Critical thought?

I’m constantly amazed by what some seem to think is good or interesting. The latest seems to be an article by a Professor or Economics and an Independent Scholar called causes and conequences of the climate science boom. Both Judith Curry and Andrew Montford think it’s spot on; I think it’s largely a bunch of evidence-free assertions.

Even the very first few lines are pretty dire. It starts with

Scientific disciplines, like economies, can and do experience booms and busts. We document a boom in climate science, sustained by massive levels of funding by government entities, whose scientific direction is set by an extra-scientific organization, the IPCC, which has emerged as a “big player” in the scientific arena, championing the hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming.

I’m not quite sure what to make of the boom and bust analogy. Clearly governments do set overall research funding priorities, and clearly some areas may go out of favour, while others become more popular. The latter is, however, often because of our understanding evolving and it becoming harder and harder to continue justifying funding an area that is becoming well understood and, therefore, becoming easier to justify funding something new and exciting. However, to state that the scientific direction of climate science is set by the IPCC just seems completely unjustified. It’s certainly not their formal remit. Its remit – as I understand it – is to synthesize our understanding of climate science, which appears consistent with what is claimed on their website

It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.

You’d think such a strong claim would need some kind of actual evidence. Also, what does championing the hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming actually mean?

The article then spends some time discussing the whole consensus issue, saying

While a large majority of climate scientists are reported as being in general agreement with the AGW hypothesis and with the IPCC’s pronouncements, the accuracy and extent of this consensus has been questioned.[27] But, despite the objections to vaguely worded questionnaires, selectivity in sampling, subjectivity in the analysis of paper abstracts, and disputes as to who actually qualifies as a “climate scientist”, the results of several surveys are consistent in depicting an overwhelming acceptance, by scientists associated in some way with climate science, of the IPCC line.[28] The oft-quoted 97% number may be unrealistic and unsupportable, but the general acceptance by the majority of scientists having any connection to climate science seems real enough. This herding is a predictable result of the IPCC’s Big Player presence.

The references [27] and [28] include Poptech, someone’s written evidence to the Parliamentary Select Committee, and Andrew Montford’s blog. So, to summarise the above paragraph: there are various studies that show a strong consensus; these studies have been rebutted by bloggers (corrected from original : boggers – which may, actually, have been quite appropriate 🙂 ); these results are, however, probably about right (so the bloggers are wrong?) but this indicates the herding influence of the IPCC? Or – as seems more likely – these studies illustrate the level of agreement in the literature, and amongst scientists, that exists because of the overwhelming evidence that supports this position, and that the authors of this article don’t know what they’re talking about.

Maybe the most egregious comment in the article was the one below

The understandable concern that if in fact the climate is warming significantly as a result of human action there might be adverse effects that may be possible to mitigate through concerted action. Although this concern rests on three assumptions that are far from certain (that human activity is having a measurable effect on the global climate, that the climate is warming at a rate that will make adaptation difficult and costly for some, and that the effects of warming will be a net negative), it is widely held, and it finds powerful (if usually unarticulated) support in the ideological bent which sees humanity as the despoiler of nature.

So, that human activity is having a measureable effect on the global climate is far from certain? Really? It might not be absolutely, completely, irrevocably certain, but it’s a good deal more certain than far from. Given that we are currently changing our climate at a rate that is probably 5-10 times faster than at any time in human history, it would be remarkable if adaptation was easy and cheap. Finally, even if there are some positive warming effects, most impact studies suggest that the negatives outweigh the positives; especially under moderately high future emission pathways.

So, when I see articles such as this being promoted as spot on, it’s hard not to conclude that it’s simply because it bashes the IPCC and insults climate scientists because they’re – supposedly – suffering from some kind of herd mentality. It’s hard to conclude that those promoting it have read it and given it any critical thought, since doing so should make it obvious that it’s largely evidence-free nonsense written by people who appear to have little understanding of this topic or of science in general. We’re all being encouraged to not use terms like “climate science denier” or to suggest that climate “skeptics” are prone to conspiracy ideation. Reading articles like this makes me think that this is more because the truth hurts than because it wouldn’t be reasonable to do so.

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98 Responses to Critical thought?

  1. dana1981 says:

    Your final paragraph summarizes it well. These guys are clearly clueless when it comes to climate science. But when 97% of the experts disagree with you, you have to find a reason to disregard the overwhelming expert consensus. Claiming they’re all suffering from herd mentality and “crony science” (whatever the heck that’s supposed to be – a Curryism) is a little bit better than the usual crazy conspiracy theories. Ultimately it’s just a way to explain why virtually all the experts are wrong and the deniers are right.

  2. Andy Skuce says:

    “these studies have been rebutted by boggers”

    I have to say that’s a nice coinage, even if it’s inadvertent. I do feel bogged down whenever I wade into those websites/

  3. Willard says:

    > I’m not quite sure what to make of the boom and bust analogy.

  4. Damn! AS beat me to it. I just can’t wait to use the word myself.

  5. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Try this on for size…

    Friedrich Nietzsche gave himself credit for being the first modern thinker to tackle “theproblem of science itself,” for presenting “science for the first time as problematic and questionable.” Dude! If the perverse German genius could only have known how far “the problem of science” would extend in our age, or to what ends his critique of Socratic reason would be twisted. He might be delighted or horrified in equal measure – one thing you can say for Nietzsche is that his attitudes are never predictable – to see how much we now live in a world he made, or at least made possible.

    It may seem like a ridiculous leap to connect a scholarly work about ancient Greek culture published in 1872 with the contemporary rise of climate denialism and other forms of pimped-out skepticism, in which every aspect of science is treated by the media and the public as a matter of ideological debate and subjective interpretation. I’m not suggesting that the leading climate skeptics, corporate shills and other professional mind-clouders seen in Robert Kenner’s new documentary “Merchants of Doubt” have read Nietzsche and based their P.R. playbook on what he would have termed an appeal to the Dionysian impulse, the primitive, violent and ecstatic forces that lie below the surface of civilization. (You can see two prime specimens at the top of the page: James Taylor of the libertarian-oriented Heartland Institute and longtime oil lobbyist William O’Keefe, who now heads the George C. Marshall Institute, a climate-obsessed right-wing think tank.) They didn’t have to. That impulse is baked into human culture at this point, and it can be exploited without entirely being recognized or understood.

    Climate deniers and other pimped-out professional skeptics: The paranoid legacy of Nietzsche’s “problem of science” by Andrew O’Hehir, Salon, Mar 7, 2015

    :

  6. Rachel M says:

    The dirty boggers! I love it.

  7. I’ve corrected it, but maybe I should have left it, given the amusement it caused. At least I know you read my posts 🙂

  8. BBD says:

    Yup, you are right, ATTP. The article is skepticoid cobblers. All part of the war on climate science.

  9. BBD says:

    Get this:

    The point of detailing these issues is not simply to illustrate that there are competing hypotheses active in climate science,[62] but that significant elements of what is being publicized as the “settled consensus” is in fact continuing to be disputed in scientific terms. Ever since the AGW hypothesis has been put forward, there have been individual scientists and statisticians who have seriously questioned the circumstantial evidence presented, the methodologies employed in work supporting the hypothesis, and the reliance on tuned climate model projections as major clinching arguments.[63] But, more recently, the level of scientific dissent has grown markedly, and organizations such as NIPCC (which includes a broad cross-section of scientific expertise) and The Right Climate Stuff Group (a group of retired NASA engineers and scientists) have arisen to publicly dispute the conclusions of the IPCC.[64] Rather than settling down, the scientific controversy is continuing unabated, with the stubborn lack of any direct empirical evidence for the IPCC’s projections fueling increasing doubt and suggesting that the boom could be in trouble.

    Oh my.

  10. BBD,
    I know. I only had time to highlight a few of the particularly egregious issues. There’s also Climategate.

  11. sullis02 says:

    “We thank J. Huston McCulloch, Carine Krecké, Elisabeth Krecké, Brian Gladish, Larry Gould, Donna McQuade, Roger Garrison, Leland Yeager, Richard Lindzen, and James Pierre Louis for helpful comments and corrections.” The only climate-scientific name I recognize there is noted ‘skeptic’ Richard Lindzen. It appears all the others are economists. Oh, and btw, : “The Independent Review, A Journal of Political Economy is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal covering political economy and the critical analysis of government policy. It is published by The Independent Institute, a libertarian think tank in the United States. The journal was established in 1996.” — wikipedia entry. Gotta wonder who the 3 reviewers were, and who funded this trash.

  12. Richard says:

    While this assertion that all those scientists are (unconsciously) unable to participate in critical thought is marginally less insulting than the assertion that they are (consciously) in a conspiracy, it remains a forlorn fantasy, to try to explain away the AGW consensus.

    Are the authors of this article really suggesting that no one in the alleged and diverse ‘herd’ of meteorologists, oceanographers, glaciologists, climate modellers, etc., that constitutes climate science would not break ranks, earning eternal fame in the halls of science by finding the fatal flaw(s) in the AGW hypothesis and ensuing multidisciplinary studies?

    Surely, the urge NOT to be one of a ‘herd’ is almost a defining characteristic of most scientists?

    Why so coy?

  13. Richard,

    Are the authors of this article really suggesting that no one in the alleged and diverse ‘herd’ of meteorologists, oceanographers, glaciologists, climate modellers, etc., that constitutes climate science would not break ranks, earning eternal fame in the halls of science by finding the fatal flaw(s) in the AGW hypothesis and ensuing multidisciplinary studies?

    Exactly. It would be immense fame and probably some amount of fortune.

    Surely, the urge NOT to be one of a ‘herd’ is almost a defining characteristic of most scientists?

    Yes, that is the goal.

  14. I guess the question I often ask myself is why those who see themselves as so clever that they can see through this herd mentality in another field can’t seem to write an article that doesn’t appear so obviously nonsensical. If they’re so clever, can’t they write something that – at least superficially – appears credible?

  15. Tom Curtis says:

    Anders, when you wrote “an article”, I thought you referred to something published in the academic literature. Imagine my disappointment when I find it is just another blog post, this time from the The Libertarian Alliance Blog. That, in itself, says all you need to know about the article. “Libertarian”, and “critical thinking” are contradictory terms. You cannot be both a libertarian and a critical thinker. As I have put it elsewhere, libertarianism is to ethics as creationism is to science (biology). Is it any surprise than that in support of libertarianism, we have endless repetitions of “rebutals” that are to “climate science” as creationism is to biology.

  16. verytallguy says:

    NIPCC (which includes a broad cross-section of scientific expertise)

    Oh. My.

  17. Tom,

    Anders, when you wrote “an article”, I thought you referred to something published in the academic literature.

    Well, I was maybe being a bit generous but it is due to be published in The Independent Review. It claims to be peer-reviewed but appears to be associated with what seems to also be a Libertarian-type Institute.

  18. Willard says:

    > The only climate-scientific name I recognize there is noted ‘skeptic’ Richard Lindzen.

    J. Huston McCulloch should ring a bell to the fans of auditing sciences:

    http://climateaudit.org/author/humcculloch/

    His professional webpage:

    http://www.econ.ohio-state.edu/jhm/jhm.html

    My favorite link in that website:

    [I]f Nebraska can be exempted from the burden of expanded Medicare, there’s no reason that Ohio’s congressional delegation shouldn’t be able to get us exempted from the burden of expanded unemployment.

    http://www.econ.ohio-state.edu/jhm/letters/UnemploymentCompensation.pdf

    Invisible hands are waving furiously.

  19. What an insult; right down to their comparisons with eugenics. Those two wouldn’t know climate science if it hit them on the nose. Only Economics can produce such pompous asses.

  20. Willard says:

    There’s a mugshot of Leland B. Yeager over there:

    http://www.cato.org/people/leland-yeager

  21. Frank Chmod says:

    ATTP, It should be noted that the article by William Butos and Thomas McQuade has been highlighted at the Liberty Alliance website. Liberty Alliance “often known as the LA”, as you might already know, “is Britain’s leading free market and civil liberties think tank”. Its Director of Cultural Affairs is Professor John Kersey. He “is an interdisciplinary historian” who is “currently President of European-American University, which operates in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia and specializes in bespoke educational solutions for high achievers. Professor John Kersey is of course (and at the same time) “MKNL, GCCT, GCLBC, GCStJH(J), GCLJ-J, KMLA, KCStG, KSC, HonDByzSt, DChr, DD, EdD, PhD, DMus, MBA, MMusRCM, DipRCM, HonFNCM, HonFMusICMA, HonFCAM, HonFNMSM, HonFASC, FRSA, FRGS, FSA Scot, FVCM, FIMEB, FCCM, FNSCM, FCSM, FMCM, FPerfASMC, FLSMR, FIAL(Lond), HonCIL, HonAFCM, HonIWA, COSSH”.

  22. BBD says:

    Oh FFS.

  23. That Godfrey Bloom is one of the site’s authors might tell you all you need to know.

  24. Tom Curtis says:

    Anders, so the article is to be published in the in house magazine of an oligarchy funded think tank. And this is a recommendation how?

  25. Tom,

    Anders, so the article is to be published in the in house magazine of an oligarchy funded think tank. And this is a recommendation how?

    Not a recommendation, just a justification for calling it an article.

  26. BBD says:

    (ATTP – while I was busily posting this on the wrong thread you went and scooped me. Still, for what it’s worth 🙂 )

    I’ve just noticed that one of the other featured writers at The Libertarian Alliance website is dear old Godfrey Bloom. Non-UK readers may not have come across Mr Bloom, but over here he has achieved a degree of non-seriousness. This is the man who – unforgettably – resigned from Ukip because it was too politically correct.

    He really did.

  27. For anyone who would like to see Godfrey Bloom in action, this is a bit of a classic – some might call it projection.

  28. Marco says:

    UKIP too politically correct? That’s a politically correct way to say “you’re not batsh!t crazy enough!”

    Which then means Bloom himself was being too politically correct, and so we are back at the beginning.

  29. Tom Curtis says:

    Anders, I will say of Bloom and his hangers on, what a load of pompous gits.

  30. Tom,
    Oh, I agree completely. In fact, that may be a little more polite than how I would describe them 🙂

  31. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    What’s the background on Bloom’s “sluts” comment?

  32. Joshua,
    According to this article, MEP Godfrey Bloom made the comments while addressing a “women in politics” event at UKIP’s annual conference.

  33. Anders Wijkman says:

    Many thanks for alerting us to this ridiculous article! I am truly amazed that people from the academic community lend themselves to this kind of activity! Best, Anders Wijkman 9 mar 2015 kl. 18:49 skrev …and Then There’s Physics :

    > >

  34. Many thanks for alerting us to this ridiculous article!

    I’m not sure you should be thanking me. This might qualify as the kind of article best ignored.

  35. BBD says:

    Fans of climate trivia may appreciate this one: guess who used to be Godfrey’s researcher? One Ben Pile.

    Oh, it’s a small world. And a mad one.

  36. Joseph says:

    So, to summarise the above paragraph: there are various studies that show a strong consensus; these studies have been rebutted by bloggers (corrected from original : boggers – which may, actually, have been quite appropriate 🙂 ); these results are, however, probably about right

    Sounds like he was almost channeling Tol there for a moment..

  37. Oh no, you’ve gone and mentioned him. He’ll be along shortly to turn this into a thread about him, in which he manages to mischaracterise everything that anyone else has said. Well, that’s unless I just simply delete any comments he tries to post, allowing him to then complain about censorship 😀

  38. climatehawk1 says:

    I vote for “censorship,” seeing as how it is meaningless in this day and age, when anyone can hang out her shingle and blog to her heart’s content. Time and attention are also limited resources, so really no compelling reason to allow deniers to soak them up (unless a useful educational purpose can be served by responding).

  39. snarkrates says:

    God, how I hate glibertarians. I see [Mod : Judith] is revealing her true colors as an anti-scientist. Well, she never was much good at the science, anyway.

    But, Dude, don’t ever say P**tech’s name. He’s like Betelgeuse, say it too many times and you’ll be haunted by him.

  40. guthrie says:

    Trivia indeed, BBD; Ben Pile made an appearance on the Bad Science forum many years ago before he got famous (Other famous ex-members include some fellow who blogs sometimes for the guardian), trying for the old middle of the road culture wars approach, but he descended into science denial over time and simply could not grasp that science is not the same as culture and not as amenable to wishes and words. So after we’d destroyed his arguments and insulted him he left. It isn’t surprising to find him blogging for Spiked at all.

  41. guthrie says:

    E.g. on Ben Pile, summarised here:
    http://www.badscience.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=25107&p=632612&hilit=Ben+Pile#p632615

    And he seems to have made an appearance back then :http://www.badscience.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=14908&hilit=Ben+Pile&start=25#p311064

    Oh how we all miss these times I am sure.
    Anyway, the anti-science folks have been fairly effective in their aim of not doing anything about climate change in the years since then.

  42. MIchael Hauber says:

    So when is WC going to write an article about the Septic boggers?

  43. Everett F Sargent says:

    I have absolutely nothing to say, as everyone else has already said what needs to be said.

    I do have a question though …

    When did these two Unabombers escape the Federal Bureau of Prisons? 😉

  44. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: I do believe that you erred by posting the OP because it gave the “article” oxygen. The best way to deal with it iwould have been to completely ignore it.

  45. austrartsua says:

    Attp says: “Given that we are currently changing our climate at a rate that is probably 5-10 times faster than at any time in human history, it would be remarkable if adaptation was easy and cheap”. But human society is also richer, more technologically advanced and bigger than at any time in human history before now. So your assertion does not cut the mustard. You mention impact studies. Isn’t it obvious that these studies are biased towards negative results? Scare stories are more sexy, it’s also impossible to know how we will adapt in the future since it will rely on technology and knowledge we don’t have now.

  46. John Mashey says:

    When I saw Hartford, a yellow flag appeared, and then I read:
    “Acknowledgements; We are indebted to Laurence I. Gould (Professor of Physics at the University of Hartford) for directing us to an extensive literature on all sides of the anthropogenic global warming controversy,”

    At that point I needed go no further. Anyone who took Gould seriously on climate is beyond hope.

    1) See DeSmogBlog entry.

    2) See The 2009 APS Petition, of which Gould was a key organizer, which must have been a great thrill.
    There was a cluster of signers from Southern New England.
    For context, read p.1, and then (p.25):
    “Laurence I Gould (1942, 4Hoc) is a Physics Professor at U of Hartford, CT, where he has been since 1985, generally doing theoretical physics. He has Co-Edited the APS-NES Newsletter for several years. Since 2007, his Editorials (strongly against mainstream climate science) and arguments with readers have accounted for many pages of the Newsletter. He has used it to advertise the Petition and 2009 NYC Heartland climate conference several times each, referring people to its Proceedings,. He is also a dedicated supporter of Viscount Christopher Monckton‟s views on climate science. He might be responsible for recruiting a handful of the 2300+ members of the APS-NES, so APS-NES location or plausible membership is highlighted . See Appendix 6 for the long details.”
    Those are pp.95-96. By 2013, he was no longer a newsletter Co-Editor.
    Academics, especially physicists, might assess his .

    Although one must always take care with RateMyProfessors data, people my gain some insight from the Gould entry, with 35 ratings.
    I always wonder about ratings where almost everyone hammers a prof, but one glowing review appears.

  47. Willard says:

    Overheard:

    Guthrie is an alchemist, and some say he is the Messiah. He appears perplexed by this.

    http://www.badscience.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=25107&hilit=Ben+Pile&sid=6dc65267decd4f2c84859c68dbad9451#p632380

    I’ve heard worse.

  48. John Mashey says:

    Sorry, HTML broken. That was supposed to be:
    academics, especially physicists might assess
    Gould CV
    And RateMyProfessors Gould data.

    By the way, there are 2 signers of the APS Petition from Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics – Steven Cranmer and Martin Zombeck. (I don’t think Soon and Baliunas were APS members.)

  49. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Here’s an article that will also make your blood boil but for an entirely different reason…

    Climate change deniers look to file lawsuits against those exposing their actions

    Merchants of Doubt about Global Warming Hope to Strike Back by Evan Lehmann, ClimateWire/Scientific American, Mar 9, 2015

  50. Willard says:

    The best comment ever. It explains everything, including ClimateBall ™:

    It’s a long sad story why gimpy left.

    In brief, he and various others demanded a forum ban on kitten pictures, with pictures of duck billed platypuses to be used instead. This caused outrage and was met with counter-demands for a ban on platypus pictures. Within days the forum had split into two rival gangs, the Kittenistas and the Platypi.

    The feud worsened with several fatalities. Then two young members fell in love, northernboy (a Kittenista) and mjrobbins (a Platypi). Unable to declare their love across the divide, they followed the standard route of pretending to be dead, letters going astray, the usual stuff. Sadly it went badly wrong and both topped themselves.

    Full of grief and remorse, the Kittenistas and the Platypi thought about reconciling their differences. Then they decided, to hell with that, and went at it hammer and tongs. The end result was that the Platypi, led by gimpy, were driven from the forum into permanent exile.

    That is why to this day the forum is full of kitten pictures, but you will never ever see a picture of a duck billed platypus.

    http://www.badscience.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=25107&hilit=Ben+Pile&start=100#p633173

    The Bard anticipated the Internetz.

  51. anoilman says:

    Umm… I do believe there is a bit of a boom in Clumate Science. Namely money getting funnelled into it, and research is being directed at it. Whether it’s necessary or funding driven hysteria, I don’t know.

    I’ve heard this from a few PHDs who work in related fields like geology, and it’s presented like its some sort evidence of some sort of malfeasance. Should geologists be studying droughts in Texas instead of oil reservoirs? I dunno… Where’s the droughts. Oh….

    I also happen know that a lot of research is make work to deal with febrile ravings from the denier community, who are still remarkably wrong despite all their claims.

    Let’s just end this with the fact that the the expert on solar radiation Willy Soon, states there is no physical basis for his theories. (Personally I’d prefer to get some funding to study Anders Pirate Global Warming correlation. It’s got just as much leg as Willy’s work, and it’s just as well thought out.)

  52. GSR says:

    Curry is a bungee jumper. She’s been happily diving off solid reality into Bullshit Cavern for years, confident that there was always a way to make it back to higher solid ground without too many people noticing her dramatic absences. She’s been allowed to do this by too many science practitioners who should bloody-well know better. Some of those practitioners frequent this site.

    Curry’s bungee cord is now threadbare. When it snaps, practitioners who have refused to distinguish between cliff diving and science will have a lot of ‘splainin to do.

  53. izen says:

    @-John Hartz
    “Climate change deniers look to file lawsuits against those exposing their actions
    Merchants of Doubt about Global Warming Hope to Strike Back by Evan Lehmann, ClimateWire/Scientific American, Mar 9, 2015”
    (Link in original post)

    Interesting that because it was forwarded, the list of people that Fred Singer emailed for advice on legal obstruction to merchants of doubt is at least partially known. although apparently if one person on an email list reveals all the other names it was forwarded too, that is theft.
    At least according to Steve.
    From the comments to the article!

    “SteveGoddard March 9, 2015, 10:25 PM
    I was one of the respondents in that stolen E-mail chain. Why is the author of this article too cowardly to come talk to any of the skeptics he is bashing?”

    I am not sure that being identified as someone Fred Singer asks for advice about how to stop a film depicting him as a merchant of doubt really qualifies as being ‘bashed’.
    Unless you already think association with such legal obstructionism is somehow disgraceful.

  54. John Hartz says:

    The final three paragraphs of Lehmann’s article should give us pause, i.e.,

    The pre-release controversy around the movie provides more than just a glimpse into the stormy messaging strategies on climate change. It also promotes the film. But does it help convey the facts?

    Hoffman, of the University of Michigan, says tit-for-tats between mainstream and contrarian researchers tend to raise the profile of skeptical scientists, despite their relatively small number. He pointed to the recent inquiries undertaken by Democratic members of Congress, who want the identity of donors who help fund skeptical academics, as an advantage for those who challenge climate science.

    “Frankly, this degradation benefits the skeptics,” Hoffman said.

  55. Joseph says:

    I think Curry might be attempting to rationalize why so many climate scientists disagree with her about climate change. I believe that is probably difficult for most skeptics because there aren’t many possibilities to explain the difference. It seems usually “skeptics” conclude either they all have psychological issues (like Curry) or they are dishonest in some form.

  56. See the short comment by Barton Levenson at RC?


    Well, Am. J. Climate Change turned down my paper. Their entire critique was, “This paper is of low quality, and I recommend against publishing.”

    This is about the 12th journal I’ve tried, so I guess it’s time to stop trying.

    I feel your pain, Bart. All I can say is that it’s not about the destination, but its all about the journey 🙂

  57. John Mashey says:

    Singer has threatened lawsuits before ,even sent lawyers, but except for bullying a grad student (Justin Lancaster), he’s bounced, at least twice I know of. He resembles Monckton in this.
    Of course, he lies, as in his claiming Frederick Seitz as SEPP Board Chair for 2 years after he was dead. (Hint: 501(c)(3)’s are supposed to have real boards, not ones that need a spirit medium.)

  58. Marco says:

    Since John mentions Singer and Seitz: both have been fellows at the Independent Institute, which publishes the Independent Review. Singer still is a fellow, actually.

  59. austrarta,

    But human society is also richer, more technologically advanced and bigger than at any time in human history before now. So your assertion does not cut the mustard.

    None of this means it’s going to be easy and cheap. I really don’t think there is anyone credible who would argue that adapting to the changes that a high-emission pathway will likely produce is going to be easy or cheap.

    You mention impact studies. Isn’t it obvious that these studies are biased towards negative results? Scare stories are more sexy,

    No, I don’t see why this is obvious. If it is you could prove it easily – although, I wouldn’t take that as some kind of challenge.

    it’s also impossible to know how we will adapt in the future since it will rely on technology and knowledge we don’t have now.

    Sure, hence unlikely to be easy or cheap. Maybe someone will develop some kind of magical new technology that would suddenly make it easy and cheap, but that’s more like wishful thinking than anything else.

  60. Singer has threatened lawsuits before ,even sent lawyers, but except for bullying a grad student (Justin Lancaster), he’s bounced, at least twice I know of.

    Eli’s post giving Justin Lancaster’s views about Fred Singer is worth reading.

  61. Andrew Dodds says:

    austrartsua –

    Well, let’s see..

    Stopping global warming:

    Fission Reactor – 1950s technology.
    Breeder Fission reactor – 1960s/1970s technology.
    Electric Car – 1900s technology.
    Ammonia/Methanol synthesis (as liquid fuel) – 1910s technology..
    Solar PV – 1950s tech

    These are the technologies we will use, if we want to build a zero-net-CO2 economy with similar energy use to today. We’ve known this for decades, and unless some epic breakthrough is made with Fusion power very, very soon, these technologies (plus or minus a few others, also already old) will still be the ones on the table.

    Mitigating/Adapting Global warming:

    Sea walls, flood defences – 1500s?
    Air conditioning – 1900s
    Desalination – prehstoric
    Crop Breeding -prehistoric

    But hey, some New Tech(tm) is Just Around the Corner.

    No, that’s just a classic gambit. We have a very good idea of what we need to do to stop global warming and what we will need to do to adapt to global warming. Big, boring infrastructure stuff. That was true when global warming emerged as a major issue 30 years ago and it remains true now; in all likelihood it will still be true in another 30 years.

    My impression in this area as in others is that a lot of people work very hard to justify sitting on their backsides and not doing things that are obvious.

  62. izen says:

    @-austrartsua
    ” But human society is also richer, more technologically advanced and bigger than at any time in human history before now. ”

    So damage will be more expensive to correct, require more advanced technology and will be bigger than when a coastal port was a few wooden houses and a small stone quay.

    @-” Isn’t it obvious that these studies are biased towards negative results? ”

    Biased because the present state of human infra-structure and agriculture is optimised for the current conditions. As a result there is a FAR higher probability that change will be damaging than beneficial. Fingle’s principle of perversity shows that there are always a lot more ways for things to go wrong than to go right.

    @-“it’s also impossible to know how we will adapt in the future since it will rely on technology and knowledge we don’t have now.”

    That technology will function within the laws of thermodynamics, no new invention is going to change the energy cost of CO2 sequestration or energy distribution.

  63. adamsa99 says:

    We have made great advances in the last few decades – we have technologies which were not imaginable 50 years ago and are also far wealthier. Yet extreme weather events still cause great damage and hardship even in wealthy, highly advanced countries.

  64. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Fodder for your next post…

    The rate of climate change we’re experiencing now is faster than at any time in the last millennium, a new study shows.

    Researchers compared how temperature varied over 40-year periods in the past, present and future, and concluded that the Earth is entering a new “regime” of rapid temperature change.

    We’re already locked into fast-paced changes in the near future because of past emissions, the researchers say.

    That means we’ll need to adapt to minimise the impacts of climate change, even if greenhouse gas emissions are cut substantially.

    Earth entering new era of rapid temperature change, study warns by Robert McSweeney, The Carbon Brief, Mar 9, 2015

  65. pbjamm says:

    austrartsua has made this exact argument before on this very blog. There is nothing to be gained here. No matter what you say he will argue that future people will be even more advanced and better equipped to deal with the consequences of climate change than we are today. He will ignore that this is exactly what people 30 years ago said about us and yet here we are still not doing anything. The tools to combat this problem are in our metaphorical shed right now we just dont want to use them. The idea that some one else will come along with a better tool to do the job cheaper and in half the time is just procrastinating. Even if such a tool is invented (no guarantee!) humanity runs the risk of having twice as much to do and less time to do it.

  66. verytallguy says:

    What Izen said bears repeating:

    technology will function within the laws of thermodynamics

    Also, that the laws of thermodynamics are indifferent to the level of rhetoric aimed at them.

  67. John Mashey says:

    Butyos:
    Hayek lecture at von Mises institute. Sufficent calibration.

  68. BBD says:

    Thanks John. That’s a wrap.

  69. John,
    Thanks, that’s sums things up nicely.

    VTG,
    Indeed, it’s as if some people think physical reality cares whether or not something is difficult or inconvenient.

  70. John Hartz says:

    McSweeney’s article – cited above – summarizes the findings of:

    Smith, S. et al. (2015) Near-term acceleration in the rate of temperature change, Nature Climate Change, doi:10.1038/nclimate2552

  71. climatehawk1 says:

    I’ve just finished reading Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything” and am now starting, for the third or fourth time, on Peter Diamandis’s and Steven Kotler’s “Abundance” (I’ll finish this time). At this point in history, though, my problem with the theses of both (“Sweeping away capitalism will solve everything” and “Technology will solve everything”) is: the Kochs (and what they represent). We cannot make serious progress if our political and regulatory systems are owned by plutocrats–we’ll have to wait until weather disasters simply become overwhelming.

  72. verytallguy says:

    climatehawk,

    the Kochs are the least of your problems. What do you think we should do about the Putins of this world?

  73. Michael 2 says:

    climatehawk1 says “We cannot make serious progress…”

    Who is we?

    What is progress?

    Why cannot you make personal progress and not worry about 7 billion other people? If a substantial number of people would simply get their own houses in order “the problem” would largely solve itself.

    I used to think and act similarly about my religion. If only I could lay out the message then everyone would flock to it. Over the years I have learned that many kinds of people exist; and they are more different than they are similar. Many people will think your very best ideas are horrifying, and vice versa their great ideas you will find horrifying.

    The rich people of the world invented rich. It is theirs; rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. At the more honorable end of the spectrum is Bill Gates and James Cameron, they at least provided something useful to the world for which they have been handsomely rewarded, thank you very much. At the less useful end is George Soros, manipulating currencies and getting rich have produced nothing at all (although, once rich, he might do something useful). Koch brothers are somewhere in between, producing gasoline which nearly everyone in the developed world uses regularly.

    So why the animosity against Koch? You’ve been told to hate them and so you do. I suspect you do not know them personally.

    So tell me about this progress that they are preventing.

  74. Michael 2 says:

    PBJ says “The tools to combat this problem are in our metaphorical shed right now we just dont want to use them.”

    I’m reminded of a credit card advertisement, “What’s in your tool shed?”

    If you have a tool in your shed, use it. If not then what makes you think it is in mine?

    “The problem” is that there is no “we”. If you keep waiting for “us” to do anything you could be in for a long, long wait.

  75. Watch the response of EPA chief Gina McCarthy to questions by cottonmouth Sen Jeff Sessions. She knows her stuff but is hog-tied and ham-strung by the way climate scientists discuss these matters.

  76. Michael 2 says:

    Andrew Dodds skewers history just a bit making his point, and that’s okay but just to set the record straight on one item:

    “Electric Car – 1900s technology.”

    The modern electric car uses brushless motors, the high power versions of which are a fairly recent invention (less than a decade), electronic speed controllers for those same motors, and lithium batteries. I have a little helicopter and the power density and current rating of its LiPo (Lithium Polymer) batteries is unbelievable; that little blue battery that fits in the palm of my hand can deliver 30 amps at 12 volts. But that kind of power density includes danger; if a LiPo goes below 3 volts per cell (too much discharge) it will probably catch fire almost explosively the next time you charge it.

    ESC’s are marvelous devices, producing three-phase activation of the motor with those same 30 amps to produce a rotating magnetic field; a really powerful rotating magnetic field that’s hard to describe. The ESC itself is about the size of half my thumb and it handles 30 amps.

    A T-Rex 700 model helicopter (1.4 meter rotor diameter) can lift 35 pounds using a battery about the size of a stick of butter and a motor that will fit in the palm of your hand. It consumes 2.7 kilowatts to do that. 2.7 kilowatts in the palm of your hand. That’s amazing to me.

    I bought an electric drill, a Milwaukee with a brushless motor and electronic speed controller. It has more torque than any of my other drills, corded or cordless. It turns a 1 inch forstner bit into pine like a hot knife through butter.

    So this isn’t your father’s electric car!

  77. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: More grist for a future post about better communicating the science…

    Assessment and Communication of the Social Science of Climate Change: Bridging Research and Policy, Memorandum from Workshop conducted Feb 18-20, 2015 in Berlin by Carlo Carraro, Charles Kolstad, and Robert Stavins, Feb 25, 2015.

    For background on this workshop, see:

    The UN’s climate change body looks inward to move ahead by Robert Stavins, The Conversation US Pilot, Mar 9, 2015

  78. climatehawk1 says:

    verytallguy,

    >>the Kochs are the least of your problems. What do you think we should do about the Putins of this world?

    Guess we need to agree to disagree. Kochs much higher on my list than ISIS or Putin.

  79. verytallguy says:

    Climate hawk, 

    I think you might have misunderstood my implication in putting up Putin.   It was not related to his warmongering,  rather his

    -control of fossil fuel reserves

    -mastery of propaganda to control populations

    -ruthlessness in pursuit of personal power

    In all of which, in my estimation at least,  he is far in advance of the Kochs. Do you think we can influence him to leave Russian fossil fuels in the ground? 

    Tidbit: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Andrei_Illarionov

  80. BBD says:

    M2

    So why the animosity against Koch?

    Instead of posting provocative idiocy in comments here, why not get off your arse and use the internet to find out?

  81. John Hartz says:

    Michael 2:

    As documented in the following article, the Koch brothers have amassed a fortune by using the environment as a toxic dump.

    Together, Charles and David Koch control one of the world’s largest fortunes, which they are using to buy up our political system. But what they don’t want you to know is how they made all that money.

    Inside the Koch Brothers’ Toxic Empire by Tim Dickenson, Rolling Stone, Sep 24, 2015

  82. climatehawk1 says:

    BBD writes:

    >M2

    >>So why the animosity against Koch?

    >Instead of posting provocative idiocy in comments here, why not get off your arse and use the internet to find out?

    Amen and thanks.

  83. John Hartz says:

    Michael 2:

    The power and reach of the Koch brothers may be unprecedented in U.S. history. Here’s another example…

    The utility industry’s playbook for slowing the growth of residential solar is laid out in a few frames of the computer slide show presented at an Edison-sponsored retreat in September 2012, in a lakeside resort hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo. Despite a bland title—“Facing the Challenges of a Distribution System in Transition”—the Edison document portrays solar systems as a serious, long-term threat to the survival of traditional electricity providers.

    Throughout the country, it noted, lawmakers and regulatory agencies were “promoting policies that are accelerating this transition — subsidies are growing.” The document, provided to The Washington Post by the Energy & Policy Institute, called for a campaign of “focused outreach” targeting key groups that could influence the debate: state legislatures, regulatory agencies and sympathetic consumer-advocacy groups.

    Two-and-a-half years later, evidence of the “action plan” envisioned by Edison officials can be seen in states across the country. Legislation to make net metering illegal or more costly has been introduced in nearly two dozen state houses since 2013. Some of the proposals were virtual copies of model legislation drafted two years ago by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a nonprofit organization with financial ties to billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.

    Utilities wage campaign against rooftop solar by Joby Warrick, Washington Post, Mar 7, 2015

  84. matt says:

    M2,

    > “The rich people of the world invented rich. It is theirs…”

    Some. Others are just rent-seekers (or the beneficiaries of).

  85. This article is probably best expressed as an example of a common problem right across all domains of scholarship, ‘Maslow’s Hammer’. In his 1966 book ‘Psychology of Science’, Maslow wrote “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

    Nowhere do I see this problem more often than in the work of economists who try and reduce all of the social and intellectual world to so many functions of markets. Butos and McQuade try to impose the framework that knowledge distributes throughout a community in the way commodities distribute through markets. In a neoliberal worldview, which takes the metaphor of the market as being actually the deep ‘truth’ about how the world works, production always adapts to service the needs of important consumers. They therefore treat the IPCC –insofar as it is the largest single aggregator of climate science – as though it is the largest consumer, and therefore as the major driver of climate knowledge production.

    Their focus on the so-called ‘herding’ effect of big players in markets causes them to completely lose contact with the unique feature of scientific research communities, namely that they progressively build knowledge. And of course, if the herding effect were true, changes in scientific knowledge would be inexplicable –as would the very fact that scientists with fringe opinions like Willie Soon, Richard Lindzen or Judith Curry find themselves invited to testify before Congress –surely as a market incentive, that has the opposite effect of what Butos and McQuade are trying to convey?

    One of the issues here is that people with a libertarian or neoliberal outlook just don’t see the production of knowledge the same way that other people see it. It’s been a real labour for me to get my head around this, but just yesterday I read a terrific account of how neoliberal philosophy thinks about science – I bet many readers here would get great value from it too:

    Lave, Mirowski, Randalls 2010, “STS and neoliberal science” in Social Studies of Science, 40 (5)

    http://sss.sagepub.com/content/40/5/659.abstract

  86. russellseitz says:

    “Scientific disciplines, like economies, can and do experience booms and busts. ”

    Doesn’t anybody remember “The Energy Crisis”?

    Between 1974 and its implosion into the “Oil Glut” it saw the rise and fall of publishing empire, conference circuits and op-eds galore , and the creation of a Cabinet level executive– the DOE is still around .

    As are the volumes and volumes of NRC reports it engendered – along with windmill tax shelters that went bust , the rsolution to the crisis was to replace petroleum fired electrical power with the new domestic wonder fuel, Wyoming coal.

  87. Andrew Dodds says:

    M2 –

    Which bits of history?

    The interesting point that you make is that batteries have improved incrementally as a result of a demand existing. This bit is critical – had it not been for the explosion of laptops, tablets and smartphones, the pressure to come up with better batteries would not have been there. No one was going to invest billions for a better RC aircraft or even electric drill.

    So – if we find a way to stimulate the mass production of something (without creating monopolies) we can expect this kind of improvement. On the other hand, the investments are unlikely to happen, or at least happen quickly, without a mass market.

  88. Mark,
    Thanks, very interesting. This seems spot on

    Nowhere do I see this problem more often than in the work of economists who try and reduce all of the social and intellectual world to so many functions of markets.

    What often seems the case is that they don’t understand the concept of feedbacks. Governments may set funding priorities; the IPCC may be a big player in climate science. However, neither of these operate independently of the views of scientists too. So, governments may decide to prioritise one research area over another, but that decision will almost certainly not be made without some influence from the researchers themselves. Similarly, the IPCC may be a big player, but it is clearly influenced by the current research position, even if it does also influence what research is regarded as of value.

  89. Further to your point there, ATTP,

    Obviously a great deal of Butos and McQuade’s argument pivots on whether the IPCC reflects a pre-existing consensus, or in some way actually generates it. Clearly, their preoccupation with market-models of the world makes it pretty hard for them to understand how actual knowledge builds in a research community.

    Uri Shwed from Ben Gurion University did some really interesting work on this. Using citation networks as indicators of consensus, he compared 5 contentions of scientific research to see whether consensus exists; statements like “coffee is cancerous”, or “UV radiation is cancerous”, “vaccinations cause autism”, or “climate change is anthropogenic”.

    By looking at patterns of citation, you can see when there is no clear convergence on a small number of sources -he calls this state of knowledge ‘epistemic rivalry’. You can also see when the number of published papers increases, but they tend to reference a more condensed set of sources -this is a real-world indication of consensus forming organically from the everyday work of scientists.

    Shwed’s graph of climate science suggests a convergence to consensus beginning at around the time of the first IPCC report and growing steadily since. This is earlier than most other studies suggest consensus occurred -but Shwed has the great advantage of using hard data in the form of citations, so I rate his research pretty highly.

    Interestingly, the consensus around smoking and cancer resisted two official consensus statements before the research community arrived at its own position.

    Here’s a non-paywalled copy, for them watt’s gots some time: (see what I did there? 🙂

    http://www.understandingautism.columbia.edu/papers/the-temporal-structure-of-scientific-consensus-formation.pdf

  90. JWhite says:

    M2 says…So why the animosity against Koch?

    Well, at least they fund NOVA.


  91. “Scientific disciplines, like economies, can and do experience booms and busts. ”

    Doesn’t anybody remember “The Energy Crisis”?

    There was very little scientific analysis covering the Energy Crisis. The Hubbert Curve was about it. Apart from Forrester’s System Dynamics , which was much broader in scope, you will find very little science. Much like in climate science, the fundamental concepts for a straightforward analysis get lost for whatever reason.

  92. Willard says:

    There’s not enough numbers in the thread. Let’s add some:

    Invisible hands may have invested in The Lottery Collective.

  93. Michael 2 says:

    Willard says “Invisible hands may have invested in The Lottery Collective.”

    I’ll have some of whatever he’s having! 🙂

  94. Michael 2 says:

    Andrew Dodds says ” On the other hand, the investments are unlikely to happen, or at least happen quickly, without a mass market.”

    Agreed. I submit that the mass market is a stimulation to development, but at times so is government (the space program, GPS). GPS is a good example of a system that might not ever have been developed privately but which has huge public adoption now that it exists. Funding it privately would probably be a non-starter since it is also an example of a non-rival commons.

  95. izen says:

    @-“Scientific disciplines, like economies, can and do experience booms and busts. ”

    It may be easy to mock the article for treating scientific disciplines as ‘abstract systems’ operating independently of any shaping from the physics and chemistry of the material world, but which do follow the conceptual model of boom/bust and supply and demand.

    But there is strong historical evidence for this. It is naive to think that science develops just because we have the ability to detect, describe and explain a particular scientific issue.
    Past examples of boom and bust in science are quite easy to find. Lake acidification and damage to forests was an expanding subject in the late 70s, peaking probably in 1988 with a ‘Seneca cliff’ rapid decline in published papers and research funding thereafter. A similar pattern can be seen in the history of research into DTT and CFCs.

    However the motivation for the boom in research in each case was a detectable physical/chemical problem. The reason for the ‘bust’ in each case was the (eventual and reluctant) imposition of constrains on emissions of the causative agent.

    As ATTP has pointed out, scientific research does follow patterns which are determined by feedbacks between research funding, feasibility and results. The booms and busts are not, as the thread subject article seems to imply, merely the outcome of herd mentality and self-interest as may be the case with the economics of markets.
    The real world plays a rather dominant role as a less than invisible hand.
    But perhaps that is a concept outside the comfort zone of Libertarian economic philosophy.

  96. Michael 2 says:

    Mark Ryan says ” I bet many readers here would get great value from it too: Lave, Mirowski, Randalls 2010, “STS and neoliberal science” in Social Studies of Science, 40 (5)”

    I doubt I would get $30 value from it, the cost to view. It would help if I knew the meaning of “STS” or “neoliberal”. Perhaps a neoliberal is someone that recognizes STS.

  97. russellseitz says:

    On the low end of the conspircy scale, Willie Soon and Bob Carter have just canoodled their way into Nature Geoscience coauthorship.

    True to form, semi-coauthors Willie and Bob do not mention financial support :
    Dynamics of the intertropical convergence zone over the western Pacific during the Little Ice Age

    Affiliations
    State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi’an 710061, China
    Hong Yan, Zhisheng An, Weijian Zhou & Yuhong Wang
    Joint Center for Global Change Studies (JCGS), Beijing 100875, China
    Hong Yan, Zhisheng An & Weijian Zhou
    The Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven 27570, Germany
    Wei Wei
    Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA
    Willie Soon
    Department of Earth Sciences, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
    Zhonghui Liu
    Institute of Public Affairs, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia
    Robert M. Carter
    Contributions
    H.Y. designed the study and wrote the manuscript. W.W. contributed to the section discussing climate model results. W.S. contributed significantly to improvements in the manuscript. Z.A., W.Z. and Z.L. contributed to discussion of the results and manuscript refinement. Y.W. and R.M.C. contributed to improving the English.

    Competing financial interests
    The authors declare no competing financial interests.”

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