Matt Ridley, climate scientist?

I’ve written before about the BBC and its balance. Subsequently, the BBC upheld complaints about interviewing Nigel Lawson – a non-expert – about climate science. It seems, however, that the BBC must have – as part of its charter – that any segment on climate science must include someone associated with the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Last night, on Newsnight there was a very good piece about Antarctic sea ice by Helen Czerski, followed by Evan Davies interviewing Tamsin Edwards, a climate scientist at the Open University, and Matt Ridley, an Academic Advisor to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and not a climate scientist.

Let me make clear, though, that if this were a discussion about climate policy, I wouldn’t really have much of an issue. I might still disagree with what Matt Ridley might say, but policy is something about which many can have perfectly valid, but different, views. Science, on the other hand, is not. Typically, you do need to have some kind of actual expertise, otherwise you’re more likely to simply be making stuff up, than saying anything worth listening to.

Matt Ridley’s points were that models didn’t predict the increase in Antarctic sea ice. I don’t think this is true for all models, but so what? The climate is very complex. Some surprising things will happen. The Antarctic continent continues to lose ice mass at an increasing rate. Adding lots of fresh cold water to the surrounding sea could well contribute to increasing amounts of sea ice. It could also simply be natural variability. The record isn’t really long enough to know for sure. However, what is absolutely clear, is that an increase in Antarctic sea ice doesn’t invalidate anthropogenic global warming. We know that is happening from multiple lines of evidence.

Another point that Matt Ridley made was that the 35 year surface warming trend is lower than the mean model trends. This, I believe, is true but the 35 year trend from Cowtan and Way is 0.171 ± 0.049 degrees per decade. Even though this is below the mean model trend (which I think is around 0.2 degrees per decade) it is inside the confidence interval. So, we don’t know if this is because models really are warming too fast, because the recent slowdown in surface warming means we haven’t considered a long enough time interval, or maybe because some of the model assumptions with regards to anthropogenic emissions, volcanoes and solar have turned out to be wrong (remember, these are projections, not predictions).

Furthermore, climate models are not the only evidence we have for climate sensitivity. Paleo estimates also suggest an equilibrium sensitivity of close to 3oC. Additionally, it’s always been possible that climate sensitivity is lower than the mean (otherwise why have confidence intervals). Increasing the possibility that climate sensitivity could be low doesn’t really allow one to go thank goodness, we can relax. A true risk analysis involves considering the possibility that things could be really bad, and comparing that with the cost/risk of minimising the possibility of that outcome. Highlighting that things may be better than we think, without acknowledging that they may not, is not particularly balanced.

Representing the other side of the debate was Tamsin Edwards who I actually thought did really well. She seemed to be bristling a little at what Matt Ridley said, and tried to interject some sense. A bit tricky, though, when the other person isn’t really presenting a scientifically credible argument.

My personal view is that we really shouldn’t have experts debating non-experts about topics like climate science. It’s really too complex. On the other hand, maybe one could argue that it’s good for the public to see another side to the debate (I disagree, but others may hold different views). There is, however, another issue with Matt Ridley. Matt Ridley is actually Viscount Ridley, a member of the House of Lords and the ex-Chairman of Northern Rock. He was Chairman at a time when Northern Rock became the first British bank in over 100 years to have a run on its finances. You might imagine that he would be quite keen to stay out of the limelight after such a remarkable failure. On the other hand, you might see his current profile as being a great example of someone who’s managed to recover from such a failure.

The problem I have, though, is that you’re talking about someone who is currently holding a position that is contrary to thousands of actual experts, despite the fact that he has no formal expertise himself. Maybe he is a polymath who can understand such complex topics far better than hordes of professionals who have years of experience. Alternatively, he is an exceptionally over-confident fool. You might argue that one should ignore his past failures and judge him only on what he is doing and saying currently. I disagree. I think you can do both. I don’t know the answer for certain, but given that I’m not expecting that we’ll have to completely rewrite physics textbooks anytime soon, I’d be willing to hazard a guess.

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254 Responses to Matt Ridley, climate scientist?

  1. Marcel Crok says:

    writes the person who doesn’t even want to publish under his own name

  2. Marcel,
    And your point is?

    What’s that got to do with whether or not Matt Ridley is a suitable interviewee on climate science? Whether or not I have any credibility has no bearing on whether or not Matt Ridley has any credibility.

    Plus, this is the name I use when discussing climate science. How would knowing my other name make any difference?

    If you feel like making a substantive comment feel free. On the other hand, a drive-by is fine too.

  3. Marcel Crok says:

    It’s not about your credibility; it’s about communication; if you criticize a person, like you do here, and remain anonymous yourself, then that’s a very unpolite way of communcating;

  4. I saw it and felt that overall it was a very good piece, although like you, ATTP, I groaned when I saw they were sticking to the same tired old format of following up the insert with a studio debate between a climate scientist and a tired old Tory; this time the failed banker, Matt Ridley. Who next, Sir Fred Goodwin?

    Tamsin Edwards did a really good job. Ridley should stick to promoting E-cigarettes. http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9197731/vape-alarm/

  5. Marcel,
    Sure, maybe a fair point, I guess. That’s why I try to stick with crticising what people say and do, and do my best to avoid saying anything that might be regarded as slanderous or libelous. In this particular case, we are talking about someone who is a member of the House of Lords in the country in which I happen to live. He essentially – as I understand it – has a political role. He’s fair game as far as criticism goes, I would argue.

    Another point I would make is that I’ve always been pseudonymous when writing about this topic and – as I understand it – there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with that. I didn’t actually expect people to read it. I was simply exercising my right to express my views on a blog. Apart from giving my basic background, I’ve never claimed to be anything other than a pseudonymous blogger when it comes to this topic.

    Also, why is this about me again? This seems to be standard. Rather than addressing what I’m writing, you’re criticising my choice to remain pseudonymous. That’s not a great way to communicate either.

    I would add that I’m only anonymous to you and some others. Enough people know who I am that I can’t really get away with saying things that I should be held accountable for, and get away with that. I’m actually kind of surprised that my name hasn’t been leaked yet. Maybe I’ve only told people who are inherently trustworthy 🙂

  6. Marcel,
    Maybe I’ll ask you a question. You have Seven Goddard’s blog on your blog roll. Did you know he was pseudonymous prior to his actual name being announced? Also, have you been over there criticising him for criticising others while being pseudonymous himself. Even worse, pseudonymous in a way that was clearly not obvious. Or is it another one of these one-sided moral arguments? Only applies to people who criticise those with whom you agree?

  7. Paul says:

    Ridley was also given a peculiar little item at the end of R4’s Broadcasting House the Sunday before last. He told us – amongst other things – that we are all getting richer (a bit crass coming from someone connected with a bank that made a lot of people a lot poorer), and asserted (without challenge) that global warming is not as serious a problem as was once believed.
    Maybe BBC editors consider Lord Lawson too high risk following criticism of R4’s Today, and perhaps Ridley has to be the new face of the GWPF on the BBC. He does seem a risky choice given his role at Northern Rock and the archaic mechanism he used to get a seat on the House of Lords (nice expenses if you can get them).

  8. Catmando says:

    Ridley’s degrees are in zoology. Most of his books have been on biological topics. And he was elected to the House Of Lords as a Conservative peer. But he does seem to have the same qualifications in climate science as Lord Monckton.

  9. Chad says:

    Calling someone an exceptionally, overconfident fool is discussing climate science?

  10. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Forget Matt Ridley’s involvement. I’d like to know why Helen Czerski was shown waving her arms around wile walking along a country road, like she was a TV historian trying to conjure up the Battle of Naseby or something, not a proper scientist explaining proper physics and stuff.

    And why were Ridley and Tamsin Edwards wearing poppies two weeks before the 11th? I’m surprised they didn’t pull Christmas crackers or hand each other Easter eggs. The whole world’s gone mad! It’s disgusting!

  11. Chad,
    I didn’t call him an exceptionally over-confident fool. I suggested that it was a possibility. Anyone who chooses, without any actual expertise, to go against real experts surely has to be aware that people might consider that a possibility. I’m doing him a favour by pointing out that people might think this 🙂

  12. Vinny,
    I have no idea. I’m guessing that Helen Czerski’s production team thought it would be a good idea. As far as the poppies goes, again I don’t know. Good to see that you’re still focusing on what’s important 🙂

  13. Paul S says:

    Infinite Monkey Cage did a show on balance a while ago with Simon Mayo as guest. He was saying that in a situation where a large fraction of the population have a particular view on a subject (he was mainly talking about vaccinations) it makes sense to have that view represented in some way, but it needs to be explicit that their view runs contrary to that of the scientific community.

    “Here’s the science”

    “And now here’s someone who’s wrong”

  14. Marcel Crok says:

    I have never engaged with Goddard; I didn’t even know it wasn’t his real name; I sometimes enjoy his old newspaper articles;
    In general I would prefer if anyone going out on a sensitive topic like global warming will do that under his/her own name. Then it’s a fair game.
    If not, then try to stick as much as possible to scientific arguments. Here you criticize Ridley not for what he says but for who he is, even in your title. His job at the bank has nothing to do with the topic here. In my spare time I have been coaching tennis for more than 20 years. That makes me unsuitable to comment on climate topics?
    Your argument that only climate scientists are allowed to debate climate is ridiculous. So when is someone a climate scientist? Is Nic Lewis one? Steve McIntyre? Are they allowed to debate Tamsin about the Antarctic? Just accept that climate is a very broad field, very premature also, that there is a lot of arm waving, both from “professional” climate scientists and other commentators. There are no unique experts although of course some climate scientists know a lot about some topics.
    Marcel

  15. Marcel,

    His job at the bank has nothing to do with the topic here. In my spare time I have been coaching tennis for more than 20 years.

    I agree that it has nothing to do with the topic here. It does, however, have relevance when it comes to his overall credibility. Being Chairman of the first British bank in over 100 years to have a run on it’s finances is not a minor thing. My point here is that someone who has failed dismally in the past, is now trying to go up against experts in a field in which he has no formal experience. In some sense I’m impressed that he has the confidence to do so. In another sense, I’m amazed that he continues to think that he has the ability to do so.

    In general I would prefer if anyone going out on a sensitive topic like global warming will do that under his/her own name. Then it’s a fair game.

    How is it not fair game now? You can criticise what I say about this topic just as easily if I’m pseudonymous than if I’m not. The only advantage you might have is that if I wasn’t pseudonymous, you could write and complain to my employer, for example. How would that make it fairer? Intimidation?

    Your argument that only climate scientists are allowed to debate climate is ridiculous.

    Well, I obviously disagree with you. Climate science is a complex topic. Having non-experts debating experts is what I think is ridiculous. We’re not talking about a situation where the non-expert is trying to learn from the expert; they’re arguing against them.

    Just accept that climate is a very broad field, very premature also, that there is a lot of arm waving, both from “professional” climate scientists and other commentators.

    Well, obviously you’d say this.

  16. I find it hard to fathom the main message of this article. Far too much “on the one hand, on the other hand”. But what the heck?

    The big gap in the narrative is that Matt Ridley, who inherited his title, along with the sort of contacts that got him the job at Northern Rock that he managed to fluff in a big way, is described here as “an Academic Advisor to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and not a climate scientist”. In reality he has spent most of his career as a science writer rather than an academic, business person or even climate campaigner.

    The media often call in science writers to comment on issues. Writers are generally more at ease in front of a camera – or, by the writing standards of this blog, in front of a keyboard – than many researchers. The science writers’ job is to spend their time skimming the world of new knowledge. They can see the bigger picture than experts stuck in their silos.

    Sadly, some science writers move over to the dark side and become campaigners rather than communicators. But at least they have learnt a bit about the process of gathering, digesting, understanding and, most of all, questioning what is going on at the frontiers of knowledge. They don’t buy the idea that you accept everything a scientist says simply because of the ‘FRS’ after their name.

    In other words, Ridley, like many science writers I suspect, might like to see himself as “a polymath who can understand such complex topics far better than hordes of professionals who have years of experience”. But, as I said, the problem arises when they turn into campaigners. That is a great way of clouding your judgement and picking only the facts that suit your case. But at least you do it from a more informed position than the likes of Nigel Lawson, one of life’s buffoons who, for some reason, still gets dragged out to comment on the economy, a subject that he clearly understands as well as he gets climate science.

  17. Michael,
    Maybe, but there’s a big difference between calling someone to comment on an issue who has based their views on discussions with actual experts, and someone who might be a science writer but bases their views on those of a minority and largely ignores the views of the majority of experts. Good science writers will try to present a balanced view of a topic. That appears, very clearly, not to be what Matt Ridley is doing.

    Why the BBC even needs to include him is beyond me? That entire segment could have ended before the interview began. We’d all be more informed if it had.

  18. Paul S says:

    The science writers’ job is to spend their time skimming the world of new knowledge. They can see the bigger picture than experts stuck in their silos.

    But the BBC didn’t bring him in because they believed him to have expertise on the topic. They already had Tamsin Edwards for that. They brought him in specifically because they knew he’d have a contrary view, and he’s just about the most qualified candidate to present such a viewpoint.

  19. toby52 says:

    Unfortunately, the person who gave Ridley the most credibility was Tamsin Edwards.

    By putting herself if the position of the tame scientist, she was falsely admitting that Ridley’s crackpot notions on the science have validity.

    She may believe that it is better that someone be present to debate Ridley, but what is remembered by the public is the lie of “scientific debate”, when whatever debate exists is mostly between scientists and non-scientists.

  20. Joshua says:

    ==> “writes the person who doesn’t even want to publish under his own name”

    […]

    “then that’s a very unpolite way of communcating;”

    ——————-

    Obviously, Marcel is very concerned about politeness in communicating.

  21. Arguing with MC looks like a waste of time. Being anonymous, but identifiable, is fine. “Goddard”, by pretnding to have a real name, was lying; but you won’t hear MC criticise him or any of the other denialists.

    Meanwhile, what I actually wanted to say was:

    > On the other hand, maybe one could argue that it’s good for the public to see another side to the debate

    Not if what you’re getting is a professional debater, which is what MR effectively is. Then you end up with the situation you get with creationism: a good well trained creationist debater can quite readily “win” debates with scientists on evolution. By doing pretty well what MR does: carefully selecting facts and slant and on.

  22. OPatrick says:

    I was just going to say what William Connolley said, but refreshed before composing, so I will only add that Tamsin Edwards, whilst probably doing as well as she could in the circumstances has only really demonstrated here the problem with trying to engage in this format with someone like Riddley – a professional communicator and, in my view, one who is willing to distort and mislead.

  23. andrew adams says:

    Paul S,

    But the BBC didn’t bring him in because they believed him to have expertise on the topic. They already had Tamsin Edwards for that. They brought him in specifically because they knew he’d have a contrary view, and he’s just about the most qualified candidate to present such a viewpoint.

    That’s probably true, but why was it necessary to have a “contrary view”? Helen Czerski’s piece made it perfectly clear that the increase in Antarctic sea ice is a puzzle for which experts don’t have a complete answer, and that this demonstrates how complex an issue climate change is and that there are still significant gaps in our knowledge. These points were also accepted by Tamsin. I don’t understand what contrary viewpoint Ridley was supposed to be representing, which is maybe why the debate got sidetracked into irrelevant “climate models didn’t predict the pause” nonsense. It just seems like a knee-jerk decision by the researchers that because it’s an issue related to climate change they must therefore have a skeptic for “balance”.

  24. Joshua says:

    The problem with WC’s and OPatrick’s argument is that someone ideologically inclined to agree with Ridley will think that climate scientists are “willing to distort and mislead,” and “carefully select facts and slant.” Arguing that the other side is distorting, slanting, etc., will change nothing. Not to say I know what will change anything. I also think that Ridley probably believes his arguments to be perfectly valid . Implying that he’s deliberately promoting false arguments seems to me like a weak supposition.

    I kind of agree that Marcel that it might be best to focus on the science of Ridley’s arguments rather than the person making them (although I will note that Marcel’s participation in this thread, as of yet, rather amusingly, completely, fails to be consistent with that practice).

  25. andrew adams says:

    toby52,

    I think that’s unfair on Tamsin. I do think she gives the views of Ridley (and other skeptics) more respect than maybe they deserve, but she’s entitled to her own view on that and I thought she acquitted herself well and did try to correct his misconceptions about climate models. She certainly didn’t in my view come across as playing the role of “tame scientist” and I don’t think she should have refused to appear alongside Ridley.

  26. Joshua,

    The problem with WC’s and OPatrick’s argument is that someone ideologically inclined to agree with Ridley will think that climate scientists are “willing to distort and mislead,” and “carefully select facts and slant.” Arguing that the other side is distorting, slanting, etc., will change nothing. Not to say I know what will change anything. I also think that Ridley probably believes his arguments to be perfectly valid . Implying that he’s deliberately promoting false arguments seems to me like a weak supposition.

    Ignoring whether there’s intent or not, an issue with justifying Ridley and others being included because some think scientists are willing to distort is that we’re talking about a view that a large number of experts are somehow distorting the evidence for some unknown reason. It’s possible, but it kind of means that we’re giving in to those who suspect some kind of conspiracy/groupthink.

    I kind of agree that Marcel that it might be best to focus on the science of Ridley’s arguments rather than the person making them

    In principle I agree. I do think there are exceptions though. The credit crunch and the resulting financial crisis had a significant impact on the UK and the World. Matt Ridley had a very senior role in an organisations whose practices contributed to this crisis. Now he’s spending his time trying to convince people not to worry about global warming, despite having no actual expertise in climate science. I think it’s amazing that he has the gall to do this and I do think that, in this case, pointing out his past failures are relevant. Others may disagree, but that’s my view, FWIW.

    Andrew,
    I agree. I was worried about how Tamsin would come across in an interview when Matt Ridley was another of the interviewees, but I think she did well. I’d much prefer if climate scientists started objecting to having to take part in such interviews (largely for the reasons William indicates) but it’s a free world and I don’t really have a good idea of what’s best and what isn’t.

  27. Tom Curtis says:

    Joshua:

    “The problem with WC’s and OPatrick’s argument is that someone ideologically inclined to agree with Ridley will think that climate scientists are “willing to distort and mislead,” and “carefully select facts and slant.” Arguing that the other side is distorting, slanting, etc., will change nothing.”

    Nevertheless, Joshua, there is in this case a fact of the matter. Ridley was distorting and carefully selecting facts and slant, Edwards was not. An equivalence of perception is not a moral equivalence; and competent journalists should be able to recognize that, and who in fact is running the snow job.

  28. Actually, I was going to mention that I thought Evan Davies did quite well as the interviewer. He maybe let Matt Ridley get the last word in, but he seemed quite well-informed and ask some reasonable questions.

  29. OPatrick says:

    Joshua, I don’t think it matters whether Riddley is consciously misleading and distorting or not, I believe that pretty much any expert, including from what I’ve seen Tamsin Edwards, thinks that this is what he is effectively doing. This was obviously predictable – any of us could say what Riddley said, albeit likely far less convincingly – and in that situation I think experts should not agree to debate in this format. I emphasise that last part because a flat refusal to debate is as much a victory for the ‘sceptics’ as the debate itself was. What perhaps they should do is decline the invitation but suggest an alternative debate structure – one where everyone is held to account for each point they make – and ask that this is explicitly noted in the programme.

  30. It always bothers me when people say “by talking to person X you are giving them credibility”. With that approach the only way to handle any difficult issue is to not engage, and i just can’t see that being a successful long term strategy.

    I’ve also heard it said a lot about for example Nic Lewis. But, by and large, “we” don’t get to decide who is credible and who isn’t, and having a dinner with Nic Lewis et al does not give him and the others credibility. Publishing in front rank journals does. Which he has done.

    I think it was great that Tamsin Edwards is prepared to sit in a studio and do so well talking about science when Matt Ridley – a supremely experienced media person – is doing what I thought was text book “bait and switch”. She was on top of the subject. Was able to sensibly jump hemispheres when talking about ice, and she has the technical expertise to talk about the whole system as well. I could not have done that.

    I also think Helen Czerski did a great job. How many times do we get to see a scientist in a related ares doing a piece on a complex problem. And as a polar person I think she spoke to the people I would have wanted her to. David Vaughan – director of science at BAS, Paul Holland – published 2 papers on antarctic sea ice this last year and Bintanja who wrote such an interesting modelling paper in 2013.

  31. OPatrick says:

    It always bothers me when people say “by talking to person X you are giving them credibility”.

    I don’t know about others but what I’m happy to say is by talking to person I in this format you are giving them unwarranted credibility.

  32. OPatrick says:

    Person X, even. Don’t know who person I is.

  33. Mark,

    It always bothers me when people say “by talking to person X you are giving them credibility”. With that approach the only way to handle any difficult issue is to not engage, and i just can’t see that being a successful long term strategy.

    I agree with you in principle, but in practice there do seem to be some who it really isn’t worth engaging with. I don’t really put Matt Ridley in that category, but I do think that this particular interview was unbalanced. I do wonder, though, what would happen if more climate scientists took a stronger line though. It’s one thing to engage, but it’s another to make stronger statements about what is scientifically credible and what isn’t.

    I’ve also heard it said a lot about for example Nic Lewis. But, by and large, “we” don’t get to decide who is credible and who isn’t, and having a dinner with Nic Lewis et al does not give him and the others credibility. Publishing in front rank journals does. Which he has done.

    I do agree with you about Nic and I think I’ve said the same before. He’s doing exactly what people who are skeptical should do. If I have one criticism is that he gets more exposure than someone with his academic credentials would normally get. There are plenty of postdocs and PhD students who have published more and yet he gets a lot more exposure than most of those people do simply because his work tends to be slightly outside the mainstream. I don’t really blame him for that, but it does illustrate the lack of balance.

    I think it was great that Tamsin Edwards is prepared to sit in a studio and do so well talking about science when Matt Ridley – a supremely experienced media person – is doing what I thought was text book “bait and switch”. She was on top of the subject. Was able to sensibly jump hemispheres when talking about ice, and she has the technical expertise to talk about the whole system as well. I could not have done that.

    Yes, Tamsin did a good job and I couldn’t have done it either.

  34. I think that’s why I put “person X” in. In principal I am furiously nodding. In practice sometimes I nod too much and my head ends up on the desk…

    I’m just not quick enough to do what Tamsin can do. The constant jumping into other areas means my limited expertise is not relevant. Which in some cases may be the outcome desired!

  35. Having to stick to the precise truth is a great handicap in any debate of the sort we saw last night. Being able to switch subjects, mould facts to fit and throw them into the argument like small hand grenades can easily give someone an unfair advantage.

    Tamsin did very well and is getting better with every experience of the media she has. I’d say she dominated the debate — but it was helped by the fact that Evan Davies is not John Humphries.

  36. andrew adams says:

    Mark,

    Yes, I agree that there was an impressive array of expert opinion represented in Helen’s film, plus of course Tamsin in the studio to provide extra context and comment on the questions raised. That’s why having Ridley there rankled – how was he ever going to add to the viewer’s understanding of the subject? In fact he detracted from it by taking the discussion down a blind alley. Some questions in and around climate science are interesting in their own right and the best people to shed light on them are those involved in actively researching them. They simply don’t fit a simplistic warmists v skeptics framing.

  37. Michael 2 says:

    “any segment on climate science must include someone associated with the Global Warming Policy Foundation.”

    How many other choices of opposition exist? It is not the job of the BBC, so far as I know, to serve as an advocacy mouthpiece for any particular advocate. That would be the job of for-profit networks such as MSNBC.

    The utility or benefit may not be obvious, but in my opinion people tune out (ignore) “infomercials” — those hour long propaganda pieces pretending to be a documentary but really trying to persuade you to buy vitamins or something. You might watch part of it the very first time; but how many hour long programs on the impending doom do you think people will be willing to watch?

    An argument is battle, verbal futbol, and will draw an audience. That’s pretty much all that any broadcaster wants.

  38. In a post on another example of “false balance” by the BBC, it is natural to speak about he credentials of Matt Ridley of the GW Policy Foundation.

    Interesting, that MC Staat complains about Anders being pseudonymous, while I have not heard him about the WUWT-regulars: Bob Tisdale (?), justthefacts, Josh, Jean S, sunshinehours, policycritic, hockeyschtick, AndyG55, man bearpig, katabasis, poptech, TinyCO2, ATheoK, latitude, skiphil, Jimbo, 3×2, _Jim, son of mulder, Gunga Din, streetcred, tonyb, intrepid wanders, “lurker passing through, laughing”, pokerguy, kim, mangochutney, bushbunny, village idiot, NikFromNYC, agnostic, hot under the collar., or people at his blog: Crowbar, Arjan, TINSTAAFL, Boels069, Shub Niggurath.

    Somehow it sounds like the double standards of Anthony Watts,who only calls people who disagree with him “anonymous cowards”. Since Steven Goddard published a comment asking people to visit me in my office, I can appreciate even more that not everyone wants his name to be known with these political extremists.

  39. I’m nodding Andrew. I really am. ATTP is far too nice re MR.

    Personally I can’t get past the Northern Wreck and the hubris…

  40. False balance is somewhat of a misnomer. The problem is not that people like Matt Ridley get heard, but that the are presented as equals to the scientists. The format should make clear to the audience who has the weight of the evidence behind him.

  41. Willard says:

    > maybe a fair point, I guess.

    No, you guess wrong, AT. What you say here does not rest on your own authority, while we expect talking heads to have some grasp over what they’re saying. It’s all too clear that the Viscount relies on talking points he borrows from others.

    And even if your authority was on the line, it would be a tu quoque.

    That I know Marcel’s name does not change these facts. That he doesn’t know mine either. This is the very first thing college students learn in critical thinking classes. It’s not even a figure of speech.

  42. Eli Rabett says:

    Eli agrees with Vinny, poppies do not happen by accident

    As to debating with Ridley, the first thing is every time you reply you say, Lord Ridley (or whatever) chair of the failed Northern Rock bank, whose failure destroyed many lives says. . . .

    EVERY TIME

  43. Eli,
    Yes, I did wonder what would happen to his credibility if the BBC introduced him as Viscount Ridley, Member of the House of Lords, Academic Advisor to the Global Warming Policy Foundation and ex-Charmain of Northern Rock.

    Willard,
    Yes, I did wonder if I was giving too much credit 🙂

  44. M2,

    How many other choices of opposition exist?

    That’s rather the point isn’t it? There aren’t really any others. Either the BBC always invites someone associated with the BBC or it won’t have any “skeptical” voices when it comes to discussing climate science. That says rather a lot, doesn’t it?

  45. OPatrick says:

    That says rather a lot, doesn’t it?

    Unintentionally so, perhaps. Are you really very cynical about the BBC?

  46. Willard says:

    I think AT meant the GWPF.

  47. Okay, yes, I meant the GWPF.

  48. andrew adams says:

    Actually, given what the BBC news output has been like in recent months we should just be grateful they didn’t have Nigel Farage debating with Tamsin.

  49. You should get two top drawer scientists in the room who could argue about what the reason is for the Antarctic sea ice extent increase, rather than keep jumping hemisphere and moving away from that subject.

    It’s interesting that some keep talking about “the pause” that appears in one metric. If you try and suggest that they are not considering a complete system then you get nowhere. Yet when climate scientists point to a system then they are happy to jump to another subject.

  50. Mark,
    Yes, exactly. Could have had a perfectly interesting discussion with two experts, rather than just one. Then – as you say – they may actually try to stick to the topic and delve into some of the possible reasons, rather than jumping around when something inconvenient (like reality) interferes with their chosen narrative.

  51. Paul S says:

    Victor,
    The format should make clear to the audience who has the weight of the evidence behind him.

    As I posted above:

    “Here’s the science”

    “And now here’s someone who’s wrong”

  52. Willard says:

    Perhaps we should invite an alarmist for a change, and to help Vinny with his stock of examples.

  53. Ian Forrester says:

    Re the poppies. I believe they are being worn early this year for two reasons. Firstly, Canada’s National Art Centre Orchestra is on a Tour of Remembrance;

    To commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War, Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, led by our renowned Music Director Pinchas Zukerman, will embark on a tour of the United Kingdom in October. This tour will explore the themes of remembrance and healing through music

    http://nac-cna.ca/en/uktour

    The second is that people have been asked to wear poppies early this year in respect for the two military personnel killed in tragic circumstances in recent days in Canada.

  54. The question we’ve not discussed is why did the BBC choose to discuss that well known denial meme, ‘the increasing Antarctic sea ice’? Most of us know that, as the ice in the Antarctic virtually disappears every summer, the spread in 15% coverage of winter sea ice is little more than a scientific oddity which hardly anyone would mention if it weren’t for the fact that in the denial world it has assumed the importance of one of the favourite ‘nails in the coffin’.

    Tamsin informed me via Twitter that she was told Ridley would be on at the same time as she was invited to take part. This seems to suggest that Ridley was the starting point for the debate. I’ve Just asked @helenczerski if she can shed any light.

  55. john,
    That’s something that I’d thought of mentioning in the post. We’ve had the “pause”. Now we’ve got Antarctic sea ice. These are both interesting but I doubt that they’d have had the kind of exposure if it wasn’t for the push by “skeptics” to control the narrative. Once it becomes clear that the Antarctic sea ice isn’t really indicative of anything significant with respect to global warming, we’ll move onto something else – “no TCs in the Atlantic for 18 months”, “no major floods in Europe for 2 years”, ….

  56. BBD says:

    I keep on saying this, but the BBC and other media should not give climate change deniers the microphone. They should never be interviewed at all.

    The only way to stop denialism distorting the public discourse is to shut it out.

    Just how long it is going to take the BBC and others to work this out is anybody’s guess, but it will eventually have to be done. I just wish to fuck they would get on and do it.

  57. So @helenczerski says “Suggested by a senior producer in BBC Science who execs science documentaries.” / “I think he’d read a newspaper article on it. Saw it as suitable for a short feature.”

    So there you have it. That’s how the memes spread.

  58. john,
    My discussion with Helen Czerski on Twitter didn’t go very well. I’m not quite sure what happened there, but her responses didn’t seem to be responses to what I thought I’d said. Anyway, that’s the joy of communicating in 140 characters or less 🙂

  59. Can imagine with all the fools on her twitter timeline.

  60. Victor,
    Yes, that rather crossed my mind. Maybe just had enough 🙂

  61. BBD says:

    “I think he’d read a newspaper article on it. Saw it as suitable for a short feature.”

    So there you have it. That’s how the memes spread.

    I hope Joshua is paying attention to this conversation.

  62. OPatrick says:

    Ah, but the media may well influence the media but that doesn’t necessarily mean it influences us. 🙂

  63. Joseph says:

    i think another problem is that interviewers are usually not experts themselves, so they don’t ask the challenging questions when misinformation is presented by the non-expert.

  64. Joseph,
    It’s even worse when the interviewer is Andrew Neil as he seems to broadly agree with them. At least Evan Davies seemed to actually try and challenge Matt Ridley.

  65. Steven Mosher says:

    Shocking!

    ‘Additionally, it’s always been possible that climate sensitivity is lower than the mean (otherwise why have confidence intervals).”

    Now you sound like a Lukewarmer!

    A couple of observations.

    1. Suppose the BBC invited Robert Way and Robert Rohde to discuss global temperature records and threw in Ridley for “balance”. personally, I’d relish the opportunity and I am sure that the Robert’s would as well. Talk about shooting fish in a barrel. If I get your concern it would be that the BBC gave experts an opportunity to make Ridley look like the ignorant fool he is? err.

    2. Names: Well, your critique here in some sense is based on the notion that you know who Ridley is and you can, based on that, weigh or reject his views and suggest that others, like the BBC , should do likewise. Or maybe you even object to those positions being presented.
    Consequently, some people ( like a journalist) may want to know who you are and how your background makes you a suitable spokesperson on the present topic: the topic being who should
    the BBC talk to. For example, if you were a journalism expert or a communication expert,
    then I might argue that folks should give more weight for your position. But if you are just a scientist, talking about journalism standards and practices, then some might say.. go away and do science.

  66. OPatrick says:

    Now you sound like a Lukewarmer!

    Has the definition of a lukewarmer morphed into ‘someone who thinks it’s possible climate sensitivity is lower than the mean’ whilst I wasn’t watching?

    Re 1: do you think that it would be difficult for Ridley (I note my own possible subconscious bias in previously referring to him as Riddley) to obfuscate effectively for three minutes on the temperature record?

  67. Steven,

    ‘Additionally, it’s always been possible that climate sensitivity is lower than the mean (otherwise why have confidence intervals).”

    Now you sound like a Lukewarmer!

    As OPatrick points out, I only think that it could be low, not that it is.

    Suppose the BBC invited Robert Way and Robert Rohde to discuss global temperature records and threw in Ridley for “balance”. personally, I’d relish the opportunity and I am sure that the Robert’s would as well. Talk about shooting fish in a barrel. If I get your concern it would be that the BBC gave experts an opportunity to make Ridley look like the ignorant fool he is? err.

    Except, as William points out, you don’t need to be well-informed to do well in a 5 minute TV debate. Ridley is quite skilled at this format.

    But if you are just a scientist, talking about journalism standards and practices, then some might say.. go away and do science.

    They can, of course, do exactly that. I’ve never claimed to be anything other than a scientist who happens to choose to write a blog. Maybe I should stick more to the science, but sometimes that’s boring and sometimes it seems worth presenting my view about something that isn’t strictly science but maybe is relevant. Plus, until there’s a law prohibiting people from expressing their views on blogs, I think I shall continue – well, until I get bored, too busy, or my family gets more tired of my always playing on my laptop 🙂

  68. Layzej says:

    “Another point that Matt Ridley made was that the 35 year surface warming trend is lower than the mean model trends. This, I believe, is true”

    Unless I’m reading this wrong, GISTEMP shows 0.19C/decade over the last 35 years. Not quite 0.2C, but neither is it an epic fail… : http://woodfortrees.org/data/gistemp-dts/last:420/trend

  69. Then from now on I am a lukewarmer, I think that there is a 50% chance that the climate sensitivity is below the median.

    It is clear to everyone following this blog that the host is a competent physicist and not an expert in journalism. That is also why she/he is not invited by the BBC to talk about journalism, not even about climate change.

    Steven Mosher: “go away and do science”

    That from the people that are obsessed with “censorship” and have to trouble to comment on everything with little expertise to back them up? Strange. No. Inconsistent.

  70. That from the people that are obsessed with “censorship” and have NO trouble to comment on everything with little expertise to back them up? Strange. No. Inconsistent.

  71. It’s not possible to stop ideas like the pause or growth in Antarctic sea ice cover from spreading. Declining from discussing such claims is of little help in stopping that. There’s a risk that the promoter of false ideas is very competent and that the scientist, who tries to explain what science really tells is less convincing. That’s unfortunate, but declining to participate is probably not any better.

    Even, when a single event does not go very well, it’s quite possible that the journalist who studies the issues and makes the interviews learns during the process. As the same journalist continues often to work with similar issues, affecting her or him may be a useful contribution, sometimes the most useful.

    There are claims so obviously nonsense that no scientists should agree to discuss them, but when the issue is empirically as clear as the Antarctic sea ice, that’s not appropriate, but may be seen as hiding inconvenient facts.

    Major media do not accept anyone outside dictating what they should present and what not. Sometimes it possible to convince a journalist that some issue is not worth presenting (I have done that more than once when asked to comment on Finnish radio, but the issues have been minor).

  72. Joshua says:

    In response to Anders:

    ==> ” an issue with justifying Ridley and others being included because some think scientists are willing to distort is that we’re talking about a view that a large number of experts are somehow distorting the evidence for some unknown reason. ”

    and OPatrick:

    ==> “Joshua, I don’t think it matters whether Riddley is consciously misleading and distorting or not, I believe that pretty much any expert, including from what I’ve seen Tamsin Edwards, thinks that this is what he is effectively doing. ”

    But I don’t understand what you visualize as the alternative. I think that it is mostly legitimate for the media to reflect public opinion. I think it is mostly legitimate because I don’t think that anyone is really in a position to say: “It’s fine for you to reflect this public opinion, but not that public opinion.”

    And clearly, the media – being an entity that strives to attract an audience – will continue to reflect public opinion whether we think that is their legitimate task or not.

    So what do you see as the alternative. How is it to be implemented?: If a sizable segment of the public actually agrees with Ridely’s views – what is a legitimate response from the media?

    And of course, all of that is basically academic – because it isn’t going to change. The die is cast. Ridley and his buddies will continue to get audience share, and perhaps even an increasing audience share. Seems to me that no response that perpetuates identifications will be effective. Looking at the situations systemically, it seems to me that the only viable alternative would work with those who are less identified, and the only chance of doing that is to create a “win/win” framework for dialog. Of course, that is likely not possible with someone like Ridley. A “win/win” framework for dialog can only be effective with people who aren’t locked into an identity-defense/identity-aggression behavior pattern.

    Perhaps impossible. In which case, these issues will simply not be resolved for another 50-100 years, when (as I understand it) the physics will basically change the “uncertainties” to the point where science will trump ideological identification.

  73. Joshua says:

    Tom –

    ==> “An equivalence of perception is not a moral equivalence; and competent journalists should be able to recognize that, and who in fact is running the snow job.”

    I dare say that your perception of what “should” happen is of limited impact on what will happen.

  74. OPatrick says:

    Joshua – my short answer for what I see as the alternative is for there to be a collective response from experts to say ‘no, we are not going to engage in debate in this format (but will be prepared to under these … conditions’. But I have to go and get the kids, so I can’t give a longer response now.

  75. Joshua says:

    ==> “Then from now on I am a lukewarmer,

    Unless someone is willing to make a good faith attempt at defining these terms while their being used (something you won’t get with mosher), I’d say that we are all simultaneously “skeptics,” “realists,” “lukewarmers,” “alarmists,” “deniers,” etc. These terms have no actual objective meaning in these discussions – they are defined and used selectively as labels – and as such, are merely rhetorical tools, not the tools of science.

  76. Paul S says:

    Layzej,

    Didn’t sound right to me. I think you’re looking at the Met Station only time series. That’s not an apt comparison to model outputs (though neither is the standard comparison most people make).

  77. Joshua says:

    OPatrick –

    ==> “Joshua – my short answer for what I see as the alternative is for there to be a collective response from experts to say ‘no, we are not going to engage in debate in this format ”

    That doesn’t strike me as very practical. First, I think it is unlikely that you will get agreement from someone like Tamsin on that. She seems quite convinced that engaging with “skeptics” is, very specifically, what will move the needle.

    Second, I think that such a stance would be likely to play out – at least among those ideologically aligned with “skepticism” – as “climate scientist refuses to debate because he/she is a propagandist and afraid to engage in real debate because of the weakness of his/her position.” It doesn’t really matter that such a view is conspiracy ideation – because the ideologically-inclined aren’t particularly bothered by that.

  78. Willard says:

    > Then from now on I am a lukewarmer, I think that there is a 50% chance that the climate sensitivity is below the median.

    A lukewarmer bets under, Victor. Unless you bet under, you’re not what you think you could be. Gerrymandering based on a fuzzy upper bound is the main ClimateBall ™ move by lukewarmers, and you fall for it.

    Unless you were being ironic? Then I am too.

  79. Willard, I guess I am also an alarmist, I think that there is a 50% chance that the climate sensitivity is above the median.

  80. OPatrick says:

    But I’m not advocating that Tamsin doesn’t engage, just that she engages on terms that are going to promote genuine debate rather than the sort of obfuscation that Ridley has succeeded in getting across (through no fault of Tamsin’s given the circumstances of the debate). As I said, this debate needs to happen in a context where people can be held accountable for the points they make – for example Ridley was able to assert that the 35 year temperature trend was below the model mean but there was no chance to discuss the context of this and so a misleading impression was allowed to stand. It’s perfectly possible to design a format that wouldn’t allow this to happen, although I’m sure it would be far more time consuming. It’s important though that they make it clear, and the programme editors involved make it clear, what these terms are so that if they are refused it can’t be sold as a refusal to engage as you suggest.

  81. Steve Bloom says:

    “And clearly, the media – being an entity that strives to attract an audience – will continue to reflect public opinion whether we think that is their legitimate task or not.”

    Think about your premises for this statement.

  82. BBD says:

    O’Patrick

    It’s perfectly possible to design a format that wouldn’t allow this to happen, although I’m sure it would be far more time consuming.

    I actually doubt that it would be easy, or even possible. Imagine: if the interview were taped and all the misinformation edited out, the remnants would probably be unintelligible.

    It’s much easier just to keep the misinformers away from the microphone.

  83. OPatrick says:

    Steve, this bit at the end of the article struck me as relevant for the BBC, substituting journalists for politicians/policymakers:

    As Duffy puts it:

    The real peril of these misperceptions is how politicians and policymakers react. Do they try to challenge people and correct their view of reality or do they take them as a signal of concern, the result of a more emotional reaction and design policy around them?

    Clearly the ideal is to do a bit of both – politicians shouldn’t misread these misperceptions as people simply needing to be re-educated and then their views will change – but they also need to avoid policy responses that just reinforce unfounded fears.

    But then she’s a Welsh singer, so what do we care what her opinion is. 🙂

  84. anoilman says:

    Steve, speak for your self. I’m the Mary Poppins of engineering. Practically perfect in every way. 🙂

    The Antarctic sea ice is an interesting one, often used to confuse people. The Antarctic has ice melt which results in fresher water, which raises the freezing temperature. (Saline freezes at a lower temperature.) Then you have wind blowing across it causing it to freeze.

    The answer is in the wind. (note: This is weather, not climate…yet anyways.)
    http://www.washington.edu/news/2013/09/17/stronger-winds-explain-puzzling-growth-of-sea-ice-in-antarctica/

    On the other hand we have folks always talking about Arctic Sea Ice extent and how much the summer melt is freezing.
    http://phys.org/news/2014-10-problems-arctic-shipping-ice.html

    Using the same unit of measure is not a great way to get the message across. Perhaps we should be comparing volume of ice instead? I dunno. Either way, I think the messaging on ice is a bit confusing, particularly to public.

  85. OPatrick says:

    BBD, I agree that you couldn’t just edit out the misinformation – you’d be left with a very one-sided discussion!

    I’m thinking of a different format, perhaps where those involved submitted any facts they are using well in advance so they can be checked, then this process repeated for counter-references and so on. Something to cut down on the potential for gish-gallop.

  86. Willard says:

    If scientists knew a bit more about the ClimateBall ™ playbooks, they would make sure that moves such as “but Antarctica” backlash against any talking head, be it yet another plutocratic Viscount.

    This may even have the power to modify the BBC’s behavior, for nothing would prevent t follow up with holding the BBC responsible for inviting a talking head that uses talking points.

    And since this could be done with elegance, zest, and gusto, I see no reason why this would not provide a good show. So the producers might even like this.

  87. OPatrick says:

    How?

  88. Joshua,

    So what do you see as the alternative. How is it to be implemented?: If a sizable segment of the public actually agrees with Ridely’s views – what is a legitimate response from the media?

    I guess my view is that this isn’t about whether or not the media is right or wrong in how they present a topic, or whether or not there is some kind of process they should follow, it’s about – for example – scientists, who are also a segment of the public/society, expressing a view as to whether or not the media is presenting a topic in a reasonable way. If they hold a minority view and they can’t convince many that there is an issue with how the media is presenting something, it will probably remain unchanged. On the other hand, maybe they will have a loud voice and will be convincing and the media will adapt. It’s a continual process.

    I don’t, for example, think it’s wrong for Matt Ridley to have been interviewed together with Tamsin about this topic. It’s my opinion, though, that doing so presented an unbalanced view of our understanding of this topic. It’s also my opinion that it would be better if the media interviewed experts about these complex topics. It is, however, simply my view and I’m simply using my democratic right to express that view.

  89. guthrie says:

    Hmm, where are all these tone trolls coming from? Ridley is an overconfident antiscientific fool who knows less about climate change and economics than my big toe.

    Willard – it would be entertaining to have you in a phone in against whatever denialist the BBC feel obliged to humour next.

  90. guthrie says:

    Woo hoo, I got a comment in moderation, I think I used a magic word!

  91. Yes, I think we have the word “troll” as a moderation term 🙂

  92. Trevor Hoyle says:

    I sent quite a long comment which clearly never reached you.

    The gist was that I had a long email debate with a BBC radio producer after I questioned the so-called “balance” (in relation to climate science) they are so proud of. He maintained that the BBC was fair and impartial, taking in its radio, TV and internet platforms overall. So I asked him to provide just one instance (not twenty or a dozen, just one) in any scientific story they had covered where 97 per cent of professional scientists have arrived at a conclusion (the proportion of peer-reviewed articles in climate journals worldwide which agree with climate change/global warming) and where the BBC had invited or would invite someone to put forward, for “balance”, the view of the other 3 per cent.

    He replied but offered no example, or answer, to my request — as of course he couldn’t. On any other scientific topic with that level of consensus, the BBC wouldn’t even dream of inviting someone to put the other view. It would be like, say, a debate on cosmology where they get somebody to describe black holes as a fantasy or say there is no evidence that pulsars exist or insist that the moon is made of green cheese. Of course they would never do it because it would make them look foolish. But with climate science — even when scientists are 97-3 of one particular view — they roll out a sceptic (in fact the person is usually a denier, not a sceptic, because all scientists are sceptical by nature) and accord that person the same time and similar status to a professional scientist. As if that constitutes balance, which it certainly doesn’t. In fact it’s a clear bias, favouring a tiny minority view.

    Why the BBC should treat climate science, particularly and uniquely, in this bizarre fashion is anyone’s guess. Might it have something to with — oh I don’t know — corporate influence, or political pressure from somewhere? It doesn’t seem to apply in any other scientific field.

  93. guthrie says:

    As for the poppies, I have not undertaken an exhaustive study, but they have been worn earlier and earlier over the years; this century it is probably partly due to the increase in concerns for the armed forces due to their involvement in 2 wars, whilst at the same time everyone can see the politicians are shafting them. The other reasons include it is part of hte BBC establishment ethos that poppies should be worn; also modern marketing ideas tend towards longer periods of advertising, which is basically what the poppies are these days.

  94. John Mashey says:

    Some business privatize the profits and socialize the costs/damages/risks, and helped by some think tanks, publications and pundits.

    1) See Matt Ridley profile @ DeSmogBlog.

    2) IEA published Down to Earth and Down to Earth II.
    “Dr Ridley is one of a number of environmentalists who are seeking to counter the inaccurate and misleading opinions of ‘mainstream environmentalism'”

    3) IEA is a long-time helper for tobacco industry, which exists only by addicting people during the one vulnerable period, adolescent/YA brain development, which is why they are suddenly keen on e-cigs … and then kills them, but as slowly as possible.
    Google: tobacco site:http://www.iea.org.uk/ OR cigarette site:http://www.iea.org.uk/
    Legacy Tobacco Documents Library search.
    One shows BAT “donating” 9,000 pounds to IEA.

    4) Then:
    Google: matt ridley secondhand smoke OR
    Google matt ridley e-cigarettes

    5) Like Rupert Darwall, Ridley recently spoke for the Texas Public Policy Foundation: described internally at Philip Morris (1998)
    “Subject: RE: Texas Public Policy Foundation
    They are a conservative think tank research organization . We have had a close relationship with them for many years . Per Neal’s operation, they have done a lot of work on issues that we deem important. We are a longtime financial supporter. In the past, we have paid them out of the tort budget . When Neal and I discussed their most recent contribution request, we both agreed that we should continue our support.”

    PDF p.39 at Fakery 2 showed only $50K from PM to TPPF, but that was a different budget from this sort of thing.

    The blurb for his talk at TPPF’s At the Crossroads – Energy and Climate Summit:
    ‘Keynote Address
    “Resources such as coal [oil and natural gas] are sufficiently abundant to allow an expansion of both economic activity and population to the point where they can generate sustainable wealth for all the people of the planet without hitting a Malthusian ceiling. The blinding brightness of this still amazes me: we can build a civilization in which everybody lives the life of the Sun King, because everybody is served by (and serves) a thousand servants, each of whose service is amplified by extraordinary amounts of inanimate energy…”
    – Matt Ridley, “The Rational Optimist” …

    Matt Ridley’s books have sold over a million copies, been translated into 30 languages, been short-listed for nine major literary prizes and won several awards. He worked for The Economist for nine years as science editor, Washington correspondent, and American editor, before becoming a self-employed writer and businessman. He was founding chairman of the International Centre for Life in Newcastle. He currently writes the Mind and Matter column in The Wall Street Journal and writes regularly for The Times. As Viscount Ridley, he was elected to the House of Lords in February 2013. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.”‘

  95. guthrie says:

    Trevor – re. the BBC, it is generally agreed (at least by people I know or read) that the BBC is pro-establishment. Naturally, when the establishment is, as it is now, run/ taken over by money worshipping corporate types, that means anything which affects said types must be treated in this way.

  96. Trevor,
    I don’t know what happened to your first comment. I looked through the spam and trash folders, and couldn’t see anything.

    I don’t understand what logic they’re using to decide who should be interviewed when it comes to climate science. I’m struggling to think of a single instance where one of the interviewees was not associated with the GWPF. It’s probably been involved in more BBC climate science segments than any other single organisations, including the Met Office.

  97. Joseph says:

    Sadly for them, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of good science being done by those on the “skeptical” side. They all seem to be criticizing from the outside looking in without participating.

  98. Richard Erskine says:

    Maybe the BBC producers/ researchers should (a) actually act on the report Steve Jones produced for them which highlighted the false balance of pitching a campaigner against a scientist, (b) say “no” when Lord Lawson or one of his attack dogs insist on meetings at the BBC demanding equal access, but perhaps most instructively, (c) see John Oliver’s brilliant illustration of how we might counter this format … See

  99. Trevor Hoyle says:

    ATTP — the BBC have used James Delingpole and David Rose (the latter had a double-page spread in last week’s Mail on Sunday with a scare story about “The Green Blob”). But my point is not that they employ Lord Lawson’s spokespeople, or Rose or Delingpole, or anyone else — but why the BBC should be so keen to present an alternative view at all. There is NO OTHER FIELD OF SCIENCE where the weight of evidence is 97 per cent one way that the BBC would consider for a moment giving a platform to a contrary viewpoint. it would just not happen — as it proved when I asked the BBC producer (he’s worked there over 20 years) to give me an instance and he failed. The interesting question, to me, is where is the pressure coming from on producers and editors to follow this line, and who is doing the pressuring and for what reason.

  100. “On any other scientific topic with that level of consensus, the BBC wouldn’t even dream of inviting someone to put the other view. It would be like, say, a debate on cosmology where they get somebody to describe black holes as a fantasy or say there is no evidence that pulsars exist or insist that the moon is made of green cheese.”

    The normal science reporting by the BBC follows a very boring pattern: They explain the research and the ask another scientist in the field to comment on the quality and importance. Climate science is somehow different. I guess there are also journalists that like the consequences of climate change.

    Is “Newsnight” as the name suggests a news program, about important political and societal questions? Or do they more often have general interest and science stories? The Antarctic sea is a climatological curiosity, something you may want to cover in a science program. It only makes sense in a hard news program if you see it as an indication that climate science is a hoax and that this curiosity may thus have political implications.

  101. Trevor,
    Oh, I agree with you completely. I saw Delingpole on Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago. I’ve tried pointing out Rose’s errors on my blog and on Twitter. I was just extending what you were saying by pointing out how ridiculous it was that one organisation with little formal experience in climate science has been involved in more BBC segments than any other single organisation.

  102. John Mashey says:

    I missed Reform, Wikipedia or its website. Brits may recognize these folks, but I don’t, mostly, except:
    “Reform’s director is Andrew Haldenby (a former head of the Political Section in the Conservative Research Department) and its deputy director is Richard Harries (a former senior civil servant). Previous deputy directors include Elizabeth Truss, elected as a Conservative MP in 2010, and Nick Seddon, appointed as a Senior Policy Advisor for Health and Social Care to Number 10 Downing Street.[7][8] Consultant directors are Rupert Darwell, Nick Bosanquet and Nicholas Boys Smith.”

    At least, back in 2010, Ridley was on their Advisory Council, listed as:
    “Dr Matt Ridley
    Environmental Scientist”

  103. Rachel M says:

    Richard Erskine, I was going to post that John Oliver clip but you beat me to it 🙂 It’s brilliant.

  104. BBD says:

    The GWPF is using the media to shape the public discourse. Because it works.

  105. Trevor Hoyle says:

    That’s an obvious point, BBD, if I may say so. But WHY is the corporate media, including the BBC, prepared to give them the space and time?

  106. Richard Erskine says:

    @Trevor Hoyle … The pressure is coming from a small but influence group of politically motivated players like Lord Lawson and Peter Lilley. See http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/mediapolicyproject/2014/04/02/false-balance-in-climate-reporting-reveals-bbcs-sensitivity-to-political-pressure/ … The BBC seem more keen to keep them quiet than the many scientists who complain about where the real bias lies (p.s. Are you any relation to the great Fred Hoyle?)

  107. Trevor Hoyle says:

    Richard — thanks for that. No relation to the great Fred, unfortunately, who I once heard speak at Manchester university. Not an inspired orator, truth be told.

  108. Paul S says:

    Victor,

    Newsnight is generally a hard political show. Their final segments (which this was) are usually a bit more of a wildcard but such a technical and obscure topic as Antarctic sea ice is very unusual. As you imply, I suspect the only reason they ran it was a misguided belief that it said something more general about climate change, or because they felt enough other people were talking about it in the context of implications for climate change. I can’t say I’ve been particularly aware of the latter being true, outside commentary from the usual suspects.

  109. BBD says:

    Trevor Hoyle

    That’s an obvious point, BBD, if I may say so. But WHY is the corporate media, including the BBC, prepared to give them the space and time?

    Sorry. Too much GWPF-watching makes me forget that who and what they are isn’t branded into everybody’s mind 🙂

    Lawson was a player. He knows what he is doing. He has friends in Tory high places who share his contrarian views and economo–political biases. So as Richard Erskine illustrates, they get things done.

    * * *

    Are you the Trevor Hoyle, btw?

  110. BBD says:

    O’Patrick

    I’m thinking of a different format, perhaps where those involved submitted any facts they are using well in advance so they can be checked, then this process repeated for counter-references and so on. Something to cut down on the potential for gish-gallop.

    Same problem as with the tape edit. There’d be nothing much left once the rebuttin’ was done. Just smoke and vultures 😉

  111. Trevor Hoyle says:

    BBD — don’t know how to answer that. I’m definitely a Trevor Hoyle.

    [Italic added. Please use HTML tags. -W]

  112. Layzej says:

    Hi Paul S,

    Gotcha. I didn’t realize the GISS dT was surface station only. The GISS LOTI shows 0.15C/decade over the last 35 years.

  113. Michael says:

    This has all happened before and the BBC had a report that specifically noted the false balance issue and issued a reminder to editors to avoid this kind of thing; ie scientist vs. talking head.

    At the time I think it was in response to Nigel Lawson getting repeat invites to ‘debate’ scientists. Maybe they forgot, or thought it didn’t apply to Ridley.

  114. BBD says:

    Trevor Hoyle

    I was wondering if you are this Trevor Hoyle.

  115. Trevor Hoyle says:

    BBD — yes. (There are several others I get confused with)

  116. BBD says:

    Trevor Hoyle

    (There are several others I get confused with)

    Hopefully not here 🙂

  117. Eli Rabett says:

    Steve Mosher said

    Suppose the BBC invited Robert Way and Robert Rohde to discuss global temperature records and threw in Ridley for “balance”. personally, I’d relish the opportunity and I am sure that the Robert’s would as well. Talk about shooting fish in a barrel. If I get your concern it would be that the BBC gave experts an opportunity to make Ridley look like the ignorant fool he is? err.

    Eli is not so sure about that. True story, about three years ago Eli was sitting at the AGU Atmos Sci banquet at a table with Robert Rhode, some other guys and Steve Schwartz who had brought along one of the truly unconvinced know it alls. Said specimen (and it said more about Schwartz than him) was going on about how all the surface records were bull and dishonest including BEST at length. Robert was sitting there quietly until Eli ruined the fun by pointing out that is said doubter had any questions the right person to answer them was sitting across the table. It was cruel on the Rabett’s part and he regrets the discomfort it caused Robert, but no, putting Robert one on one with Ridley IEHO would not be a service

  118. austrartsua says:

    ” It could also simply be natural variability. The record isn’t really long enough to know for sure”.

    Hmm, this sounds familiar. Where have I heard this argument before?

  119. Magma says:

    Watch Matt Ridley being put on the spot by then-chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Committee John McFall about his failure to pay attention to months of warnings about the clear risks posed by U.S. subprime assets, and then think about whether he should utter one single word about the risks of climate change for the rest of his life.

  120. John Mashey says:

    Eli: so what happened then?

  121. Kevin O'Neill says:

    Professional communicators are typically very good at communicating. They read a script, memorize lines, know what story they want to tell and tell it. Memory, delivery, and style mean more than ‘truth’ – think Ronald Reagan.

    Up against that the typical scientist is almost always going to come off the loser.

    It’s a rigged game unless the moderator is very forceful and knowledgeable on the subject at hand – calling out lies, distortions, half-truths, etc as such.

  122. John Mashey says:

    He’s helped tobacco companies … why would anything surprise you?
    There is clearly no further ethical issue in misleading people about climate.

  123. Andrew Dodds says:

    Kevin –

    Indeed – the problem is that to be a good scientist you have do doubt everything, and if someone comes you with a different idea to yours, consider it properly. This is pretty much the opposite of what is seen as desirable in a media setting..

    I wish that Reality could sue for libel. That might help.

  124. Marcel Crok says:

    @Victor Venema
    Jean S is an interesting case. Of course I would encourage him to publish under his own name. I have once emailed him but received no reply. He is a Finnish statistician, that’s all we know.
    In general he blogs about his area of expertise and doesn’t go down to the level “Ridley should not be trusted because he was involved in a bank that went down”
    Bob Tisdale blogs under his own name.
    Marcel

  125. Trevor Hoyle says:

    ATTP — I might have misunderstood an earlier comment of yours —

    “Once it becomes clear that the Antarctic sea ice isn’t really indicative of anything significant with respect to global warming, we’ll move onto something else”

    Is this actually true? The following is from a précis on the situation in the Antarctic, and I’d welcome your thoughts on it. These are verifiable facts as far as I’m aware; is there anything here you’d disagree with? And doesn’t it contradict your earlier statement, or have I got it wrong?
    TH

    *****************

    Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the oceans of the planet have risen by eight inches. During the 21st century they continued to rise, closely monitored by satellites, which bounced radio waves off the ocean surface. And because seawater expands as it warms up, the higher the temperature, the greater the volume, leading inexorably to rising levels.

    In October 2011 a NASA surveillance aircraft spotted a 20 mile-long crack straight across the Pine Island Glacier, inland from the Amundsen Sea. The finding was confirmed by a German Terra SAR-X satellite whose radar could detect every ripple on the surface of the glacier even though the pitch blackness of the long Antarctic night.

    The crack widened at an alarming rate.Faster than anyone could have foretold, the huge glacier had split apart and given birth (calving as it’s called) to a giant iceberg of 450 square miles: eight times larger than New York’s Isle of Manhattan. This gave Pine Island the unique distinction of being the most rapidly shrinking glacier on record. As Prof David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey explained: ‘Pine Island is losing more ice than any other glacier on the planet, and it’s contributing to sea level rise faster than any other glacier on the planet.’

    If Pine Island was vulnerable, what about the dozens of glaciers — some even larger — along the Amundsen Sea Embayment (ASE) of the West Atlantic Ice Sheet: Ferrigno Glacier, Venable Glacier, Getz Glacier, Dotson Glacier, Crosson Glacier, Thwaites Glacier, Abbot Glacier, Cosgrove Glacier … reaching right up to the rocky Antarctic Peninsula?

    On the other side of the peninsula lies the massive Larsen Ice Shelf. Research teams had been measuring and calculating the rates of ice depletion, particularly to the ice shelves designated Larsen B, C and D. Some of the loss was almost literally visible to the naked eye, as it was happening. One American-led expedition recorded an alarming disintegration of the Larsen B ice sheet, a plateau measuring 1,250 square miles (bigger than Rhode Island). These were the last human beings to see it intact on the spot: two months later on their return home, satellite images showed the Larsen B was gone — broken up, collapsed — ‘shattering like the safety glass of a car’s windshield’ as one team member described it. And with B gone, what might happen to Larsen C, D, E, F, G?

  126. Willard says:

    > In general he blogs about his area of expertise and doesn’t go down to the level “Ridley should not be trusted because he was involved in a bank that went down”

    Wrong timing, Marcel:

    AT has every right to question the BBC’s policy to invite a peer who failed to live up to his libertarian ideals.

  127. Trevor,
    I was referring specifically to the sea ice. Your quote is about the ice sheets (land ice). The loss of land ice is indeed a major issue. My point was simply that the increase in Antarctic sea ice probably more of a “skeptic” talking point than a real issue when it comes to AGW.

    Marcel,
    I find myself tiring of the “but integrity” games that are often played by pseudo-skeptics; mainly because either they’re based on a mis-interpretation of what was said, or because they’re selectively applied.

    Let me put you on the spot and see if you actually have some integrity, as – currently – I’m not convinced that you do. I did not say that Ridley should not be trusted because he was involved in a bank that went down. Firstly, I think the financial crisis was a major issue that caused suffering to many. I’m not convinced that we should be simply brushing certain people’s role under the carpet simply because it was a few years ago. However, the main reason I mentioned it was as an indicator of his judgement. Here is someone who appears to have made decisions that contributed to a bank taking on much more risk than it should have and hence having to be bailed out by the taxpayer. This same person is now choosing to take a position with respect to climate science/change that is contrary to the position of many experts, despite having no expertise himself. Given his apparent lack of judgement in the past, why should I trust him now and why should I not point this out to others? I didn’t say he can’t be trusted, I simply pointed out something that is factually true and speaks to his judgement.

    Now, it’s possible that he could be right and he could be acting to save us from making some extremely poor economic decisions. On the other hand, he might be completely wrong. Given that I actually understand the science behind climate change quite well, the latter is more likely than the former. So, here we have someone who played a major role in what might be the most severe financial crisis of our generation, now choosing to play a very public – and contrarian – role in the climate change discourse. If he turns out to be right, he can say “told you so” and we can all thank him for putting himself out there and taking on this risk to his reputation. On the other hand, if he’s wrong he’ll have both played a role in the worst financial crisis of our generation and a role in preventing us from taking suitable action to minimise the risks associated with climate change. If so, do you think we’ll thank him them? Some people might actually say “why did anyone actually listen to him”? I’ll also add, that anyone who puts himself in the public eye after a failure such as Northern Rock, cannot expect to do so without people pointing out his past failures.

    So, are you willing to acknowledge that what I said was more nuanced than simply “he can’t be trusted because of Northern Rock” or are you going to stick with your interpretation of what I said, rather than what I actually said? It’s up to you, really, but I’m not going to take your concerns about my pseudonymity particularly seriously if you can’t illustrate that you actually have some integrity of your own.

    I’ll also add that I find it somewhat amusing that you think its unfair that I’m blogging pseudonymously about Viscount Ridley, Member of the House of Lords. Yes, I hold all the cards, don’t I?

  128. Marcel,
    Since you mention Bob Tisdale, I’ll make another comment. Firstly, if you mention him because you think he’s someone who may be worth listening to with regards to climate change/global warming you should probably go and speak to some actual experts. Bob Tisdale’s ideas do not conserve energy, therefore they are wrong. He might give it a fancy name (that I can’t remember now) but that doesn’t mean it isn’t nonsense.

    Also, if he does blog under his own name (and I know he says he does), so what? It doesn’t tell me anything about him. I don’t know his credentials or his background. It’s as good as being pseudonymous. Of course, if you knew who I was you could check that I did have some credentials, but how would that really help? Given that appeals to authority are discouraged, even if I do have strong academic credentials, people wouldn’t suddenly go “oooh, maybe we should listen to him”. If I don’t, they can say “oh, he hasn’t published much, we can ignore him”. So, given that you appear to trust that Bob Tisdale publishes under his own name, you can trust that I am actually a physicist with a PhD who is an academic in a physics department at a UK university, and both teaches and does research. If anyone who does know who I am thinks that isn’t a fair description, feel free to point that out. You may now know more about me than you know about Bob 🙂

  129. Willard says:

    AT,

    Here’s something featuring Bob, Marcel, and Collin:

    One of the people I pointed to this response was Marcel Crok. He rejected this explanation from one of the members of the Dutch IPCC delegation that wrote the document as just an “interpretation.” I still don’t understand how he could reject this explanation as such.

    Which now brings me to Bob Tisdale, he also interpreted the passage in a similar way. Which I pointed out to him that it wasn’t correct. The response I got from Tisdale was even stranger, he asked me to correct my blog post. Again I was baffled by this kind of response.

    Do you still believe that Rob van Dorland of the KNMI only interprets the KNMI’s response, Marcel?

    ***

    In all these ClimateBall episodes, the most amazing aspect is the fact that the same names always recur. That these are real names is of little import. I mean, why should I care if Marcel exists? I don’t.

  130. Trevor Hoyle says:

    “My point was simply that the increase in Antarctic sea ice probably more of a “skeptic” talking point than a real issue when it comes to AGW.”

    Sorry to be so dim. Doesn’t the increase in sea ice come from the melting land ice and the break-up of ice sheets and glaciers, caused by global warming? And if so, how can that help the climate change deniers? It surely SUPPORTS the case for AGW and is thus very much “a real issue”. I’m not a scientist so maybe I’m missing an essential point here. Please put me right.
    TH

  131. Trevor,
    Yes, that is indeed one of the explanations. Another is that the winds have been preferentially blowing away from the continent, so pushing the sea ice out and allowing more to form closer to the continent. It could also just be natural variability. It doesn’t really help the deniers but it does allow them to say “you seem worried about the decrease in Arctic sea ice, but what about the increase in Antarctic sea ice”. Of course, if you point out that that is really area and not volume (long-term rate in decrease of Arctic sea ice mass is probably around 10 times faster than the rate of increase in Antarctic sea ice mass) and also ignores that if you consider all the ice mass on the planet it is decreasing. It’s a nice sound bite and some journalists appear to like nice soundbites.

  132. BBD says:

    Trevor Hoyle

    Fake sceptics play silly games, one of which is to shout “more ice!” whenever there is a microphone present. It’s why they should not be allowed near microphones and why the BBC is culpable to a fault for constantly allowing partisan misinformers airtime.

  133. Michael 2 says:

    Eli Rabett says: “every time you reply you say, Lord Ridley (or whatever) chair of the failed Northern Rock bank, whose failure destroyed many lives says…”

    That strategy probably works on the weak minded. Others, seeing a “red herring”, ignores the reference and wonders why you are wasting the audience’s time with irrelevancies. People that use red herrings have weak arguments (in my opinion, obviously). That it *works* can hardly be disputed but the response is “Is that all you’ve got?” and the person making that response hardly needs an argument of his own.

  134. Willard says:

    This page is well done:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/why-is-antarctic-sea-ice-growing.html

    If you prefer a better (yes, better as in objectively better) typography:

    http://theconversation.com/why-is-antarctic-sea-ice-growing-19605

    As a bonus, you get to read gems like these:

    We never had any of this trouble when everything was covered by acres and square miles! Damn you Napoleon!

  135. Willard says:

    And to make sure that what Matt dogwhistles is being heard:

    You can guarantee your last Dollar if it had shrunk you would have said, like in the Life of Brian where the bush catches fire, “it’s a sign,” that AGW warming was rampant.

    So arctic and antarctic ice has grown considerably so lets come up with a plausible, pseudo-science explanation why this is so.

    Could it be that historically we are due the next ice age and is a sign of global cooling?

    Any in the same scene in the Life of Brian, he told his followers to ^&*$ off. His followers then asked “how shall we ^&*$ off.”

    I am all ears.

    http://theconversation.com/why-is-antarctic-sea-ice-growing-19605#comment_245612

    Another Chairman, imagine that. Oh, but wait:

    Freedom To Choose aims to protect the informed choices of consenting adults on the issue of smoking.

    We campaign actively to prevent the victimisation of smokers, social division, social isolation, and to alleviate the negative social and economic impacts of the smoking ban.

    http://www.freedom2choose.info/about_us.php

    Endorsements come from Lord Stoddart, Joe Jackson, Earl Howe. That’s one average Joe between a Lord and an Earl, fighting for freedom.

  136. Steven Mosher says:

    bad scientists play silly games, one of which is to shout “no ice” whenever there is a microphone present. It’s why they should not be allowed near microphones and why the BBC is culpable to a fault for constantly allowing partisan misinformers airtime.”

    Now granted they usually couch these statements with some uncertainty, like no ice between 2013 and 2018.. or something of the sort. And they are joined by uninformed ex politicians like Al gore.

    Here’s a novel thought. Let people speak. Nature will show in due course that fake skeptics are wrong and that Wadhams is wrong.

  137. Steven,

    Here’s a novel thought. Let people speak. Nature will show in due course that fake skeptics are wrong and that Wadhams is wrong.

    Sure, but why is there anything wrong with pointing out their errors when they do speak? That’s really all I’m doing. I’d be strongly opposed to any formal rules about this. The media should have editorial control. However, that doesn’t mean that they get to avoid criticism when people disagree with their editorial decisions.

  138. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP writes: “why is there anything wrong with pointing out their errors when they do speak? That’s really all I’m doing.”

    Nothing at all wrong with it. That is why blogs exist — the purest form of “freedom of speech” ever invented.

  139. Steven Mosher says:

    Joshua

    Visit Lucia’s over the year. Let me tell you the history of making good faith efforts to define
    Luukewarmer

    The term originated on climate audit in 2008 or so,

    First definition: We polled people on their views of what percentage of warming was due to humans. A group of folks who thought the number was between 25 -50% emerged.
    The term Lukewarmer was used to describe this.

    Second definition: at Lucia we revisited the topic this time with respect to warming predicted
    by the IPCC (.2C ) and a luke warmer hypothesis. That was taking the UNDER bet at
    .17C.

    Like you someone asked for a tighter definition, so I put it in the following terms.

    Lower bound: The lower bound would be the figure for temperature increase due to doubling
    with No feedbacks. In short we know from first principles of sorts that this will will be in the
    1.2C range. I actually picked 1.5C as the lower bound.
    Next: there is very little evidence for values less than this ( at that time ) so the lower bound is
    1.5C for ECS.
    Next: pick a central value. Well, it looks like 3C for a median

    hence I defined a lukewarmer as anyone who would

    A) take the under bet at 3C
    B) connsider values below 1.5C as being highly unlikely.

    Of course as more data comes in the values may change.

    People of course fail to realize that this is almost the consensus position, but with a different
    market positioning.

    There is a point to that which everyone including willard misses.

  140. Steven,
    Let me ask you a serious question. There seem to be two aspects to this issue.

    1. Given the possible range for climate sensitivity, what is the most likely warming due to a doubling of CO2 (you could change this to for a given emission pathway, but it doesn’t really matter)?

    A perfectly reasonable answer would be that someone thinks it will probably be on the lower side of the range. It’s just a guess, but it could be right.

    2. How should the possible range of climate sensitivity influence our policy decisions?

    This seems more difficult. I might be quite willing to believe that warming will be on the low side, but am I willing to ignore that it might not? I’m fairly convinced that when I go out in my car, I’m unlikely to have an accident, but I still make my kids wear their seatbelts.

    So, it seems to me that someone’s view as to how much warming we will probably see is somewhat different to how we, as a society, should manage the risk associated with the possibility that it might not be low. Do you agree with this, or do you think that the lukewarmer position is an entirely reasonable policy position (i.e., ignore the possibility that climate sensitivity might not be low)?

  141. Willard says:

    > The term originated on climate audit in 2008 or so,

    Citation needed.

    ***

    > A) take the under bet at 3C B) connsider values below 1.5C as being highly unlikely.

    See? Still no explicit upper bound, unless to “pick a central value” amounts to define an upper bound.

    ***

    > There is a point to that which everyone including willard misses.

    That shows how good that market positioning is.

  142. John Hartz says:

    A tad off-topic, but relevent to numerous OPs and discussions threads on this site.

    Climate scientists aren’t too alarmist. They’re too conservative by Chris Mooney, Wonkblog, Washington Post, Oct 30, 2014

    In my opinion, Mooney is one of the most insightful MSM commentators on climate change in the world today. That the Washington Post has added him to the Wonkblog team is a very posititve development indeed.

  143. Tom Curtis says:

    Steve Mosher, here is a PDF that is a fair representation of the IPCC estimate of ECS:

    By that I mean that it meets all probability criteria specified for ECS by AR5 and that any significant revision would either result in it not meeting the criteria, or in one or more of the benchmark numbers clearly meeting a more stringent criteria than specified by the IPCC.

    For this particular PDF, the mode is 1.99, the median 2.72, and the mean is 3.18. The probability that the estimated value will be less than three is just under 56.9%. Ergo, according to you this PDF represents a lukewarmer position on ECS.

    Given that the point of defining a “lukewarmer” position was to define a reasonable position that was more conservative than the IPCC position, does this not show your definition to be inadequate. Alternatively, perhaps we need to accept that the IPCC (and I) are lukewarmers, and end the nonsense about the IPCC being alarmist?

    (For what it is worth, I always took a lukewarmer to be somebody whose central estimate was greater than the planck response (1.2 C), and whose upper bound (whether 90 or 95% bounds) was not greater than the IPCC upper bound for their likely range (4.5 C).)

  144. SDK says:

    Luke Skywarmer?

    This is not the cooling you’re looking for…

  145. Eli Rabett says:

    John, bout what you would expect, Robert said some sensible things, was a bit embarrassed, conversation petered out.

  146. John Hartz says:

    Eli Rabett:

    If your comment, John, bout what you would expect, Robert said some sensible things, was a bit embarrassed, conversation petered out. was directed to me, would you please translate into human-speak. Thanks.

  147. Eli Rabett says:

    M2 makes a usual category error. When Eli recommends that “every time you reply you say, Lord Ridley (or whatever) chair of the failed Northern Rock bank, whose failure destroyed many lives says…”

    He is pointing out that these “debates” are really about trust. Ridley knows this Marcel Crok knows this, and their every effort is directed at decreasing trust in science and scientists. Sauce, goose gander. See Marcel Crok’s comments above for proof.

  148. Eli Rabett says:

    John Mashey https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/matt-ridley-climate-scientist/#comment-35941

    That’s what you get with unthreaded comments. As to understandable, Willard Willard went to school with Eli so don’t complain.

  149. Steve Bloom says:

    Willard, these days Napoleon continues to be up to no good, having taken a job on Wall Street. That may ultimately prove to be no more productive than invading Russia in winter, but the associated plush lifestyle can’t be beat. (OK, Napoleon VII, strictly speaking, but still.)

  150. Paul S says:

    Then from now on I am a lukewarmer

    Ich bin ein Lukewarmer?

  151. anoilman says:

    The truth is in the FUD. (Fear Uncertainty Doubt)

    The problem isn’t people casting aspersions and on science. Its that they are casting aspersions on all of it. This is indicative that the problem is really with the person casting the aspersions, and not the subject on which they speak.

    As Eli said, tearing down trust is critical to supplanting fact with fiction.

    Its twin is building a fake trust.
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/the-road-to-hell/

    http://judithcurry.com/2014/08/04/is-the-road-to-scientific-hell-paved-with-good-moral-intentions/
    “Because I talk about research integrity and try to defend it and point out problems when I see them, I am somehow dismissed as trying to present myself as purer than others.” –> Judith Curry

  152. Steve Mosher: “A group of folks who thought the number was between 25 -50% emerged. The term Lukewarmer was used to describe this.

    hence I defined a lukewarmer as anyone who would
    A) take the under bet at 3C
    B) consider values below 1.5C as being highly unlikely.

    People of course fail to realize that this is almost the consensus position, but with a different market positioning.”

    That is not in any way almost the consensus position. The consensus position would be the range between 5 and 95%, not the range between 25 and 50%. You are extremely overconfident in the abilities of climatology to narrow down the uncertainties. Do not forget the Uncertainty Monster. It bites, it bites hard.

  153. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP writes “I might be quite willing to believe that warming will be on the low side, but am I willing to ignore that it might not? I’m fairly convinced that when I go out in my car, I’m unlikely to have an accident, but I still make my kids wear their seatbelts.”

    The cost of the seatbelt is trivial compared to the cost of medical treatment for your children and of course a price cannot be put on losing them entirely. Given that 30,000 to 50,000 die every year from accidents (in the USA; and many more injured) the certainty of eventually having an accident is very high (especially if you encounter an American driving on the wrong side of the road).

    Global warming is reasonably proven both in history and by physics but what is not assured is catastrophe or how much of this is to my credit.

    But just as the seatbelt is part of your total protection strategy (careful driving being the most relevant protection) many things can be done to adapt and/or mitigate. I am an early adopter of LED and CFL; with LED being my favorite. CFL’s are efficient but don’t last all that long and create a disposal problem. I haven’t added it up but my entire house probably uses less than 200 watts for illumination.

    I interpret the term “lukewarmer” to be one that accepts global warming but doesn’t accept that it is an “avoid at all costs” scenario since many such scenarios exist and you cannot very well give each “all costs”. Specifically, lukewarm signifies a lack of passion, not a lack of agreement. His passions may lay elsewhere or he may simply not be the type to become anxious about very much of anything.

  154. M2,

    I interpret the term “lukewarmer” to be one that accepts global warming but doesn’t accept that it is an “avoid at all costs” scenario

    Then they’re – as is commonly the case – arguing against their own strawman “let’s not do this ridiculous thing that noone is actually suggesting that we do”.

  155. Michael 2 says:

    Trevor Hoyle says: “Doesn’t the increase in sea ice… How can that help the climate change deniers? It surely SUPPORTS the case for AGW.”

    It supports the cause of AGW once the story has been re-written that way 😉

    But until then, and thanks to Google, the prediction was decline in Antarctic sea ice.

    “A decline in Antarctic sea-ice extent is a commonly predicted effect of a warming climate”
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v389/n6646/full/389057a0.html

    “Antarctic sea ice extent (SIE) is projected to shrink as concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs) increase, and emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) are extremely sensitive to these changes because they use sea ice as a breeding, foraging and molting habitat.”
    http://www.pnas.org/content/106/6/1844.short

    Needless to say there’s rather a lot of that sort of thing. Neither story talks about land ice, but sea ice. There’s no way to wiggle out of it but to gracefully admit being wrong and go about getting some more research grants to figure out why. Everyone wins!

    But gracefully admitting to being wrong, while easy enough for a scientist, is not so easy for policy advocates that put their reputations on the line.

  156. John Mashey says:

    a) Careful examination of science, decides low sensitivity then little need to change BAU

    b) Absolutely no change to BAU, then find reasons to back that

    These sometimes can be hard to tell apart, although language sometimes helps.

  157. Michael 2 says:

    Trevor Hoyle says: “ATTP — I might have misunderstood an earlier comment of yours”

    It will be interesting to see how this script plays out.

  158. Michael 2 says:

    Joshua says: “I’d say that we are all simultaneously skeptics, realists, lukewarmers, alarmists, deniers, etc.”

    I am whatever you think I am, but most here (IMO) have strong avoidance of certain labels once they’ve been told it is a bad thing to be — conspiracy theorist for instance, even though 23 percent of MSNBC’s reporting is on denialist conspiracies:
    http://theconversation.com/fox-news-seeds-climate-doubts-but-liberal-media-also-distort-33565 “As Duke University’s Frederick Mayer describes in a 2012 paper, among common narratives offered about climate change, MSNBC tends to emphasize what Mayer calls the ‘Denialist Conspiracy,’ accounting for 23 percent of the story lines at the network, far more than any other cable news outlet.”

    Thankfully, this blog spends less time on labels and more time on substance as compared to some other sites.

  159. BBD says:

    M2

    The increase in Antarctic sea ice extent could be a consequence of anthropogenic forcing or it could be natural variability. It cannot be used as an argument that ‘AGW is wrong’. So bringing it up is just a crude “look! Ice!” word-placement game that advocates for BAU play in front of cameras.

  160. anoilman says:

    The funny thing about Luke warmers is that it’s where they’ve been hearded screaming and kicking the whole way.

    But what I find funnier are all the folks saying there’s no global warming. (Still screaming, kicking, and knashing teeth.). Those folks are still around.

  161. Joshua says:

    M 2

    ==> “Thankfully, this blog spends less time on labels and more time on substance as compared to some other sites.”

    Which climate-related sites do you think focus on labeling less?

    ==> “I interpret the term “lukewarmer” to be one that accepts global warming but doesn’t accept that it is an “avoid at all costs” scenario”

    Well, then, I’d say that we’re all “lukewarmers” and hence, the term is meaningless other than as a label to use as a rhetorical tool.

    In other words, what does “at all costs” mean? You tried to address the ambiguity inherent in how most people use the term “lukewarmer’ by introducing more ambiguous terminology.

    ‘Cause here’s what I think. I think that SWIMCAREs generally argue that there is a risk of significant harm caused by ACO2, and that as a result, because there is a good chance that the benefits of mitigation will outweigh the costs over the long term, action should be taken (or at least policies should be considered). That doesn’t fit with my conceptualization of an “at all costs” scenario.

    So that means that, IMO, you tried to define “lukewarmer” by way of comparison to a different, and empty label – a different and empty label that is rhetorical and not a substantive description of real-world arguments. Instead of reducing the ambiguity, you merely deflected it.

    I think that climate change discussions are dominated by cartoonish caricatures that both sides paint of each other.

    For example, when I visit sites mostly inhabited by SWIRLCAREs, I see rather constantly a portrait of SWIMCAREs as being indifferent to any possibility that mitigation costs might outweigh the benefits. I’m quite sure that you, also, have seen a ubiquitous portrayal of SWIMCAREs as being indifferent to any possibility that mitigation might reduce access to energy for poor people and increase the numbers of poor children who starve as a result.

    That, to me, is what would fit with an “at all costs scenario” and I don’t know anyone for whom that would be an accurate description of their views. This is why I think that there must be something else behind the labeling – as opposed to good faith interrogation of the science.. Why would people constantly mischaracterize others in such as way as to inaccurately demonize those others as sociopaths? I think the explanation is that identity-aggression and identity-defense are behaviors that result from motivated reasoning and cultural cognition,.

  162. Joshua says:

    Arrggh. SWIMCAREs should be SWIRMCAREs (Someone Who Is Relatively More Concerned About Recent Emissions).

  163. BBD says:

    And here we are, inventing awkward neologies because the contrarians have hijacked the language. Only my opinion, of course, but SWIRMCAREs sounds unfortunately squirmy.

  164. Tom Curtis says:

    Joshua, re SWIRMCARES and SWIRLCARES, I assume by “relatively more” or “relatively less” you mean relative to the population mean such that somebody who thinks there is no reason for concern whatsoever is still a SWIRLCARE, and somebody who thinks we face a Venus like runaway greenhouse effect in the next 50 years is still a SWIRMCARE. That being the case:

    1) Relative to which population?
    2) Aren’t our descriptors excessively ambiguous, suggesting that only minor differences exist and that somewhere hidden of screen we have SWIMMCAREs and SWIMLCAREs (Someone Who IS Massively etc)?
    3) What BBD said!

  165. Steve Bloom says:

    I can only admire the timing of your comment about conspiracy theories, m2. Do read all the way to the end:

    “People always ask me one question all the time: ‘How do I know that I won’t be found out as a supporter of what you’re doing?’ ” Mr. Berman told the crowd. “We run all of this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors. There is total anonymity. People don’t know who supports us.”

    and

    “They characterize us in a campaign as being the guys with the black helicopters,” he explained. “And to some degree, that’s true.”

    This sort of dorsal fin breaks the surface only occasionally, but it’s enough to provide a sense of the scope of what’s going on.

  166. Steve Bloom says:

    SQUIRMCAVILs:

    Someone Quite Uncaring In Reality, More Concerned About Vengeance, Incorporating Lies

    Own it, m2.

  167. anoilman says:

    Steve Bloom:

  168. Joshua says:

    Tom –

    I mean relative to each other. One group is more concerned and the other less, relative to each other.

    I don’t know what labels work. But I think that at least those labels are accurate.

    I think that labels such as “denier” are overly-certain (as I think the common usage of the term implies a knowledge of someone’s psychological state that isn’t supported by the available evidence) and likely a product of identity-aggression. Similarly, labels such as “realist” and “skeptic” and “warmist” etc., are the product of identity politics, IMO. I don’t see the terms as being useful for the point of discussion, but instead used to reinforce group identifications. If other people want to use those terms, that’s up to them, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to do so.

    My terms SWIRLCARE and SWIMCARE are ridiculously unwieldy (as proven by the fact that even I can’t get them right) – and not meant in an entirely serious fashion, but I really am stumped as to how to refer to the “sides” in these discussions in ways that are accurate and not primarily about labeling for rhetorical/tribal purposes.

  169. andrew adams says:

    Ridley’s views on climate science should not be disregarded by the media because of his record at Northern Rock, they should be disregarded because he has no authority or expertise on the subject of climate science.

  170. Andrew,
    Indeed, I agree. One could of course add ” and because he has – in the past – shown poor judgement when it comes to assessing risk”.

  171. andrew adams says:

    Anders,

    If he was discussing climate change policy then his lack of judgement would certainly be more relevant.

  172. Andrew,

    If he was discussing climate change policy then his lack of judgement would certainly be more relevant.

    That may be a fair point. My thoughts on this were that he seems to be promoting the idea that the risks associated with climate change are less severe than we had previously thought and therefore that it is much riskier to actually do something about climate change than to simply carry on as we are. So, I’ve always seen him as someone who has decided that climate change doesn’t present much of a risk and therefore, that his past judgements are relevant even if he doesn’t specifically refer to policy options (which he seems to do in a way, anyway).

  173. andrew adams says:

    Steven Mosher,

    Here’s a novel thought. Let people speak. Nature will show in due course that fake skeptics are wrong and that Wadhams is wrong.

    Well I wouldn’t really advocate Wadhams being part of a discussion on arctic ice, his views are just too far outside the mainstream. The problem with including views from either extreme, is that you end up with arguments on points which are not seriously in dispute at the expense of getting a proper understanding of the mainstream position. The important and interesting question on arctic sea ice is not whether it will disappear in 2018 and on temperature trends over the coming century it’s not whether climate sensitivity is less than 1.5C

  174. andrew adams says:

    Anders,

    Yes that’s fair.

  175. Marcel Crok says:

    “My personal view is that we really shouldn’t have experts debating non-experts about topics like climate science. It’s really too complex.”

    This is the key of your post. It’s your opinion and as such it’s fine. Adding info about Ridley’s association with Northern Rock is just distracting from this main point you try to make, so you should have left it away or still, you should delete it. It is irrelevant for your point.

    The key question now for the BBC is who is an expert and who is not? Maybe you could write a second post giving criteria for being an expert. When is a climate scientist allowed to say something on the Antarctic sea ice? After one publication about this specific topic? Or is it enough just to be a publishing climate scientist no matter what your specific field of expertise is? Would Nic Lewis have been a better alternative for Ridley because he was coauthor on the O’Donnell paper criticizing Steig et al 2009?
    Or do you think that critical voices like those of Nic Lewis shouldn’t be allowed at all?

    What role do you see for science writers (like Ridley and myself) in general? Are we not allowed to comment on the science on e.g. the BBC? On what are we allowed to talk/comment?

    I understand your primary negative reaction to a debate between a “scientist” and a “science journalist”. On the other hand I think the borderlines between scientists and “outsiders” are blurring, see people like Lewis and McIntyre. Some climate scientists have very few publications. I have one publication myself. Does that make me an accepted expert?

    So please make it more constructive and provide the BBC with clear criteria to do it right (according to you) next time.

    Marcel

  176. Joshua says:

    Marcel –

    That was an interesting, and I think potentially useful comment, in part.
    So while I look forward to Anders’ answers to your questions, I’m also curious as to what your answers might be.

    It seems that you appreciate the problematic aspects of the larger question – how should the media present the views of a predominant view in the scientific community in perspective with a minority view in the scientific community? Is it appropriate to do so by placing non-scientists into a parallel configuration with scientists? Does that, in fact, create some measure of a “false balance?”

    ==> “So please make it more constructive and provide the BBC with clear criteria to do it right (according to you) next time.”

    Speaking of being constructive. This, is not:

    ==> “Are we not allowed to comment on the science on e.g. the BBC?”

    That’s same ol’ same ol’. It is a non-constructive comment. Anders isn’t suggesting that [you] are “not allowed” to comment on the science on e.g. the BBC.”

    Why are you mischaracterizing his argument in such a fashion. Don’t you think that is counterproductive? Wouldn’t it be better if you engaged with what Anders says as opposed to criticizing something he didn’t say? How do you think that mischaracterizing people’s arguments would be “constructive.?

  177. Rachel M says:

    Marcel,

    I think it’s fine for science journalists to report the facts as long as they take care not to misrepresent the truth and use appropriate sources for their information. I think the SPJ Code of Ethics for journalists provides some good guidelines:

    Journalists should:

    – Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible.
    – Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.
    – Identify sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources.
    – Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.
    – Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.

    There’s quite a bit on ethics and false balance on the web too including in relation to climate change.

    The International Federation of Journalists launched The Ethical Journalism Initiative and on their site they say:

    Avoid false balance. Some journalists, trying to be fair and balanced, report the views of climate change sceptics as a counterweight to climate change stories. But this can be a false balance if minority views are given equal prominence to well-accepted science. For example, an overwhelming majority of climatologists believe that average global temperatures have risen compared to pre-1800s levels and that human activity is a significant factor in this.

    Of course it’s good to air all sorts of views if they are placed into context. So if you report climate change sceptics’ views, also describe their credentials and whether theirs is a minority opinion.

    I didn’t watch this BBC interview but did they describe Ridley’s credentials and point out that his view was a minority one?

  178. Marcel,

    Adding info about Ridley’s association with Northern Rock is just distracting from this main point you try to make, so you should have left it away or still, you should delete it.

    I’m certainly not going to delete it. I believe it is entirely factually correct. I believe it does speak to his judgement. I also don’t believe that we should be brushing someone’s role in what was a major financial crisis under the carpet just because that person has moved onto something else. You’re free to disagree, as you have, but I don’t see any particular issue with including it. If it was libellous or slanderous, you’d have more of an argument, but it isn’t.

    I’ll add, though, that if it appeared that Matt Ridley had redeemed himself in some way, I might feel differently. I’m not aware that he has, though. If anything, my understanding is that he’s largely blamed it on others. I accept that he alone wasn’t responsible for the financial crisis, but I don’t accept that the Chairman of a major bank that had to be bailed out by the government gets to simply ignore their responsibility.

    The key question now for the BBC is who is an expert and who is not? Maybe you could write a second post giving criteria for being an expert.

    Of course this is a non-trivial thing to define, but it’s clearly not impossible. The media doesn’t just select people randomly. They have some idea of who has some actual expertise and who hasn’t. With all due respect to Matt Ridley, he doesn’t really. He is a writer and journalist, not an active scientist.

    Would Nic Lewis have been a better alternative for Ridley because he was coauthor on the O’Donnell paper criticizing Steig et al 2009? Or do you think that critical voices like those of Nic Lewis shouldn’t be allowed at all?

    In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve always been quite complementary about Nic Lewis. I don’t always agree with how strongly he supports his own work against that of others, but I think he is doing exactly what people who are skeptical (as we all should be) should do; he is doing research and publishing papers. He deserves a great deal of credit for doing so. If I have an issue, it is that he gets much more exposure than others with similar academic credentials, which appears to be because his results are slightly at odds with the mainstream results.

    What role do you see for science writers (like Ridley and myself) in general? Are we not allowed to comment on the science on e.g. the BBC? On what are we allowed to talk/comment?

    Let’s make something absolutely clear. This is in no way about whether or not you are allowed to do something or not. Of course you are. We all are (assuming we don’t say something libellous, etc). I’m not trying to suggest some kind of regulation or rules. I am, as you yourself acknowledge, simply expressing an opinion.

    I think having science journalists commenting on the science on the BBC (in the media) is, of course, perfectly fine and quite normal. In a sense, that’s what Helen Czerski was doing in the segment prior to the interview (although, I realise that Helen Czerski is a professional scientist, but her role was to present an overview of the science related to Antarctic sea ice). My issue is partly that it then became an interview with two interviewees, one of whom is an active climate scientist and the other is a journalist/writer. Why is that a sensible format? Additionally, what is the actual role of a journalist? To present a view that is a reasonable representation of our current scientific understanding, or to present a specific and fairly narrow argument that isn’t really consistent with the mainstream position? Of course journalists can present things that appear to suggest that the mainstream views could be wrong. That’s, I guess, what good journalism is about. However, when it appears that they’re doing so because it happens to also be their own personal view, one might begin to question their impartiality.

    I guess, though, that there is a distinction between commenters who do present their own views of a subject and journalists who, ideally, present an impartial view of a subject, so I don’t have any particular issue with journalists/commenters expressing opinions. I, however, have no issue with pointing out when they’re wrong.

    So please make it more constructive and provide the BBC with clear criteria to do it right (according to you) next time.

    It might be more constructive if you didn’t give others advice as to how to be more constructive, but maybe that’s just me. Could it be that you wish people didn’t know that Matt Ridley was Chairman of Northern Rock. Why would that be? It’s true. Many people would be highlighting that they’d held such a position. Why doesn’t Matt Ridley and why don’t you want others to do so?

    I’ll reiterate. This isn’t about me proposing some kind of major overhaul of the BBC and the imposition of some new rules. It’s just me writing a blog, expressing my opinions. That’s really all. You don’t have to agree with them and you’ve been free, here, to do so. Maybe you think there’s some reason to try and engage more with those with whom I broadly disagree. From what I’ve seen and experienced in the last 18 months or so, there isn’t.

  179. KarSteN says:

    @Marcel Crok:

    “On the other hand I think the borderlines between scientists and “outsiders” are blurring, see people like Lewis and McIntyre.”

    Really? Why is it, that so many people seem to have trouble to classify someone’s credentials? Almost all academics have an actual academic degree which qualifies them to do research in a specific field. It is in fact an indispensable requirement to get hired in academia the first place. You may have earned a degree in a related discipline, but to get a position you have to have some sort of track record. If you are in doubt who to interview, why not choose someone who has got a degree in the field you want to write about + is actively publishing? Can’t be that difficult, can it? Why not pick any random climate scientist at any random university in the world? If this particular scientist doesn’t have the required expertise, they will at least know who someone who will be in the know. It’s that easy!

  180. Willard says:

    George Monbiot has a good argument against Marcel’s distraction argument:

    Ridley glosses over is that before he wrote this book he had an opportunity to put his theories into practice. As chairman of Northern Rock, he was responsible, according to parliament’s Treasury select committee, for a “high-risk, reckless business strategy”. Northern Rock was able to pursue this strategy as a result of a “substantial failure of regulation” by the state. The wonderful outcome of this experiment was the first run on a British bank since 1878, and a £27bn government bail-out.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/jun/18/matt-ridley-rational-optimist-errors

    I think AT has 27 billions good reasons to link Matt’s policy philosophy with his practice.

    Let Marcel tell us that 27 billions is a distraction.

  181. Willard says:

    > Why not pick any random climate scientist at any random university in the world?

    That would actually be a very good idea!

  182. Rachel M says:

    George Monbiot has some great pieces on Ridely’s failed experiment with the free market. And I think this failure and his subsequent failure to realise the failure deserves repeating here:

    While the crisis was made possible by a “substantial failure of regulation”, MPs identified the directors of Northern Rock as “the principal authors of the difficulties that the company has faced”. They singled Ridley out for having failed “to provide against the risks that [Northern Rock] was taking and to act as an effective restraining force on the strategy of the executive members.”(4)

    This, you might think, must have been a salutary experience. You would be wrong. Last week Dr Ridley published a new book called The Rational Optimist(5). He uses it as a platform to attack governments which, among other crimes, “bail out big corporations”(6). He lambasts intervention and state regulation, insisting that markets deliver the greatest possible benefits to society when left to their own devices. Has there ever been a clearer case of the triumph of faith over experience?

    Source: The Man Who Wants to Northern Rock the Planet

    He apparently attacks the government in his book for “bail[ing] out big corporations”. That’s just completely beyond belief.

  183. Paul S says:

    Marcel Crok,

    The film shown prior to Ridley’s appearance included numerous different views from various scientists actively involved in the specific research area of Antarctic sea ice. They didn’t seem to have any problem recruiting relevant people to speak.

    Ridley didn’t really have anything to say about Antarctic sea ice. I doubt Nic Lewis would either. Not really surprising since neither have any expertise in this area.

    What role do you see for science writers (like Ridley and myself) in general?

    That’s an interesting question since it’s implied that you see Ridley’s approach to his role as reasonable. Can I ask what role you think science writers should play?

    My view is similar to ATTP’s: science journalists should aim to reflect as best they can the general view and range of views of the relevant scientific community on a particular topic. It would be reasonable, although perhaps stretching things a bit, to suggest Antarctic sea ice growth reflects uncertainties in simulating the global climate system and therefore uncertainties concerning other predictions for the future. The idea that increasing Antarctic sea ice over this time slice means we can expect global warming to be less of an issue, as he was specifically arguing, is something he made up (or at least took from blogs which made it up) without reference to any scientific research.

    Would you not consider you’ve probably made a wrong turn somewhere as a science journalist if you’re essentially arguing against mainstream scientists?

  184. Ian Forrester says:

    George Monbiot summed up Ridley’s views on the connection between science, business and politics very nicely:

    Dr Ridley, who has a D Phil in zoology, is no stranger to good science, and his explorations of our evolutionary history, which are often fascinating and provoking, are based on papers published in peer-reviewed journals. But whenever a conflict arose between his scientific training and the interests of business, he would discard the science. Ignoring hundreds of scientific papers which came to the opposite conclusion, and drawing instead on material presented by a business lobby group called the Institute of Economic Affairs, he argued that global temperatures have scarcely increased, so we should stop worrying about climate change(4). He suggested that elephants should be hunted for their ivory(5), planning laws should be scrapped(6), recycling should be stopped(7), bosses should be free to choose whether or not their workers contract repetitive strain injury(8) and companies, rather than governments, should be allowed to decide whether or not the food they sell is safe.(9) He raged against taxes, subsidies, bail-outs and government regulation. Bureaucracy, he argued, is “a self-seeking flea on the backs of the more productive people of this world … governments do not run countries, they parasitise them”.

    http://www.monbiot.com/2007/10/23/libertarians-are-the-true-social-parasites/

  185. Marcel Crok says:

    Joshua and others;

    Climate science is a very politicised field (the owner of this blog just proves that by using a pseudonym). Most scientists are fully aware of this and do not feel free to say what they (really) think. This leads to a situation where scientists will play safe (politically correct) when going on the record. This leads to a supposed conformity among climate scientists. They will defend climate science in general, they will defend the IPCC because this is the consensus view of climate scientists. This is all bad for science in general because it limits an open debate about the science among climate scientists (we encounter this problem all the time at Climate Dialogue, having great difficulty to find mainstream climate scientists willing to participate in a dialogue even with professional colleagues who happen to have different views).
    Mojib Latif once said that climate scientists have to ask the nasty questions themselves. But too often they don’t. It was David Whitehouse who raised the issue of the pause before climate scientists did. This is imo the main reason why journalists like Andrew Montford, Matt Ridley, David Whithouse and myself end up being invited for public “debates” and “interviews” like Matt’s one on the BBC.
    So the issue can be solved by opening up the debate from inside the climate science community. People like Tamsin btw is doing excellent work in this direction.

    Marcel

  186. Marcel,

    Climate science is a very politicised field (the owner of this blog just proves that by using a pseudonym).

    How does it prove that it’s politicised? Maybe you mean politicised in a different sense to how I use it. I’ve probably said this many times before, but I don’t really have a good reason for being pseudonymous, but – similarly – I don’t see any good reasons not to be. To suggest that I started because I had some political goals would be an assertion with little basis in reality.

    It was David Whitehouse who raised the issue of the pause before climate scientists did. This is imo the main reason why journalists like Andrew Montford, Matt Ridley, David Whithouse and myself end up being invited for public “debates” and “interviews” like Matt’s one on the BBC.

    I’m not actually all that sure of your views with respect to the actual science, but having read what Matt Ridley writes, seen what Andrew Montford promotes on his blog, and being somewhat aware of David Whitehouse’s views, they’re all mostly wrong.

    You’re also potentially making an interesting point. What about the possibility that scientists hadn’t really raised the issue of the “pause” because it isn’t really as relevant as many would have you believe. We continue to warm (oceans, ice, and atmosphere) and periods of slower surface warming are not that surprising. Could it be that the reason scientists have addressed this point as they have is really because people with influence in the media, but little actual understanding of science, have pushed this issue so much that scientists have felt obliged to respond in some way. Just to avoid being accused of JAQing, that is roughly my view. I think the slowdown is scientifically interesting, but not nearly as relevant as you might conclude if you got most of your information from the media.

    Of course, if Andrew Montford and the others that you name showed some real skepticism at times (rather than simply being dubious of mainstream climate science) I might think differently. I’ll extend this a little actually. The reason I started blogging was mainly because I saw an awful lot of incorrect science being presented on various high-profile blogs. WUWT and Bishop Hill being two prominent examples. Little has changed since then. I can’t see much point in engaging with such people and I really can’t see how we benefit – as a society – by having people who appear to have little understanding of science promoting their flawed views in the mainstream media. It is, however, a free world and so YMMV.

  187. Joseph says:

    This leads to a situation where scientists will play safe (politically correct) when going on the record.

    You have presented absolutely no evidence to support this statement. Do you have any?

  188. KarSteN says:

    @Marcel Crok:

    “Most scientists are fully aware of this and do not feel free to say what they (really) think. This leads to a situation where scientists will play safe (politically correct) when going on the record. This leads to a supposed conformity among climate scientists.”

    You’ve got nothing whatsoever to support this position. Based on my experience, you are dead wrong. That scientist are extremely careful when it comes to media interaction is due to plenty of unpleasant experiences in the past. For example, I wouldn’t speak to someone who has a reputation for sloppy and /or biased reporting. But to conclude that there is some sort of “conformity among climate scientists” is nothing more than a fairytale. A pretty stupid fairytale!

  189. Steve Bloom says:

    Crok neglects to mention that a major, maybe even the major, reason for the hesitancy of many scientists to participate at Climate Dialogues is because of Crok’s own involvement. As well, defending Ridley’s climate science involvement is much like defending his own, albeit that he lacks Ridley’s legitimate science (unrelated to climate) background.

    “It was David Whitehouse who raised the issue of the pause before climate scientists did.” Really? Doubtful, since all one had to do to anticipate the prospect was look at individual model realizations. Indeed, I recall James Annan discussing it with someone (it’s an otherwise vague memory, but maybe Gavin Schmidt) prior to it happening.

  190. verytallguy says:

    We’ve been here before I think. ..

    In summary, Ridley gained his position through nepotism and gerrymandering. His social network includes other prominent climate change deniers and right wing politicians. Political conviction rather than facts appear to drive his views on climate change. Despite being disgraced when in a position of power in charge of risk management he continues with amazing chutzpah to lecture others on the greatest risk management issue of our age.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/matt-ridley-you-seem-a-little-too-certain/#comment-31224

  191. Steve Bloom says:

    I didn’t see the Newsnight segment (is it available somewhere for non-Brits to view?), but the selection of Tamsin Edwards to participate in a discussion about sea ice (she’s an ice sheet modeler with no sea ice background) is a little odd, although not nearly so much as Ridley’s. As Mark Brandon notes, Tamsin is able to (indeed has been training to) handle herself in generalist discussions about climate science, so possibly the choice of her rather than a specialist was because the Beeb producers first chose Ridley precisely they knew he would engage in an entertaining Gish gallop, and they wanted someone able to “balance” that. A sea ice specialist might well have just ignored Ridley when he went off topic, which would have made for poor entertainment.

  192. Joshua says:

    Marcel –

    ==> “Climate science is a very politicised field (the owner of this blog just proves that by using a pseudonym).”

    FYI – in addition to Anders’ point about the questionable logic of your determination that the use of a pseduonym proves politicization, you should know that from what I’ve seen the arguments about anonymity in these debates are nothing other than rhetorical games. The quality of someone’s argument is what is important – not whether or not you know their name. There are all kinds of participation in these discussions about climate change, and we can see rude and polite, and well-reasoned and facile, and political and scientific comments from both anonymous and non-anonymous commenters. It seems to me that the issue of anonymity is merely a means for people to confirm their biases (I can certainly point out hypocritical attitudes towards anonymity from Anthony Watts and many others), and in the end, non-constructive.

    ==> “Most scientists are fully aware of this and do not feel free to say what they (really) think.”

    Really? “Most” As someone who is interested in the process of scientific analysis, what evidence do you use to support this claim?

    ==> “This leads to a situation where scientists will play safe (politically correct) when going on the record. This leads to a supposed conformity among climate scientists.”

    There are many assumptions that you are making here about causality. They seem quite questionable to me – not the least because you make no attempt to quantify the causality you’re describing.

    ==> “They will defend climate science in general, they will defend the IPCC because this is the consensus view of climate scientists. This is all bad for science in general because it limits an open debate about the science among climate scientists (we encounter this problem all the time at Climate Dialogue, having great difficulty to find mainstream climate scientists willing to participate in a dialogue even with professional colleagues who happen to have different views).”

    You are simplifying the reasons why some “mainstream climate scientists” are reluctant to participate in public debates about climate change It is hard to know how to respond to this kind of politicized rhetoric on your part.

    ==> “This is imo the main reason why journalists like Andrew Montford, Matt Ridley, David Whithouse and myself end up being invited for public “debates” and “interviews” like Matt’s one on the BBC.”

    So you haven’t really answered the questions I asked you (the questions that you asked Anders to answer). I would appreciate answers, I find it annoying when people don’t answer direct questions without mentioning them because I don’t know of they’ve ducked them or just weren’t interested. But it would seem odd that you wouldn’t be interested since they were the questions you asked Anders. But at least this is an interesting argument. So since you have identified a “main reason,” I’m wondering how you get to that conclusion? How do you know what degree of the reason that you’re invited to such debates is because there are actually scientists out there who share your views but are “reluctant” to participate, as compared to the reason why you’re invited to participate is because there are relatively very few “mainstream climate scientists” who share your perspective?

    You refer to Tamsin as a example – but in the example at hand, she was invited to participate from a perspective in opposition to Ridley’s – so I’m not feeling your logic. Why would Tamsin’s participation relate to why Ridley would be invited to present the “skeptical” point of view.

    Personally, I think that your explanation doesn’t hold much water. If you had actual evidence of “skeptical” “mainstream climate scientists” who were “reluctant” to participate in Ridley’s stead to present the “skeptical” side of the discussion – due to the politicization of the science, I would think that your argument would be more understandable. Do you have such evidence?

    OH, and btw – I am a fan of Mojib (if my name weren’t Mojib Latif it would be global warming) Latif. Would you mind providing a link to the quote of his you referenced?

    And finally, could you address whether you think this comment of yours was “constructive.

    ==> “Are we not allowed to comment on the science on e.g. the BBC?”

  193. Steve Bloom says:

    As has been noted before, the “pause,” such as it is, taken together with the prior sharper rising trend, is actually evidence for a less stable climate. In a just world the Ridleys, Croks etc. would lose all credibility when reality starts to bite (really it already is, in the form of increases in atmospheric circulation instability and ice sheet melt), but the Northern Rock example shows this not to be true.

    Out of curiosity, has Newsnight done similar segments on either of those?

  194. Willard says:

    I did not know our beloved Bishop was a journatist. I thought he was a blogger. I also thought that journalists did not have the liberty to write reports like these:

    > Lewis & Crok have circulated a report, published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), criticising the assessment of equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) and transient climate response (TCR) in both the AR4 and AR5 IPCC assessment reports.

    http://www.climate-lab-book.ac.uk/2014/gwpf/

    Or this:

    > Andrew Montford reviews the scientific literature on rainfall and floods. Full paper (pdf) here

    http://www.thegwpf.org/andrew-montford-precipitation-deluge-flood/

    I might be wrong, though. Or perhaps Marcel meant “investigative” journalism?

  195. John Mashey says:

    Ridley is quite happy to help those who privatize the profits and socialize the costs, and Northern Rock is a perfect calibration of that and hence quite relevant.He is quite happy to help nicotine vendors, see Google: matt ridley e-cigarattes.
    Put another way, he is happy to help an industry that addicts people during adolescent/YA brain development to create customers of whom many will miserable deaths from it.
    Tobacco control research is another topic on which he is no expert, but he is good at spouting the vendors’ party line, just like IEA and other think tanks do.

  196. Hi,

    I asked the BBC if they had asked any “real sea ice experts”, as I think I put it, for the slot. They said (a) yes, and they’re in the video; (b) please don’t have imposter syndrome, as (she said) many female experts do, i.e. you’re more expert than many/most (I do at least study ice in the Antarctic, so have to be aware of the interactions in the region…); and (c) the studio slot will not talk about the Antarctic mechanisms, it will focus on the interpretation and communication of model-data disagreement, both for this and [ Matt’s focus on ] the pause in atmospheric warming. Hence me bringing up Arctic sea ice trend underestimation as one example of models not being systematically biased towards catastrophism.

    By the way, I’m not an ice sheet modeller…. I ran the Met Office model climate model (HadCM3) a lot several years ago (mostly unpublished, for various reasons), and a few other sub-system (vegetation, ice sheet) models a bit, but the ice sheet models not “in anger”. Most of what I do is analysis of model output and experimental design. i.e. in ice2sea I told people which simulations to run, and then analysed them 🙂 #power

    Cheers,
    Tamsin

  197. Tamsin,
    Thanks for the comment. FWIW, I thought you did very well in the interview. If you feel up to doing so, maybe you could comment on your views with regards to such interview formats. For example, what role do you think they play and do you think it is an effective format for discussing a complex science?

  198. Steve, the Newsnight episode can be viewed outside the UK using Chrome’s Hola addon. Just set your location to the UK and skip to 33:50.

    Great job, Tamsin. While I think interviews pitting scientists against misinformers are counter-productive, at least your thought-provoking responses mitigated the damage.

  199. For what it is worth: In my field of expertise would have no problem with voicing an opinion that deviates from the state-of-the-art of the scientific literature, what the mitigation skeptics call the IPPC opinion. And I am working on temporary project funding, I would guess that others would care even less. What naturally any good scientist does care about it that he has good arguments.

    If I were the only scientist presented, I would also do my best to present the state-of-the-art fairly and explain why I personally disagree. In an interview setting, another scientist could take that role.

    If it would not be my field of expertise (or if I were a journalist) I would naturally restrict myself to the state-of-the-art and not start sprouting some badly founded speculative ideas. I do not watch a science program to get WUWT quality information. The audience expects a scientist to speak about science, not about nonsense. That can still be wrong, but it should at least not be trivially wrong.

  200. Paul S says:

    Marcel,

    Others have covered that you seem to be presenting pure speculation as justification for particular behaviour, but if we assume what you say is 100% true what are you then suggesting science journalists should do? Taking what you’ve said so far it seems you’re suggesting journalists should essentially make up their own science to provide “necessary” opposition apparently not being provided by experts in the field. Is that a description of journalism or quackery?

  201. Eli Rabett says:

    In the words of Richard Alley about such debates

    You have now had a discussion or a debate here between people who are giving you the blue one and people giving you the green one. This is certainly not both sides. If you want both sides, we would have to have somebody in here screaming a conniption fit on the red end, because you are hearing a very optimistic side

    There are countless climate scientists who are much more on the red end than Tamsin Edwards, and many of them never say a word because they don’t want to endure the Marcel Croks of the world and his fans.

  202. Steve Bloom says:

    Tamsin, I’ve always lumped together the people who design and run the models with the people who analyze their outputs, perhaps to some confusion. What term would you suggest for what you do?

    From the rest of what you say, it does sound like Ridley was their starting point for the studio segment. I’m still not clear as to their rationale for doing things this way, but maybe you aren’t either. I’ll watch the episode (thanks DS for the pointer), but if the idea was to educate viewers I don’t see how flipping from Antarctic sea ice to the “hiatus” would be other than confusing.

  203. Michael 2 says:

    Victor wrote “The audience expects a scientist to speak about science, not about nonsense.”

    That may be what they expect but have no way of knowing whether he is speaking about science or nonsense.

    But it is not what the audience *wants*. At Huffington Post it seems invariably to be the case that the people with huge fan counts are somewhat illiterate, posts consisting of 100 percent pure USDA ad hominem.

    Are polar bears falling from the sky a demonstration of science or nonscience? I have a sense they had the terminal velocity wrong and I think they understated the consequence of impact. Naturally a good science program would reveal how the polar bears got into the sky in the first place and why they chose to jump off a platform over a city rather than something softer.

    Can you think of a single instance of “real science” presented on a major television network? I cannot. Carl Sagan was sort of close but the fact is people won’t watch it and network television at least in the United States is *entertainment*. Everything is entertainment: News, science, politics.

    “I would naturally restrict myself to the state-of-the-art and not start sprouting some badly founded speculative ideas”

    I appreciate your integrity. I do not consider it universal.

  204. Michael 2 says:

    I waited a couple of days to see if anyone was going to address this comment and question. Evidently not so I’ll comment on it.

    Someone: “This leads to a situation where scientists will play safe (politically correct) when going on the record.”

    Joseph (and at least one other): “You have presented absolutely no evidence to support this statement. Do you have any?”

    A few years ago someone observed that your stance on global warming depended on where you are on the tenure track. If you are a young professor not tenured, you are 100 percent compliant with the consensus. If you are tenured, you might comment that the certainty levels are not as high as commonly portrayed, and if you are emeritus you might be actively opposed to media portrayals pushing the panic button.

    While looking for that report, I stumbled on this interesting example of “pro and con” which at at quick review seems to capture both sides fairly well. I have no idea if the BBC is actually trying to represent both sides; their idea of “right” is still probably far to my left, but it appears to be an attempt to hedge their bets just in case.
    http://climatechange.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001445

    You can see some of the emeritus on the right and the fast-track rising stars on the left, generally speaking. But this isn’t the droid I was looking for. Alas, I am out of time so I’ll have to resume later.

  205. Steve Bloom says:

    What, m2, no comment on your Marshall McLuhan moment? I thought it was sweet.

    Notice your “someone observed => report” conflation. Lack of evidence aside, it’s funny you even try to argue this when the real situation is quite the reverse, per Richard Alley.

  206. Michael 2 says: “I waited a couple of days to see if anyone was going to address this comment and question. Evidently not so I’ll comment on it.

    Someone [Marcel Crok]: “This leads to a situation where scientists will play safe (politically correct) when going on the record.”

    Joseph (and at least one other): “You have presented absolutely no evidence to support this statement. Do you have any?”

    Yes, Michael 2, it is a pity that Marcel Crok did not reply yet and provided some evidence for his claim. And it is even more a pity that you then make a similar claim (or paraphrase someone making a similar claim) without any evidence.

    I am not tenured, not even tenure track, working on temporary projects, they can get rid of me at the end of every project without any hassle. Thus I guess I am in your 100% category, if not more than 100%.

    Still I wrote, without any fear of that giving me any kind of problems, that the IPCC should consider the uncertainties in the global mean temperature more in their next synthesis, especially when it comes to changes in extreme weather. That is science-speak for: the trends could be much different, more than we currently think.

    Below the post, where I wrote this, I also compiled other reviews. Many people did not agree with the IPCC. (While most agree that they gave a fair report on the current state of the scientific literature.) I did not notice any fear to speak.

    If Marcel Crok wants to get quotes from scientists for which there is no evidence or stupid remarks that the IPCC is a genocidal criminal organization, then he may be right that that is hard to get from a scientists. At least when a scientist is still young and idealistically believes in scientific progress. People change with age and sometimes start finding politics more interesting as science.

  207. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    “Climate science is a very politicised field”

    Who is doing the politicizing?

  208. John Mashey says:

    Just in case “Who is doing the politicizing?” isn’t complete rhetorical, or in case any readers don’t know:

    1) In the UK, Margaret Thatcher, according to Wikipedia:
    “Thatcher supported an active climate protection policy and was instrumental in the creation of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and in founding the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the British Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Exeter.[146] Thatcher helped to put climate change, acid rain and general pollution in the British mainstream in the early 1980s.[146] Her speeches included one to Royal Society on 27 September 1988[147] and to the UN general assembly in November 1989, She did not visit the Earth Summit 1992 and later became sceptical about climate change policy.[146]”

    2) Georege HW Bush was supportive of IPCC.
    As for what happened later in US, read Merchants of Doubt. In mid-2000s, there were still Republicans in legislature like Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) (who fought against Joe Barton’s hassling of scientists over hockey-stick) and Olympia Snowe (who once wrote letter to ExxonMobil urging them to stop funding disinformation from think tanks. From Wikipedia:
    “In October 2003, McCain and Lieberman co-sponsored the Climate Stewardship Act that would have introduced a cap and trade system aimed at returning greenhouse gas emissions to 2000 levels; the bill was defeated with 55 votes to 43 in the Senate.[166] They reintroduced modified versions of the Act two additional times, most recently in January 2007 with the co-sponsorship of Barack Obama, among others.”

    and even Newt Gingrich was OK in this amazing 2008 commercial with Nancy Pelosi.

    But then, the Kochs+Big Tobacco finally got TEA party to take off, via AFP+FreedomWorks, as per this, at which point they had a “grass roots” social movement that hated any taxes and the Federal government, things for which tobacco and the Kochs have no use … and admitting the strong human contribution to climate change became anathema.
    As Presidential contender Jon Huntsman tweeted “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy,” He was right. Crushed in primaries.

  209. Michael 2 says:

    R.E. asks “Who is doing the politicizing?”

    It seems that Maurice Strong is one of the most influential of the politicizers and it got a huge boost, at least in the United States, by his buddy Al Gore. With a socialist and a democrat pushing global warming the resulting politics and gridlock were inevitable.

  210. Michael 2 says:

    V.V. wrote “And it is even more a pity that you then make a similar claim without any evidence.”

    The evidence of my belief are these words. I make many claims with no further evidence than my words. If you find the topic interesting you will seek your own evidence and believe, or not, as you please. If you are not interested then you will not seek. Either way, I am not burdened by your lack of proof.

  211. Michael 2 says:

    Steve Bloom wrote “What, m2, no comment on your Marshall McLuhan moment?”

    Acknowledging that I am finally reading your comment. As I have no knowledge of Marshall McLuhan moments I also have no opinion on it.

  212. Michael 2 says:

    Joshua, thanks for the link. It is a very good discussion and quite reasonable. The “grid” is largely unsustainable for a variety of reasons; one that did not come up in the cite you provided is that household solar is starting to create problems for financing the grid. As households start to become energy independent they are still grid-tied for night and bad weather; but using it less, also pay less.

    Grid is also vulnerable to terrorism and social instability which dominates much of the world.

    So the localized energy solutions described in this story make excellent good sense not only for developing nations, but “redeveloping” already developed nations, but not all of them or all regions. The pacific northwest of the USA will need hydropower probably forever.

    http://grist.org/food/how-can-we-get-power-to-the-poor-without-frying-the-planet/

  213. Michael 2 says:

    Joshua wrote “Well, then, I’d say that we’re all ‘lukewarmers’ and hence, the term is meaningless other than as a label to use as a rhetorical tool.”

    Joshua, the link you provided earlier included this sentence:
    “There are long-tail risks that could sink the entire human ship, outcomes that must be avoided at almost any cost.”

    And plucked somewhat at random from a great many choices:
    “a world so inhospitable that we must avoid creating it at any cost.”
    http://www.juancole.com/2012/12/avoiding-the-nightmarish-four-degree-world-of-2060-we-must-act-now.html

    The problem for me is that quite a few preachers of doom have the same exact “at any cost” mentality and they are competing for my attention and money.

    It is also anti-evolutionary. What exactly is this “at any cost”? What does it mean? The decarbonizers spell it out quite clearly: Stop now, all CO2 emissions RIGHT NOW. Yeah, that would impose a pretty substantial cost and there’s no way to actually do it. You’d have to stop Africans from burning wood, most of the world from burning coal and everyone from burning oil.

    Of course, the nation that doesn’t decarbonize suddenly has a huge evolutionary advantage.

    Sources for the above: The World Bank. 2012. Turn down the heat: why a 4 degree warmer world must be avoided. A Report for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics.

    If you want scary stories, pretty much anything by the Potsdam Institute will suffice.

    It does seem a bit peculiar that a BANK is interested in decarbonizing EVERYONE ELSE.

  214. Michael 2 says:

    BBD wrote “M2: The increase in Antarctic sea ice extent could be a consequence of anthropogenic forcing or it could be natural variability. It cannot be used as an argument that ‘AGW is wrong’.”

    It can always be used in an argument. Whether it is effective depends on the hearer or reader being familiar with earlier claims of ice disappearing and/or natural variability being discounted.

  215. jsam says:

    On the varieties of denialism, http://scientiasalon.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/the-varieties-of-denialism/

    It’s less off-topic than it looks. And it is a partial antidote to Michael 2’s thread-bombing.

  216. Steve Bloom says:

    Uh-oh, sounds like m2 has re-read Atlas Shrugged. It’s a bit like sniffing glue.

    BTW, m2, nice attempted dodge on the instant falsification of your absurd claim that there’s no conspiracy to undermine progress on climate change policy. No comment, really? Now you’ll just pretend that you have some remaining shred of credibility? Good luck with that.

  217. Steve Bloom says:

    Quite on topic, jsam, and thanks.

  218. Hi Steve,

    “Tamsin, I’ve always lumped together the people who design and run the models with the people who analyze their outputs, perhaps to some confusion. What term would you suggest for what you do?

    You’re quite right of course: those who design and run the models do analyse their outputs. In that case, the aim is typically to test what the model does when whacking it in a particular way (such as with RCP or palaeo forcings), or how the results vary when the inputs change (sensitivity analyses, where parameters or uncertain forcings are systematically varied, often one at a time).

    However, if the aim is to assess the uncertainty of the model output in a systematic and probabilistic fashion, the numerical modellers may enlist someone familiar with design of computer experiments (i.e. this: http://www.springer.com/mathematics/computational+science+%26+engineering/book/978-0-387-95420-2) and/or Bayesian inference. Particularly if the model is slow enough to warrant statistical emulation. That person might be a numerical modeller who spends a larger-than-usual fraction of their time thinking about statistical aspects (e.g. by going to http://www.mucm.ac.uk/UCM2014.html), like me, or they might be a professional statistician who doesn’t tend to run numerical models, like Jonty Rougier, or somewhere between the two (like Doug McNeall or David Sexton at the Met Office). Such a person would hopefully have useful things to say about experimental design for statistical inference and estimating posterior probability densities.

    Another example might be statistical modelling of the feedback between two systems. I analysed output from a regional climate model – of course running these is a heavy duty job, as they are so slow – to produce a statistical representation of the Greenland SMB-elevation feedback to incorporate in ice sheet models (two papers in The Cryosphere: first is described here http://blogs.plos.org/models/open-to-positive-feedback).

    As to what to call those in this disciplinary interface: if I knew that, I might have got a lectureship a bit quicker 😉 The risk of interdisciplinary work is, of course, the label “Jack of all trades”… I say I have research interests in quantifying model uncertainty, and that as part of that I’ve run various earth system models. Hence just using “climate scientist” usually 🙂

    “From the rest of what you say, it does sound like Ridley was their starting point for the studio segment. I’m still not clear as to their rationale for doing things this way, but maybe you aren’t either. I’ll watch the episode (thanks DS for the pointer), but if the idea was to educate viewers I don’t see how flipping from Antarctic sea ice to the “hiatus” would be other than confusing.”

    I don’t know their rationale, except that I understand any journalist likes to have a story, and debate/opposition is an easy simple narrative… They may have chosen Matt because he’d been on quite recently, so he was on their mind.

    I haven’t rewatched since that night. It was probably me that switched to talking about the pause first. But that was to pre-empt Matt who I knew would bring it up as his main point. I would rather clearly make my points first than appear to be in a defensive position responding to him.

  219. Steve Bloom says:

    So, a “climate scientist working with ice sheet models” broadly speaking. If it’s all the same to you, I might stick with “ice sheet modeler.” 🙂 Seriously, I think this is a case where people who are aware of all the different specializations involved won’t be confused, and those who aren’t (i.e. nearly everyone reading in a context where I might be writing) will be less confused than if they got a more nuanced description. In terms of your public interactions, I would even suggest something like “I could be called an ice sheet modeler, but for the record what I really do is…”, then proceeding to give an clear example such as seeing what happens when meltwater flow is increased. People will glaze over at the “what I really do” part, as with the phrase “numerical modeler” (what’s a “numeric” anyway? :)), but the former coupled with the concrete example (I assume you do the latter already) has the great advantage of giving them a reasonably relevant hook to hang the hat on.

    Yes, it does seem to boil down to the simple debate/opposition narrative. It’s the easy choice since the journos themselves have no in-depth of knowledge on these subjects, and since it’s the template that they try to apply to everything. It’s even sometimes appropriate in the case of politics and sport. I’m not saying don’t agree to go on these things, but maybe make a point of suggesting how they might do things differently in future? (I still haven’t listened as well, and may have more to say when I do. Should be later today.)

    A key aspect of how this works indeed has to do with the GWPF, which as Anders points out seems to be omnipresent on the Beeb (my impression too, although I’d still like to see something quantitative on this). Benny Peiser spends his days aiming at getting GWPF representatives media access, and AFAIK there’s no climate science-friendly group trying to do the same in an organized way. This is especially effective when they have people with a journalism background like Ridley’s (also, significantly, a known quantity guaranteed to entertain). The process tends to feed on itself, with journalists being motivated to validate such people having once let them in the door.

    So how to break this cycle? The powers-that-be at the Beeb have already ignored a report they commissioned telling them to stop, so expecting them to reform themselves seems unrealistic. Having a pro-climate science group pushing from the other side would be helpful and should be done, but isn’t a complete answer. GWPF, or whatever might replace it, needs to be delegitimized. Similar, people like Montford (a chartered accountant with an opinion) have no place in climate science coverage. I have a few thoughts on how to go about that, mainly having to do with making a clear division between science coverage and policy/politics coverage, but they can wait for another time.

    To be fair to the Beeb, their public funding has caused them to act like a deer in the headlights when contemplating the prospect of UKIP acquiring a share of power in the UK, who would indeed do what they could to destroy the institution. OTOH, it needs to be an institution worth saving. As it stands, from a climate science and policy POV, is it?

  220. Tamsin Edwards: “As to what to call those in this disciplinary interface: if I knew that, I might have got a lectureship a bit quicker 😉 The risk of interdisciplinary work is, of course, the label “Jack of all trades”…”

    Isn’t it strange how we are always encouraged to work interdisciplinary, that is supposed to be where the low hanging fruit is and we can make so much progress. This is probably only partially true, there is more than enough interesting work to do within the disciplines. I wonder whether they say so because “interdisciplinarity” is a main motivation for working in projects (central planning), rather than given the funding to the disciplines and use the wisdom of the individual scientists with skin in the game where to invest the funding best.

    In addition, as you state, it is not good for your career because you do not fit in. The professorships all have a well defined discipline attached and if a new candidate is needed, they should fit this discipline.

    If the higher echelons really find this important, they should change the organizational structure accordingly.

  221. John Mashey says:

    “If the higher echelons really find this important, they should change the organizational structure accordingly.”

    In some places, they do. At Stanford, they fired up Bio-X,, carefully located in new building, Clark Center between CMPSC+EE (at endge of engineering) and the medical corner of campus. Nice place, including good cafeteria, But the cleverest part was some social engineering.
    1) Pots of money were set aside for buildings lab spaces, startup funding, $ for psotdocs and grad students.
    2) Faculty were encouraged to put together proposals, but any proposal had to have at least 2 P..I.s, including one from engineering and one from medicine/biosciences … who have NEVER coauthored a paper. This apparently got a bunch of medical folks visiting EE and asking what they did, and CMPSC folks over talking to medical researchers, etc, etc
    3) The result was a bunch of proposals, mostly by younger faculty,a s the more established ones were already set up.
    I would not claim that is trivial to do, especially on this scale, but it was instructive.

  222. “But the cleverest part was some social engineering.”

    John Mashey’s enthusiasm for social engineering is revealing– its propensity for self-propagation makes it a very fit object for the Precautionary Principle.

  223. Alex Kripke says:

    I find this site very interesting but there are three points I’d like to make:

    1. You must be well aware that ad hominem is an invalid form of argument yet you seem unable to resist it when discussing anyone who does not share your opinion, this is poor practice and deeply unscientific;

    2. You (implicitly) claim that projection is not prediction, this is incorrect. It is the very essence of a scientific theory to predict. Indeed explanation implies prediction;

    3. Finally the old issue of falsification again. If AGW is not falsifiable then (of course) it is not a scientific hypothesis. However there is a near all pervasive confusion as to of what the AGW hypothesis actually consists in.

    Those who reject AGW mistakenly see a refutation of any of the predictions made by the proponents of AGW as clear refutation of the hypothesis itself, this is incorrect.

    Unfortunately those who adhere to AGW have such a unclear understanding of the hypothesis that they too adopt equally invalid tactics: either that of clinging to each an every prediction as if the hypothesis itself depended on their veracity…it does not and this is not good scientific practice;
    or of dismissing any failed predictions as unimportant, this too is poor practice.

  224. Alex,

    You must be well aware that ad hominem is an invalid form of argument yet you seem unable to resist it when discussing anyone who does not share your opinion, this is poor practice and deeply unscientific;

    Where? Are you sure you understand the concept of an ad hominem?

    You (implicitly) claim that projection is not prediction, this is incorrect. It is the very essence of a scientific theory to predict. Indeed explanation implies prediction;

    I think you may be confused. A projection is a qualified prediction (if this happens, then that will happen). Given that there are certain things that we cannot predict (our emissions, for example) climate models are technically projections, not predictions (they may turn out to to be “wrong” because our chosen emission pathway differed from what was assumed, not because the model itself was wrong).

    inally the old issue of falsification again. If AGW is not falsifiable then (of course) it is not a scientific hypothesis. However there is a near all pervasive confusion as to of what the AGW hypothesis actually consists in.

    This may be because AGW itself is not a hypothesis. It relies on many aspects of physics, each of which is falsifiable, but itself is not really a single, falsifiable hypothesis.

  225. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP: “This may be because AGW itself is not a hypothesis.”

    It is a *conclusion*.

    http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

    “Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver”

    I am reminded of:

    “Believe nothing until officially denied”
    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Claud_Cockburn (He wasn’t the first to say this or express this sentiment, but is widely remembered for it).

    When governments start denying human cause then I’ll worry more about it.

  226. jsam says:

    M2 sees a government conspiracy. So do anti-vaxxers. chemtrollers and truthers. No one can quite explain the conspiracy – or why governments funded by fossil fuel interests would be interested – or how it’s organised. But, hey, four legs good, two legs bad.

  227. Alex Kripke says:

    Thanks for the reply,

    1. I think if I had been accused of employing ad hominem I would perhaps give a definition and then ask at what points my argument had fallen into its clutches. Frankly it’s rather disappointing, (though I must admit slightly amusing) that in attempting to rebut my accusation of ad hominem you resort to ad hominem. Let’s not resort to the tactics of the comments in the Daily Mail;

    2. I’m afraid something has gone awry here: all projections are predictions. Unfortunately the contamination of the term “prediction” by ideas of the fortune teller with the crystal ball leads many astray. Any statement which concerns future events or future findings is a prediction. This designation in now way implies a single valued outcome.

    I may have missed your point but I am not sure what you intend by: “…climate models are technically projections, not predictions (they may turn out to to be “wrong”)” . This reads as though you see the fact that they may turn out to be wrong as a defining characteristic of “projections” vis-a-vis predictions. This is of course not the case. As I said all explanation implies prediction, and crucially all scientific predictions (of necessity) “may turn out to be wrong”. If that isn’t the case then we aren’t talking about science.

    3. The term “hypothesis” (rather like “theory”) tends to raise the hackles of the non-scientist. In common parlance “in theory” is contrasted with “in practice” or “in reality”, and “hypothesis” is seen as tentative in a way in which the term “conclusion” is not.

    However, in scientific terms an hypothesis simply means a postulate. Hypotheses are in no way mutually exclusive with “conclusions”. A chain of inference leads to a conclusion which is (again of necessity) an hypothesis.

    To reiterate, to call a postulate an hypothesis or a theory in no way suggests any (specific) doubt upon its veracity. Every scientific statement is an hypothesis.

  228. Alex,

    I think if I had been accused of employing ad hominem I would perhaps give a definition and then ask at what points my argument had fallen into its clutches. Frankly it’s rather disappointing, (though I must admit slightly amusing) that in attempting to rebut my accusation of ad hominem you resort to ad hominem. Let’s not resort to the tactics of the comments in the Daily Mail;

    I’m happy for you to explain why you think that I employed an ad hominem. That’s why I said “where?” In my view, if you make an accusation, you’re the one who gets to justify the accusation, not the person being accused.

    As far as projection vs prediction goes, I’m not getting your point. My point is simple. There are certain assumptions that need to be included in a climate model in order to attempt to “predict” our future warming. What the Sun will do. Volcanoes. Our emissions. If our future warming does not match what the model suggests, that could simply be because one of these assumptions turned out not to match reality. The model projection/prediction could therefore be wrong simply because of these input assumptions being wrong, not because the underlying model is wrong (of course, one should probably using “skillful” rather than “right” or “wrong”).

    I don’t understand what you’re getting at with your third point, and am not convinced you do either.

    To be honest, I rather tire of tone trolling, so if you would like to make a substantive comment feel free, otherwise, feel free to go elsewhere.

  229. anoilman says:

    Alex… Pointing out that you think someone made a mistake is not an ad hominem attack. Neither is doing it repeatedly, and neither is pointing it out over and over again. An ad hominem attack is directed at the person, not the material they present.

    Those wishing to start a nice old fashioned flame war, attempt to push buttons until the ad hominems come out, and then act all indignant. I don’t see much flame wars here.

    In general I go for the jugular (ad hominem) when faced with pretty silly material. i.e. They think skeptical science is alarmist and making stuff up because they can’t find a link. Anders and company keep my tone down here, and have moderated me many times.

    IMO Anders has the patience of a saint and always works hard to articulate what he means with clarity.

  230. Vinny Burgoo says:

    anoilman: ‘IMO Anders has the patience of a saint and always works hard to articulate what he means with clarity.’

    He does. And one day he’ll get there.

    [Thenk you. I’ll be here all week. The clams are very good.]

  231. Joshua says:

    Alex –

    ==>”Frankly it’s rather disappointing, (though I must admit slightly amusing) that in attempting to rebut my accusation of ad hominem you resort to ad hominem. ”

    I’m a bit of a tone troll – so I’m curious to know what you’re referring to there. Where did Anders resort to ad hom in response to your accusation of ad hom?

    Do you mean when he said this?:

    ==>”I think you may be confused.”

  232. Michael 2 says:

    jsam commented saying “M2 sees a government conspiracy”

    Whereas you see a Big Oil conspiracy.

    But, no, I do not see a “government conspiracy”. If you bother to read my words you will see that I claim the existence of a great many conspiracies, depending on how exactly you wish to define the word. Every corporate boardroom in the world has “conspiracies” although they call them trade secrets and business strategies. Government agencies tend to create their own work; after all, civil servants wish continued employment.

    “No one can quite explain the conspiracy”

    Naturally not. If it can be explained then it is not secret, and if it is not secret then it is not a conspiracy.

    As to the “no one”, plainly you need to get out more often. Many explanations exist. All will be slightly speculative simply because successful conspiracies are not discovered. Non-conspiracies are also not discovered so it can be a bit of a challenge to even guess at one.

    “why governments funded by fossil fuel interests would be interested”

    There is no such thing as “government” independent of people. It is PEOPLE that are motivated to do a thing; I suggest a study of Maurice Strong as an example of the amazing results one motivate person can achieve.

    “or how it’s organised.”

    That will vary according to the organizer of course. In the case of Marice Strong, he organized a committee of the United Nations.

    But the “why” goes back much farther in time, before even the First Comintern, perhaps before Gobekli Tepe. It is mankind’s instinctive drive to dominate all other life, including all other humans. It cannot be done alone, you must have an alliance of people to help you achieve that dominance. That is why millions of small conspiracies exist. I’ve faced them at work and very likely so have you.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6bekli_Tepe

  233. Michael 2 says:

    A followup to jsam:

    Note that I have not claimed the existence of a big conspiracy. I suspect every regular reader of this blog can name from memory most of the significant participants. How big a conspiracy is that? Same with Koch Brothers — just how big a conspiracy can these two men create?

    Perhaps instead of “conspiracy” we have “uneasy and temporary alliances” among people that ordinarily would be competing against each other for fame and grants but, for now, rally around each other seeing an enemy to all of them.

  234. Michael 2 says:

    While there isn’t a “big conspiracy”, I do sense the existence of two grand memes that are rival and do not permit much in the way of compromise.

    One is the ant meme; expressed well by T.H.White as “Everything not compulsory is forbidden” and it obviously works for ants.

    Its opposite is libertarianism: “Everything not forbidden is free to choose” with nothing mandated.

    I leave it to these intelligent readers to see that there isn’t really much middle ground and why that is true. But of these, only the ant meme will form a “conspiracy” for the simple reason that libertarians are nearly impossible to organize.

  235. We all use ad hominem arguments all the time. We have sufficient experience on many people to be sure that we cannot expect anything worthwhile from them. As Wikipedia writes When used inappropriately, it is a fallacy.

    When the use is inappropriate is, of course, largely a subjective judgment.

    To my liking the discussion on this site is too often about people. Threads that are strongly critical of “common enemies” get often long, while those which discuss content of science or physical arguments tend to remain short – unless they get diverted to discussion of personalities. That’s a pity, but that seems to be unavoidable on the net.

  236. …and Then There’s Physics says:
    November 16, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    “I think you may be confused. A projection is a qualified prediction (if this happens, then that will happen).

    [Alex] If AGW is not falsifiable then (of course) it is not a scientific hypothesis. However there is a near all pervasive confusion as to of what the AGW hypothesis actually consists in.

    [ATTP] This may be because AGW itself is not a hypothesis. It relies on many aspects of physics, each of which is falsifiable, but itself is not really a single, falsifiable hypothesis.

    …and Then There’s Physics says:
    November 16, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    “As far as projection vs prediction goes, I’m not getting your point. My point is simple. There are certain assumptions that need to be included in a climate model in order to attempt to “predict” our future warming. What the Sun will do. Volcanoes. Our emissions. If our future warming does not match what the model suggests, that could simply be because one of these assumptions turned out not to match reality. The model projection/prediction could therefore be wrong simply because of these input assumptions being wrong, not because the underlying model is wrong (of course, one should probable using “skillful” rather than “right” or “wrong”).”

    ATTP, I think this last point you made is excellent. These assumptions in question, even if included in the model as you point above at the beginning of the last paragraph, must hold true before there can be any legitimate claim that what you called the underlying model has been falsified to even some degree.

    For educational purposes for the general reader, here is a page at Berkeley that gives an excellent presentation that shows just how important these assumptions or auxiliary hypotheses really are:
    “Bundle up your hypotheses”
    http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/bundle
    [Note: This page may be popular enough to make connecting to it a problem, so keep trying to connect if there is a problem.]

    Quote: “…If any one of those hypotheses turns out to be inaccurate, then we have a problem…..Such auxiliary hypotheses are sometimes called assumptions. The assumptions of a particular test are all the hypotheses that are assumed to be accurate in order for the test to work as planned……..when examining the results of a particular test, it is important to recognize all of the auxiliary hypotheses that a test depends upon. The history of heliocentrism (the idea of a sun-centered solar system) illustrates how incorrect auxiliary hypotheses have led to incorrect conclusions……..Because these two hypotheses turned out to be false, 16th century astronomers came to the wrong conclusion about the parallax test. They saw their test results as strong evidence that Earth does not orbit the sun, but in fact, with the right equipment, the parallax test (along with many others) suggests that Copernicus was right – the Earth orbits the sun!”

    On what you said, “This may be because AGW itself is not a hypothesis. It relies on many aspects of physics, each of which is falsifiable, but itself is not really a single, falsifiable hypothesis”:

    I would not agree with that, since I think that there are ways to define the terms such that AGW is a single, falsifiable hypothesis that has survived every last *legitimate* attempt to falsify it in the same way that we can define the relevant terms such that evolution is a single, falsifiable hypothesis that has survived every last *legitimate* attempt to falsify it. See
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Disproving_evolution
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Disproving_evolution#What_would_falsify_evolution.3F
    and the further below with respect to mathematical biology for ways that we can see that evolution is falsifiable and has passed every *legitimate* falsification test thrown at it and that the same sort of constructions can be made with respect to AGW. These claims that either evolution or AGW has been falsified all are illegitimate in that they are all fallacious – see further below for more.

    There are arguments out there that some evolution or AGW “skeptics” make in the form of claims that it’s legitimate to reject the scientific fact of evolution or AGW via the route of claiming that it is not a single, falsifiable hypothesis. (This article
    http://sciblogs.co.nz/open-parachute/2013/04/26/friday-follies-what-happened-to-the-official-agw-hypothesis/
    written by a science defender quotes a science denier:
    Quote: “”I referred earlier to the “AGW hypothesis” and its falsification. Astute readers will note there is officially no such hypothesis….The entire AGW “debate” is built on shifting sand, as protagonists on all sides are at liberty to describe the theory as they please. No falsification is possible.””
    And with respect to the two sets of people making these two arguments, there is a very large intersection of these two sets, and no one should be surprised at that.

    These types of arguments against AGW – and other sciences like evolution – need to be resisted for the very simple reason that no argument can hold against scientific fact. And yes, I would like to see more folks be courageous enough to say flat out that AGW is every bit as much a scientific fact as any other scientific fact – and this includes evolution, even though climate science may presently be in the same state as evolutionary science was in early parts of the 20th century. (This means of course that evolution was legitimately a scientific fact by the early parts of the 20th century. Enough is enough with all this science denial because of religious and/or political ideology.)

    Some of the studies that helped to establish evolution as a scientific fact are not only viewable as falsification tests but are also statistical studies that establish such as the following implication: If we believe evolution to be false, then we have to believe to be true conditions whose probability of being true are vanishingly close to 0% and believe to be false conditions whose probability of being true are vanishingly close to 100%. Here is an article on a mathematician who does research in mathematical biology (some may recognize the name Hendy):
    “Professor Hendy retires”
    http://sciblogs.co.nz/a-measure-of-science/tag/evolution/
    Quote: “In fact, it was Popper’s scepticism that inspired my Dad and David Penny to put evolution through a particularly stringent mathematical test a few years later, showing not only that it was falsifiable but that it stood up to a particularly rigorous attempt to disprove it……They used new techniques that were emerging in the 1980s for constructing evolutionary trees using molecular genetics……*Popper later backed away from this position as the debate unfolded.”

    It took the evolutionary hypothesis several decades to get to the statistical studies in question. We already are starting to see the beginning (yes, in its infancy, but beginnings still) of similar statistical studies for the AGW hypothesis, although some might not yet recognize it:

    “Is global warming just a giant natural fluctuation?”
    http://www.mcgill.ca/channels/news/global-warming-just-giant-natural-fluctuation-235236

    Quote: “An analysis of temperature data since 1500 all but rules out the possibility that global warming in the industrial era is just a natural fluctuation……….
    This study will be a blow to any remaining climate-change deniers,” Lovejoy says. “Their two most convincing arguments – that the warming is natural in origin, and that the computer models are wrong – are either directly contradicted by this analysis, or simply do not apply to it.”………Lovejoy’s findings effectively complement those of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he says. His study predicts, with 95% confidence, that a doubling of carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere would cause the climate to warm by between 1.9 and 4.2 degrees Celsius. That range is more precise than – but in line with — the IPCC’s prediction that temperatures would rise by 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius if CO2 concentrations double………”We’ve had a fluctuation in average temperature that’s just huge [he means huge in terms of such relatively short time scales] since 1880 – on the order of about 0.9 degrees Celsius,” Lovejoy says. “This study shows that the odds of that being caused by natural fluctuations are less than one in a hundred and are likely to be less than one in a thousand.””

    Since AGW and the natural hypotheses are the only possible explanations for this “fluctuation in average temperature that’s just huge”, and since the latter has been all but ruled out, all that’s left to explain this “fluctuation in average temperature that’s just huge” is the former. This is simultaneously at least a soft falsification of the natural hypothesis and a soft confirmation of the AGW hypothesis.

  237. anoilman says:

    Pekka Pirilä: But the challenge here is people, not physics. Physics is math, and science… it just makes sense.

  238. John Hartz says:

    Meanwhile, back in the real world…

    It was cool while it lasted, but the Global Warming Hiatus—that 14-year reprieve in warming ocean waters—is officially over. Global mean sea-surface temperatures are warmer than at any point in time our data began, in 1854, says Axel Timmermann, climate scientists at the International Pacific Research Center at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.

    “Record-breaking greenhouse gas concentrations and anomalously weak North Pacific summer trade winds, which usually cool the ocean surface, have contributed further to the rise in sea surface temperatures,” he says.

    The 2014 global ocean warming is due largely to the North Pacific, which Timmermann says has “warmed far beyond any recorded value.”

    The ocean is now warmer than ever before in recorded history, Gwynn Guilford, Quartz, Nov 14, 2014

  239. Steve Bloom says:

    Excellent and very useful links, K&A. Thanks.

  240. K&A,
    I agree better with ATTP than with you. The case of evolution is very different from the case of AGW.

    The hypothesis of natural selection and evolution was very much a hypothesis, It could be supported by some plausibility arguments, but not by any well confirmed earlier theory.

    AGW is hypothesis only at the almost trivial level of assuming that laws of physics apply to atmosphere. Based on that the effect can be derived, and an order of magnitude given. It’s was from early on more than a hypothesis, it was a derived fact. When that’s accepted we may add hypotheses concerning it’s quantitative strength and other similar details, but none of these possible additional hypotheses is uniquely more fundamental than the others.

    Perhaps you are not a physicist as ATTP and I. Perhaps you are not ready to accept that it was a derived fact to start with (perhaps it was a separate hypothesis, when Arrhenius proposed it, but not during the period it has been considered important for the future, i.e since the 1970s). It’s not that we would disagree with your arguments that confirm it, we just think that it was a derived fact already before those recent confirmations. As a derived fact it’s based on the assumption that the input to the derivation is valid, but that’s not a single hypothesis, but a large set of hypotheses, all considered virtually certain to be correct.

  241. Steve Bloom says:
    November 17, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    “Excellent and very useful links, K&A. Thanks.”

    You’re welcome.

    Pekka Pirila says:
    November 17, 2014 at 10:05 pm
    K&A,

    “…..The case of evolution is very different from the case of AGW.”

    In some ways, yes, and in some ways, no. For the latter: In each case we have a major scientific fact that is rejected by large percentages of populations for religious and/or political reasons. That must be dealt with by demonstrating the truth of these facts, by demonstrating that they are, well, facts.

    “Perhaps you are not a physicist as ATTP and I. Perhaps you are not ready to accept that it was a derived fact to start with (perhaps it was a separate hypothesis, when Arrhenius proposed it, but not during the period it has been considered important for the future, i.e since the 1970s). It’s not that we would disagree with your arguments that confirm it, we just think that it was a derived fact already before those recent confirmations. As a derived fact it’s based on the assumption that the input to the derivation is valid, but that’s not a single hypothesis, but a large set of hypotheses, all considered virtually certain to be correct.”

    I’m OK with AGW being a derived fact. It’s just that there exist definitions of the term “hypothesis” such that the term can apply to derived facts and indeed any proposition or combination of propositions. For a sample, see some definitions in:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothesis
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antecedent_(logic)

    I choose to use such broader definitions. That is, my formal training in math or science goes as far as a bachelor’s in mathematics, with some informal side study in mathematical (symbolic) logic (with a small amount of guidance from one of my math professors who specialized in that area), and I tend to use definitions of terms that reflect this. This includes definitions that allow that any fact or claim of fact can be dropped into the position of the antecedent or hypothesis of an implication embedded in larger forms such as a falsification test, which means that any fact or claim of fact can function as a hypothesis, and definitions such that a single hypothesis can be more than a single atomic statement in that it can be a conjunction or disjunction of hypotheses in the same way a single set can be an intersection or union of sets.

    And so, since there are many out there that reject AGW as a fact, period, regardless of whether it’s derived, I think it very useful to point to confirmations of AGW (like Lovejoy’s [a link to his paper is at one of the links I gave], which can be put into the form of a falsification test for AGW that AGW passes) and ways to create more confirmations, as well as that and how all attempts to prove AGW false are themselves false, ergo my last comment above on November 17, 2014 at 11:52 am (and some of my other comments).

  242. K&A,

    I consider it both very important and very useful to emphasize AGW as a result derived from earlier knowledge rather than as an independent hypothesis that has also to be verified independently. It’s so important, because many of the complaints of “skeptics” are not easy to reject, or cannot be rejected strongly enough without this distinction. We do have papers that claim that some particular analysis can reject the null hypothesis of no AGW with a high level of significance, but all these analyses are dependent on assumptions that can be disputed one by one.

    When we accept basics of science and the extent AGW was really predicted before it was observed, the power of the empirical observations strengthens very much. Now the question is not at all, whether AGW exists, but the first question is, how strong it is. Now the value of zero strength can be rejected with very high certainty, and some lower limits can also be considered virtually certain.

    This difference comes from the Bayesian reasoning, where the posterior conclusions are highly dependent on the prior. Without the information that we get from physics and other already confirmed knowledge, the prior would allow with equal weight a huge amount of alternatives, including different variations of internal variability. Based on such a prior, the conclusion that AGW is real would be enhanced by the observations, but not enough to make it well proven. But all that is contrary to the facts, as science independent of the climate observations changes the prior expectations in a way that leads to the posterior conclusion that AGW is with high certainty so strong that it has contributed most of the warming since 1950 as IPCC has formulated the conclusion.

  243. John Hartz says:

    I am a big fan of both the KISS principle and the board game, Cluedo . Tom Curtis captures the spirit of both in his excellent article, [See correct link in JH’s comment below.], posted on SkS on July 25, 2012.

    I make this comment becase my eyes glaze over and my brain freezes when I attempt to digest the tome about falsification posted by KeefeAndAmanda and the subsequent exchanges he/she has with Pikka.

  244. John,
    Your link is not for normal access to SkS, but Google helped.

    What Tom Curtis writes there is one part of the “other already confirmed knowledge” I referred to. Those arguments make it virtually certain that the increase in CO2 concentration is of anthropogenic origin.

    Other main components are
    – Knowledge of the main properties of the atmosphere including the lapse rate. That knowledge is based on direct observations.
    – Physics of radiative transfer of energy. This is the theoretical part supported by laboratory measurements of emission spectra.

    These three components are sufficient for calculating the radiative forcing. Accurate calculation requires a lot of detailed knowledge about the present atmosphere, but reasonable approximations are easy to calculate. Radiative forcing is then sufficient for giving the order of magnitude of AGW.

    That’s more or less what I would use to form the prior knowledge component of Bayesian inference.

  245. John Hartz says:

    Pekka: Thanks for the clarification.

  246. “I make this comment becase my eyes glaze over and my brain freezes when I attempt to digest the tome about falsification posted by KeefeAndAmanda and the subsequent exchanges he/she has with Pikka.”

    I agree, and also that discussion of logic — modus ponens, antecedents, etc — was a snoozer.

    . I do much of my web programming in a first-order logic language, and when I see people acting as logicians outside of a strict quantitative context, it is too much for me to bear.

  247. WebHubTelescope says:

    November 22, 2014 at 1:41 am

    “”I make this comment becase my eyes glaze over and my brain freezes when I attempt to digest the tome about falsification posted by KeefeAndAmanda and the subsequent exchanges he/she has with Pikka.”

    I agree, and also that discussion of logic – modus ponens, antecedents, etc – was a snoozer.

    I do much of my web programming in a first-order logic language, and when I see people acting as logicians outside of a strict quantitative context, it is too much for me to bear.”

    I freely admit that it’s not for everybody. My comment on falsification on November 17, 2014 at 11:52 am was for any who might find the information useful. By the comment by Steve Bloom on November 17, 2014 at 5:41 pm, some seem to find some of it useful. But those other comments I made with respect to logic weren’t so much about logic as they were about the claims of those who claim to have falsified climate science, which are claims that climate science has been proved to be false. These are claims of proof. And so, when confronted by this, I prefer to not just let these claims go when I can show not only that they are false but also how they are false. In some of those other comments, I showed a way to prove that and how these proofs that climate science is false are themselves false – a definitive way to show that a proof is not a proof is to show that its argument form is formally invalid
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Validity
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Validity#Validity_and_soundness
    or that its premises are not all true, which means that it is not a sound argument
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soundness
    and one of the ways to show an argument unsound is to show that the argument uses a system that is not logically consistent, that it has a bad axiom as a premise in that one can derive contradiction within the system from one of its axioms. I exposed formal invalidity and logical inconsistency.

    Note to the reader on these above links: Validity is about the form or structure or architecture of the argument, not its content. (This form or structure is what logics such as propositional logic are all about. Most everyone should be able to relate to this idea about form without content since we teach it to middle school students and beyond when we teach theorems and formulas and equations and properties written using only variables, which is about how elements of sets generally relate to each other.) But soundness is about the content since it entails the claim that all the premises are true, which includes that any premise that is an axiom must be defined such that it does not imply a contradiction, which means that the axiom must be defined so that it is a tautology – true in all its substitution instances. This means that to test soundness, we must look at the content of each premise to decide whether the premise is true. This means that outside of mathematics, asserting the truth of a premise that is not an axiom is an inductive step, and this is fine. But at least with a form that is valid with any axiom not implying a contradiction, we know exactly what all the inductive steps are. I think it’s a good thing to know what all the inductive steps are. With respect to proof-claims, I think we should be able to put at least an outline of the argument in a form that is valid with any axiom not implying a contradiction, and I think it’s something that we should insist on being able to get from those who claim proof of anything – especially those who claim they have proved climate science false (noting that not once have I ever seen them give an argument that meets these conditions we should insist on).

    And some also claim that climate science is not falsifiable. That also is a claim that we can show to be false, and I addressed that most recently in my comment I mentioned above.

    Please consider this last point: When we show that the arguments that climate science has been proved false are either formally invalid or logically inconsistent, we reduce their arguments to no more than mere sales pitches made by desperate salespeople trying to make a sale at all cost. Examples of such sales pitches outside of those claims that climate science has been proved false are the arguments from that endless parade of mathematical crackpots on sci.math
    https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/sci.math
    who claim that they have proved some mathematical theorem false or some conjecture true when they have done no such thing, and those “proofs” that the followers of Rush Limbaugh believe he puts forth. (These false claims of proof all have similar fallacious patterns regardless of content.) It seems to me a very good thing to do this to these arguments.

  248. Pingback: Heated Argument on Climate Change | Marmalade

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