A juvenile tactic?

Someone pointed out to me (I couldn’t see it myself, because I’ve been blocked) that Matt Ridley had retweeted my post about his recent article, that was reposted on Skeptical Science, and said:

The problem is that I don’t know how to interpret this in any positive manner. It seems either juvenile or dishonest. What I actually said in the post was

Yes, it has slowed down since then, but it is probably still warming at more than 0.05K/decade.

where since then referred to the period 1984-1999 and slowed down referred to the period since about 2000, when it has clearly slowed down. Noone has ever disputed that the warming since the late 1990s has probably been around 0.05oC/decade, but the general expectation is that it will start accelerating in the not too distant future. I also said

it’s true that there have been recent papers suggesting that climate sensitivity may be lower than some other estimates suggest.

So, yes, there have been recent papers suggesting lower climate sensitivities than some other methods suggest. However, there have been other recent papers that are more consistent with the IPCC range. Similarly, my understanding is that, at the recent Ringberg meeting, the general view was that the method that Matt Ridley is essentially referring to (basic energy budget models) probably underestimates climate sensitivity by about 30%.

So, I find this all a bit juvenile. Take a critique of something you’ve done, and imply that it somehow agrees with your position. I’ve encountered this before, where someone will claim that I agree with them – during a discussion – when I very clearly do not. If you think what someone has said, or witten, agrees with your position, the logical response is “I agree with you”, not “you agree with me”. As I said above, all I can interpret this as is some kind of juvenile taunt, or as a dishonest attempt to twist what someone else has said.

Matt Ridley has, in the past, complained about how he is treated because of his views. If he doesn’t like the way in which he is often portrayed, maybe he should behave in a manner that would allow people to portray him more positively.

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41 Responses to A juvenile tactic?

  1. jsam says:

    You sound surprised by Matt’s tactics.

  2. jsam,
    Hmm, I guess I’m not really but it’s hard not to if you’re trying to avoid explicitly accusing someone of being dishonest or juvenile.

  3. Rachel M says:

    I’ve been a bit judgemental of Matt Ridley in the past and I’m sorry for that. Let’s hope that he corrects his mistake this time around since, as a journalist, he ought to “Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.”
    http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

  4. harrytwinotter says:

    It is a misrepresentation of what you said, but it is not really a straw man. Let’s just call it a misquote or lying.

  5. Rachel M says:

  6. Yes, juvenile is a good description. Note that there have also been several recent papers suggesting that climate sensitivity may be lower than some other estimates suggest. Fasullo & Trenberth (2012) is the first that comes to mind but there have been others. These are generally studies that compare observed changes in feedbacks (mainly clouds) to climate models, and find that the models that are consistent with observations are the ones with higher sensitivities. Perhaps that’s worth mentioning next time you also mention that some studies have suggested relatively low sensitivity.

    In any case, I don’t find Matt Ridley worth taking seriously anymore. The only problem is that certain media outlets with certain biases but relatively large readerships continue to publish his juvenile and biased nonsense.

  7. I would recommend to skeppy shubby to not talk about the climate unless you have the scientific chops.

  8. As we know, by ‘lukewarming’, Ridley and his friends really mean ‘warming won’t be bad’. In reality, whatever the rate-per-decade gets down to, everyone else knows that if we keep on pumping out green house gasses at the current rate (never mind an increasing rate) in the end warming will top out at least 3, 4 degrees or more and our society will be in serious difficulties.

    I don’t see any solace in showing there’s slightly more inertia in the system than we thought: it just means it will take longer to eventually get things back on an even keel.

  9. Rachel and WHUT,
    You have to realise that Shub thinks that he gets to decide how this debate should proceed and that – since I’m not behaving by his rules – I shouldn’t be allowed in the climate debate. His latest blog post is particularly enlightening. If only I’d realised this before I started all this, but – of course – that is essentially Shub’s point: I don’t understand the history of the online climate debate which (according to Shub) is required if you want to take part. That I don’t care and that I think it is irrelevant (physical climatology doesn’t care who insulted who in 2008) doesn’t seem to cross Shub’s mind.

    Dana,

    In any case, I don’t find Matt Ridley worth taking seriously anymore.

    I agree.

    Note that there have also been several recent papers suggesting that climate sensitivity may be lower than some other estimates suggest. Fasullo & Trenberth (2012) is the first that comes to mind but there have been others.

    Did you mean “higher” rather than “lower”.

  10. Victor,

    I would recommend to skeppy shubby to not talk about the climate unless you have the scientific chops.

    Yes, but you don’t understand Shub’s rules.

  11. BBD says:

    Yes, but Shub’s a god. The clue is in the name. We must all be suitably deferential.


  12. That I don’t care and that I think it is irrelevant (physical climatology doesn’t care who insulted who in 2008)

    In other words, this is the order of precedence (IMO)
    1. The current science
    2. The history of building the scientific consensus (who got recognized for achievement)
    3. The detritus of arguments along the way (any lessons learned and #OwnGoals).

    We have a local museum which holds a several thousand strong collection of antique scientific instruments that I have virtually no interest in visiting.

    Science goes on skeppy shubby, deal with it.

  13. semyorka says:

    Luke warmism is the assumption that one can have a priori knowledge a scientific question, knowledge that by an almost magical coincidence just happens to suit your political agenda.

    There always have been and for years to come will be papers with low sensitivity, but there are also papers with high sensitivity. We have to look at a broad array of methods to try to tease out the likelihood of various sensitivities. I am very far from closed to low sensitivities being relevant over 100-200 year time frames.

    But I regard it as an open question. Not one I knew the answer to 10 years ago.

    What ever the sensitivity we have to get to a point where we stabilise carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere. There is no correct number in terms of ppm for a “safe” climate. But then there is no correct answer to what is a safe limit to how much alcohol you can have in your body and still be safe to drive….. there are some very wrong answer to that (and how much CO2 is safe). These are problems that are poorly constrained and ladened with value judgements.

    The very idea of luke warmism confuses science for football. You dont pick Chelsea/a sensitivity and cheer for every goal\paper that comes in.

    What they do seem very keen on though is a well known mechanism for gumming up the works on a project.

    “nalysis paralysis or paralysis of analysis is an anti-pattern, the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises. A person might be seeking the optimal or “perfect” solution upfront, and fear making any decision which could lead to erroneous results, when on the way to a better solution.

    The phrase describes a situation where the opportunity cost of decision analysis exceeds the benefits that could be gained by enacting some decision, or an informal or non-deterministic situation where the sheer quantity of analysis overwhelms the decision-making process itself, thus preventing a decision. The phrase applies to any situation where analysis may be applied to help make a decision and may be a dysfunctional element of organizational behavior. This is often phrased as paralysis by analysis, in contrast to extinct by instinct (making a fatal decision based on hasty judgment or a gut-reaction).”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analysis_paralysis

    Every tonne of coal that is burnt means gas will have to be left in the ground. We will have to make the cuts sooner or steeper and more painfully later. One of the ways denial manifests itself in human psychology is burying yourself in minutia to avoid the big problem (there are famous cases of military officers going into the mode when in the midst of a disaster). Whether people like Riddley are subconsciously burying themselves in minutia to avoid the problem or deliberately trying to bury the discussion on plans of action in a paralysis by analysis is an open and unanswerable question.

    This is all blindingly obvious. No one really needs reminding. One way or the other they are just stalling for time.

  14. Joshua says:

    I wonder if Matt remembers when he said this:

    ==> “Environmental researchers are increasingly looking for evidence that fits their ideology, rather than seeking the truth”

  15. Joshua,
    I suspect he thinks it’s still true.

  16. Willard says:

    John Benton for the win:

    It’s unfortunate the leading researcher in the climate sensitivity field, Nick Lewis, was not invited.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015/04/reflections-on-ringberg/comment-page-1/#comment-627958

    If John Benton could come up with his Damascus story about how RC transformed him into a contrarian, that would be great.

  17. Willard,
    That one was brilliant. Gavin’s response was good too.

  18. Eli Rabett says:

    luckwarmerism
    #MattKingCoal
    It annoys them.

    Oh yes, Shrub is over at Eli’s place defending Environmental Tobacco Smoke and he is a quack

  19. Eli,
    I saw that. Shrub is righting the world’s wrongs, one conspiracy at a time.

  20. Nice that some people still have ideals. They only express it in a somewhat strange way.

    Interesting that the champions of freedom think they can tell me how to behave. Do they want to use the coercive power of the state to enforce that?

  21. Brandon Gates says:

    ATTP,

    It seems either juvenile or dishonest.

    I see it as wilfully dishonest, though am in the habit of calling it illiterate. Easier burden of proof.

  22. T-rev says:

    Falling into the trap of thinking there is a debate is the issue. All it does is take time away from genuinely advancing the public’s understanding of cli. science. An analogy would be like like”debating” Ken Ham over evolution.

    It also allows sociopaths (I am not using that term as a pejorative but how else do you describe someone committed to ignoring the science and ensuring we keep in place processes that ensure the destruction of the biosphere ?) to bog the debate on solutions dow. We don’t even discuss the vast societal changes necessary to meet the goals of mitigation to stay under 2C . If we take Kevin Anderson’s work here

    http://kevinanderson.info/blog/full-global-decarbonisation-of-energy-by-2034-and-probably-before/

    we need to be off all fossil fuels in less than 15 years. If we were serious about that we would be currently undergoing a huge societal change but we’re not even discussing it, let alone working towards it. If we’re bogged down (that’s the work of the scientists) in the minutiae of whether it’s 0.05 or 0.06 etc then we’ve been sidetracked.

    TL;DR The “fault” is thinking there is a debate and engaging with deniers, bogging the discussion down. Having them drag you down to their level, is their achievement.

  23. BBD says:

    @VV

    🙂

  24. BBD says:

    T-rev

    TL;DR The “fault” is thinking there is a debate and engaging with deniers, bogging the discussion down. Having them drag you down to their level, is their achievement.

    True, of course. But you can’t let them get away with it. Even when the wrestlers are covered in pigsh*t, observers can tell pig from human. Sometimes this may take a few days, but nobody is perfect. The losing move is not to play. Then there’s only the pig and the sh*t.

  25. russellseitz says:

    Though Matt certainly knows how to play the part of the disinterested journalist, his new job as a coal landlord may have come with a contract less demanding than his old one as an Economist writer.

  26. jyyh says:

    I’ve been using that too, Brandon Gates, calling them illiterates. They can’t read. Though in this case it’s possible Matt Ridley is just innumerate and/or he cannot write, Grammatical errors are also very common, as is the lack of knowledge of the meaning of the words. F.e. on many occasions they have misinterpreted ‘anthropogenic’ as ‘natural’ and ‘warming’ as ‘cooling’. In fact, this is so frequent I might start to worry if they started to use those words correctly and in proper context. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live with one, never knowing what they really mean.

  27. Brandon Gates says:

    jyyh,

    I should clarify that I only use that word when it’s obvious that who I’m writing about is well-educated, intelligent, articulate — quite literate — AND who has egregiously quoted something out of context or otherwise mangled its meaning so as to build a strawman argument or the like. Even then, it usually takes a few repeat offences before I’ll bring it to bear. Pyrotechnics often ensue, among which ironically enough, often include me being called juvenile.

    OTOH, me saying, “that’s a lie” or “what you said is dishonest” … or even “you’re a liar” (it happens when I get really hacked off) … doesn’t generally provoke as much of a response. Which I think is really interesting, and something that I’ve begun paying attention to more and more of late.

  28. Eli Rabett says:

    BTW, besides insulting you, does the good Bish put you on time delay?

    Also, you might as well ask twitter to give matt a time out. . .:)

  29. Steven Mosher says:

    “It seems either juvenile or dishonest.”

    misleading would be one description.

  30. Eli,

    BTW, besides insulting you, does the good Bish put you on time delay?

    There’s no time delay. He doesn’t insult me personally, he leaves that to his commenters. He did moderate one comment implying that as a South African I must be racist. Maybe even he could see the irony of a site frequented by Ukip supporters accusing someone else of being racist 🙂

    Mosher,
    That would also work.

  31. David Blake says:

    @ aTTP,

    “..the general expectation is that [temperatures] will start accelerating in the not too distant future. ”

    I read that some were predicting that. It seems, to me, an unwise prediction to make that could really come back to bite them on the bum, for two reasons

    i) Certain sceptics (Ridley for example) will be sure to remind people if it doesn’t happen, as they do each time a prediction doesn’t happen.

    and, more importantly..

    ii) Temperatures (in both hemispheres) have always seemed to follow the AMO. And the AMO is at its peak. It’s downhill from here. So if temperature does follow the AMO cycle then the likelihood of it flat-lining or declining a bit until ~2030 seems pretty high

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/graph/esrl-amo/from/mean:30/plot/hadsst2nh/from/mean:30/plot/hadsst2sh/from/mean:30

    P.s. Happy Easter to all.

  32. David Blake, Please give us a run-down on how your krank theory of correlating the Earth’s magnetic north pole to temperature is progressing. Any easter eggs in there? 🙂

  33. No, David, please don’t.

  34. David Blake says:

    Lots of nice choccy eggs chez moi. Currently in a post-sugar stupor.

    My “crank” theory is doing superbly thanks. How’s yours doing? Ian Wilson seems to suggest that the QBO and CW are modulated by the planets.

  35. David Blake says:

    [Playing the ref. -W]

  36. JCH says:

    Temperatures have not been following the AMO; the AMO has mostly been following temperatures, and will soon be following again.

    the last 7 months is flat, and it’s also at .74C.

    What will be the 12-month running mean for the 12 months ending on August 31, 2015 (how can the anomaly go down in an El Nino leaning world/). Looks to me like .80C is easily possible, and it could be higher.

    The pause had made fools out of a lot of people, and they are about to find that out.

  37. Do not forget that the post on Skeptical Science and the tweet from M. Ridley are dated on 1st April which would mean (at least in France) that the intentions mignt be humour. Carbonated humour ? Arnaud

  38. David,
    I know people despair at the moderation on this blog. When you start paying me for doing it, or I start benefiting in some way, I might start caring. Since you don’t pay me and I don’t benefit, I don’t

  39. Though I’m sure none of us any much time for Ridley, and probably we don’t take him seriously; what one has to take seriously is his ability to get his propaganda published in numerous magazines and newspapers worldwide. Hence the crap that he writes cannot be ignored and needs refuting at every opportunity.

  40. DB,
    The unique property of krank climate science theories is that they are borne out of desperation. At one time the krank would develop something out of his creative impulses, but nowadays they are crafted to subvert the idea that GHGs have any significance at all. So instead of considering any flavor of scientific method, they favor throwing stuff to the wall and see if anything sticks.
    Agenda-driven politics will do that to a person. #WHUT else is new?

  41. matt says:

    > “It’s downhill from here. So if temperature does follow the AMO cycle then the likelihood of it flat-lining or declining a bit until ~2030 seems pretty high”.

    Then u should organise a bet DB.

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