Judith Curry’s testimony

I’ve been rather busy the last few days, so haven’t had a chance to post anything. Yesterday, however, Judith Curry gave evidence before the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology Hearing on the President’s UN Climate Pledge. You can read Judith’s written evidence. It contains most of the standard “skeptic” talking points; the “pause”, Antartic sea ice, lower climate sensitivity, and then a lot of discussion about climate policy.

Steven Mosher, in a comment on an earlier post, gave his interpretation of Judith’s argument, and finished with

Now in truth you dont even need her views on science to come to a similar conclusion. with regards policy, science dont matter much. what matters is what you can get done. you’all got suckered into thinking that speaking truth to power worked. Sorry no cookie.

The time to act globally on emissions has come and gone. Its been 20 years and you clowns still havent done jack. step aside. you are the problem.

Okay, ignoring that I disagree with a great deal of this (and find some of it remarkably irritating) there is some truth to this view: in some sense science doesn’t matter that much, and what we’ve been doing so far hasn’t been particularly effective. So, maybe it is time to at least compromise and start to accept that there are other ways to proceed and that what we’ve been trying to do hasn’t worked? If, however, there are to be new people who drive this forward, surely we’d want them to be those who at least understand the basic science and who can at least construct a coherent argument.

On that note, I thought I might just highlight an exchange between Judith Curry and Rep Beyers in which he explicitly says

I found myself deeply troubled by Dr. Curry’s written and oral testimony, ….. I found the testimony just full of internally conflicting facts and opinions and in almost total conflict with everything I’ve read in the last 15 years in every journal I could get my hands on.

You can read the comment yourself, but I thought I might just discuss a few of Judith’s responses. For example,

The issue is how much of the change is caused by humans. We don’t know. We don’t know what the 21st century holds. The climate change may be really … unpleasant, and that may happen independently of anything that humans do. My point is that we don’t know how much humans are influencing climate and whether it’s going to dominate in the 21st century. Given that we don’t know this, we are still going to see extreme weather events whether or not humans are influencing the climate.

We don’t know? Really? This may only be true in the sense that we can’t really know anything, but that is a remarkably odd thing for a scientist to say. We may not know, but we’re fairly certain that anthropogenic influences have dominated since 1950 and that it will continue to dominate if we continue to increase our emissions. That Judith failed to even acknowledge this is remarkable. Also, we have plenty of evidence to suggest that our climate has been broadly stable for the last few thousand years. Why would we suddenly expect it to naturally do something unpleasant in the coming century. It might, I guess, but suggesting that it’s as likely as something unpleasant happening due to our influences just seems absurd.

Judith then goes on to say

The climate has been warming since the 1700’s. Okay? Since we came out of the Little Ice Age. We don’t know what’s causing that warming, in the 18’th century, in the 19’th century, it’s not attributed to humans. So there are other things going on in the climate system that have been contributing to a warming over several centuries. We can’t blame all of this on humans. Okay? And we don’t know how all of this is going to play out in the 21’rst century. We just don’t know.

Again with all the we don’t knows. Yes, we might not know but we have a pretty good idea of what caused the Little Ice Age (reduced solar insolation and increased volcanic activity) and it was obviously not attributed to humans. Why is that even worth mentioning? Again, we might not know what will happen in the 21st century, but we have a fairly good idea of what will happen if we continue to increase our emissions.

So, if we’re going to move forward by acknowledging that what we’ve been trying so far has failed and that others should have a stronger voice, why would we do so if some of those others don’t appear to know anything? Given this, I’ll expand a little on my thoughts with regards to Mosher’s point that with regards to policy, science doesn’t much matter. Yes, in some sense I agree with this; let’s stop arguing about science and just get on with deciding on the optimal policies. However, science does inform policy and I fail to see how we can develop sensible policy if we start with the view that we don’t know anything.

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194 Responses to Judith Curry’s testimony

  1. Wagathon says:

    Science doesn’t matter. That’s why it is a Left vs. right issue: it’s all about politics.

    The multi-billion-dollar agenda reflects the Obama Administration’s commitment to using climate change to radically transform America. It reflects a determination to make the climate crisis industry so enormous that no one will be able to tear it down, even as computer models and disaster claims become less and less credible – and even if Republicans control Congress and the White House after 2016 [there exists] … a long list of regulators, researchers, universities, businesses, manufacturers, pressure groups, journalists and politicians with such strong monetary, reputational and authority interests in alarmism that they will defend its tenets and largesse tooth and nail. ~Paul Driessen, “The tip of the climate spending iceberg”

  2. Wagathon,
    I realise that it’s really about politics, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that science shouldn’t matter, just that it probably doesn’t. If we want evidence-based policy, then science should matter. What you quote seems particularly silly, by the way.

  3. climatehawk1 says:

    Yeah, but who, exactly, is paying Driessen to write this bilge? A little source disclosure might be in order.

  4. Joshua says:

    ==> “That’s why it is a Left vs. right issue: it’s all about politics.”

    IMO, it’s not so much about politics as it is about identity politics. There is nothing inherent about the issues at hand that forces an ideological polarization. Consider Bob Inglis, as just one example. Along those lines, a good read:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/04/14/what-does-it-take-to-convince-libertarians-and-conservatives-that-climate-change-is-a-problem/?postshare=4191429057265686

  5. KarSteN says:

    Same old. Since no working scientist can be as clueless as her (unless you’re extremely incompetent, but then you wouldn’t make it into her position), all she does is to demonstrate how ideology corrupts and ultimately shuts off your brain. The only reasonable action is to ignore her.

  6. Wagathon says:

    [Mod: This comment has been removed by the moderator. Off topic]

  7. climatehawk1 says:

    I’ve noticed this with wind power too. Wind turbines don’t vote, they are just machines, and they’re built by businesses and directly benefit farmers, a core conservative constituency, so there is no strictly logical reason conservatives should bitterly oppose them. Seems more like identity politics fueled by a massive flood of fossil-fuel money.

  8. Wagathon says:

    [Mod: This comment has been removed by the moderator. Off topic]

  9. BBD says:

    Hear, hear.

  10. BBD says:

    That was @ ATTP!

  11. jsam says:

    Who pays Driessen? Glad you asked. Tobacco is not addictive. Climate change is not hurtful.
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Paul_Driessen

  12. Wagathon says:

    [Mod: This comment has been removed by the moderator. Off topic]

  13. climatehawk1 says:

    “Who pays Driessen? Glad you asked. Tobacco is not addictive. Climate change is not hurtful.
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Paul_Driessen

    Um, thanks, I could (and should) have done that myself. Telling that wagathon is using this gentleman as an authoritative source. I consider him right up there with Joe Bast, Jerry Taylor, et al.

  14. uknowispeaksense says:

    I see Mosher’s comment as an admission of his own willful ignorance. He is willfully ignorant, he’s proud of it, and he wants everyone to be as willfully ignorant as him. Its a sad and juvenile character flaw and I actually feel sorry for him.

  15. snarkrates says:

    I’m willing to take [Mod : Judith] at her word. I really am pretty sure that she doesn’t know. Everything in her published would and her public presentations suggests that there is a whole helluva lot that she doesn’t know. Meanwhile, we have a model of the planet’s climate that has tallied a lot of nontrivial successes and reproduced most of the trends we see (and after all, climate is about trends). And we certainly have a credible threat–even [Mod : Judith] testimony makes that clear.

    Once again, though, Judy and here cohort get all warm and fuzzy in their ignorance, certain that the uncertainties couldn’t possibly stack up against them. As I’ve pointed out before, confronting climate change without a model that provides real insight into how climate works is like trying to land a 747 on a short runway on a foggy night without instruments. We’d better fricking pray the models work, especially given how long we’ve delayed taking effective action. It is only the models that can tell us just how screwed we are.

  16. Wagathon says:

    [Mod: This comment has been removed by the moderator. Off topic]

  17. jsam says:

    Waggie – leave the word salad to Monckton and Palin, will you?

  18. BBD says:

    Wagathon summarises JC:

    tra-la.

  19. Wagathon says:

    [Mod : Sorry, this is getting tedious. If you want to make a sensible comment, feel free. Making incorrect claims about hockey sticks and moaning about Western academia doesn’t qualify.]

  20. And here we have Wangathong, who has festooned Climate Etc with nothing but political tripe over the last several years, coming over to ATTP and expecting to be able to do the same thing.

    Crack open a science textbook if you want to discuss something of substance.

  21. Wagathon says:

    “Nevertheless,” says Judith Curry (Climate change availability cascade), “climate change has become a grand narrative in which human-caused climate change has become a dominant cause of societal problems… Politicians, activists and journalists have stimulated an ‘availability cascade’ [link] to support alarm about human-caused climate change… Because slowly increasing temperatures don’t seem alarming, the ‘availability entrepreneurs’ push extreme weather events and public health impacts as being caused by human-caused climate change, more of which is in store if we don’t quickly act to cool the planet by reducing fossil fuel emissions.”

  22. Wagathon,
    Yes, I’m aware that Judith says that. It doesn’t make it correct or remotely sensible.

  23. jsam says:

    How’s her stadium wave doing?

  24. The gall of Curry to say that “we don’t know”, when in fact she runs a weather forecasting business on the side is hypocritical. Yup, I am sure her clients pay her money to predict hurricanes when her most famous answer is “we don’t know”.

    And who is that Webby character she is in cahoots in that same business, Peter Webster? Is that her husband or former husband? He apparently acts like he understands ENSO and El Nino because if you type ENSO into Google Scholar, you get him as the first response. Yet the guy obviously doesn’t know jack about how to evaluate standing wave dipoles. He came over to my blog and trash-talked what we were doing with ENSO, claiming it was all wrong. And now we get the last laugh.

    #WHUT the ? is wrong with these people. If they can’t deal with the science, they should quietly move aside and let those who know what they are doing take over, such as Isaac Held or Raymond Pierrehumbert or Andrew Lacis. Sheesh, get some capable people for once.

  25. Rob Nicholls says:

    Thanks for posting on this ATTP. I fear many will be misled by Dr Curry’s latest testimony.

    Karsten – “The only reasonable action is to ignore her.” Yes, but it sometimes takes new comers and non-experts a while to work that out.

    The repeated use of ‘argumentum ad stadium’ is still making me laugh, not because I know enough to say whether the Wyatt and Curry stadium wave paper has any merit or not (I don’t know), but because it seems so silly to me to suggest that this highly speculative paper somehow undermines the huge amount of evidence on which the IPCC bases some of its major conclusions.

  26. Tom Curtis says:

    [Mod: The comment this one refers to has been deleted]

  27. Rob Nicholls says:

    jsam – “How’s her stadium wave doing?” sorry I missed this. I don’t know whether you were being serious but I’d be genuinely interested in answers to that question.

  28. entropicman says:

    aTTP

    You might like to ask Andrew Montford why he is so keen for the third world to build fossil fuel power stations, when there are now better alternatives.

    As new infrastructure distributed solar power is cheaper and more efficient. It requires no grid and is much harder to steal power

    It also avoids the problem of having to pay hard earned dollars to international companies for the ongoing supply of fuel. Perhaps this is why Montford and his ilk are so unhappy?

  29. Joshua says:

    Let us not forget the part of what Judith said that Wags replaced with ellipses – for that was the best part:

    Nevertheless, climate change has become a grand narrative in which human-caused climate change has become a dominant cause of societal problems. Everything that goes wrong then reinforces the conviction that that there is only one thing we can do [to] prevent societal problems – stop burning fossil fuels.

    Yes, indeed. All those people saying that the only thing that we can do to prevent societal problems is to stop burning fossil fuels.

  30. Tom Curtis says:

    I find Mosher’s comment truly annoying. That is not only because of the appalling exoneration of the deniers, whose activities apparently have nothing to do with a lack of action on climate change. But also because of the fanciful notion that we (ie those pushing action on climate change) have stood in the way of local, or national solutions. In Mosher’s unreal world, the people promoting Kyoto have also been actively preventing renewable energy targets, national carbon pricing schemes. Or, for that matter, “no regrets” anti-pollution measures and improved adaption. That is like blaming Churchill for Chambelain’s “peace in our time”.

  31. Joshua says:

    Don’t forget that Mosher seems to be conducting some kind of experiment to look at the “feedback parameter” of blog comments.

    It could be that he’s trying out a new experimental paradigm to test how many responses he can get to saying something that’s completely vacuous.

  32. anoilman says:

    Judith Curry is playing worthless word games.

    Anyone can say, we don’t know ‘exactly’ what something is. We also don’t know what gravity’s value is for instance. That 4th decimal place is pretty tricky I hear.

    How far off base Judith when you have car salemen looking up the science and concluding that indeed she’s out to lunch. Maybe, like, Richard Tol, he had a hard time locating papers of dissenting opinion.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Beyer

  33. MIchael Hauber says:

    It is also false that ‘you clowns still haven’t done jack’. Real action has been taken on climate change since at least 1990. In particular we have had an ongoing research, development and now significant expansion of renewable energy technologies. Wind and solar energy have been growing at compound rates over the last decade and more that put us on track to greater than 50% share within the next couple of decades. The idea that nothing has been done about climate change is every bit as much nonsense as claims that global warming has stopped 17 years ago.

    Of course if you argue that the action has been confused, half hearted and not as effective as it could have been I would agree. I see the picture of politicians not caring about science as a cartoon caricature, and not representative of reality. Politicians do care about science. But they care about being re-elected. And if you raise taxes, or electricity bills go up then voters become unhappy and whoever in power is less likely to be elected. It won’t matter if the reason is a good one that the voters support, they will still want to vote for the opposition who will claim that the increased prices/taxes weren’t required and that they have a magic solution that doesn’t require personal sacrifice.

    Of course politicians won’t get voted in if they say ‘we know about climate change, but we don’t want to do anything about it because we don’t want to get voted out’. So whoever has the closest approximation to a worthwhile reputation and is sprouting some nonsense about uncertainty around various aspects of climate change will be trotted out to pretend that the real reason for reduced/delayed action is the uncertainty problem.

  34. KarSteN says:

    @Rob: Ignoring her on a professional level is a no-brainer. As for bystanders, I don’t know whether it helps a great deal to debunk her time and time again. If every sane person ignored her, she might get frustrated much quicker than being in the (negative) limelight all the time. Not that I think it would make her stop spouting nonsense, but at least it increases the odds for that to happen one day. Not sure though … I have mixed feelings on this particular issue indeed.

    As far as the stadium wave is concerned … about as likely as having leprechauns causing global warming 😉

  35. Rob Nicholls says:

    Thanks KarSteN. I think I will make more effort to ignore Dr Curry in future.
    I don’t think most climate models take the influence of leprechauns into account. Definitely an example of “omitted variable fraud” if ever there was one.

  36. Peter Jacobs says:

    The idea that “science don’t matter much” is itself antiscientific. Science matters a great deal to people. That’s why (until incredibly recently) politicians have been fighting climate mitigation based on the science. It’s why opponents of mitigation attack the idea of scientific consensus. It’s why religious people who hate abortion are arguing about medical facts instead of religious values. It’s why evolution deniers are making museums with fossils.

    Science is an incredibly powerful socio-normative force. It’s not the only one, of course. But it’s immensely important.

    I will not attempt to read someone’s mind over the internet, but I will just say that this:

    “The time to act globally on emissions has come and gone. Its been 20 years and you clowns still havent done jack. step aside. you are the problem.”

    Is a position some people I know “IRL” have fallen back to. It’s their way of dealing with the fact that they were opponents of mitigation ostensibly based on the science for a long time but now realize how wrong they were.

    Rather than pen a lengthy rebuttal which will most likely be ignored out of defensiveness, I will just note that there has actually been an enormous amount of progress made on moving to a solution, both on political and technological fronts.

  37. dhogaza says:

    Mosher’s victory dance:

    “Now in truth you dont even need her views on science to come to a similar conclusion. with regards policy, science dont matter much. what matters is what you can get done. you’all got suckered into thinking that speaking truth to power worked. Sorry no cookie.”

    This is, of course, exactly what Mosher spent over a decade working towards. “y’all got suckered into thinking that speaking truth to power worked” is missing an clause: “when people like myself, with my Michael ‘Piltdown’ Mann meme, my book on climategate, and all the rest done by myself and others caused others to believe that you weren’t speaking truth at all”.

    FUD. Mosher’s been a big part of it.

    And is apparently still proud of it.

    “The time to act globally on emissions has come and gone. Its been 20 years and you clowns still havent done jack. step aside. you are the problem.”

    The truthtellers, not the liars like Mosher, McIntyre, Watts and Curry are the problem. Apparently Mosher believes that dishonesty is the key to action, and I guess in some twisted way the events of the last twenty years have proven him correct.

    His crowing makes it clear – as though anyone familiar with him over the past ten years needs any more clarity – that his libertarian ideals are more important than the truth to him, and he’ll stomp on the truth in order to help quash action that he finds politically disagreeable.

    Now, what was that about giving him the benefit of the doubt and believing in his conversion to truth and beauty in recent years?

    His comment is offensively cynical in the extreme. Among other things, he absolutely diminishes the value of speaking truth. Even if speaking truth doesn’t result in postive action, it is still the honorable thing to do.

    Those who speak the truth are the problem? Offensive. I personally refuse to accept such an amoral view of how one should act in the world.

  38. Thomas says:

    Saying “We don’t know” if adding CO2 to the atmosphere will cause warming is like saying we don’t know what will happen if a car impacts a brick wall at 80 MPH.
    Sure, we can’t predict exactly every bend and crease in every piece of sheet metal, but that doesn’t really matter. We know that the car will be severely smashed and probably irreparable. The fine details are insanely difficult but the overall physics is really pretty straight forward. Car hits wall, car smashed. CO2 in atmosphere, atmosphere warms up.
    Maybe I need to testify before congress, set them straight 🙂

  39. dhogaza says:

    I hadn’t read Mosher’s comment on the other thread, nor ATTP’s response to it which echoes some of my own feelings, but more politely in the less direct manner typical of those raised in his country rather than the US 🙂

  40. dhogaza says:

    I might also add that “Its been 20 years and you clowns still havent done jack” is a bit of a strange comment. As others have pointed out on the other thread and perhaps here, a lot of progress towards renewables have been made. California, Mosher’s home, has taken fairly large-scale strides and is, of course, the largest economy in the United States and 8th largest in the world. That ain’t jack? Harumph.

    And, of course, if Gore had won the Presidential election things would not have stalled as significantly as they did under Bush, even if he’d not been able to force significant action through Congress (and I wouldn’t bet against his ability to have done so, or to take the executive branch steps Obama has taken). Gore did win the popular vote, so speaking truth to the populace wasn’t obviously ineffective.

    Anyway, ethics and the truth isn’t Mosher’s strong point, that should be obvious by now.

  41. JCH says:

    I think I have found the very beginning of the stadium wave. If you look at this drawing of a stadium crowd, way up at the top one person has stood up to begin the wave. Now it will grow and spread natural cooling around the globe. You’ll see!

  42. bratisla says:

    Sorry, just a small question but really buggering me : how many times did Judith Curry testify in front of this commitee ? Everytime I hear from her, she’s testifying – it’s almost as if she planted her tent here … It must be a false impression I have.

  43. Eli Rabett says:

    Each House and Senate Committee has a ton of subcommittees, each of which hold hearings, but yes, she has become the go to. Because both houses are under Republican control the Republicans get to name 3 of 4 witnesses on a panel.

    About the only hope to shut her up is to have a panel with It would be interesting if Andy Lacis was on a panel with her, but Eli fears that someone with sharper elbows is needed.

  44. Steven Mosher says:

    “Okay, ignoring that I disagree with a great deal of this (and find some of it remarkably irritating) there is some truth to this view:”

    ya well sorry about being irritating. I’m irritated.

    “Given this, I’ll expand a little on my thoughts with regards to Mosher’s point that with regards to policy, science doesn’t much matter. Yes, in some sense I agree with this; let’s stop arguing about science and just get on with deciding on the optimal policies. However, science does inform policy and I fail to see how we can develop sensible policy if we start with the view that we don’t know anything.”

    YUP. and not even OPTIMAL policies.. get on with doing what can be done. I dont know if you have every read David Brin. In any case, I’d suggest its time to do some negotiating and horse trading, and pray we get lucky.

    see Eli was right.

  45. izen says:

    @-Wagathon
    “Nevertheless,” says Judith Curry (Climate change availability cascade), “climate change has become a grand narrative in which human-caused climate change has become a dominant cause of societal problems… Politicians, activists and journalists have stimulated an ‘availability cascade’ [link] to support alarm about human-caused climate change…”

    Other examples of availability cascades where a scientific consensus has become a grand narrative that has forced government action are Lead, Asbestos, Acid rain, DDT, CFC’s, Tobacco and many others.

    The fact there is a scientific consensus that drives an ‘availability cascade’ does not indicate the scientific understanding driving that narrative is incorrect.

  46. David Sanger says:

    Dr. Curry’s references to “availability cascades” are actually interesting, moreso because she misinterprets the original 1999 Stanford Law Review paper, which describes ways in which public opinion is informed (or not) and social decisions made. Not all such efforts are harmful.

    She obviously missed this key observation:

    “anyone seeking to reform the social norms associated with a risky activity, or even those pertaining to public discourse about the activity, must cope with difficult collective action problems of their own….suppose that, while the problem of global warming is serious, people trumpeting the gravity of global warming get treated as fanatics. Those who happen to believe the statement may seek refuge in preference and knowledge falsification, thus delaying the emergence of a critical mass for action.

    Availability entrepreneurs help to overcome collective action problems of this kind; they play a decisive role in breaking insincere resistance to the removal of pri-vately recognized social injustices, problems, and inefficiencies. In acting as manipulative salespeople, therefore, they sometimes perform vital social services.”

  47. Tom Curtis says:

    Mosher:

    “I’d suggest its time to do some negotiating and horse trading…”

    Again the blatant misrepresentation of the political history around climate change over the last 20 odd years. Proponents of action on climate change have been quite willing to negotiate details, or even broad policies, so long as we started getting something done. It is the anti-science brigade who have not come to the table under any terms. Consequently to now call on those who were willing to negotiate to “…do some negotiating…” looks a lot to me like a policy of letting the climate science deniers do what they wanted to do anyway, then calling it a victory.

  48. Steven Mosher,

    In any case, I’d suggest its time to do some negotiating and horse trading, and pray we get lucky.

    In a sense I agree, but as Tom points out above, the problem has not been that those who would like us to act have been unwilling to negotiate. It’s one thing to get to a point where we all agree that something should be done and decide to sit down and start talking, and arguing that one group has failed, that it’s all their fault (ignoring the misinformation campaigns) and that they should simply step aside. This is especially true, if the other party is still not presenting our scientific understanding correctly.

  49. David,
    Thanks. I get the impression that Judith has also misunderstood some of Nasim Taleb’s ideas too. It’s also a bit like the honest broker idea where you’re encouraged to not behave like a broker.

  50. EM,

    You might like to ask Andrew Montford why he is so keen for the third world to build fossil fuel power stations, when there are now better alternatives.

    I don’t think he’d understand the question. You have to understand that there aren’t any alternatives to the only possible way in way which we can bring properity to the third world, and anyone who suggests otherwise is explicitly arguing for the death of millions.

    [In case someone unfamiliar with the online climate debate reads this, the above is intended to be ironic.]

  51. Andrew Dodds says:

    @Tom

    Indeed. I’m not sure how we are meant to undertake horse trading with people who believe that they have a divine right to all the horses and are never going to move from that position..

    The fact that Force Majeure solutions – i.e. the government just builds a zero carbon energy infrastructure – are completely off the table says to me that ‘we’ have already moved a long way from our starting position. Carbon taxes, feed-in tariffs and the like are already compromise solutions, but apparently we should compromise even more. Which seems to be moving close to ‘Not even trying’..

  52. I should probably say that I didn’t write this post so we could all pile on to Steven Mosher, so apologies to Steven if it seemed that way. I think his comment, though, does illustrate something that we will see more of. People who were once contrarians (and I don’t mean Steven specifically) starting to shift position closer to that of those who’ve been arguing for action, but instead of acknowledging their past position, trying to argue that it’s the others that have failed and that it’s time for their views to be taken more seriously. It’s not going to be an attempt to build some kind of bridge; more an attempt to control the narrative and move into a position that is at least credible, if only just.

  53. izen says:

    By the end of the decade coal will be a shrinking industry. No further coal fired generating plants will be built, old plants will be replaced with gas or renewables and present mining enterprises will be closing down.

    That is the result both of concerns with emissions and the fact that renewables are now cost competitive with coal. In less than ten years it will look as ridiculous to use coal for energy generation as it now looks to use whale oil for lighting.

    However much Dr Curry or other may not know, that change in our fossil fuel use is underway and inevitable. It is a result of both the science of AGW indicating the unwise on of coal and the economics working against it.

    It might seem that this is a clear issue where advocates for action, and lukewarm ears can negotiate and agree. Replacing coal with other fossil fuels makes sense, cheaper and lower emissions per Joule, but even this obvious and inevitable change is being resisted by well paid senators and congressmen who are defending the coal industry.

    Being told in this situation that those on the side of acting on the climate change problem have down ‘jack’ or that it is just the result of an ‘availability cascade’ is deeply misguided.

  54. Paul S says:

    Steven Mosher

    I’d suggest its time to do some negotiating and horse trading

    How would that be different from what’s happened to date?

  55. dikranmarsupial says:

    ” The climate has been warming since the 1700’s. Okay? Since we came out of the Little Ice Age.”

    The “recovery from the little ice age” argument suffers from the problem of where exactly would you argue it is going to recover to? The proxy data suggests that GMSTs are higher now than they were at the peak of the medieval warm period, and I don’t think you could reasonably claim that the MWP represents the Earths “normal” temperature (as it is a local maximum). Thus suggesting that the warming since the mid 20th century is part of a long term recovery from the LIA seems a bit far fetched to me.

    As to whether the science matters, I’d say it does, but it is only one of the considerations, and it is the other considerations that are currently blocking any action on climate change. I think this is the point made by Mike Hulmes book on why we disagree about climate (which is well worth reading, although he seems to rather obfuscate the point by his subsequent media criticisms of the science). Personally I am rather pessimistic about whether the socio-economic/political issues will be resolved; I’m not confident that as a species we are sufficiently rational to properly balance long term and short term costs and benefits. However that is not justification for getting the science wrong or misrepresenting it or relegating the science to the sidelines. Its an important component of any solution to the problem.

  56. BBD says:

    Eli sez:

    It would be interesting if Andy Lacis was on a panel with her, but Eli fears that someone with sharper elbows is needed.

    How about Ray Pierrehumbert? 😉

  57. Andrew Dodds says:

    @izen

    I hope you are right. I’m still dubious as to what will happen as renewable penetration levels exceed 20-30% (wind+solar). And also dubious as to how much help it is, CO2-lifecycle-wise, to replace coal with natural gas that has been fracked, or transported via LNG.

  58. austrartsua says:

    “Again with all the we don’t knows. ” says ATTP. But this is precisely what a good scientist should say most of the time! It is pure arrogance to think we can map out the global temp over the next 100 years like we can the next week. We have some idea what will happen if we continue to pump CO2 into the atmosphere. it will probably warm, then again it might not if there are a few volcanoes, or a descent into the next ice age happens (which is just about due isn’t it?). But by how much will it warm? Don’t even pretend like we have any idea how much. Don’t be so naively arrogant. So unscientific.

    Now you can argue that this uncertainty should encourage more urgency, as we cannot rule out large amounts of warming. And that’s a fair point. But let’s not pretend we can control the temperature like a wall-mounted thermostat. Let’s not say that we can “keep the rise below 2C”, as if we have any idea how to do that and what is required. Climate scientists could do with a little more humility. But I guess this is what happens when everyone tells you that you are the most important people alive who are gonna save the planet etc.

  59. austrarta,

    But this is precisely what a good scientist should say most of the time!

    No, it’s not. No good scientist would ever present a view that we don’t know when there are things that we do understand.

    It is pure arrogance to think we can map out the global temp over the next 100 years like we can the next week.

    We have a good sense of the planetary energy balance, which tells us what kind of long-term temperature evolution we can expect in the presence of increasing anthropogenic forcings.

    then again it might not if there are a few volcanoes,

    It’s got to be massive to have a significant long-term effect.

    or a descent into the next ice age happens (which is just about due isn’t it?).

    No, it can’t happen if we continue to increase our emissions. We can’t continue to add energy to the climate system and then expect it to suddenly cool. That doesn’t make sense.

    Don’t even pretend like we have any idea how much. Don’t be so naively arrogant. So unscientific.

    We do have an idea. Saying that we don’t is what is unscientific.

    But let’s not pretend we can control the temperature like a wall-mounted thermostat.

    Noone says this.

  60. Andrew Dodds says:

    @austrartsua

    Actually, the uncertainty over net week’s temperatures is probably greater than that of the average climate for a given emission pathway for the next century.

    Unless we get a Pinatubo-scale eruption every other year, of course. Ice age onset takes 1000s of years, so I’m not quite sure why you’d even bring that up. Perhaps a little more humility – read before you type?

  61. izen says:

    @-austrartsua
    ” But by how much will it warm? Don’t even pretend like we have any idea how much. Don’t be so naively arrogant. So unscientific.”

    You are overstating the uncertainty.
    Science can give a good estimate of the RANGE of possible change. It can be stated with absolute and unassailable certainty that the warming will be less than 8 degrees for a doubling of CO2, and it can be stated with equal certainty that doubling CO2 will cause SOME warming.
    Invoking possible volcanic activity, asteroids or the spaghetti monster as events that would negate the known effect of CO2 is rather like saying that eating more calories will not cause weight gain if you have to have a leg amputated.

    @- “But let’s not pretend we can control the temperature like a wall-mounted thermostat. Let’s not say that we can “keep the rise below 2C”, as if we have any idea how to do that and what is required. ”

    We have SOME idea how to do that, continuing emissions past the point of doubling is as certain to fail to control temperature rise to below 2degC as the heliocentric solar system is certain.

    @-“Climate scientists could do with a little more humility. But I guess this is what happens when everyone tells you that you are the most important people alive who are gonna save the planet etc.”

    I am not sure who is telling scientists they are the most important people who are gonna save the planet.
    Perhaps those who claim with such certainty that we know nothing and are unable to make even probability statements about the impact of certain actions should look to their own humility levels about the extent and certainty of THEIR knowledge.

    I would point out that if anyone has a claim to be important in saving human society from costly errors scientists are more likely candidates than almost any other group of humans.

  62. Paul S says:

    ” The climate has been warming since the 1700’s. Okay? Since we came out of the Little Ice Age.”

    I wasn’t going to comment on this because it seems a bit nitpicky given the wider topic, but since dikran brought it up: I don’t think there’s any clear evidence to support a characterisation that the climate has been warming since the 1700s. In Berkeley Earth temperatures at the start of the record – around 1750 – are about the same as those seen in the early 20th Century. In the long European temperature records similarly there is little overall change from the 1700s to the early 20th Century. Proxy reconstructions also broadly indicate little change over that time.

    There is a clear consensus of evidence that the 1600s were generally 0.2-0.3C cooler than the 1700s, but warming took the form of a relatively rapid rise between about 1700 and 1730. This feature is broadly captured by GCM simulations of the past millennium so can be reasonably attributed to solar and volcanic forcing changes. From about 1730 to the early 20th Century there is little net change apparent in available records.

    For someone who finds profound meaning in a decade long “pause” you would think a 200-year pause might mean something.

  63. adamsa99 says:

    It does seem a bit odd to dismiss the notion of a global agreement on action against climate change when we could be months away from actually getting one. Of course there is no guarantee that whatever agreement is reached in Paris will be sufficient, and good reason to expect it will fall short of what many of us would like, but neither is it likely to be as meaningless as the skeptics (and some “lukewarmers”) are assuming. Either way it will make discussions like this one more meaningful.

  64. andrew adams says:

    Sorry, that was me.

  65. Willard says:

    > Dr. Curry’s references to “availability cascades” are actually interesting, moreso because she misinterprets the original 1999 Stanford Law Review paper, which describes ways in which public opinion is informed (or not) and social decisions made

    You might also like:

    In my opinion, this is a really awful description of the actual information cascade in Bikchandani, Hirschleifer and Welch. Much of it is just wrong and the rest is misleading. I can elaborate if it is wanted.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/04/09/climate-change-availability-cascade/#comment-692071

  66. Willard says:

    > not even OPTIMAL policies

    An How To Optimize Wicked Problems might be nice.

    Moshpit’s exegesis of Judy’s argument has evolved to exploit the trial and error idea I injected in the thread with Tim Harford’s TED talk:

    Judith’s point is simple.

    The climate problem has been oversimplifed. The simple formula has been: C02 warms, therefore stop emitting. when it comes to implementing this proponents have failed. It doesnt matter why. they failed. failed failed failed. trial and error, be gone with them. If they are right, then we dont have time to waste. we dont have time to let them deny alternative approaches. If they are right we dont have time to waste on their failed approach.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/04/15/hearing-presidents-un-climate-pledge/#comment-694178à

    Compare with:

    Let me give you a very simple gloss of her view with some spicy side dishes added.

    1. for over 20 years the climate change problem as been construed largely as an emissions problem.
    2. That framing allows one to ignore other problems. It oversimplifies the issues.

    3. For 20 years you clowns have failed to come to agreement on a global treaty.

    4. Your solution while simple on paper has proved to be difficult.

    5. because there is uncertainty over the future, and because there has been an oversimplification
    of the problem, its time to try something different.

    6. She suggests: Innovation on new energy technology and adaptation to prepare for extreme
    weather that will come REGARDLESS of climate change, and action on pollution which is code
    for moving away from coal because of pm25

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/two-years/#comment-53258

    The trick is to blame the framing to target trade agreements. Anything but trade agreements or non-neutral taxes. Libertarianism in desguise.

  67. JWhite says:

    ATTP says (regarding the next glaciation)….

    No, it can’t happen if we continue to increase our emissions. We can’t continue to add energy to the climate system and then expect it to suddenly cool. That doesn’t make sense.

    Well…. perhaps that allows us to put a check in the ‘pro’ column regarding AGW. 😉

  68. Willard says:

    Since every framing that will work need to reduce emissions, to say that the “reduction problem” is the problem is the problem.

    Lukewarmism is branding all the way down.

  69. Well…. perhaps that allows us to put a check in the ‘pro’ column regarding AGW.

    No, not really. That physics tells us something is likely to happen doesn’t imply that those pointing out this possibility are in favour of this happening.

  70. JWhite says:

    “No, not really. That physics tells us something is likely to happen doesn’t imply that those pointing out this possibility are in favour of this happening.”

    It would’ve been a pretty lonely check (in that column) anyways.

  71. Paul S says:

    we dont have time to let them deny alternative approaches.

    Who is denying alternative approaches and in what way?

  72. Willard says:

    > Who is denying alternative approaches and in what way?

    Judy talks about opportunity costs in her testimony. The Lomborg Collective talks more about poverty. Et cetera.

  73. ATTP: “I get the impression that Judith has also misunderstood some of Nasim Taleb’s ideas too.” She is pretty much the anti-Taleb, who has said:

    “Skepticism about climate models should lead to more precautionary policies in the presence of ruin. It is incoherent to doubt the mean while reducing the variance.”

    Curry’s capacity for irony is superhuman; surely the archetypical example of an availability cascade degrading information is “it hasn’t warmed since 1998”.

  74. Paul S says:

    Judy talks about opportunity costs in her testimony.

    Mosher’s words suggest realistic proposals have been tabled and actively suppressed by “them”. What are the proposals? In what way have they been suppressed?

  75. Willard says:

    Seems that Judy found herself another marketing toy:

    Dr Curry is constantly trying to get people to reframe the problem in its much more difficult manifestation – “The Wicked Problem”. This requires “Slow” thinking and understanding the issues more deeply. Once that happens, a much more nuanced view emerges, with dramatic consequences for how we handle the problem.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/04/15/hearing-presidents-un-climate-pledge/#comment-694499

    Judge Judy’s verdict:

    thanks for this, i like framing this as fast vs slow. We definitely need slow thinking on this

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/04/15/hearing-presidents-un-climate-pledge/#comment-694499

    Slow may become the new lukewarm.

  76. Willard says:

    > She is pretty much the anti-Taleb

    The story’s more complicated than that.

    Here are Judy’s first thoughts on Nicholas’ work:

    The specific text from my paper:

    The framework associated with setting a CO2 stabilization target focuses research and analysis on using expert judgment to identify a most likely value of sensitivity/ warming and narrowing the range of expected values, rather than fully exploring the uncertainty and the possibility for black swans (Taleb 2007) and dragon kings (Sornette 2009). The concept of imaginable surprise was discussed in the Moss-Schneider uncertainty guidance documentation, but consideration of such possibilities seems largely to have been ignored by the AR4 report. A key issue is to identify potential black swans in natural climate variation under no human influence, over time scales of one to two centuries.

    […]

    Overall, the idea of climate black swans hasn’t been explored very much, but I think it is something that deserves further consideration. I agree that global warming itself shouldn’t be regarded as a black swan, although if some of the more alarming sensitivity predictions were to be true with accompanying extreme weather events, then it might arguably be a black swan.

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/05/02/anticipating-the-climate-black-swan/

    Here are her second thoughts:

    What does Taleb have to say about climate change? Not much, although this statement does appear in the paper:

    The more uncertain or skeptical one is of “scientific” models and projections, the higher the risk of ruin, which flies in the face of the argument of the style “skeptical of climate models”. Hence skepticim about climate models should lead to more precautionary policies.

    Ouch. Perhaps Taleb should read my recent post:

    Climate sensitivity: lopping off the fat tail.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/03/30/is-climate-change-a-ruin-problem/

    Perhaps we can reconcile these two thoughts by saying that the first were produced using fast thinking, while the second were produced by a slower process. Or the other way around.

  77. Thanks for those links Willard. I found Curry’s final comment most interesting:

    ” If climate change is NOT a ruin problem, we need to stop pretending that urgent action to reduce CO2 emissions is justified by anything other than naive reasoning and the role of personal and political preferences to address climate risk, in a way that increases global government control.”

    The mention of “global government control” was not necessary for the point she was making, but is quite revealing about her own strong motivations, I suspect.

  78. Joshua says:

    I’d suggest its time to do some negotiating and horse trading

    Looking past the binary configuration (no horse trading took place before, it needs to start happening if progress is to be made) – which seems more intentionally inflammatory (and CYA as Anders points out) than anything else…

    I do think that progress will be enhanced through more of a stakeholder dialog and less of a tribal battle. More negotiating and horse trading can certainly take place more if people orient more towards finding synergies and shared interests rather establishing the superiority of positions.

    One would think that Mosher might consider, since he has some interest in “feedback parameters,” what is the reaction that his rhetoric, or input like Judith’s testimony are likely to get? Does it work – from the perspective of enhancing negotiation and horse trading – in contrast to how we might characterize most of what has taken place in the past? Does it engender negotiating and horse trading?

    I dunno, looks to me that Judith and mosher are quite solidly in the sameolsameol camp, and Indeed, is negotiating and horse trading not what Judith is advocating for? So how might that be measured in some more objective fashion than steve’s anecdotal observations?

  79. Willard says:

    If global government control could increase, does it mean global government control exists?

  80. izen says:

    While it may be true that speaking truth to power is ineffective, the amount of attention given to a fringe outlier on the science and the repeated invitations by those in power to Dr Curry would seem to indicate that while speaking truth to power is ineffective and unpopular, speaking internally contradictory lies and distortions of the truth that match what power wants to hear is very effective.

  81. Andrew Dodds says:

    @Mark..

    It’s also incoherent. A government that ensures that the basics of life – food, water, shelter, security, energy, basic healthcare, education, internet access – are freely available without wrecking long term prospects is actually increasing practical freedom..

  82. izen says:

    @-Willard
    “If global government control could increase, does it mean global government control exists?”

    Yes, it is a necessary and unavoidable aspect of management of the radio frequency spectrum.
    Other examples of obligatory global control are available.

  83. dhogaza says:

    ATTP:

    “It’s not going to be an attempt to build some kind of bridge…”

    Correct. Mosher, in particular, is trying to sell you a bridge, a famous one in NYC.

  84. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    Curry testimony:

    Recent data and research supports the importance of natural climate variability and calls into question the conclusion that humans are the dominant cause of recent climate change. This includes
    The slow down in global warming since 1998
    Reduced estimates of the sensitivity of climate to carbon dioxide
    Climate models that are predicting much more warming than has been observed so far in the 21st century

    Interesting how “natural climate variability” rapidly alternates from a common explanatory prop for the climate science ‘dissenter’, into something that supposedly indicates failure when used as an explanation in consensus science.

    Aside from the fact that there are many other climate metrics besides temperature, recent data and research have provided *increasing* evidence that humans are the dominant cause of recent climate change.

    Seriously,
    – The “slow down” is amateurish short term trendology, based on the start-year cherry-pick of 1998.
    – The “reduced” estimates of CO2 sensitivity are within IPCC estimates.
    – Model validation based on a 15 year comparison to observations. Really?

    Anyone that would go on Congressional record with such word-salad sophistry is clearly appealing more to personal bias than to scientific evidence.

    Then again, tossing a snowball across the Senate chamber was good theater too.

  85. Willard says:

    > Yes, it is a necessary and unavoidable aspect of management of the radio frequency spectrum.

    I don’t think global government is required for that:

    Most countries consider RF spectrum as an exclusive property of the state. The RF spectrum is a national resource, much like water, land, gas and minerals. Unlike these, however, RF is reusable.The purpose of spectrum management is to mitigate radio spectrum pollution and maximize the benefit of usable radio spectrum.

    The first sentence of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) constitution fully recognises “the sovereign right of each State to regulate its telecommunication”. Effective spectrum management requires regulation at national, regional and global levels.

    Goals of spectrum management include: rationalize and optimize the use of the RF spectrum; avoid and solve interference; design short and long range frequency allocations; advance the introduction of new wireless technologies; coordinate wireless communications with neighbours and other administrations. Radio spectrum items which need to be nationally regulated: frequency allocation for various radio services, assignment of license and RF to transmitting stations, type approval of equipment (for countries out of the European Union), fee collection, notifying ITU for the Master International Frequency Register (MIFR), coordination with neighbour countries (as there are no borders to the radio waves), external relations toward regional commissions (such as CEPT in Europe, CITEL in America) and toward ITU.

    RF spectrum management is treated as a natural monopoly (to be compared to the concept of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill), as there is generally one regulator for any RF band. Discussions on central-planning versus market-based spectrum management are found at the 2008 PhD thesis [1]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectrum_management#Governments_and_spectrum_management

    I don’t think we can say that the International Telecommunication Union is a global government.

    “Global government” is code word.

  86. Eli Rabett says:

    SM: see Eli was right.

    ER: Cassandra was always right too. Lot of good it did anybunny

  87. Eli Rabett says:

    ATTP:

    I should probably say that I didn’t write this post so we could all pile on to Steven Mosher, so apologies to Steven if it seemed that way. I think his comment, though, does illustrate something that we will see more of. People who were once contrarians (and I don’t mean Steven specifically) starting to shift position closer to that of those who’ve been arguing for action, but instead of acknowledging their past position, trying to argue that it’s the others that have failed and that it’s time for their views to be taken more seriously. It’s not going to be an attempt to build some kind of bridge; more an attempt to control the narrative and move into a position that is at least credible, if only just.

    Prematurely anti-climate change

    Old story, and the only way to deal with this tactic is to call they latecomers out as often as possible. Unfortunately they usually control the megaphones.

  88. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP says “in some sense science doesn’t matter that much”

    Seriously; in just about every sense in everyday society. I’m surrounded by copper-infused knee braces, magnetic wrist bands that presumably prevent motion sickness, and ionized water.

    The fellow that tried to persuade me to buy an ionized water machine looked at me like *I* was the idiot when I said, “Water doesn’t ionize.”

    But he’s charismatic and has sold quite a few water ionizers to others, and if he had a mind for it, could easily get himself elected to something where his beliefs would then become the law of the land.

    That is the strength and the weakness of democracy.

    Of course Judith Curry speaks Talking Points. So does everyone else when testifying to Congress. The Game of Congress is played with Talking Points, as you have observed, and the exactly nature or factuality of the Talking Points is relatively unimportant.

    All sides have talking points. Here’s 176 Talking Points from SkS:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

  89. Willard says:

    Speaking of megaphones, from the INTEGRITY ™ thread:

    In the abstract of course anything can feed a meme, because meaning is not inherent in the sign. However, in the practical world words have predominant associations. Its easier, practically speaking, to build certain certain memes. Once you understand the metaphors we live by you’ll understand some of the basics in meme building and meme promotion. You’ll get why certain ideas go viral while others don’t. why do you think I choose the word megaphone?

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/02/08/lisbon-workshop-on-reconciliation-part-vi/#comment-40048

    The “sandbag” meme did not survive.

    INTEGRITY ™ – Pragmatic About Memes

  90. Rachel M says:

    I find Mosher’s statement intensely irritating. It’s like you’ve spent 20 years trying to tell people that if they jump off a cliff they’ll die but a group of “Skeptics” keeps stifling this message with their own which is “no, it’s perfectly safe, let them do it”. But suddenly the “Skeptics” realise it isn’t safe and instead of saying, “You’re right, it is unsafe, sorry”, they say, “Why didn’t you tell us? It’s all your fault”.

  91. Again with all the we don’t knows. Yes, we might not know but we have a pretty good idea of what caused the Little Ice Age (reduced solar insolation and increased volcanic activity) and it was obviously not attributed to humans. Why is that even worth mentioning? Again, we might know what will happen in the 21st century, but we have a fairly good idea of what will happen if we continue to increase our emissions.

    Fortunately, we seemed to stop increasing emissions last year. Next year? Subject to observation, of course, but given economics, demographics, technology and fracking, I think we may have peaked.

    That would mean continued but decelerating warming.

    But here’s the thing – small temperature change ( and a degree or two is small ), is just not that important to weather or climate. Variations of circulation occur because of numerous different quasi-stable states of wave patterns which occur regardless of the global average temperature.

  92. Willard says:

    Wait, Eddie. Here’s the subheader of your resource:

    Preliminary IEA data point to emissions decoupling from economic growth for the first time in 40 years

    Does it mean Grrrowth can be decoupled from increasing emissions?

    Many thanks!

  93. BBD says:

    Subject to observation, of course, but given economics, demographics, technology and fracking, I think we may have peaked.

    This was rubbish the last time you asserted it, Turbulent L.

  94. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    Mosher:

    In any case, I’d suggest its time to do some negotiating and horse trading, and pray we get lucky.

    Thanks for the free advice Steven… Very timely indeed.

    Unfortunately, we are far, far too busy right now with the important task of scanning stolen e-mails for ‘tricks’ to stop and pray – let alone talk and trade.

    Maybe sometime after AR6.

  95. Wait, Eddie. Here’s the subheader of your resource:

    Preliminary IEA data point to emissions decoupling from economic growth for the first time in 40 years

    Does it mean Grrrowth can be decoupled from increasing emissions?

    Many thanks!

    Well, much of the US and China decline are from switching from relatively expensive coal to relatively cheap natural gas, not to relatively expensive nuclear, solar, or wind. Much of Germany’s increase in CO2 output and energy prices was because they believed they could migrate to wind and solar ( neat trick increase energy prices and emissions ).

    Growth is not a simple picture. Advanced economies become more energy efficient, so yes, growth can lead to lower emissions from increased efficiency. On the other hand, China’s growth is clearly slowing (bubble bursting), so it’s not completely decoupled. If Larry Summers is right, we may be facing ‘secular stagnation’ also and demographics would indicate that’s a global phenomenon.

  96. Willard says:

    > The issue is how much of the change is caused by humans.

    Sometimes it’s worded using the “natural” code word:

    But the key issue is whether humans are dominating over natural causes in terms of recent warming.

    Why is this a key issue?

    Why is this the key issue?

    Response:

    If you don’t first do the detection – identify something beyond natural variability – then attribution to GHG is meaningless. We have failed to adequately do the detection.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/04/15/hearing-presidents-un-climate-pledge/#comment-694580

    So establishing natural variablity is key because otherwise the detection/attribution problem is meaningless.

    You just can’t make this up.

  97. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    So establishing natural variablity is key because otherwise the detection/attribution problem is meaningless.

    Exactly.

    There is no way we can rationally resolve the detection/attribution problem – because anthropogenic emissions have ‘contaminated’ the ‘natural’ signal.

    This means that as we emit more and more GHGs, we will know less and less about their effects on the climate.

    Brilliant.

  98. Meow says:

    Uncertainty broadens the PDF without changing its mean, making both worse and better outcomes equally more likely. Thus, uncertainty is not an argument for inaction.

  99. Michael 2 says:

    Meow says: “Thus, uncertainty is not an argument for inaction.”

    Agreed. Cost is a much better argument.

  100. Brandon Gates says:

    ATTP,

    I should probably say that I didn’t write this post so we could all pile on to Steven Mosher, so apologies to Steven if it seemed that way.

    As Eli alludes, my view is that Mosh is leaning into the punches. At risk of doing the same, I have my own misgivings about the stereotypical “leftist greenie” politicking when it comes to proposing policy solutions. Mosh’s reference to “horse-trading” is a metaphor I myself have invoked — I don’t see much of it happening. And that’s across the board, both ideological extremes, on many of the high-profile issues — here in the US, DC seems very much locked in a winner-take-all battle of attrition.

    Speaking of the Technobunny, I have in the past wondered out loud on his blog if our side could do with offering more carrots. “We’ll give you Keystone XL in exchange for funding a substantial geothermal project,” is one I have been mulling recently. To me it’s a no-brainer, but when it comes to politics I realize I may be the one who is hare-brained. The science is where I feel most comfortable — precautionary principle is my default meta-policy when the Uncertainty Monsters start asking me about Cost Benefit Analyses — and yet I’ve barely scratched the surface of the science.

    Nearly blind, impatient, and frustrated as hell is me. I think the science is solid, brilliant even, none better has ever been done. BBD notes that misinformers have an outsized influence on policy. I do not see that more of getting the message out will necessarily change that. One does not increase the understanding of someone who speaks a foreign language by yelling louder in one’s own native tongue.

    Climate liars’ messages stick because they speak the language of the intended audience.

    That is all.

  101. Joshua says:

    ==> “Thanks for the free advice Steven…”

    Yeah well, you know that they say about free advice…

    IMO – this is mostly about Mosher’s tendency to protect Judith. He’s very loyal to her.

    If protecting her requires making bogus arguments – that place the onus of progress on the arguments of some “realists,” ignoring all other factors (like the role of “skeptics,” the inherently complicated nature of the problem, the patterns in how people address risk on long time horizons, etc.) – no problem.

  102. Michael 2 says:

    Rachel M says: “you’ve spent 20 years trying to tell people that if they jump off a cliff they’ll die”

    It helps to have a cliff at the foot of which is a pile of bones.

    But some people make it a hobby.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BASE_jumping

  103. Brandon Gates says:

    Willard,

    You just can’t make this up.

    Indeed not, though it took me some years to figure out why it’s a failing argument. Here I note that who first raised it with me is a long-time personal friend who is otherwise quite brilliant and successful in his career because of it.

    Why I like your “teh modulz are stoopid” argument is because the answer is crystal clear: we don’t necessarily need them to see what the past looks like. The actual system has already yielded up Her answers on that score, and that’s the best Oracle I can think of.

  104. Eddie,
    Well, I can’t be bothered to discuss you emission projections agains (they appear to be hand drawn lines on a graph), but this seems wrong

    small temperature change ( and a degree or two is small ) is just not that important to weather or climate.

    The difference between a glacial and inter-glacial is maybe 5-6 degrees C, so why is 1 to 2 degrees small?

  105. so why is 1 to 2 degrees small?

    Because it appears to be in the noise level of the last 10,000 years, from ice core data, anyway:

  106. Eddie,

    Because it appears to be in the noise level of the last 10,000 years, from ice core data, anyway:

    How is it in the noise, have you forgetten about Marcott et al. (2013)? Plus, you’ve forgotten about polar amplification. The variation in global temperature change is probably about half that at the poles.

  107. BBD says:

    If we’re going to have pretty pictures, then how about this one:

    Source: Our Changing Climate; Jos Hagelaars.

  108. pbjamm says:

    How can there be horse trading when one party insists that there is no horse?

  109. graemeu says:

    KarSteN ” As for bystanders, I don’t know whether it helps a great deal to debunk her time and time again.”
    Well, No! When someone presents false or misleading arguments to a committee such as this, that could have serious implications for the direction of US policy on climate change, energy and fossil fuels. Those who are equipped to refute that person’s claims, should do so. Preferably directly to the same committee/authority.
    Bystanders, myself included, can’t effectively debunk false claims. Bystanders who are open to suggestion will see that someone has appeared as an expert witness, they like the argument (it’s much easier to agree with JC than accept the alternative), and if other experts don’t refute those claims they must be right. Right?
    On the other hand having a self congratulatory, group whinge here or going to JC’s blog and telling her what you think or outing her on any other blog probably isn’t worth doing time and again. If every person who fully understands the science were to get involved by appearing at such hearings or at least making submissions, JC’s efforts would be drowned in the overwhelming weight of evidence to the contrary.

  110. On the other hand having a self congratulatory, group whinge here or going to JC’s blog and telling her what you think or outing her on any other blog probably isn’t worth doing time and again. If every person who fully understands the science were to get involved by appearing at such hearings or at least making submissions, JC’s efforts would be drowned in the overwhelming weight of evidence to the contrary.

    Yes, I agree, I just have no idea how one can actually makes this happen.

  111. climatehawk1 says:

    One of the best and most useful things to do would be to simply contact the offices of sympathetic Senators (Sen. Whitehouse of Rhode Island comes immediately to mind) and ask the appropriate staff person what, if anything, would be most helpful. My personal view is that there is value in having line-by-line documented responses to each of her misleading statements available somewhere for ready reference, but I’m a packrat by nature–maybe the staff person will have a completely different idea. Maybe it goes on a special blog that is constructed for that purpose alone.

  112. climatehawk1 says:

    You can reach any Capitol Hill office (Senate and Congress) by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and asking to be connected with the office in question.

  113. Brandon Gates says:

    pbjamm,

    In US parlance, “green” can mean two different things depending on context. Horses come in many colours.

    I think this recent statement from the opposition puts it rather well: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/04/05/agreeing-to-disagree/#comment-1898673

    … in most cases of interest, the reason that there is an argument at all is that there is disagreement at a more fundamental level than the argument itself. Arguments concerning religion are an excellent example. What constitutes “good evidence”? How do you argue with someone who holds different axioms as a basis for their arguments than you do for yours?

    Now, here’s a different exchange: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/04/06/earth-institute-japan-should-use-nuclear-power/

    asybot: I support nuclear power as well but not on the back of climate change

    me: I don’t understand. If I want a thing done, what matters most to me are my reasons for it. If I need someone else’s consent or assistance to do it, I see nothing wrong appealing to or accepting their own reasons for their support. On such a large issue like nuclear power, I don’t see how it will ever be possible for everyone’s motives to be the same, and it seems rather counterproductive to say, “well I want that thing, but since I don’t like why you want it, nobody gets it”. Which you may not be saying, but for sure it’s what I’m reading into it.

    Brute: Indeed. Humans gather and cooperate because we agree on something not because we agree on everything.

    It bears pointing out that my dealings with Brute in the past have not been exactly harmonious. Anecdotal yes, but not an isolated case in my experience either.

  114. Pingback: Ecomodernism | …and Then There's Physics

  115. graemeu says:

    LOL y’all have to become activists.
    ClimateHawk1 may have the right of it for a US citizen.
    I don’t know how the US system works but here in NZ, there are various steps in the political process where citizens can present evidence or opinion if they want to. It shouldn’t happen, but it seems presenting your submission in person carries far more weight than a well written and reasoned submission that isn’t presented, of course that means for most people FLYING to the capital.
    Part of the trick would be working out how to be informed about these opportunities. When I have made submissions to environmental hearings I have subsequently been invited to submit on new issues, not because my submissions are anything special or desirable but I have been identified as a person with a desire to be involved in the process.
    Pointless, with our current government that sees environment as an encumbrance to progress.

  116. > The actual system has already yielded up Her answers on that score, and that’s the best Oracle I can think of.

    If you like biblical allegories, you can try this one:

    Vlad sees a car. The car is moving. It’s coming in your direction. What should Vlad do?

    You expect Vlad to move, at least a bit. This won’t prevent him for waiting for Godot.

    Now, for the kill: on what evidence did Vlad act?

    None.

    All he did was to see a patch of color that he recognized as a car. The way the patch of color evolved in time made him infer it was coming at him. His ballpark estimate for a time of impact is what is called a model.

    That ought to settle the question about the evidence that presents the modulz. The modulz are too stoopid to provide any evidence. Even when they hindcast, actually, but let’s not get too distracted.

    ***

    This parable has been thought courtesy of Foxgoose:

    I can’t find back all the exchange. This is sad, for Foxgoose is a spirited ClimateBall player.

  117. Meow says:

    Meow says: “Thus, uncertainty is not an argument for inaction.”
    Agreed. Cost is a much better argument.

    Cost? You mean the conclusion from economic models, whose assumptions, parameterizations, missing data, confounded data, incorrect data, approximations, missing mechanisms, poorly-understood mechanisms, misunderstood mechanisms, lack of theoretical support, impediments to testing, political and ideological underpinnings, ad nauseam, make an undergrad’s first climate model look like a paragon of scientific inquiry? Those models?

  118. climatehawk1 says:

    Ha, love it. Have often thought how irrational it is that the assumptions of those who predict economic disaster if we cut back on fossil fuels are based on far less empirical evidence than climate science.

  119. BBD says:

    Pindyck (2013) Climate Change Policy: What Do the Models Tell Us?

    Very little. A plethora of integrated assessment models (IAMs) have been constructed and used to estimate the social cost of carbon (SCC) and evaluate alternative abatement policies. These models have crucial flaws that make them close to useless as tools for policy analysis: certain inputs (e.g., the discount rate) are arbitrary, but have huge effects on the SCC estimates the models produce; the models’ descriptions of the impact of climate change are completely ad hoc, with no theoretical or empirical foundation; and the models can tell us nothing about the most important driver of the SCC, the possibility of a catastrophic climate outcome. IAM-based analyses of climate policy create a perception of knowledge and precision, but that perception is illusory and misleading.

  120. spirited ClimateBall player.

    I’m really starting to see the value in this term.

  121. Rob Nicholls says:

    “IMO – this is mostly about Mosher’s tendency to protect Judith. He’s very loyal to her.”
    There’s been a lot of reaction to one comment from Steven Mosher. (I realise there’s a long history that I’m pretty ignorant about that may have also contributed to the reaction). I’ve seen some of Mosher’s debunkings of nonsense on WUWT and he must have rhino hide as they’re a tough crowd there, but maybe sometimes it’s a tough crowd here as well, I don’t know I have to keep reminding myself that people’s views can be extremely complex and nuanced, and I wouldn’t want to make too much out of one comment, particularly if it was written out of irritation. I thought at the time that that comment had a bit more bite than Steven might have intended. (Steven, If I wound you up with my preceding comment about Judith Curry’s testimony, a testimony which I admittedly found pretty irritating, then I apologise.)

  122. BBD says:

    Rob N

    There’s been a lot of reaction to one comment from Steven Mosher. (I realise there’s a long history that I’m pretty ignorant about that may have also contributed to the reaction).

    Have you come across this?

    When wise men say f*ck there is usually a problem.

  123. > this?

    This ClimateBall episode started at Keith’s, continued at Lucia’s, and ended at Eli’s:

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2011/04/exposing-herself-to-art.html

    A nugget from the comment thread:

    Skeptics on the other hand are free to try all sorts of attacks. Then they pile on the ones that work. they are not rewarded for consistency. they are rewarded and lionized for coming up with new lines of attack. They want chaotic tactics. coordination happens after a tactic proves successful. they can and should throw many bodies at the problem, nobodies cares if the slip up. they are not held to account for saying inconsistent things. So ist not to their advantage to coordinate. To be sure, there are examples of coordinated attacks, but for the most part the skeptics success improves the less they engage in coordination prior to attack. SWARMING after an individual comes up with a successful tactic is the preferred method. decentralized.”

    http://rankexploits.com/musings/2011/14593/comment-page-3/#comment-73122

  124. dhogaza says:

    Another snippet from the thread:

    “Shortly after confirming the authenticity of the Climategate files, Mosher says he saw the link to the file on the Air Vent. “My first reaction to the link was relief,” he said. “I didn’t want to be the only person who had these files and the task of plowing through all the mails was overwhelming.””

    Now why would plowing through the *stolen* e-mails be important?

    To strengthen arguments supporting climate science to the public, the politicos, or … ? Could this be why Mosher was so relieved to get help?

    Or is it possible he wanted help in crafting an attack on the character of various prominent climate scientists, and to cast further doubt on the reliability of the surface temperature record?

  125. matt says:

    Interesting that the interesting Judith is really good at saying sooooo little, but leaving th impression that she believes ACC is nonsense.

  126. Judith Curry wrote:

    “During 2014, Antarctic sea ice set a wintertime maximum record….. Clearly, there is a lot going on with respect to variability in Arctic and Antarctic sea ice that cannot be explained directly or even indirectly by warming from human-caused greenhouse gases….Scientists do not agree on the explanation for the increasing Antarctic sea ice extent…..”

    Yet again, although she talks about other research she publishes, not a single word about her own 2010 paper on Antarctic sea ice. Is she trying to run away from it? I note that she has a coauthor to consider. See
    “Resolving the paradox of the Antarctic sea ice”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100816154958.htm
    for what was the press release – she and her coauthor argue in that paper that more and more global warming will probably cause more and more sea ice in the Antarctic for decades before finally reversing, and they propose how. (It is probably the case that a number of people who follow her and try to use the increasing sea ice in the Antarctic as an argument against global warming do not know about or have forgotten this paper.)

    There was also no mention of that recent study that said that over 1992-2010, the volume of the decrease in Arctic sea ice was roughly 10 times larger than the volume of the increase in Antarctic sea ice. It’s not a surprise that she did not mention it but it’s still disappointing that no one seems to have brought it up. See
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/antarctic-sea-ice-volume/
    and
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00301.1
    for more. From the abstract, this telling tidbit as to how it relates to the increased freshwater supply (noting that seawater typically freezes at 28 degrees F
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seawater
    and freshwater typically freezes at 32 degrees F):
    “This ice volume increase is an order of magnitude smaller than the Arctic decrease, and about half the size of the increased freshwater supply from the Antarctic Ice Sheet.”

    The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse said on April 17, 2015 at 1:59 pm in reply to Curry testimony:

    “Curry testimony:

    Recent data and research supports the importance of natural climate variability and calls into question the conclusion that humans are the dominant cause of recent climate change. This includes…”

    [Hypotenuse] “Interesting how “natural climate variability” rapidly alternates from a common explanatory prop for the climate science ‘dissenter’, into something that supposedly indicates failure when used as an explanation in consensus science…The “slow down” is amateurish short term trendology, based on the start-year cherry-pick of 1998…Model validation based on a 15 year comparison to observations. Really?”

    Indeed. Curry also wrote:

    “If the recent warming hiatus is caused by natural variability, then this raises the question as to what extent the warming between 1975 and 1998 can also be explained by natural climate variability.”

    Here she implicitly refers to this idea that “50%” of the warming from the early 1970s to the late 1990s was from this “natural variability”.

    With her incessant implicit or explicit talk of “50% attribution” based on what seems to be her misinterpretations of proposals of *internal* (*not* external) variability such as Chen and Tung 2014, if I may put it in more purely mathematical terms, she writes as if we modify an accelerating function in a way that induces cyclic behavior, then the new function can’t have the same underlying acceleration as before. This implication is false *even if* there were such a “50% attribution” in the “ups” of the cycles.

    I don’t think she and Lewis (she mentioned Lewis in her testimony) and so many others who see things their way understand or are willing to accept that if we take into account the type of cyclic behavior they seem to keep pushing like these roughly 40-70 year ocean-atmosphere year cycles of *internal* (not external) variability that we all know and love, then taking into account these multidecadal cycles seems to suggest that the global temperature record since the late 1800s seems to be cycling around an accelerating function that may be increasing quite a bit faster than what they want people to believe, which in turn suggests that sensitivity is probably quite a bit higher than what they want people to believe.

    An example of this taking into account with the result of strengthening the mainstream models and mainstream sensitivity estimates rather than weakening them would be (especially) the NMO (since it’s the most general) of Steinman, Mann, and Miller (2015) (see
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015/02/climate-oscillations-and-the-global-warming-faux-pause/
    for more) and the 62 year runs by Marotzke and Forster (2015). (No wonder people like Lewis have done whatever they think they can – even if it means making flat out incorrect claims with no subsequent correction to one’s flat out incorrect claims – to try to undermine the results of papers like these.)

  127. Brian Dodge says:

    Turbulent – regarding reduced CO2 emissions – I downloaded the Scripps Mauna Loa CO2 data from http://co2now.org/current-co2/co2-now/. I subtracted the 12 month prior data from each month – march 2015 minus march 2014, feb 2015 minus feb 2014, and so on, back to the beginning of the record – to generate a running annual rate of change with the annual cycle removed. A linear fit shows that the annual rate of increase is increasing – CO2 Growth = (2.23e-3*x + 0.727)ppmv/yr, where x = months since March 1958; R^2=0.52 The average 12 month rate of increase from January 1998 to December 2013 was 2.05ppmv. The average 12 month rate of increase for all of 2014 was 2.17ppmv/year. If emissions decreased, this may mean that the impacts of increased CO2 on the global ecosystems (e.g., ocean acidification, freshening & cooling of the North Atlantic, changing wind stress/Eckmann transport, drought in the Amazon and elsewhere, etc) has decreased the amount of emissions that are taken up. (Yeah, I know, not statistically signifigant, yada, yada – but as long as denialists claim a “recent warming hiatus” or “no global warming since xxx”, I’m claiming that we’ve probably passed the tipping point for firing the permafrost/clathrate gun(full auto, trigger doesn’t release). How else can you explain the “mysterious” bulletholes in Siberia?

    If, as the Republicans claim, all the AGW hype is just part af a socialist leftwing conspiracy, then failing to abolish the National Academy of Sciences(the lynchpin of the conspiracy; just look at their public statements) would be as foolish as ignoring terrorists learning to fly commercial aircraft, or believing that one could “create our own reality” by simply willing it. Surely the Republicans aren’t that stupid, and all the rhetoric is just minor political prevarication to garner ignorati votes. (But, speaking of the Congressional switchboard, maybe I should ask my North Carolina “we’re banning sea level rise” Republican dominated congressional delegation, just to be sure. &;>)

  128. Brandon Gates says:

    Willard,

    If you like biblical allegories …

    I was going more for Greek mythology there, but I like Judeo-Christian flavours just fine:

    a) I know them very well,
    b) the Gospels contain ones of which I still approve even though my faith lapsed long ago and
    c) used judiciously, they sometimes resonate with those whom I am engaged in debate.

    Keeping with the car metaphors, that can — and has — backfired on me. (“Even the Devil can quote scripture to suit his purposes.”)

    I argue that Vlad did have evidence in the form of that colour blotch registered by his visual cortex, but agree with you that his time of impact estimate is a model his brain was astoundingly able to execute without consciously solving any differential equations. It’s so automagic that most folks are not able to suppress execution of that subroutine. [1]

    I stress, his eyes still registered movement against an otherwise still background. Reaction to that is primal.

    For car crash analogies, I like the scenario of approaching a blind curve on an unfamiliar road at night in inclement weather. The prudent driver at least lifts off the accelerator and covers the brake because of uncertainty:

    1) One doesn’t know in advance how sharp the curve is.
    2) Moving in a straight line on a wet road does not give one the best idea of the total amount of traction available.
    3) Even on a familiar road in dry, daylight conditions, some obstruction could be just beyond visual range.
    4) Hence: the cost in lost time of reducing velocity outweighs the worst possible imaginable scenario.

    Which worst scenario we modern humans have pretty much all seen first-hand at least once, and they are powerful reminders of our own fragile mortal existence when we see them.

    Even that analogy is rejected by the hard-core AGW climate contrarian. I suspect the main reason that appeal to fear of the unknown doesn’t work is because that emotional centre is already saturated by nightmarish visions of leftist eugenics pogroms and the like. More than once I’ve seen Margaret Sanger’s name invoked in an AGW conversation … often wholly out of context. Hmmm?

    Then there’s the SEP mechanism: Yup, the bridge ahead may be washed out, but we’re not on that train.

    Clear and Present Danger doesn’t work: coal is a silent killer. Like traffic fatalities, particulate-shortened lives are background noise — a necessary evil which always happens to someone else because the World is Just. Only terrorists kill innocents, that’s what we should be worried about. And speaking of Camels, could you toss me that pack of smokes, bro?

    GRRROWTH sells. As does confident optimism. The trick is that whatever near-term benefit is being touted needs to show some legitimate promise of paying off within an election cycle … if not by the next annual shareholder’s meeting.

    Such is this private’s tactical view from the trenches, FWIW.

    ——————

    [1] Denizens of Berkeley, CA are one class of people I know of where this is an apparent exception. Pedestrians hardly bother to look, and often don’t even break stride as they step off the curb; whereas every driver (save out-of-towners) within 100 meters slams on their brakes if a speck of colour shows so much as a hint of moving into the roadway.

  129. Willard says:

    > For car crash analogies, I like the scenario of approaching a blind curve on an unfamiliar road at night in inclement weather. The prudent driver at least lifts off the accelerator and covers the brake because of uncertainty

    I use a similar one to illustrate the importance of prudence: Vlad Driving in a Snowstorm. Any kind of insurance or reinsurance story would be perfect too. For instance:

    In the absence of a major disruption in spending by consumers and firms, the effects of energy price shocks on the economy will be small. In this paper, we quantify the direct effect on real consumption of (1) unanticipated changes in discretionary income, (2) shifts in precautionary savings, and (3) changes in the operating cost of energy-using durables. We also evaluate the evidence for asymmetries in the response of real consumption that would be expected, for example, if shifting expenditure patterns cause sectoral reallocations.

    http://sitemaker.umich.edu/pedelstein/files/ek040707a.pdf

    Source: http://judithcurry.com/2015/04/15/hearing-presidents-un-climate-pledge/#comment-694510

    ***

    However, it’s not the same as Vlad Sees a Car. It’s only used to point out that requiring evidence of any kind of prediction can’t be felicitous, since we don’t have evidence of the future. Evidence is related to experience, and experience is past-oriented. There will always be a gap between that experience and what lies in the future. As my alter ego was fond to say, the Humean predicament is the human predicament.

    ***

    Something interesting about biblical allegories:

    http://www.partiallyexaminedlife.com/2015/04/06/ep113-jesus-parables/

    Law Ware’s extending the limits of awesomeness in that episode.

  130. Willard says:

    > The issue is how much of the change is caused by humans.

    Ze issue, yet again. This brings back lots of memories, e.g.:

    Judith also claims equal evidence / equal portions of attribution for her “litmus test question”:

    Will the climate of the 21st century will be dominated by anthropogenic warming (green) or natural variability (solar, volcanoes, natural internal oscillations)?

    which is the question with the greatest policy relevance, IMO. My scores on this one are

    green 25%

    white 50%,

    red 25%.

    This is astounding. I interpret this as claiming equal evidence pointing to natural variability being dominant over the next 90 years as compared to anthropogenic forcing. Or alternatively, an equal portion of 21st century climate change being attributable to human induced warming as to natural variability.

    https://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/judith-curry-anthropogenic-versus-natural-causes-of-global-warming

    ***

    Recently, Judy reiterated that this was ze something:

    > But the key issue is whether humans are dominating over natural causes in terms of recent warming.

    Why is this a key issue?

    Why is this the key issue?

    Response:

    If you don’t first do the detection – identify something beyond natural variability – then attribution to GHG is meaningless. We have failed to adequately do the detection.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/04/15/hearing-presidents-un-climate-pledge/#comment-694580

    So establishing natural variablity is key because otherwise the detection/attribution problem is meaningless.

    You just can’t make this up.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/judith-currys-testimony/#comment-53438

    So attribution is important because otherwise we would not be able to do attribution.

    Even better: this is going on since 2010.

    You really can’t make this up.

  131. Brandon Gates says:

    Willard,

    Any kind of insurance or reinsurance story would be perfect too.

    I’ve often wondered how many luckwarmers would insure their homes against fire damage if their lien-holder didn’t demand it. Fires happen. We have that evidence … but they’re rare, and they ALWAYS happen to somebody else …

    … just like heat deaths do. Besides, nobody cares about a bunch of dead French type people unless … Je suis Charlie. Wee? Wee, wee … mercy buckets. Plus, it’s HOT in Thailand donchaknow, and everyone knows that COLD is the real killa.

    More even-toed ungulates: And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

    Don’t you believe it — GRRRROWTH is a sign of exceptionalism. Says as much right there on the legal tender here in the Colonies.

    Thanks, as always, for the readings. Edelstein & Kilian (2007) should keep me out of trouble for a bit.

    PS:

    You really can’t make this up.

    True. It’s also all but unassailable with facts and/or logic, as the best fictions often are.

  132. JCH says:

    Well, natural variation is not cooperating. Its fizzling fuses are pooping out all over the place.

    But, Climate Etc., with reasoning beyond my capacities as a mere cowboy, has explained this to me.

    The PDO is not in a warm phase. The big, red-hot blob in the NW Pacific Ocean is being caused by natural occurring events that have made the cold phase of the PDO unfreaking naturally hot. With natural canceling out natural, AGW is completely out of the picture as the source of warming. See how that follows?

    We are naturally heating in a natural cold phase that is normally flat except back when cold phases meant something called the thermometer reading went down.

  133. Punksta says:

    ” … There is nothing inherent about the issues at hand that forces an ideological polarization”.

    There is in fact a huge and clear underpinning ideological issue at hand.

    Those with more totalitarian leanings, naturally welcome any opportunity that appears to justify a larger state, and so fall more easily into a credulous position vis a vis the alarmist climate science consensus. And don’t think too hard about the fact that it is *government* money that is funding an idea that ultimately urges more *government*.

    But those who only want government where it is actually needed, are more likely to be skeptical. And *do* think about who is paying for the science and whose interests it nurtures.

    This is what broadly explains the big public difference of opinion, more or less corresponding to Left and Right/moderate.

  134. punksta,
    And those who can say something like this

    Those with more totalitarian leanings, naturally welcome any opportunity that appears to justify a larger state

    and

    But those who only want government where it is actually needed, are more likely to be skeptical. And *do* think about who is paying for the science and whose interests it nurtures.

    are not thinking straight and need to think a bit harder about what they’re actually saying. It’s offensive but also complete cobblers. Maybe try a bit harder to make sense next time you decide to make a comment?

  135. Marco says:

    My experience with people that supposedly “only want government where it is actually needed” is that they are ‘skeptical’ of climate science because they cannot see any other way to combat climate change and its negative impacts other than by government action.

    This creates a major cognitive dissonance: whereas these people often do support science, they now run into a scientific field that they believe indicates action is required that strongly contradicts a cornerstone of their ideology, namely that government influence should be as small as possible. One of the two must give, and usually that isn’t their ideology.

    And if Punksta disagrees, perhaps he can point me to a case, any case, where a government-employed scientist was told by his political superiors to explicitly mention climate change as the cause of a potentially problematic observation, regardless of whether this was true or not. I can’t. I can, however, point to government officials doing all they can to censor government-employed scientists to mention climate change as a cause, even though it clearly is.

  136. Punksta says:

    ATTP
    It would help if you could tell us *why* do you the reasoning is cobblers.

  137. Punksta says:

    I’ll try that again …
    It would help if you could tell us *why* you think the reasoning is cobblers.

  138. punksta,
    Seriously, you want me to actually engage in a discussion about a comment in which you imply that those who accept the consensus position have totalitarian tendencies and that those who have a much more realistic view about government tend towards being “skeptical”? Firstly, that you could write such a comment probably means any discussion would be pointless and, secondly, if it isn’t obvious to you already, I don’t think anything I say will change your mind.

  139. Punksta says:

    Marco
    We need to take a step back here, and consider institutional bias and the bigger picture.

    The situation with government climate science, is much like tobacco-funded smoking studies were (only much bigger and more serious). The basic problem being, that the sole funder has a vested interest in a specific outcome, regardless of the truth. And as the tobacco research case duly showed, the integrity of that science could not be presumed.

    And of course the same integrity issue arises with government-funded climate science – only much more serious, as I say, since the full might and money of the political structure is behind it, outranking any possible private spending by who knows how many orders of magnitude, in addition to the hugely privileged position the state obviously occupies in society.

    It’s not that anyone is evil, it’s just an institution – in this case the state – predictably pursuing its self-interest, thereby the undermining the integrity of the science. But as clear as the problem is, I confess have absolutely no idea of the solution.

  140. punksta,

    The situation with government climate science, is much like tobacco-funded smoking studies were (only much bigger and more serious). The basic problem being, that the sole funder has a vested interest in a specific outcome, regardless of the truth.

    Look, I have no great interest in these kind of discussions. It’s a form of conspiracy ideation. You can’t prove that government funding infuences the results of scientific research. You can believe it to be true, but you can’t show it to be true. There are clearly no explicit strings attached to government funded research and scientists would dispute your claims. There are plenty of sites that encourage such discussions. This, however, is not one of them.

  141. Punksta says:

    Come come attp, don’t you support the notion of persuading while while being open to persuasion ? Can we not all learn a lot from those we disagree with ? Is this not how things work anymore at your university “regarded by some – as amongst the best in the world” ?

  142. Punksta,

    Come come attp, don’t you support the notion of persuading while while being open to persuasion ?

    Of course, but I have no interest in a discussion where there is no proof to support a position being promoted and in which there is no chance of reaching any kind of agreement. It’s simply pointless and a waste of time. And this

    Is this not how things work anymore at your university “regarded by some – as amongst the best in the world” ?

    is irritating.

  143. Punksta says:

    No, it’s not at all a “conspiracy”. It’s BAU, people and institutions following their self-interest, just like you and I and everyone else. Just human nature.

    It’s true I can’t *prove* that the funder infuences what research is favored. But does anyone seriously doubt this?

  144. Marco says:

    “The situation with government climate science, is much like tobacco-funded smoking studies were (only much bigger and more serious). The basic problem being, that the sole funder has a vested interest in a specific outcome, regardless of the truth. And as the tobacco research case duly showed, the integrity of that science could not be presumed.”

    Which merely shows you have absolutely no knowledge about how ‘government climate science’ is funded. A hint: tobacco funding was targeted at specific scientists, chosen directly by the tobacco industry. In climate science the government provides funding for the *field*, which is then distributed in competition between scientists evaluated by fellow scientists.

    I also have something to consider for you: industry-funded climate science largely comes to the same conclusion, with the exception of a few rogues like Willie Soon.

    It is therefore no surprise that even the large fossil fuel companies accept scientific reality. Here is Exxon:
    http://corporate.exxonmobil.com/en/environment/climate-change/managing-climate-change-risks
    referring to the IPCC.

    and here is Shell:
    https://www.shell.com/global/environment-society/environment/climate-change.html

    That does not mean they do not fight policies that hurt their business, but even *they* accept AGW as a reality.

  145. Punksta says:

    Being irritated. Well, from what I’ve seen blogging, the truth rarely comes quietly. Being irritated from time to time is just a price we must all pay. But certainly let us attempt to keep it to a minimum).

  146. It’s true I can’t *prove* that the funder infuences what research is favored. But does anyone seriously doubt this?

    No, you’re implying that funders influence the outcome. Of course they influence what areas are prioritised, but you can’t really have any realistic system that does not do so. Most would dispute that governments/funding agencies in the Western world influence the outcome of research in any significant way.

    No, it’s not at all a “conspiracy”.

    Yes, it is. If you can’t even accept this, what hope is there for any further discussion?

  147. Punksta says:

    “In climate science the government provides funding for the *field*, which is then distributed in competition between scientists evaluated by fellow scientists”

    Fellow scientists who are themselves government-funded.

  148. Marco says:

    “It’s true I can’t *prove* that the funder infuences what research is favored. But does anyone seriously doubt this?”

    You are changing what you originally claimed. It is not about what research is favoured (you can decide to spend more money on research in field A or B), but about the *outcome*. The only cases where I have ever been pressured on the outcome was in research funded by industry (and they were shown the door on any inappropriate demands), never ever when my research was funded by the government, either through specific grants or through the basic money available to all scientists working at my university. I do not know of any colleagues who have experienced anything different.

    You are just trying to soothe your own mind with regards to your cognitive dissonance.

  149. Marco says:

    “Fellow scientists who are themselves government-funded.”

    Not necessarily.
    (oh how little you know about how grants are distributed!)

    It really is all a big conspiracy to you, however much you try to deny it.

  150. Punksta says:

    You don’t need to suggest a conspiracy in order to explain an institution following it’s self-interest. The idea that you *do* need to, is just a strawman.

    The particular issue with government-funded *climate* science, is that there is such an obvious vested interest involved. Unlike say in government-funded physics; I can’t myself see how discovering some new particle could have political implications.

  151. BBD says:

    You are implying that the results are being confabulated. That’s a big claim and you are going to have to show some evidence. Or stop.

  152. punksta,

    You don’t need to suggest a conspiracy in order to explain an institution following it’s self-interest.

    You do if you’re implying that they both try and succeed in influencing the outcome of research. That goes fundamentally against what researchers stand for and is both a form of conspiracy ideation and highly insulting.

    The particular issue with government-funded *climate* science, is that there is such an obvious vested interest involved.

    If it was so obvious we’d all agree. That we don’t means it’s not.

    Okay, can we stop this now, please? As I’ve said before, there are plenty of sites that not only encourage this, but actually specialise in it. You could try WTFUWT or BH as two examples, but there are plenty of others.

  153. Punksta says:

    Marco
    The point is the money comes down from government at the highest level.
    This high-level decision will necessarily color who is selected to make selections at lower levels.

  154. Punksta,

    This high-level decision will necessarily color who is selected to make selections at lower levels.

    No it does not. Those who sit on selection panels are far too far removed from government ministers to be influenced. Your next comment had better be some actual evidence or I will simply moderate it.

  155. Punksta says:

    I’m disappointed that you don’t wish to see discussion on the integrity issue, and will soon retire myself, but how can you possibly disagree that government has a vested interest in climate alarmism? It would justify all sorts of new taxes, bureaucracies and regulation surely.

    And no, you still don’t require a conspiracy to pursue your self interest. We all do it without even thinking. For our personal lives as well as our families, employers and other groups we are members of. The burden of proof here is to show that government funding is is *not* biased towards self-interest.

  156. jsam says:

    Punksta, the burden of proof falls upon those making accusations. Your conspiracy ideation does not suffice.

  157. Punksta says:

    >> This high-level decision will necessarily color who is selected to make selections at lower levels.

    >> No it does not. Those who sit on selection panels are far too far removed from government ministers to be influenced.

    A chooses B chooses C chooses D.
    D is removed from direct influence by A.
    But is still indirectly chosen by him.

    It’s the same in any organization – one way or another, the objectives of the top filter down through the ranks.

    (Yes, not direct evidence, just logic).

  158. BBD says:

    Yawn. No evidence but complete conviction.

  159. Punksta,

    It’s the same in any organization – one way or another, the objectives of the top filter down through the ranks.

    They’re not part of the same organisation. When I sit on a funding panel, I don’t get any direction from anyone other than that related to administrative rules (i.e., what are the conditions required to get funded, none of which relate to the research being considered). I leave my university, go to another city, sit in a room with a bunch of other university researchers, read the proposals and reviews (written by other university researchers) and decide how to rank the proposals. The only non-university people in the room are administrative staff from the research council, none of whom ever say anything about the research being proposed (well, unless they’re asked if something fits within the actual call).

    Yes, not direct evidence, just logic

    No, it shows that you really don’t understand how this works. So, enough now. We’ve already spent more time discussing this than it was worth. I really will simply moderate/delete your next comment. There are plenty of other sites that would welcome your views.

  160. dhogaza says:

    Punksta … to paraphrase what one famous person once supposeldy muttered to the Church:

    “and yet, it warms …”

  161. Marco says:

    For those actually interested: I have reviewed scientific proposals coming from different countries, which means the link Punksta describes becomes rather tenuous.

    Punksta also cannot explain why scientists under governments like those of Bush Jr in the US, Harper in Canada, and Abbott in Australia keep coming with the same results, despite deliberate actions from those governments to silence that research. Remember that according to Punksta A chooses B chooses C chooses D.

  162. Brandon Gates says:

    Punksta,

    Fellow scientists who are themselves government-funded.

    Everyone’s gotta eat. Your prior comments about self-interest really ought to suggest to you that yours is a zero-sum argument. What settles this is the products of the research to itself, which is complex. Your tack is the lazy way out, and as such, essentially worthless because it is just as easily countered with the opposite lazy argument.

  163. On April 17, 2015 at 8:36 pm, BBD shared a graph – see it here:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/judith-currys-testimony/#comment-53454

    Thanks, BBD, for sharing that graph. One wonders how Curry could even begin to think that there is a natural explanation for that *explosive* upturn in global temperatures since the late 1800s, which would be presumably even more explosive if the graph was not just of atmospheric temperatures but was of the total amount of heat in the system (all the heat that goes into heating the land, oceans, and atmosphere and melting the ice).

    There’s only two ways to heat up the whole system – increase the heat input rate or decrease the heat output rate (or of course some combination of the two). But “natural” in Curry’s language here means essentially limited to the former, which means increasing the heat input rate. This means that she thinks that all this explosive increase in heat in the whole system since the late 1800s could for al we know be explained simply by increasing the heat input rate, which can be done only in two ways: A sufficiently severe increase in solar output or a sufficiently severe decrease in albedo (aerosols’ reflectivity would be a subset of overall albedo). But neither of these is supported by the reputable peer-reviewed literature in its aggregate, especially the former.

    And I note that this aggregate includes, ironically, a recent paper that Curry and others trumpeted as evidence for lower sensitivity. But I pointed out that this paper suggests that albedo might not have been able to have changed enough to explain the explosive increase in global temperatures, and ATTP said something that seemed to support that:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/03/11/new-albedo-paper/#comment-50475

    Quote: “So, it’s possible that this work implies that the next change in albedo (surface + clouds) is always going to be small, but that says little about the role of clouds in reducing the outgoing long-wavelength flux.”

    This paper they trumpeted seems to argue against their idea that for all we know, it could have been all or mostly natural, could have all or mostly been due to somehow having a sufficiently severe increase in the heat input rate.

    Therefore, even merely by the process of elimination, we of course know that it was all or almost all due to the latter above, a sufficiently severe decrease in the heat output rate (via a sufficiently severe increase in the GHG effect ultimately from a sufficiently severe increase in the level of noncondensing greenhouse gases).

  164. Punksta says:

    The most reasonable assumption to make, is that, like any organization, the state (in its various arms and levels) will act in its self-interest; which in the case of climate means preferentially directing money to projects that look more likely to have alarmist conclusions. Essentially because everyone involved in this process gets state money, or is appointed by the state, and hence answers to the state. They too are but human.

    It is therefore incumbent on those who would argue that this process is actually above self-interest, and by and large open, honest and objective, to come up with evidence of the how and why this “conspiracy” of integrity comes about.

  165. Punksta,

    The most reasonable assumption to make, is that, like any organization, the state (in its various arms and levels) will act in its self-interest; which in the case of climate means preferentially directing money to projects that look more likely to have alarmist conclusions.

    What? How is that even a remotely reasonable assumption? It’s simply an assertion. As I’ve already said, there are plenty of sites that would welcome your conspiracy ideation. This is not one of them.

    It is therefore incumbent on those who would argue that this process is actually above self-interest, and by and large open, honest and objective, to come up with evidence of the how and why this “conspiracy” of integrity comes about.

    There’s two problems with this. Firstly, it’s a get out clause if ever there is evidence that has inconvenient policy implications. By your reasoning you can ignore the evidence as long as people cannot prove that it was developed openly and honestly. Given that that is impossible, you can ignore it indefinitely. The second problem is that – as scientists – most don’t care if you believe them or not. The evidence is there, we – as a society – can decide what to do, and ignoring it is one option. Of course, if it turns out to have been valid and that we should have decidedly differently, blaming others for not having proven their honesty is going to sound like a remarkably weak defence.

  166. dikranmarsupial says:

    “It is therefore incumbent on those who would argue that this process is actually above self-interest, and by and large open, honest and objective, to come up with evidence of the how and why this “conspiracy” of integrity comes about.”

    There is no need for a “conspiracy integrity” because in science integrity is strongly in line with self-interest. In an arena where there is very little to gain by agreement (you don’t get high prestige papers by saying “me too”) and plenty to gain by pointing out flaws in other scientists work, it would be rather silly to promulgate ideas you know to be wrong as you would be setting yourself up to be made a fool of when the errors are pointed out.

  167. Punksta says:

    While it’s your site and your right, it’s really not going to get to the bottom of anything by trying to brush the integrity issue under the carpet. An institution acting out of self-interest requires no conspiracy explanation; indeed it is the opposite claim that requires one.

    And No, it’s not impossible to go some way to showing integrity. Had the Climategate [Mod : redacted] been strongly disciplined, for example, instead of there being one official coverup / self-exoneration after after another, and deafening silence to this day from the climate profession as a whole, that would have made a huge difference. There is always the odd bad apple to be found in every institution, but when nothing is done about them, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that pretty much the whole barrel is rotten.

  168. jsam says:

    Climatenongare, a manufactured controversy, and still the conspiracy theorists bring it up. Obviously nine investigations wasn’t enough to get to their “right answer”.

    How about attacking that for which there is evidence such as http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/dark-money-funds-climate-change-denial-effort/?

    No evidence. No substance.

  169. Punksta,
    I wrote a reply and managed to delete it. I’m no longer interested. Seriously, go and question other people’s integrity elsewhere. I try to avoid doing it here in general. Other sites – on the other hand – welcome it.

  170. Joshua says:

    ==> “Had the Climategate [Mod : redacted] been strongly disciplined, for example, instead of there being one official coverup / self-exoneration after after another, and deafening silence to this day from the climate profession as a whole, that would have made a huge difference. ”

    I’d guess that the difference would be that “skeptics” would just have shifted around the prevalence of the various ways that they impugn the integrity of scientists who disagree with them.

    I don’t think that’s “huge.”

    One of the reasons why I put “skeptics” in quotes is the frequency with which I see “skeptics” making counter-factual arguments with complete certainty.

    Saying what would have happened (in a real world context) had things been different is incredibly difficult to do. It requires a very high bar of evidence as proof.

    Yet we see folks like punksta just throw out these counterfactuals without, apparently, considering how inadequate is the evidence they provide in support, and apparently without even being interested in examining their over-confidence for the influence of their confirmation biases.

  171. K&A wrote:


    This paper they trumpeted seems to argue against their idea that for all we know, it could have been all or mostly natural, could have all or mostly been due to somehow having a sufficiently severe increase in the heat input rate.

    Currry seems to be awfully ignorant of the physics behind climate variability. If I search for “ENSO” in Google Scholar, the top citation I get is by Peter Webster
    P. J. Webster and S. Yang, “Monsoon and ENSO: Selectively interactive systems,” Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, vol. 118, no. 507, pp. 877–926, 1992.

    I believe PJ Webby is Curry’s accomplice in their weather forecasting business. And since ENSO and its accompanying El Ninos and La Ninas are the primary drivers behind multi-year global temperature changes, that essentially represents the state of knowledge and awareness on climate variability.

    Might as well ask us amateurs about variability, as we do better formulating ENSO models just by applying basic physics:
    http://forum.azimuthproject.org/discussion/comment/14521/#Comment_14521

    …. #WHUT the ?

  172. JCH says:

    It’s all natural!

    Decadal changes in South Pacific sea surface temperatures and the relationship to the Pacific decadal oscillation and upper ocean heat content

    Abstract

    Decadal changes in Pacific sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and upper ocean heat content (OHC) remain poorly understood. We present an annual average composite coral Sr/Ca-derived SST time series extending back to 1791 from Fiji, Tonga, and Rarotonga (FTR) in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) sensitive region of the southwest Pacific. Decadal SST maxima between 1805 and 1830 Common Era (C.E.) indicate unexplained elevated SSTs near the end of the Little Ice Age. The mean period of decadal SST variability in this region has a period near 25 years. Decades of warmer (cooler) FTR SST co-occur with PDO negative (positive) phases since at least ~1930 C.E. and positively correlate with South Pacific OHC (0–700 m). FTR SST is also inversely correlated with decadal changes in equatorial Pacific SST as measured by coral Sr/Ca. Collectively, these results support the fluctuating trade wind-shallow meridional overturning cell mechanism for decadal modulation of Pacific SSTs and OHC….

  173. JCH, I can take my ENSO model and do a pretty good job of validating against coral proxy data that extends back 100’s of years.

    You know who collects the coral proxy data? Kim Cobb at Georgia Tech, who apparently antagonizes Curry to no end. That’s departmental rivalry at work.

  174. Punksta says:

    [Mod : As I’ve already said, there are plenty of sites that would welcome, and even specialise in, these views. This is not one of them.]

  175. JCH says:

    WHT – I’ve been following the by you and others on Azimuth all along. You probably saw the BoM up the percentage on El Nino in last couple of days. I would like to see latch a little more firmly than it has before getting too excited. The April drawback seems odd.

    That’s interesting about Cobb. Judith trotted out Pielke Sr’s warmed over leftover about how did the heat get past the 0 to 700 meter layer without being detected by ARGO. She’s as bad as the water boiler.

  176. JCH, I am not as interested in AGW and tracking changes as I am in simply understanding the fundamentals behind climate variability. That’s where Curry goes south, treating it like some sort of scorecard.

    BTW, I remember “punksta” from my CE commenting days, but not really, as he never had anything useful to say … just like now.

  177. A Lacis says:

    Let me toss on here what I posted on ClimateEtc in regard to the recent (April 15, 2015) Science, Space, and Technology Committee Congressional Hearing:

    As was to be expected, Congressional hearings are more about political posturing rather than being a directed effort of objective information gathering. Naturally, there was the perfunctory public posturing of pretending to appear “fair and balanced”. But the unmistakable overall flavor was really one of there-we-g0-again legalistic tribunes where selected legal briefs are presented on behalf of well-known staked-out positions by convenient plaintiffs who get to argue the virtues of their special points of view on their favorite issues regarding global warming and global climate change.

    What went missing in this Congressional climate forum was any kind of real balancing testimony from experts in the field who have spent decades to analyze this important topic of global climate change. Regrettably, there was no real discussion as to what we actually do know about the global warming problem, and why we know it.

    But, looking on the brighter side, perhaps there may have been a small modicum of progress having been made in that the likes of Senator James Inhofe (R, Oklahoma) and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R, California) were not out there lambasting global warming and climate change as being the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on humanity. It appears that perhaps at this point in time, making such blatant denials of reality could be perceived as being unnecessarily clueless and ignorant.

    But then there is also the contrary example of courageous conviction, and understanding of the global warming reality, exhibited by former Congressman Bob Inglis (R, South Carolina), who paid the price for being politically incorrect. One can only hope that at some point, pragmatic sanity will eventually prevail.

    Even some of the staunchest of the global warming doubters have now grudgingly come around to acknowledge that CO2 does indeed absorb thermal radiation (but they want to claim that the absorption is small, that CO2 is saturated, and that water vapor actually absorbs more strongly); that while there might have been some increase in global temperature (it all has been mostly due to natural variability, and as such, it has been beneficial); and that while humans might have contributed to the rise in atmospheric CO2 (it has not been significant, and besides, the plants have benefitted from more CO2).

    While there was nothing that was specifically erroneous in these Congressional Hearing presentations, it was the usual problem of half-truths, misdirection, and non-sequiturs being used to paint a picture that is not an accurate description of where we stand in our understanding of the current climate situation.

    Part of the problem may also be attributable to the flexible nature of some basic definitions. What exactly is meant by this common term “global warming”? Literally, the term “global warming” would signify that the global-mean temperature is rising, and if the global-mean temperature were to be decreasing, the situation would then become “global cooling”. But this frequently used term has also acquired a more technical meaning as it is being used in climate science. As the key cause and principal component of global warming, it is the rise in atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases that act to increase the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, and induce more water vapor in the atmosphere as a feedback effect. This inevitably leads to an increase in global surface temperature. This is really what the term “global warming” represents.

    But there are other factors that also affect the global temperature. These can be caused by changes in solar irradiance, volcanic aerosols, and the natural variability of the ocean. Changes in solar irradiance and volcanic aerosols are typically known accurately enough. It is the variability of the ocean that is the principal source of uncertainly, such as a strong negative branch of the PDO cycle that can keep the global temperature from rising while atmospheric CO2 continues to increase unabated.

    It is important to remember that the present-day changes affecting the global climate consist of two basic components: (1) the ongoing global warming component fueled by increasing atmospheric CO2, and (2) the natural variability of the climate system that consists of random-looking fluctuations about a slowly evolving zero reference point of the climate system.

    It would be a misdirection to suggest that global warming has just somehow stalled simply because there has been only a little rise in global surface temperature since the prominent peak in 1998. There was no comparable “pause” in the rate of atmospheric CO2 increase during this time period. Instead, the global energy imbalance of the Earth increased as the heat energy that would have been warming the ground surface was being diverted toward heating the ocean. This puts more unrealized global warming into the “pipeline”, from which it will be emerging as the PDO cycle shifts toward its positive phase.

    The natural variability of the climate system also makes it difficult to infer climate sensitivity to the radiative forcing by atmospheric CO2. Reliable estimates of the equilibrium climate sensitivity (equivalent to about 3 K for doubled CO2) are obtained from the geological record and from climate model calculations. The transient climate sensitivity is by definition a moving target since it depends on the rate of change of heat transport into the ocean (which itself is a changing factor), and estimating the transient climate sensitivity from observational data is particularly difficult (and uncertain), because it is necessary to know all contributing forcings in order to disentangle the feedback contributions from the total climate system response. While the CO2 forcing may be known accurately, it is big uncertainty as to the “virtual” forcings due to the natural variability of the ocean that are the most difficult to determine. Thus, estimates of the transient climate sensitivity (whether high, or low), will continue to remain highly uncertain.

    In view of the above, the suggestion that climate models are running “too hot” compared to observations is disingenuous. Climate models may well run “cold” while simulating El Nino events, and run “hot” while simulating the global temperature during a strong negative PDO. Both climate models and the real world exhibit a form of unforced natural variability. And in both cases, this natural variability is quasi-chaotic, with no real way to coordinate the phasing of this variability. Any short-term comparisons between climate model results and observations need to keep this in mind. To sidestep this problem, the time period for comparisons must be long enough for the natural variability contributions to average out.

    Granted, the definition of “dangerous” climate change is ambiguous. And there is probably no real way to quantify just what “dangerous” actually represents. Perhaps the example of the Titanic may help.
    At what point did the situation on the Titanic become dangerous? There was no perceived danger when the Titanic left Southampton for New York. Most of the passengers were still dry and alive some two hours after hitting the iceberg. Did the danger begin when the iceberg was spotted, but there was not enough time to avoid the collision? Or was the danger already brewing when Captain Smith ignored reports of icebergs and continued full steam ahead? There might be some relevant parallels to draw.

    Global-mean winds, global-mean temperatures, and global-mean precipitation, compared between a doubled CO2 climate and the current climate would not appear to be consequentially different. But it is the extreme weather events that cause the damage. Whether humans get blamed, or not blamed, neither adds nor detracts from the problem. Global warming puts more heat, water vapor, and latent energy into the atmosphere. And that is the fuel that makes the extreme weather events more extreme. So, there actually is a real relationship to be had between global warming (human induced) and a growing danger of more severe weather extremes. A better studied quantification of this relationship would certainly be very useful.

    It would seem more appropriate to assign “wickedness” to problems that are more specifically related to witches. The climate problem, while clearly complex and complicated, is not incomprehensible. Current climate models do a very credible job in simulating current climate variability and seasonal changes. Present-day weather models make credible weather forecasts – and there is a close relationship. Most of the cutting edge current climate modeling research is aimed at understanding the physics of ocean circulation and the natural variability of the climate system that this generates. While this may be the principal source of uncertainty in predicting regional climate change and weather extreme events, this uncertainty in modeling the climate system’s natural variability is clearly separate and unrelated to the radiative energy balance physics that characterize the global warming problem. The appropriate uncertainty that exists in one area of climate modeling doe not automatically translate to all other components of the climate system.

    Besides, the persistent uncertainties regarding the natural variability of the climate system are not the real problem that we face. The real problem is the continued increase in atmospheric CO2 that is causing the ongoing global warming. And, the basic facts and physics for understanding this aspect of global warming are all well established and well understood.

    There always seem to be temptations to minimize the consequences of the global warming problem, or the cost-effectiveness of proposed efforts taken or suggested to counteract the global warming problem. That is just what Steven Koonin attempted to do in a previous post, nor does it appear to be different in this Congressional hearing.

    Typically, the economic costs of taking action to address the global warming problem are always cited as being unnecessarily excessive. This was true of the proposed expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the levees and shoreline in New Orleans prior to Katrina, and in New York prior to Sandy. Had this money actually been spent to make New York and New Orleans more hurricane-proof, we might never have known that hundreds of billions worth of hurricane damage might have been averted.

    The economic cost of combating global warming is likely to be many hundreds of billions of dollars. But has anybody tried to calculate how many trillions of dollars it would cost to relocate Miami, New York, Washington DC, and New Orleans to higher ground? Surely, there are bound to be many other economic costs to tally up, brought on by the inaction to counteract the impending consequences that global warming is sure to bring.

    Clearly, decisions will need to be made, and they will need to be made sooner rather than later. Is there anybody in Congress who is capable of making the hard decisions? It is actually important to first fully understand the problem before deciding to act, or in justifying the decision not to act.

  178. Andy,
    Thanks, great comment. I think I can just make it a full post and give up blogging. Just point everyone back to it every now and again 🙂

  179. Guy Holder says:

    Good grief – you guys really can’t find anything wrong with the AGW hypothesis?

  180. Guy,
    Good grief – was that a serious question?

  181. Andrew Dodds says:

    Guy – But you can and you want a serious technical discussion of your critique?

  182. AD,
    I think the technical term for what Guy has done is JAQing.

  183. Two observations:

    Firstly from A. Lacis:

    … perhaps there may have been a small modicum of progress having been made in that the likes of Senator James Inhofe (R, Oklahoma) and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R, California) were not out there lambasting global warming and climate change as being the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on humanity. It appears that perhaps at this point in time, making such blatant denials of reality could be perceived as being unnecessarily clueless and ignorant.

    It’s fascinating that Judith Curry, is, however, promoting such views from APS members on her blog:

    The APS has been fooled by climate astrology and bribed to abandon the Second Law of Thermodynamics in favor of environmental alchemy

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/04/20/aps-members-comment-on-climate-change-statement/#comment-696533

    Secondly, I would suggest you do put up Andy’s post as a guest blog; if you could induce him to engage BTL too that would be super!

  184. Hank Roberts says:

    That chart you keep seeing?
    It doesn’t look like a hockey stick.
    It looks like a scythe

  185. Eli Rabett says:

    C’mon over to Rabbet Run. Eli did a double reverse on ATTP.

    No honor amongst bloggers

  186. JCH says:

    Eli – I can’t comment at Rabbet Run, so whatever you did, it’s working.

  187. Pingback: Judith Curry: Dismissing our Points is “Quashing Debate. ” When We Dismiss., Disparage and Misrepresent Your Points or Claims, That is Debate! | Climate Solutions and Analysis

  188. Pingback: Judy Curry Uses Logic That is Preposterous, So Naturally our Congress Chooses to Use Her as One of Its Key “Experts” on Climate Change | Climate Solutions and Analysis

  189. Pingback: Absolving Judith Curry from Her Political Sins | Tony Heller (aka Steven Goddard), Exposed

  190. Pingback: Establishing trust across the aisle on issues of climate change | GAPLOGS

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