com/bigpicture/global-warming-claim-half-billion-people-soon

  241. Vinny,

    You lot are addicted to the relocation of goalposts.

    Really? I’m not sure I remember how this started and haven’t really been following the point of the discussion. To show that there are some media reports that one could reasonable describe as alarmist. Fine, I’m sure there are.

  242. BBD says:

    It started the same way it always bloody does: with Vinny peddling his insinuation that radiative physics can be somewhat ignored because The Greens.

  243. jsam says:

    If getting something wrong, like (maybe) Kilimanjaro is alarmist then Vinny has already lost.

  244. Rob Painting says:

    Steve Bloom*maybe* Amazon drying will reverse or at least proceed less quickly as the “hiatus” goes away, but I doubt it.

    Quite the contrary Steve, the precipitation patterns associated with the current negative phase of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) are presently bringing anomalous rainfall to the tropical river basins. This a large part of the reason why sea level rise is slower in the last decade or so, despite the increase in ocean heat content – more water is being temporarily stored on land. The positive effect of this extra water storage on global vegetation is very substantial according to a recent research paper.

    So, not only will surface warming likely ramp up quickly when the IPO moves into its positive phase, so too will sea level rise and the drying of the tropical continental basins. Something to not look forward to.

  245. Steve Bloom says:

    Rob, I recall seeing that water storage paper but somehow lost track of it what with the continuing blast from the firehose of just the limited parts of the science I try to keep up with. 🙂 I should look at it again, though. Do you have a pointer? TIA.

  246. Vinny Burgoo says:

    jsam: ‘I see nothing alarmist here, http://www.theguardian.com/profile/suzannegoldenberg. Any specifics Vinny?’

    Yes. As already mentioned, she neglected to mention subsidence in the article OPatrick linked to. It carried the headline ‘US east coast cities face frequent flooding due to climate change’ and talked a lot of crap about cities spending hundreds of hours under water every year by 2045.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/08/us-east-coast-cities-face-frequent-flooding-due-to-climate-change

    Here’s why she should have mentioned subsidence: the 52 locations (few of them cities) in the UCS report ordered by the number of predicted floods in 2045 (fig. 4 in the tech. appendix) with estimates of the percentage of current local SLR that is due to vertical land movement. Range: 9%(outlier)-74% (or 84%****). Average about… Dunno, but certainly above a third.

    In most locations, the VLM % will likely fall in future decades, but still you’d think an honest journo might have managed to at least touch on factors other than climate change. But no. That’s not what Suzanne Goldenberg is all about. She’s the Louise Gray de nos jours but with better typing skills.

    1. Washington, DC: 38%*, 42%**
    2. Lewisetta, VA: 65%*, 49%**
    3. Annapolis, MD: 51%*, 47%**
    4. Wilmington, NC: 21%**
    5. Windmill Point, VA: –
    6. Cape May, NJ; 52%**
    7. Reedy Point, DE; 49%**
    8. Atlantic City, NJ: 54%**
    9. Cambridge, MD: 55%**
    10. Virginia Key, FL: –
    11. Baltimore, MD: 42%*, 43%**
    12. Lewes, DE: 52%**
    13. Key West, FL: 22%**
    14. Sandy Hook, NJ: 58%**
    15. Philadelphia, PA: 38%**
    16. Charleston, SC: 39%**
    17. Sewell’s Point, VA: 60%*, 59%**
    18. Ocean City, MD: 50%**
    19. Bridgeport, CT: 30%**
    20. King’s Point, NY: 29%**
    21. Kiptopeke, VA: 49%*, 55%**
    22. Bergen Point, NY: –
    23. Duck, NC: –
    24. Ft. Pulaski, GA: 46%**
    25. Bay Waveland Yacht Club, MS: –
    26. Mayport, FL: 25%**
    27. Wrightsville Beach, NC: –
    28. Vaca Key, FL: 43%**
    29. New Haven, CT: –
    30. Tolchester Beach, MD: –
    31. Boston, MA: 32%**
    32. Sabine Pass, TX: 68%**
    33. Springmaid Pier, SC: 57%**
    34. Portland, ME: 9%**
    35. The Battery, NY: 44%**
    36. Wachapreague, VA: – (VLM*** -3.4 mm/yr)
    37. USCG Freeport, TX: 84%** (?****)
    38. Montauk, NY: 44%**
    39. Rockport, TX: 71%**
    40. Fernandina Beach, FL: 30%**
    41. New London, CT: 30%**
    42. Nantucket Island, MA: 39%**
    43. Galveston Pier 21, TX: 74%**
    44. Eagle Point, TX: –
    45. Newport, RI: 34%**
    46. Clearwater Beach, FL: 35%**
    47. Lawma, Amerada Pass, LA: –
    48. Panama City, FL: 80% (?****)
    49. Quoinset Point, RI: –
    50. Apalachicola, FL: 17%**
    51. St Petersburg, FL: 39%**
    52. Woods Hole, MA: 37%**

    *http://www.vims.edu/GreyLit/VIMS/sramsoe425.pdf

    **http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/publications/Technical_Report_NOS_CO-OPS_065.pdf

    ***http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1392/pdf/circ1392.pdf

    ****The NOAA doc’s (**) headline estimate for #37 Freeport is that only 0.7mm/yr of local SLR is due to non-VLM factors. For #48 Panama City, just 0.15 mm/yr. Which sorta makes me think I might have been wasting my time doing all these % calcs. Oh well. It was quite relaxing. Zen and the art of tapping at a calculator while getting slowly sozzled.

  247. anoilman says:

    Vinny Burgoo: That’s not alarmist. Those people are merely expected to evolve gills and get used to it. What’s the big deal?

  248. jsam says:

    Vinny would rather SLR weren’t mentioned at all. Then there’d be nought to be alarmed about.

    I note he passes no comment upon the number of faux sceptic screamingly wrong (far worse than Ms Goldberg) headlines containing the words “climate scientists admit”.

    Is there a good word for his one way scepticism?

  249. BBD says:

    Vinny

    There is an inevitability to physics as applied to the thermal expansion of seawater and to ice sheet dynamics that profoundly outweighs scratching around in the trivia as if it mattered. It is a marvel that you cannot see this.

  250. Paul S says:

    Vinny,

    You have Panama City upside down. The NOAA estimate suggests vertical land uplift of 0.6mm/yr.

    Many of the percentages are based on trends from the 1920s or even earlier. To be relevant for current rates of SLR, 40-50% would become 30-40%. I found clustering around 33% for the Atlantic Coast. Based on the projections in the report, land movement in this area would only contribute about 10% of future relative SLR.

  251. Joshua says:

    Vinny –

    ==> “The comment threads here can be very frustrating.”

    I suggest that your time might be better spent somewhere like Climate Etc. Here’s just a small sampling of the erudite discussions you can find there in the latest thread:

    But if you want to actually discuss the physics of radiation, rather than just writing your personal attacks which are like water off a duck’s back, then go to this comment.

    They don’t repeatedly mislead and misrepresent, as you do

    Peter takes disbelief in his pronouncements as a cue to proceed from condescension to bombast to vitriol.

    You are simply pulling quibbles out of your arse.

    The usual bombastic – and usually abusive and insulting – response

    Avoiding the key issue and burying it in a pile of irrelevancies is an old trick.

    I find your continual misrepresentations and disingenuous statements as indicating you are not trustworthy.

    Why should I bother to follow your links and read them when you don’t even look at mine?

    Your assertion that I am talking about PV only is a misrepresentation or misunderstanding.

    Peter Lang’s arguments are perfectly solid, but they address straw men:

    and if you don’t know that, why should anybody listen to you?

    Your level of understanding is at kindergarden level.

    But — I’ll pass along to him that you think he’s a fraud.

    Perhaps because it’s obvious to any objective observer…

    I just want to point out that the POTUS, through the exercise of the immense power handed to him by a low information electorate,

    You are a proper idjit Doug.

  252. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Paul S, thanks. Apalachicola too.

    I’ll scratch my head and think about your other points tomorrow.

  253. anoilman says:

    Perhaps we should call this article, “A Bumping of Heads”?

  254. > I’m not sure I remember how this started […]

    The word “alarmism” was mentioned.

    Vinny’s very first comment:

    Calling climate change a public health emergency could be termed alarmist but its most obvious characteristic is silliness. It’s a silly stunt.

    After some more exchange, Vinny got challenged to provide evidence of alarmism. He obliged. Not the first time that Vinny does, he has a knack for alarmism.

    ***

    My own theory is that the MSM promotes fear and hate. Both emotions sell well, and has other side-effects, like creating conformism, promoting stereotypes, etc. Readers allergic to fear-based news are more prone to react negatively to what they perceive as alarmism. Readers allergic to hate-based news are more prone to what they perceive as denial, conspirational thinking, etc.

    This is a dynamic that goes beyond debates about global warming.

  255. OPatrick says:

    Vinny, is your only complaint about Suzanne Goldenberg’s article that she should have explicitly mentioned subsidence as a contributing factor in the projections of increases in future flooding? She does say

    But the frequency of such events is marching upwards because of sea level rise – which at some points along the east coast is more than twice the global average.

    So I think most people would conclude there are other factors involved in the sea level rise, although I suppose these factors could also be assumed to be climate related. I note that you mention that she “talked a lot of crap about cities spending hundreds of hours under water every year by 2045”. Could you expand on why you think this is ‘crap’?

    I think one problem someone like Goldenberg has in writing about climate change is that every extreme event that climate change contributes to is likely to have another, more proximate cause. Writing about individual events but focusing on the climate change aspect of them opens her up to accusations of alarmism, it would seem.

  256. Steve Bloom says:

    Speaking of the Amazon, I noticed this in another Brazil drought article from a few weeks ago:

    According to satellite images collected in July by Brazil’s space agency, the forest shrank by 10 per cent over the previous 12 months.

    Well, wow (tm Judy Curry). Gobsmackingly wow, even. But could it possibly be true?

    Speaking of drought, things seem to be getting pretty bad in Central America too.

  257. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Paul S, I’ve eyeballed a few of the longer SLR records at tidesandcurrents and none showed a marked trend increase since the 20s or 30s, but I’ll your word that 40-50% –> 30-40%. Ditto the 10% of future SLR, but I don’t think the report’s projections can be trusted. See my next comment.

    (Re your earlier comment about the rapid Arctic ice loss being tied to flatter SST trends, I’ve wondered that too. Has anyone proposed a mechanism?)

  258. Vinny Burgoo says:

    No, OPatrick, it’s not just the absence of subsidence in Goldenberg’s article. Here’s the first sentence:

    ‘Dozens of America’s east coast cities face routine tidal flooding under climate change, researchers said on Wednesday.’

    It’s not dozens of East Coast cities. It’s about a dozen, with the rest being towns, hamlets and, er, yachting marinas. The phrase ‘under climate change’ isn’t inaccurate but it does reinforce the erroneous headline (‘due to climate change’).

    And she might have mentioned that, according to the report, most of these ‘cities’ won’t see more than what the report terms ‘nuisance floods’ until the 2040s and beyond.

    Then there’s the report itself. The main projections were done using the intermediate-high scenario. Under that the worst-affected city, Washington, sees 165 mm of local SLR between 2030 and 2045. 11 mm/yr. That’s just not credible. The current trend* is 3.16 mm/yr, of which, says the NOAA, 1.34 mm is due to VLM. So if the VLM doesn’t change then the non-VLM component will have to increase fivefold in about twenty years to hit the intermed-high scenario. Where’s all that going to come from? (For comparison, AR5 reckoned that, under RCP8.5, global SLR wouldn’t reach that sort of rate – ~10 mm/yr non-VCM – until the end of the century.)

    Unrepresentative? Let’s do the second worst-affected ‘city’, Lewisetta. (A marina plus a few dozen houses.) The intermed-high scenario sees 13 mm/yr between 2030 and 2045. Current trend: 4.97 mm/yr, of which, says the NOAA, 2.42 mm is from VLM. So the non-VLM component has to go from 2.6 to 10.6 mm/yr in about 20 years. Plausible? No.

    One more. A middle-ranked city. Mayport, Florida. UCS intermed-high scenario: 10 mm/yr between 2030 and 2045. Current non-VCM: 1.81 mm/yr. Another fivefold increase.

    If those locations are typical, the projected flood incidences in the report are considerably overstated. One might almost say alarmist.

    A habitually** alarmist journalist covering an alarmist report. Why, it might be the very recipe for the very recipe for alarmism.

    ===
    *I have just realised that Paul S’s comment undermines my calcs somewhat. When I say ‘current trends’ I really mean the linear trends from NOAA, some of which are almost century-scale. So the leaps to reach the UCS intermediate-scenario rates won’t be as great as my calcs show. Oh well. It’s done now.

    **Her walrus story a week or two ago was wonderful.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/01/walrus-alaska-beach-trampled-death

    ‘The plight of thousands of walruses forced to crowd on to an Alaska beach because of disappearing sea ice has set off an all-out response from the US government to avoid a catastrophic stampede.’

    The government’s all-out response was a four-rear-old advisory issued by the US Fish & Wildlife Service and mirrored on the FAA website.

    And catastrophic? Hundreds being trampled out of a group of 35,000 would be catastrophic?

    There is one thing I like about Goldenberg: she never changes her articles. It’s not unusual for unlogged changes to be made to Guardian articles. Not our Suzy. She sticks to her guns.

  259. anoilman says:

    Vinny Burgoo: I feel that you are quibbling. I’m not really saying your wrong… just kinda pointless.

    We all get this information in bibs and bobs, and it tends to come out that way. No scientist knows all of this. There would be 10’s of thousands of papers filling in gaps in text books. No one knows it all. No one has time to read it all.

    You pointed out subsidence. But did you point out changes in world gravity either?
    http://www.tos.org/oceanography/archive/24-2_tamisiea.pdf

    And subsidence, or not… they are measuring changes now.
    “Some east coast towns have recorded four times as many flood days as in 1970, the report found.”

    There are many many more fingerprints on that. (CDC tracks disease after each event because it results in outbreaks.)

  260. BBD says:

    Vinny

    SLR over the next century will be increasingly non-linear as the driver shifts from thermal expansion to the non-linear response of ice sheets to ongoing warming. So anything predicated on linear SLR projections is of limited value.

  261. OPatrick says:

    Vinny, could you exaplain how you know there won’t be dozens of East Coast cities affected? You seem to be implying that the number of cities affected are limited to the number of cities the report analysed. Is that the case and if so do you know if it is correct that no cities amongst those not analysed will be affected?

    I don’t think your criticism that Goldenberg has not used the term ‘nuisance floods’ is justified. All through her article it is clear that the flooding is relatively minor and will be disruptive to daily life rather than catastrophic in nature.

    With respect to your criticism of the report itself on what basis do you calim the figures are not credible? Is it just personal incredulity, or do you have evidence of its not being credible? According to box 2 on page 15 of the report

    the northeastern United States is projected to see above-average rates of sea level rise because of changes in the flow of the Gulf Stream in response to global warming (Ezer et al. 2013; Yin, Schlesinger, and Stouffer 2009).

    Do you know if these references justify what the report claims or otherwise?

    I’m not really clear what your criticism of the walrus story is. The stampede would be catastrophic for the walruses, which is why there are ‘advisories’ in place about flights. The reason it is news now is because the numbers are unprecedented.

  262. This seems an opportune time to remind people of this post by Aslak Grinsted.

  263. Vinny Burgoo says:

    anoilman, I am quibbling. I tricked myself into looking at that Goldenberg article in more detail than it deserves. It’s not spectacularly alarmist, just part of a pattern.

  264. John Hartz says:

    Vinny: The Old Testament is choked full of alarmist statements made by prophets. I consider the prophets to be “alarmists”, do you?

    PS – I also proudly consider myself to be an “alarmist” about manmade climate change.

  265. Also just noticed this paper. (H/T O. Bothe).

  266. Vinny Burgoo says:

    OPatrick, good point about the cities. No, I don’t know if the Gulf Stream changes will justify projections of >10mm/yr in the 2030s , but I doubt it. (That effect is why I keep banging on about non-VLM components rather than just the CC component.)

  267. @John Hartz

    Do you “invent or spread false or exaggerated rumors of impending danger or catastrophe”? I’ve read your comments and blog posts for years and don’t believe you do. So you might be ‘alarmed’ but, according to the dictionary, you’re definitely not an ‘alarmist’!

  268. I should also add that I’m really becoming annoyed by Vinny’s hypocritical, one-sided holier-than-thou, nit-picking. Pull the plank out, Vinny.

  269. Vinny Burgoo says:

    John Hartz, these days my knowledge of Christianity doesn’t go much beyond this sort of thing (5 bishops with ‘Copenhagen written on their foreheads):

    http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/4713069.Bishop_of_Oxford_faces_up_to_climate_change/

  270. BBD says:

    What John Russell said, Vinny. I’ve already made my views very clear.

  271. Vinny Burgoo says:

    BBD: Not ‘alf!

  272. BBD says:

    I have my reasons, Vinny. While you fossick around in diversionary trivia, the science keeps on rolling in. On the one hand there are the efforts to understand Antarctic contribution to SLR during the last interglacial which lend support to studies like Blanchard et al. (2009) that suggest abrupt, stepwise SLR during the Eemian.

    Then we have Rignot et al. (2014) indicating that the WAIS may already have begun an irreversible process of collapse.

    Globally, recent CRYOSAT data show that the Greenland Ice Sheet and the WAIS are thinning at – yes – an unprecedented rate during the 20-year period of satellite observation.

    This is, or should be, alarming. Saying so is not alarmist, simply objective.

  273. OPatrick says:

    To be fair to Vinny I at least have been pushing him to come up with these examples of ‘alarmism’. I think it’s useful every now and again to see just how thin the pickings are. What it seems to be coming down to is that it’s apparently ‘a pattern’ of marginal overstatement. Which brings me back to a previous comment I meant to question:

    Then there are the editors, pundits and journalists who don’t get much attention personally but whose drip-drip-drip of misinformation certainly has an impact.

    I think the key problem is the polar opposite of this. It’s the failure of editors in particular to provide a ‘drip-drip-drip’ of information about climate change that leads to the occasionally somewhat sensationalist reporting. At present climate change is largely ignored as an issue in most of the main news pages. Discussions of economics and energy too often barely even nod towards it. How often do we see reporting of new oil discoveries reported as an unalloyed benefit? Overall the balance of reporting on climate change is very far from being alarmist.

  274. Willard says:

    As a ninja, I’ll simply note that Goldenberg’s “under” climate change does not imply “caused by” in the sense of “we have found the specific cause of all that’s happening”.

  275. anoilman says:

    Vinny: “anoilman, I am quibbling. I tricked myself into looking at that Goldenberg article in more detail than it deserves. It’s not spectacularly alarmist, just part of a pattern.”

    That pattern being looking at articles in more detail than they deserve? 🙂

    Just a thought, but news is negative. Its rarely positive. No one pays for happy stories about cats, except Cat Fancy magazine. Environment news is negative just like everything else.
    http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/apr/12/news-is-bad-rolf-dobelli

    This isn’t alarmist. Its just news.

  276. Steve Bloom, October 10, 2014 at 7:19 am

    Speaking of the Amazon, I noticed this in another Brazil drought article from a few weeks ago:

    According to satellite images collected in July by Brazil’s space agency, the forest shrank by 10 per cent over the previous 12 months.

    Well, wow (tm Judy Curry). Gobsmackingly wow, even. But could it possibly be true?

    No, it’s obviously a mistake. The true figure is probably closer to a *10th* of a percent over the previous 12 months – see here for deforestation data.

    A 10 percent reduction of the Brazilian Amazon would be about 330,000 km2, which is about 20 years’ worth of deforestation historically.

    Having just attended a conference of international experts on tropical rain forests, including several who live in and/or study the Amazon, I can confirm that nobody reported a 100-fold increase in deforestation rates in the last 12 months.

    Also we’d have noticed a massive spike in atmospheric CO2.

  277. Steve Bloom says:

    Thanks, Richard.

  278. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Here at last is the promised fresh example of an NGO telling porkies about climate change-related science. It’s only a tweet, I’m afraid, but it’s an unambiguously alarmist misrepresentation of what the study said.

    ‘#climatechange has doubled the risk of harsh winters in Europe, according to new research.’

    It’s by Platform, the British anti-oil arts and activism organization. The study’s ‘risk doubled’ finding (actually it was ‘more than doubled’) was about Central Eurasia, not Europe. It defined Central Eurasia as a box from 40-60N and 60-120E – essentially Central Asia, Mongolia and Southern Siberia.

    The link in the Tweet is to:

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/26/global-warming-has-doubled-risk-harsh-winters-eurasia-research-finds

    I’d say something unkind about that article’s first sentence too but I don’t think we’re allowed to call press articles alarmist on this blog any more (unless they’re in the Daily Mail).

    (I see that Platform has just thanked me for the correction. Nice of them, and I’m now tempted not to use this as an example, but I’m sure nobody wants me to pop up here in another few weeks with a different example of something that several regulars here have said they don’t want to see examples of. This’ll have to do. Consider my promise kept.)

  279. BBD says:

    The foaming torrent of lies and misinformation gushing from the denial industry and frequently channelled through the right-wing media puts this stuff in exactly the right perspective. It’s irrelevant.

    AGW is potentially very dangerous. All the misguided enviro alarmism in the world makes no difference to this one way or the other. Why you are so hung up on this is a mystery unless it is a useful rhetorical cloak for a more profound denialism.

  280. anoilman says:

    I’m not sure what you’re concerned about Vinny. I’m not trying to be a knob… I’m just confused about what your concern is.

    Global warming will cause the ‘polar vortex’ to waffle all over the place. Since there is less and less temperature difference between the poles and the equator, the jet stream starts meandering all over the place. Its goes deep in the north and deeper in the south. This is no longer an oddity, its common place.

    Some places in the north are a healthy 5C hotter now. Any ways… I did read the paper on this, but I can’t be bothered to hunt for it. Here’s someone you probably don’t like 🙂 talking about it;
    http://climatecrocks.com/2012/06/08/more-evidence-arctic-warming-effect-on-jet-stream-more-extremes/

  281. Tom Curtis says:

    Vinny Burgoo, given that there is no moral distinction between the suffering of Central Eurasians and Western Europeans, and given that the paper does in fact “… show that as a result of sea-ice reduction in the Barents–Kara Sea, the probability of severe winters has more than doubled in central Eurasia”, this is not a case of alarmism, merely a misplaced geography.

    Further, looking at the figures for the paper, it is evident that the ERA-interim data shows enhanced cold in winters well outside the area you specify, so that the paper is relevant to winters in Eastern Europe (if, perhaps, not doubling the frequency of harsh winters in Russia and Poland).

  282. jsam says:

    Vinny snatches defeat from the jaws of victory. Again. It’s an acquired skill.

  283. Vinny,
    So an NGO said “Europe” instead of “Eurasia” and when you pointed this out, they thanked you and corrected it? That’s shocking! Don’t they realise that when they cherry-pick a study or mis-interpret a piece of research, they do so because it suits their narrative? When this is pointed out, they’re not meant to say thanks and correct it; they’re meant to either have some convoluted reason why it’s not actually wrong or why it doesn’t matter. If that doesn’t work, they’re then meant to complain about bullying. Oh, hold on, maybe I’ve got that the wrong way around?

    Oh, and you’re free to refer to something as being “alarmist”. Ideally when it actually is so, though.

  284. OPatrick says:

    Thanks Vinny, very informative, though not in the way I suspect you think it is. I note that it has been 19 days since you promised to find a “nice new example of the media or an NGO telling half-truths (or worse) about climate change-related science”. This was your best example and it took longer than your ‘week or two’.

  285. anoilman says:

    Sooo… teh big deal is a typo?

    That never happens in the real world.

  286. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Tom Curtis: (a) Platform’s target readership is in Europe, not Mongolia. That is why they gave the study a Europe spin – or, to be generous, were perhaps too keen to adopt and enlarge the Europe spin already given to it by the Guardian. This is what makes it alarmism. (If they had said ‘#climatechange has doubled the risk of harsh winters in Patagonia, according to new research’ that would have been simple misreporting. But of course they would never have done that. Platform’s tribe isn’t much interested in Patagonia. Or Central Eurasia.)

    (b) The people in the ‘doubled risk’ Central Eurasia box are used to harsh winters (continental climate bla bla) plus that region is, for the most part, sparsely populated (total pop ~200 million versus ~700 million for Europe). Therefore it’s not a question of placing a lower value on the additional suffering of those people and that region but of the study finding less scope for additional suffering than had its result been about Europe. So relocating it = alarmism.

    If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  287. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Wotts, Platform didn’t correct it (delete it) and it’ll probably turn up in one of their later pubs.

    And the alarmist (thanks for the clarified rules) Guardian article is still propagating. More tweets:

  288. Vinny Burgoo says:

    BBD, alarmism is intended to panic people into action. ‘Here’s something scary! Something must be done!’

    Climactivists don’t see anything wrong with this. From what I can tell, neither do you. The important thing is to communicate the message that Something Must Be Done.

    But panic leads to bad policy choices. (Pekka, passim.)

    And when it’s built on the abuse of science it also erodes trust in science – something I’d have thought that scientismists the world over would and should be would be worried about. (A high-up in the Met Office expressed concern about this in 2005 or thereabouts. I can’t refind it. Anyone got any pointers? He talked about people saying climate science dictates this or that creating a backlash against climate science.)

  289. Vinny Burgoo says:

    anoilman, it’s a question of relying on ‘what the science says’ to justify your political preferences when the science actually says something else. Is that so hard to understand?

  290. jsam says:

    Compared to David Rose, James Delingpole, Patrick Moore, Niggle Lawson ar the Gremlinologist Platform’s error ’tis but a scratch.

    Vinny, kid yourself if you must. But I should pass on some news to you, as the Emperor, about your wardrobe.

  291. BBD says:

    Vinny

    BBD, alarmism is intended to panic people into action.

    Climate change is potentially very dangerous. While I fully agree that inaccurate statements should always be avoided, the nature of the problem cannot be communicated in warmly reassuring words.

    But panic leads to bad policy choices. (Pekka, passim.)

    Yes, but I don’t see any evidence of widespread panic among the electorate. Despite considerable efforts to broach the subject of AGW. Perhaps your concerns are misplaced.

  292. BBD says:

    Vinny

    He talked about people saying climate science dictates this or that creating a backlash against climate science.

    Play shoot-the-messanger and we all lose.

  293. Vinny,
    Okay, so they didn’t correct it, but they did thank you 🙂

    Maybe you can define what you mean by “alarmist” and then explain which bit of that Guardian article is “alarmist”. It appears to be a report of some recent research. I haven’t read the paper to see if it’s a fair report, but it doesn’t appear to be saying “we’re all going to die, we’re all going to die”. Unlike Benny Peiser, who was recently quoted as complaining about environmental policies leading to “economic suicide”. That seems really alarmist 🙂

  294. BBD says:

    Is this the crux of it?

    it’s a question of relying on ‘what the science says’ to justify your political preferences when the science actually says something else.

    What political preferences did you have in mind?

  295. Steve Bloom says:

    So someone conflates similar geographical terms in a tweet and immediately corrects it upon it being pointed out, and this is Vinny’s example? Sorry, try again.

    But in addition to referring to Eurasia up front (literally Europe plus Asia, note, not just a central area), I see that the Grauniad article says farther down “The risk of severe winters in Europe and northern Asia has been doubled by global warming, according to new research.” That may be wrong or imprecise (I haven’t read the paper and it’s not clear from the abstract, although perhaps it should have specified eastern Europe), but it does seem to rather excuse the tweet.

    It’s ironic that Vinny chose an example involving this particular fast-evolving area of the science. It is, as noted in the article, a counterintuitive effect if you’re not used to thinking about the drivers of atmospheric circulation, but the research on it has gone from 0 to 60 in just a few years. I predict more such disappointment in Vinny’s future. (Hey Vinny, as a thought experiment why don’t we compare what you were denying 10 years ago with what you’re denying now?)

    From the abstract, it looks as if the authors managed this result because they were able to get a raft of computer time.

    Oh, and look who gets the concluding quote.

  296. Steve Bloom says:

    Panic does indeed lead to bad policy choices, but the effect becomes worse when there’s delay in making the choices.

  297. OPatrick says:

    I think Vinny is probably right that this is an example of people – Platform in this case, and to a much lesser extent the Guardian – using phrasing that will heighten the sense of concern amongst their readership. To call it an “abuse of science” is ridiculous, one might even say alarmist, but there is an element of alarmism in the way the story was reported. The key point though is that this is the worst example of alarmism he could come up with in a three week period. There is no distortion of the science involved.

  298. Steve Bloom says:

    “Platform’s target readership is in Europe, not Mongolia.” Vinny, did you even notice that this is the same type error? Mongolia is not the same as central Asia or Eurasia, but is included in them in the same way Europe is included in Eurasia.

  299. Steve,
    In this case the effect seems really be around Mongolia based on the figures from the link given by Tom in a message above and the supplementary material. (Nature Geosciences is one of the few journals I cannot access).

    On the role of panic I agree with BBD that signs of panic are remote. Someone may have proposed action that might be considered panic reaction, but such proposals have not been of significant influence. Where the policies have not been wise, that’s not caused by panic.

  300. Steve Bloom says:

    I’ll be interested to see if the paper has any discussion of the downstream effects of the jet distortion, in particular the persistent NE Pacific high that’s resulted in the current nasty California drought. And, shifting into complete speculation mode, is it possible there’s a connection between this and the coincidental recent failure of El Nino? I assume someone has looked.

    Vinny complaining that they didn’t delete the original post rather than just thanking him for his correction in a reply to that post (which appeared in their feed for all to see) is hilarious considering how pseudoskeptics squawk if they think something’s being covered up.

  301. Joshua says:

    ==> “Climactivists..”

    I find it interesting, the vast array of pejoratives that some SWIRLCAREs have for referring to SWIMCAREs. It seems to me to underscore the identity-aggressive and identity-defensive aspects of the discussion about climate change. Apparently, labeling those who disagree is very important. Otherwise, why so much discussion about the labels (how many blog comments have we all read about the term “denier?”) and why so many labels?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s