## Guest post: Climate variability research: did the sceptics make us do it?

This is a guest post by Prof. Richard Betts, Head of Climate Impacts at the Met Office, about Lewandowsky et al’s forthcoming paper, which suggests that climate skeptics influence climate scientists. The post speaks for itself, so I won’t say anymore. Remember, though, that even though I’ve changed my tagline, civility is still encouraged. Richard’s post starts now.

Stephan Lewandowsky and co-authors have published an Executive Summary oftheir forthcoming paper* Seepage: Climate change denial and its effect on the scientific community. The authors suggest that climate scientists are allowing themselves to be influenced by “contrarian memes” and give too much attention to uncertainty in climate science. They express concern that this would invite inaction in addressing anthropogenic climate change. It’s an intriguing paper, not least because of what it reveals about the authors’ framing of the climate change discourse (they use a clear “us vs. them” framing), their assumptions about the aims and scope of climate science, and their awareness of past research. However, the authors seem unable to offer any real evidence to support their speculation, and I think their conclusions are incorrect.

As their example of scientists apparently giving undue weight to “contrarian memes”, Lewandowsky et al focus on what they describe as the “asymmetry of the scientific response to the so-called Œpause'”. They assert that “on previous occasions when decadal warming was particularly rapid, the scientific community did not give short-term climate variability the attention it has recently received”. They do not specifically identify the “previous occasions when decadal warming was particularly rapid”, but it’s fair to assume that they are referring to the 1990s, probably the period 1992-1998. This was the most recent occasion when global mean temperatures rose rapidly for a few years, and previous such occasions occurred before climate science had become established as a widely-established field of research.

This assertion, however, is incorrect. Short-term climate variability did receive a lot of attention in the 1990s ­ see extensive discussion in the first 3 IPCC Assessment Reports, and brief discussion by Hawkins et al (Nature Climate Change, 2014). One specific example of a high-profile paper on this topic is Sutton & Allen (Nature, 1997), but there are others.

It is perplexing that Lewandowsky et al do not seem to be aware of this research on short-term climate variability. One explanation may be that there is more effective communication of research. Social media opens up many more channels through which climate scientists can communicate their work, instead of this communication being done by middle-men in the mainstream media or vested-interest organisations such as NGOs as in the 1990s. Those outside of the climate science community are therefore much more likely to be exposed to topics that are of interest to the scientists themselves, rather than just topics which interest newspaper editors or environmental campaigners.

Possibly Lewandowsky et al are wondering why there was not a raft of papers specifically focussing on the observed temperature record between 1992 and 1998. The reason is simple ­ this was not a particularly surprising event. When global temperatures rose rapidly few a few years after 1992, this was very easily explained by the tailing-off of the short-term cooling influence of the Mount Pinatubo eruption. This had cooled the Earth briefly by injecting large quantities of ash into the stratosphere. Indeed this cooling had been successfully predicted by Jim Hansen using a climate model shortly after the eruption. A few years later, 1998 was an exceptionally warm year globally because of a major El Nino event. The fact that these two events were well understood and even partly predicted in advance meant that there was less of a puzzle to be solved, so less motivation for extensive research on the drivers of global temperature over these specific years. In contrast, the trajectory of global temperatures in the last 15 years or so was not specifically predicted in advance. Although global temperatures remain within the envelope of uncertainty implied by multi-model studies, this is not the same as actually predicting it. So this time, there is a interesting puzzle to be investigated.

I have not actually counted or systematically reviewed the papers on variability in the 1990s compared to those in more recent years, so although there was a lot of variability research in the 1990s, it is still possible that there are more variability papers in the latter period. However, even if this is the case, there are other reasons for this. Users of climate information (and hence funding bodies) are increasingly interested in adaptation planning, which tends to require information in the nearer-term when natural variability dominates. More recently this has matured into the agenda of Climate Services, which includes forecasting on seasonal, inter annual and decadal timescales. This has led to the development of new scientific capabilities to address this need, eg. very large ensembles of climate models, initialised forecasting (where models use data assimilation to start from actual present-day data rather than pre-industrial), increased resolution, and greater computing power. So in addition to the scientific motivation to study variability which already existed in the 1990s, there is additional motivation coming from stakeholders and funding bodies, and also more extensive capability for this research.

Lewandowsky at al regard research into natural variability as “entertaining the possibility that a short period of a reduced rate of warming presents a challenge to the fundamentals of greenhouse warming.” Is there any evidence at all of climate scientists actually thinking this? I don’t think so. This indicates a fundamental misconception about the scope and aims of current climate science – the authors seem to assume that climate science is entirely focussed on anthropogenic climate change, and that natural variability is only researched as a supplementary issue in order to support the conclusions regarding anthropogenic influence. However, the truth is very different ­ natural variability was always of interest to scientists as part of understanding how the climate system works, and Climate Services and the ambitions for short­ term forecasting are now major research drivers. It is true that some papers have also used the observational record to try to understand and constrain key quantities of relevant to anthropogenic change, namely equilibrium climate sensitivity and transient climate response, but this is hardly addressing the “fundamentals of greenhouse warming”, ­it is simply trying to reduce uncertainty in one of the key aspects of it. Such studies certainly do not limit themselves purely to the “pause” period ­ instead, they include it in a much longer longer period of many decades, since this is the timescale of relevance to changes in greenhouse forcing. Exclusion of recent years from such studies would lead to misleading results, so of course the “pause” period is going to be included.

So the perceived “asymmetry” can be easily explained purely as an evolution of scientific focus and capability over the last 25 years. Nevertheless, the hypothesis of psychological influences is intriguing. Could it still be happening even though the specific example of increased research on variability can be explained by other factors? Lewandowsky et al suggest three mechanisms by which their proposed “seepage” may occur ­does the evidence support these proposed mechanisms? Here I focus on the situation in the UK, as this is where I am most familiar, and also because this is where a focus on the “pause” is quite common.

The first proposed mechanism is dubbed “Stereotype Threat”. The idea is that climate scientists are worried about being stereotyped as “alarmists”, and react by downplaying the threat. I agree that there may be some evidence for this in the IPCC and the global climate science community – for example, although the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) included projections based on the high-end A1FI scenario, these were performed with the simpler Integrated Assessment Models rather than full, complex General Circulation Models. Moreover, the media focus on the projections sometimes did overlook the A1FI projection of warming up to 6.4C by 2100. (Indeed I was was told by a long-established and respected environment journalist that the media were very much steered away from the A1FI result when AR4 was published in 2007.) This was indeed one of the motivations for my paper “When could global warming reach 4C?” as felt that the A1FI scenario had not received the attention it warranted. However, despite this possible example of reticence by the IPCC, the UK community does not seem to have followed suit. The A1FI scenario was used in the UKCIP02 and UKCP09 climate projections, and a number of high ­profile UK conferences focussed on the higher-end risks of climate change, eg. “Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change” in Exeter in 2005; and “4 Degrees and Beyond”, Oxford, 2009. UK research institutions are leading two major EU-funded consortia on the impacts of “high-end climate change” (I’m coordinating one of these, HELIX, myself). So while talk of the “pause” is commonplace in the UK climate science community, this does not seem to be accompanied by shying away from discussing projections and risks of higher-end climate change.

The second proposed mechanism is dubbed “Pluralistic Ignorance”, which refers to people thinking that their views are more in the minority than they really are. The authors offer the speculative example of public discourse that IPCC has supposedly exaggerated the threat of climate change. This does not seem to be the case in the UK ­ there is general public acceptance of anthropogenic climate change, and uniquely non-partisan political consensus on taking action on mitigation. For example, a recent article in the Guardian states:

“Britons are more likely to agree the climate is changing than at any time in recent years, with nearly nine in 10 people saying climate change is happening and 84% attributing this somewhat or entirely to human activity, new research has found. Two-thirds say they are concerned by global warming.”

Over the past 25 years, successive UK governments have led the world in supporting climate science and in developing climate policy both at home and internationally. The Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher personally founded the Met Office Hadley Centre, and at the same time the UK was prominent in establishing the IPCC. For the first 4 IPCC assessment reports, the UK government played a cental role by supporting an IPCC Co-Chair and Technical Support Unit in the Met Office Hadley Centre. The UK has been central to the UN climate negotiations, and under the Labour government of 1997-2010 was the first country to put in place its own legislation on reducing emissions and planning adaptation (the Climate Change Act). In the 2010 election, the Conservative Party manifesto was keen to promote its environmental policies, and prior to the recent election the three main parties signed a statement supporting continuation of the Climate Change Act. Hence, if there is any country in the world where climate scientists can feel that their research is valued by both the public and politicians, it is the UK.

The final proposed mechanisms is dubbed the “Third person effect”, and refers to the idea that someone may think that others are more easily persuaded than they are themselves, and react to this. This seems quite plausible, but I fail to see why this would not apply equally to arguments from activists and politicians aiming to persuade people of the threat of climate change. In fact, given the widespread public and political agreement on anthropogenic climate change in the UK, it seems far more likely that the “Third Person Effect” would apply to being persuaded by arguments in favour of acting on climate change than by those against it.

So overall I do not see that “seepage of contrarian memes” is necessary to explain research on the recent slowdown in global surface warming, nor do I see any evidence that this is likely to be occurring in the UK climate science community where such research is prominent.

There are further intriguing questions arising from the facts that (1) UK scientists discuss the “pause/slowdown”, (2) the UK public acceptance of anthropogenic climate change and (3) successive UK governments have been, and remain, world-leaders in climate policy. If climate scientists have indeed allowed themselves to be influenced by “contrarians”, it would appear that this has not prevented widespread acceptance of anthropogenic climate change or the development and implementation of climate policy. Indeed, if scientific discussion of the “pause/slowdown” is indeed seen by the public and politicians as considering a “contrarian meme”, could it actually be the case that a clear willingness to consider a range of viewpoints could actually enhance the credibility of climate scientists? Therefore could open discussion of the “pause” actually increase the confidence of the public and the government in their advice that climate change is real and man-made? It seems fair to suggest that an intelligent and thoughtful public and politicians would take scientists more seriously if they are seen to be objective ­ indeed some research does support this supposition.

So to conclude, I think Lewandowsky et al are incorrect that scientific research and discussion into the recent climate variability has arisen as a result of the “seepage of contrarian memes”. Variability has always been a key topic in climate research, and if this has become more extensive or visible in this recently, it is simply the result of improved science communication, more specific research questions and evolving capabilities within climate science. The evidence also suggests that even if “seepage” is real, at the very least this seepage has had no influence in watering-down UK public opinion and political action compared to other countries – and that possibly the opposite has occurred because the public are more convinced by seeing scientists being objective.

Footnote:
*it seems they expected the paper to be published at the same time, but it is not yet available. Stephan offers to send the corrected proofs to anyone who emails him – his contact details can be found here.

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### 353 Responses to Guest post: Climate variability research: did the sceptics make us do it?

1. I haven’t actually given this issue much thought. Scientists use all sorts of terminology that isn’t ideal, but generally people know what is meant and it doesn’t really matter. I can see why in some areas it might be worthwhile being a bit more careful than in others (to avoid being misrepresented) but that doesn’t necessarily mean that scientists are being influenced to use non-ideal terminology, or to investigate things that are not necessarily worth investigating. On the other hand, I’m well aware that I’m conscious of what I say and what terminology I use, so it wouldn’t surprise me if there was some influence from a vocal minority.

2. I agree with you that the increase in studies on natural variability is well explained by impact, decadal and season prediction studies:

A second reason why people are more interested in natural variability would be that in impact studies you have a problematic break between historical data and the projections. As a consequence we have started working on decadal climate prediction. This is also again because something like that is nowadays possible. We hope. Framing your work as decadal climate prediction is the scientific version of writing an article about the non-existent hiatus for a science glossy.

However, I hope the editor is responsible for the title. 🙂 The way I read the post of Lewandowsky, he does not object to the studies themselves and does certainly not object to studying natural variability, but his objection is framing such studies as investigating the “pause” or the “hiatus”. These word themselves suggest “the possibility that a short period of a reduced rate of warming presents a challenge to the fundamentals of greenhouse warming.”

There was a string of papers in Nature journals. If they would not have been framed as hiatus studies, but scientifically more accurate as natural variability studies or decadal prediction studies, I am not sure whether the Nature journals would have been interested. In that case also the mass media would probably have been much less interested.

Although global temperatures remain within the envelope of uncertainty implied by multi-model studies

The (multi-)model ensemble spread is not the same as the uncertainty.

3. I hope the editor is responsible for the title.

No, the author had full control 🙂

4. Michael 2 says:

“I think Lewandowsky et al are incorrect that scientific research and discussion into the recent climate variability has arisen as a result of the seepage of contrarian memes.”

It is a warning to scientists to not leave his Consensus. Lewandowsky is a psychologist; I don’t take his words at face value — their effect is what matters. He isn’t seeking correctness; he is stoking the flame of separation, us versus them.

It is inevitable that eventually nearly everyone will converge on a shared reality at which point the founders of extreme points of view will find themselves with very few followers.

5. Sophie Lewis also wondered whether it was a bad thing to have the research agenda partially determined by the public discourse. Nice post, really recommended.

I would personally expect most scientific progress and thus most effective use of limited funding when we study scientifically interesting questions, but as a publicly funded institution it makes sense to also investigate what the public sees as important. Next to Germany’s next topmodel, we could also introduce televoting where the audience can say which research project should be studied (as long as that stays a minor part of the funding).

Hopefully, my above comment was clear. The terms “pause” and “hiatus” in global warming suggest that global warming has become less important or maybe even that the physics has changed. Hard to put the overtones into words for me as a non-native speaker. This is a completely different way of seeing climatic change as a continuing of global warming with superimposed natural variability. The latter is to our current understanding the case.

Furthermore, it is strange to write in a scientific article about a “pause”, “hiatus”, or “slowdown” as if it is a thing, when there is no statistical evidence that it exists. One could expect from scientists to point that out if they are really keen on using these terms and do not want to simply avoid them, which would be my preferred option for scientific articles. I blog at Variable Variability, thus I certainly would not want to avoid the topic, only the terms.

6. John Hartz says:

From the only article about Lewandowsky et al’s new paper that I have come across to date:

“It seems reasonable to conclude that the pressure of climate contrarians has contributed, at least to some degree, to scientists re-examining their own theory, data and models, even though all of them permit – indeed, expect – changes in the rate of warming over any arbitrarily chosen period,” said Stephen Lewandowksy, a professor from the University of Bristol’s School of Experimental Psychology.

Climate Change Denial Arguments ‘Seep’ into Scientific Debate by Seth Augenstein, Laboratory Equipment, May 7, 2015

7. Chris Colose says:

I think I mostly agree with Richard. The hiatus may be the most exceptional example of research prioritization due to public interest, yet it amounts to a few dozen publications by a small community. It has always been a rather small puzzle in the context of the “big picture” of climate change, much of which goes back many decades (read a lot of the old GFDL papers, for example). Variability and small fluctuations about that big picture, particularly those prevailing on policy-relevant timescales will always attract public attention on this topic, and it may be true that some scientists and young grad students see this as an opportunity for some publications. That’s not inherently a bad thing- I don’t see why we should decouple research priorities from public interest. I didn’t take this route though and most people I know did not. It’s always nice to make contact with practical problems, but the “public interest” in climate science is for the most part so detached from the real knowledge frontier.

The knowledge impact is potentially there…we’ve learned stuff about pacific variability, small volcanoes, etc, because of the hiatus, and it may have made a small dent in climate sensitivity framing, but as a trained specialist would likely have guessed 10 years ago, it’s a rather small knowledge impact that has been inappropriately amplified on social media. But there are countless other sub-disciplines in atmospheric science- Pleistocene paleoclimate, Arctic permafrost monitoring, local climate problems (impact of wind farms on local climate, rocky mountain snow-albedo feedbacks or what global warming means for Peru), aerosol physics/chemistry, idealized modeling studies, etc which are mostly decoupled from social media interest and yet attract graduate students and research focus.

8. semyorka says:

“Over the past 25 years, successive UK governments have led the world in supporting climate science and in developing climate policy both at home and internationally. ” I have just had 5 weeks of this kind of guff.
Thatcher made one speech and threw some pocket money at research. The UK has dragged its heals on mitigation other than cutting up steel works and sending them overseas (where they still pump out CO2 today) and replacing coal (booooo miners) with gas (yay oil rig workers).
“In the 2010 election, the Conservative Party manifesto was keen to promote its environmental policies”
No top down reorginisation of the NHS.
No increase in VAT.
Cut the deficit by 2014, run a surplus in 2015.
“People with “he broadest shoulders should contribute the most”
Jesus wept. They had a climate change denier with strong links to the GWPF as secretary of state for the environment.
“Hence, if there is any country in the world where climate scientists can feel that their research is valued by both the public and politicians, it is the UK.”
Billions in uncosted spending pledges, tens of billions in unidentified cuts to come? Do you think everyone reading this is American?
Cameron has a slender majority (not quite as tight as Majors) and a much larger group of [Mod: unnecessary]. He is in for one torrid parliament and everyone knows it. His right plus the venomous press pack (that be the Christopher Bookers, David Roses (your good mate), Mat Ridley can co) will be gunning for anything that has the word environment and a price tag attached to it.

Other than Zak Goldsmith and Lord Debden I dont know who would recognise your history of UK environment policy or the current security you seem to think DEFRA, DECC and nearly everyone else have.
I would not be surprised with a privatisation of the Met Office. 4 boat trident aint gonna pay for itself.

9. I’m surprised by Richard’s implication that there is no ‘them and us’ in the “climate change discourse”, if I’ve understood his point correctly. Personally I’m very aware of a clear divide between ‘us’, who accept the work and opinions of the consensus of climate scientists, and ‘them’, who are looking for every opportunity to undermine climate science—it appears driven by an ideological stance.

10. Richard says:

Richard B,

For the avoidance of doubt (and I do not doubt it) your statement …

“Users of climate information (and hence funding bodies) are increasingly interested in adaptation planning, which tends to require information in the nearer-term when natural variability dominates.”

Should not be construed as abandoning research related to mitigation. Adaptation is now unavoidable but remains a twin track to mitigation, I assume.

Unlike the UK, places like the State of Florida look at things differently to UK, so adaptation may just about be ok, but mitigation is an admission of human influence so a no no.

Richard E.

11. redbbs says:

Lewandowsky at al regard research into natural variability as “entertaining the possibility that a short period of a reduced rate of warming presents a challenge to the fundamentals of greenhouse warming.” Is there any evidence at all of climate scientists actually thinking this? I don’t think so.
Roy, John, Judith, Richard L., Fred, Willie, David and Nic to name just a few (yes I know Nic is not a scientist but he appears to be happily mistaken for one by some prominent climate people)

12. Steven Sullivan says:

This is all about rhetoric and tone. Lewandowsky et al are warning Betts et al. to be aware of how their rhetoric gets abused by pseudoskeptics.

13. In my opinion, contrarian memes seeped into a NASA press release.

14. OPatrick says:

Richard Betts says

Lewandowsky at al regard research into natural variability as “entertaining the possibility that a short period of a reduced rate of warming presents a challenge to the fundamentals of greenhouse warming.”

But Lewandowsky et al saidAt worst, seepage may alter the way in which scientists interpret data. This arises when they depart from long-standing and long-accepted practice in response to contrarian memes (for example, by entertaining the possibility that a short period of a reduced rate of warming presents a challenge to the fundamentals of greenhouse warming.)Richard’s interpretation does not seem a fair one.

15. dana1981 says:

As Victor notes, one example of seepage is the frequent use of the terms ‘pause’ and ‘hiatus’ in climate science research. I suspect these terms originated from the denial blogosphere, given their scientific inaccuracy. There’s certainly nothing wrong with research on natural variability, but the use of these inaccurate terms in scientific literature validates their use in the blogosphere and media, which in turn can mislead the public into thinking global warming has ‘paused’.

16. angech2014 says:

Victor Venema says: May 12, 2015 at 7:42 pm
“The terms “pause” and “hiatus” in global warming suggest that global warming has become less important Furthermore, it is strange to write in a scientific article about a “pause”, “hiatus”, or “slowdown” as if it is a thing, when there is no statistical evidence that it exists. ”
dana1981 says: May 13, 2015 at 5:02 am
“As Victor notes, one example of seepage is the frequent use of the terms ‘pause’ and ‘hiatus’ in climate science research. I suspect these terms originated from the denial blogosphere,”
Chris Colose says: May 12, 2015 at 8:34 pm
“I think I mostly agree with Richard. The hiatus may be the most exceptional example of research prioritization due to public interest, yet it amounts to a few dozen publications by a small community”
Tamino “there is no pause”
And yet whether it is important, part of the denialist blogosphere or a few dozen publications it continues to trend up wards in being mentioned.
The concept of a pause is definitely established whether there is a real pause or not.
Cherry picking to get a pause or to eliminate a pause is de rigeur order of the day.
Even if the concept is completely falsified it has brought out the concept of natural variability to a much greater order of magnitude and should engage all the above mentioned people to review their understanding of the science of climate change.
Noted in the previous post was a comment on why do people deny things that are obvious to other people.
Most people have good motives at heart, Tamino and Watts, ATTP and Currie have exactly the same feelings of wanting to help people understand Climate change.
When we knock one lot with calumny and praise the others because their views agree with ours we hurt the other people. We feel good that we are hurting them because they are so wrong.
But they are people too.

17. hvw says:

I think this question needs to be looked at in a geographically stratified way. Over here in continental Europe there certainly is way less (if any) influence of the denier’s talking point du jour on science than in the US or Australia, with the UK somewhere inbetween, I suppose.

Betts’ rebuttal appears convincing.

Lewandowski seems to miss the mechanism that appears most plausible to me. Namely that researchers are looking for sexy articles and some mainstream outlets have been worked by the fossil syndicate to make the topic a mainstream one. High profile sci. journals pick up on that and every researcher knows that. So investigating short-time variability suddenly becomes more attractive for non-scientific reasons.

I don’t think this is a bad thing.

18. izen says:

@-Michael 2
” Lewandowsky is a psychologist; I don’t take his words at face value — their effect is what matters. He isn’t seeking correctness; he is stoking the flame of separation, us versus them.”

Or, He is a research sociologist who is DOCUMENTING the separation and the increased polarization of ‘us versus them’.
Evident in the way an issue of natural variation has been re-framed as a ‘pause’ in the warming effect of CO2 or that it implies that the amount of warming from extra CO2 is smaller.

“It is inevitable that eventually nearly everyone will converge on a shared reality at which point the founders of extreme points of view will find themselves with very few followers.”

This will only happen if there is a coherent and consistent material reality that follows rational physical laws that can be objectively determined by any independent researcher.

19. izen says:

there is an asymmetry in the way science deals with the issue of natural variation impacting the underlying AGW trend.
It is difficult to avoid the suspicion it is shaped by the wider public and political attitudes to AGW.

When the warming between 1985-1999 was somewhat larger than predicted by the AGW theory this was not seen as a direct challenge to the underlying theory. First the ‘error’ would indicate that the theory underestimated the AGW effect and the explanation for the ‘error’ was readily accepted.

The slower warming(?) 1998-2014 is seen as an ‘error’ undermining AGW, and the explanation is now presented as a defence for the AGW theory.

I am loath to invoke the Hulme concept of socially defined science, but I think this does indicate a public/political perception of AGW as something that they want to be a negligible or insignificant problem, or at least one that is small. Confirmation bias results in any evidence that AGW has underestimated the severity of the climate change is resisted (ice melt) and natural variation is readily accepted as an explanation.
But any evidence that AGW has overstated the amount of change (the hiatus), and the general preference for AGW to be small or nonexistent makes the confirmation bias run towards rejecting AGW and much more dubiety about natural variation as an explanation for why the mainstream science view of AGW is largely unchanged.

For science, a rapid warming or pause have the same implications for assessing the impact of natural variation on AGW. For the general framing of the issue the two scenarios are qualitatively different.

20. angech,

But they are people too.

If more people could remind themselves of this on a regular basis, the climate blogosphere might be a more pleasant environment.

hvw,
A good point. I agree, scientists do study what seems to be interesting at that time and what is likely to have most impact. It’s not a bad thing. It would be much worse if we simply did whatever we felt like doing without considering – at all – the broader impact.

21. I’m afraid Lew got caught up in a conspiracy ideation. Ockham’s Razor would suggest that climatologists are so interested in the Pause because it so interesting. And indeed, the early papers by the likes of Zwiers and Storch are like “eh guys, our models say that we should not have observed this”. Exciting times for science, so: We found something unexpected, and the race is on for a post-hoc explanation and, supposedly, better forecasts.

22. James Risbey says:

Richard has mischaracterised our paper as if it were about trends in
research on climate variability. Whether and why there is more
research now on climate variability is an interesting question, but it
is not relevant to the points of our paper.

Research on climate variability is always valuable and that includes
efforts to understand recent temperature fluctuations. The research
fluctuations in global mean surface temperature (GMST) as has been
clear in all the IPCC reports.

The point relevant to ‘seepage’ is the framing of research on decadal
scale variability. The framing that the recent fluctuation
(1998-2012) is somehow unusual or unprecedented and is therefore to be
differentiated from past fluctuations on this time scale by use of the
term ‘hiatus’ or ‘pause’ is indicative of contrarian influence.

In the past, the notion that CO2 and GMST must increase in lockstep was
considered laughable and indicative of one’s ignorance of climate. It
was well known that CO2 is increasing steadily, but GMST does not
because of decadal and longer scale variability. Yet in recent years,
some prominent climate research papers on the so called ‘hiatus’ have
started out by pointing to an apparent conundrum between steadily
increasing CO2 and fluctuating GMST. i.e. that which was not a
conundrum now is. That change in framing is indicative of ‘seepage’.
That’s not a particularly controversial claim or complicated argument,
but it is a different argument from the one addressed by Richard on
trends in climate variability research.

23. BBD says:

And indeed, the early papers by the likes of Zwiers and Storch are like “eh guys, our models say that we should not have observed this”.

Since when did models predict natural variability, including volcanism, solar output and variation in the rate of ocean heat uptake?

24. Where would we be without the internet? The academic literature has five dozen alternative hypotheses, and no way to test which ones are false, but there is always an anonymous punter who knows the Truth.

25. Richard T.,
Other than illustrating the irony of objecting to the Recursive Fury paper while claiming an individual suffers from conspiracy ideation, I have no idea what you’re getting at. I have a feeling that you think you’re saying something clever and insightful. If so, it is so clever and insightful, as to almost seem silly. That may, of course, be what you’re going for.

26. James,
Thanks for the comment. I’ll leave Richard B. to respond.

27. izen says:

@-“The academic literature has five dozen alternative hypotheses, and no way to test which ones are false, but there is always an anonymous punter who knows the Truth.”

An observation more applicable to economics, and econometrics than the physics of climate science I suspect.

28. izen,
Indeed. It is possible that Richard T. does not appreciate that the alternatives – wrt the “pause/hiatus/slowdown” – are not all mutually inconsistent. It’s possible for increased volcanic activity, reduced anthropogenic forcings, and ocean cycles, to all have contributed.

29. What I find a little intriguing about this is that there has certainly been suggestions that the “pause” was being ignored by mainstream scientists and it was “skeptics” who pointed it out and, ultimately, lead to it being taken more seriously by others. See the foreward here, for example.

30. dikranmarsupial says:

For me the disappointing thing about the paper on the “pause”, whether influenced by climate skeptics or not, has been their reception by climate skeptic blogs, which has generally just rejected them as attempts to find excuses, rather than as attempts to understand more about the mechanisms that have given rise to the “pause”. I think it is probably quite a good thing to do to occasionally write a paper to address some public misunderstanding of science, for instance Easterling and Wehner (2009) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2009GL037810/abstract .

31. @James Risbey

Hi James, thanks for responding. You say:

Richard has mischaracterised our paper as if it were about trends in research on climate variability. Whether and why there is more research now on climate variability is an interesting question, but it is not relevant to the points of our paper.

However, the blog post says:

we focus primarily on the asymmetry of the scientific response to the so-called ‘pause’

and

on previous occasions when decadal warming was particularly rapid, the scientific community did not give short-term climate variability the attention it has recently received

To me, “scientific response” and “attention” (by the scientific community) means doing research. You seemed to be suggesting that there was less research on climate variability previously. Did you mean something other than research by these phrases in the blog post?

32. @Dana

I suspect these terms [pause & hiatus] originated from the denial blogosphere, given their scientific inaccuracy.

Has anyone actually shown where these words were first used? I first remembering “pause” within the Met Office, and “hiatus” a bit later.

It seems to me that asserting that these words are “scientifically inaccurate” is akin to the various pointless arguments about whether warming has been “statistically significant” or not. It doesn’t particularly matter whether warming has been “statistically significant”, you can look at the temperature record and see quite clearly that the world is warmer now than a hundred years ago, and the point is that there is a physical explanation for this. I just use “pause”, “hiatus” and “slowdown” as a way of describing a feature of the raw data – just looking at the data, you see a run of years in which the later ones are not particularly warmer than the earlier ones. The question that all the “pause” papers have been addressing is, why did this happen? Saying that these terms are not “scientifically accurate” is just an opinion, in which the focus is on a particular view of statistics rather than physics.

Worrying about how perfectly reasonable descriptive terminology is going to be “misused” by a particular special interest group is politics, not science.

33. Worrying about how perfectly reasonable descriptive terminology is going to be “misused” by a particular special interest group is politics, not science.

Isn’t that an interesting thing to try and understand, though? Also, Lewandowsky et al. is a social science paper, and so it doesn’t seem unreasonable for it to look at this issue. Additionally, if this kind of work can help to develop terminology that is less likely to be misued (or that makes it more difficult for it to be misused) isn’t that something worth considering?

34. If the focus is on statistics, it’s scientifically accurate to say that there hasn’t been a statistically significant change in the surface warming rate.

If the focus is on physics, it’s scientifically accurate to say that ~90% of the heat we’re trapping goes into ocean heat content, which continues to rise.

35. I don’t yet have a copy of Lewandowsky et al, so I have nothing to add about it directly. But this post is very interesting, because it addresses the question of how scientific research communities are affected by the social and political world around them.

The idea that scientific research agendas are influenced by politics is of course one of the oldest arguments used by the anti-AGW activists. Lewandowsky’s summary of the paper on his blog suggests they are arguing that the anti-AGW activists influence the framing of climate scientists’ work.

It seems to me the root logic of each argument is the same -the question is an empirical one about the motives and capabilities of the people who are supposed to be doing the influencing. As regards that question, the supposed ‘scientists are paid to find AGW’, ‘world government’ or ‘tax grab’ motivations of NASA, meteorological organisations, the IPCC etc. are…shall we say politely…not well established. But in contrast, the anti-AGW activists are explicit: there is no doubt they want to change the agenda of science if they possibly can, and they try very hard to do so -we should therefore expect, if there is any social effect, it would be in response to explicit attacks on climate science.

If, as Richard Betts and a lot of the commentators suggest, the decisions of scientific research communities are actually well insulated from outside political forces, then this is all the more reason to trust the objectivity of their findings. I certainly think scientific research communities have unique cultures that are unlike the public culture – Richard’s post seems to be asserting exactly that.

36. dikranmarsupial says:

Richard Betts wrote “It doesn’t particularly matter whether warming has been “statistically significant” and “I just use “pause”, “hiatus” and “slowdown” as a way of describing a feature of the raw data – just looking at the data, you see a run of years in which the later ones are not particularly warmer than the earlier ones. ”

If you are going to claim that there is a feature of the raw data (i.e. it is not just an artefact of the noise to which human eyes are all too easily attracted) then the question ought to be “is there statistically significant evidence for the existence of a “pause”). That is a pretty important question and one that seems to be neglected in most of the discussion of the “pause”, are we sure there is really anything there that needs explaining? There is a good reason why we have statistics instead of “just looking at the data”.

Asking whether there is statistically significant warming is a question that matters, as is asking whether the statistical power of the test is sufficiently high for it to be a surprise to find that it is not significant.

37. One thing that is certain: attention to the terms ‘pause’, ‘hiatus’ etc. is super-strong in the political community of people who campaign in support of climate science. I can see exactly why the term would be used quite freely by climate scientists, if to them -and in their internal relations with other scientists- it isn’t so loaded as it is in the climate wars. It’s easy to imagine that a scientist would use a term with other scientists, even though a layer of observers might think that to do so is giving comfort to the enemy.

As in my previous comment, we should take comfort, if this picture of the climate science research community is accurate. Surely science needs to be a bit politically naive -or at least, to willfully try and keep politics out- if it is to consistently produce reliable knowledge.

38. Mark,

Surely science needs to be a bit politically naive -or at least, to willfully try and keep politics out- if it is to consistently produce reliable knowledge.

Yes, that’s a good point. In a way, that’s why I find some of the recent criticism of climate scientists by policy people a little strange. They seem to be claiming that scientists are politically naive. That – as you say – would seem to be a good thing and would seem to suggest that you should be able to trust what they say slightly more than if they were politically savvy.

39. Willard says:

> Lewandowsky et al focus on what they describe as the “asymmetry of the scientific response to the so-called Œpause

The Œpause complex.

40. Willard says:

> Ockham’s Razor would suggest that climatologists are so interested in the Pause because it so interesting.

That would be Moliere’s dormitive principle.

41. Beyond the historiographic shortcomings of papers such as ‘Seepage’, Betts and other IPCC participants might ask themselves why executive summaries exist?

Regardless of the range of scenarios considered , condensation concentrates attention on outliers , and the reduced intellectual bandwidth of what the french properly call vulgarisation scientifique invites further simplification when paragraphs of scientific prose get turned into jargon-free sound bites and attempts are made to shrink models and methodologies into a handful of ‘killer graphs’

As a spokeperson for The Climate Reality project, and participant on various workshops aimed at the political modulation of policy outcomes, I fear Oreskes unilaterl viewpoint is very much a part of the polarization problem that underlies the Climate Wars .

42. angech2014 says:

dikranmarsupial says:
May 13, 2015 at 11:34 am

“Richard Betts wrote “It doesn’t particularly matter whether warming has been “statistically significant” and “I just use “pause”, “hiatus” and “slowdown” as a way of describing a feature of the raw data – just looking at the data, you see a run of years in which the later ones are not particularly warmer than the earlier ones. ”

If you are going to claim that there is a feature of the raw data (i.e. it is not just an artifact of the noise to which human eyes are all too easily attracted) then the question ought to be “is there statistically significant evidence for the existence of a “pause”).”

The artifact of the noise as you describe it sure looks like a pause to me, and apparently to a lot of other people.
So does it not exist?
or does it exist as purely an artifact?
or does it exist as a genuine pause?
If you wish to view it as a pause that reflects an artifact of noise we can at least talk about “the pause”.
Because of the short time frame you may well be right but you may, not equally of course, be wrong.
Eventually it will break one way or another and we will know for sure whereas now we just think we know for sure.
When people start to discuss unicorns the unicorn may be a myth but the concept of a unicorn becomes real.The concept of the pause has become real whether one likes it or not.

““is there statistically significant evidence for the existence of a “pause”).” great question but one which nobody wants to answer.

I am happy to put a pennies worth in to start the ball rolling.
With caveats.
CO2 has gone up so the temperature should go up in relative tandem. Anyone arguing that CO2 has an effect on temperature should see the logic in that broad statement.
Equally obviously CO2 and temperature do not go up in tandem as ATTP has said elsewhere.
This is indeed the problem with the so called pause. CO2 up but not surface temperature in recent times on some data sets basically the satellite ones which still qualify as “statistically significant evidence.”
Not all the evidence, just some statistically significant evidence which again we should all agree on [we won’t but tough luck].
We have a sideways movement in an up going trend over a short time interval [decadal in this case still very short].
In terms of science warming should resume unless the cause of the movement is a negative feedback to the rising C02.
If the temperature defies physics and keeps going sideways for another 20 years I would say that that would be definite proof both for the existence of a pause and therefore the need to consider carefully such a mechanism.
If the temperature were to fall 0.5 degrees over the next 20 years I would both question negative feedbacks and other ideas relating to the estimation of the actual heat source variation which circulate on other blogs.
These time frames may be far too small but if anyone agrees with me on that, which they should, all the current arguments pro and con AGW are pointless anyway as we will never be around long enough to prove them

43. As Doug McNeall said:

If somebody asks if something is statistically significant, they probably don’t know what it means.

And again, as Doug said, this is not meant to offend anyone. Please read Doug’s post!

🙂

44. dikranmarsupial says:

@Richard Betts … however, if they ask about statistical power of the test, they probably do and not ignoring their point is probably a good idea.

The point is, from a public communication of science perspective, it would be more appropriate to say “apparent hiatus” or “apparent pause” until there is statistically significant evidence that such a thing actually exists, rather than just being an artefact of the noise. While NHST are deeply flawed, they do serve a useful purpose as a hurdle to try and avoid jumping to conclusions.

45. dikranmarsupial says:

BTW, I’m not offended by Doug’s article, I enjoyed it at the time, if you follow the link in my comment on that article you will find that p-values are not uniformly fully understood by statistics profs ether! ;o)

46. angech,

CO2 has gone up so the temperature should go up in relative tandem. Anyone arguing that CO2 has an effect on temperature should see the logic in that broad statement.

Except, it’s not really correct. CO2 essentially sets some kind of equilibrium. Other factors can cause variability. We only expect CO2 and temperature to go up in tandem on timescales that are long compared to the timescale over which these others factors can have an influence. Typically, that timescales is at least a couple of decades.

47. As Doug McNeall said:

Yes, I also thought Doug’s article was very good.

48. Joshua says:

Richard Betts –

When I read “skeptics” writing about a “pause in global warming,” I think I’m reading unscientific rhetoric. Many of those “skeptics” say that they don’t doubt that ACO2 causes warming, yet they claim that as more and more ACO2 is being emitted, any resultant “warming” has “paused” (actually sometimes they say “stopped.”)

That doesn’t make sense to me. I’m no climate scientist :-), but as far as I can tell, what people should be saying is that: “There has been a short-term slowdown in the long-term rate of warming of GMSTs, which of course, does not include consideration of temperatures in the oceans which absorb most of the CO2 we emit through burning fossil fuels.”

So I am always surprised when I read climate scientists speaking about a “pause in global warming” – as it seems to me like a very unscientific term.

So then I think it is an interesting question as to why scientists would use such unscientific terminology?

My assumption is that generally, scientists are fairly careful about discussing their terminology precisely. So why is there something different taking place w/r/t climate change?

49. Willard says:

Oh, and Lew used “contrarian memes,” which I believe shows he himself is influenced by ClimateBall. Gavin uses it. I do. Perhaps others too.

50. @Richard Betts. There is nothing wrong with using a colloquial term like “hiatus” in informal communication (within the MetOffice). For the scientific literature I have higher quality standards and expect that when the term is used, it is also explained that the evidence shows that that is not the right framing.

I thus fully agree with dikranmarsupial when he says:

Asking whether there is statistically significant warming is a question that matters, as is asking whether the statistical power of the test is sufficiently high for it to be a surprise to find that it is not significant.

And I am sure that dikranmarsupial knows what that means. I do not think that Doug McNeall wrote his excellent post to justify bad statistics. Or in this case no statistics, just a subjective eye ball judgement.

Mark Ryan:

The idea that scientific research agendas are influenced by politics is of course one of the oldest arguments used by the anti-AGW activists. Lewandowsky’s summary of the paper on his blog suggests they are arguing that the anti-AGW activists influence the framing of climate scientists’ work.

There is a subtle but important difference. The mitigation sceptics claim to think that the results are wrong because of politics. Lewandowsky’s paper only claims that the framing is wrong and that the results are mostly fine. (Exceptions would be articles that only compute trends starting near 1998 or naively interpret model spread as uncertainty.)

There may be a bit of overlap when it comes to politics (public debate) influencing the research agenda. Lewandowsky’s paper claims that politics cause more research on climate variability. (I am not sure whether that holds.)

When it comes to the research agenda I feel the mitigation sceptics make much stronger claims, for example, that it would have strong repercussions to study their pet long-debunked nonsense (they formulate it somewhat differently). We have just seen by the example of Bjorn Stevens that this is not true as long as the quality of your work is good and you do not overstate your case. I have made the same experience.

An example such a claim I found via an enthusiastic recommendation by Judith Curry.

In climate science, the presence of Big Players – the IPCC in its ability to direct the science and the government in its supporting role of ensuring that IPCC-compatible science is funded – has engendered a growing politicization of the discipline, showing up in attempts to restrict publication of dissenting views and to attack the reputations of scientists who question the IPCC “consensus”.

At least Curry should know better how science actually is organised.

51. dikranmarsupial says:

or indeed a statistician! (of sorts)

52. dana1981 says:

Richard says,

Saying that these terms are not “scientifically accurate” is just an opinion, in which the focus is on a particular view of statistics rather than physics.

I really don’t understand this. Words have meaning. If I call the surface warming slowdown a banana cream pie, that’s inaccurate.

‘Pause’ and ‘hiatus’ refer to a (usually temporary) halt in something. Surface warming hasn’t stopped, and the overall warming of the climate system most certainly hasn’t. It hasn’t even slowed.

From a public communications perspective, I agree with Risbey and Lewandowsky that recent climate science research has reinforced the incorrect notion that the recent surface warming slowdown is somehow different from previous examples of short-term variability. And I’d wager that the inaccurate terminology seeped into the research via contrarian media, or at least that they made its use in scientific research more common.

I think it’s important to consider, when members of the public hears that climate scientists think global warming has paused or halted, what that would mean to them.

53. Dana,
Maybe the difference is whether or not you assume everyone is engaging honestly. If all are engaging honestly, then terminology isn’t that important. You can always explain if they over-interpret something, or interpret it incorrectly. If we want to call the surface warming over the last decade or so a “pause” fine, it’s just a word and we could define it as being a period of slower than expected surface warming if we wanted to. The problem comes in if people are not engaging honestly and will take this terminology and interpret it in a way that isn’t consistent with that is actually intended.

54. Willard says:

> Words have meaning.

Depends what one means by that:

http://www.jstor.org/stable/2271443

55. BBD says:

ATTP

The problem comes in if people are not engaging honestly and will take this terminology and interpret it in a way that isn’t consistent with that is actually intended.

And as I have argued many times, the *solution* to that problem is not to use language that can be turned against you.

Get tired of saying this.

56. Deep Climate says:

Unfortunately, coverage bias in HadCrut and NOAA GMST was not clearly identified as an issue series until after the close of AR5 (although Hansen and others had raised this issue much earlier). The more reliable series (Cowtan and Way, Berkeley Earth, NASA GisTemp) show a linear trend of ~ 0.1C/decade over 1998-2012, in contradiction to the AR5 estimate of ~0.05C/decade. This is still not statistically significant, but does appear to falsify the AR5 definition of “hiatus”as a severe reduction of the 1998-2012 trend relative to the 1951-2012 trend.

57. Willard says:

> The *solution* to that problem is not to use language that can be turned against you.

In a sense, yes. Using “contrarian” instead of the D word is one example.

In a sense, no. Contrarians may still find ways to rip off their shirts for whatever reason.

58. izen says:

The ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’ is an artifact of the human visual system and political expediency.

Because we are visualy hyper-sensitive to ‘top’ edges of objects we over-interprate the recent hot years and miss the trend at the bottom. Flip any recent temperature graph and the ‘pause’ becomes much less apparent.

http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:1950/to:2015/mean:12/scale:-1/plot/gistemp/from:1950/to:2015/trend/scale:-1

But talk of a pause or hiatus is politically usefull. It is hard to see any government imposing limits and cancelling research into climate change if it is perceived as an urgent and ongoing problem. But if it is framed as something that has ‘paused’ and therefore the science is dubious, then a government may feel able to tell those engaged in research –

“The Director shall not approve new climate science-related initiatives to be carried out through the Office of Science without making a determination that such work is unique and not duplicative of work by other Federal agencies. Not later than 3 months after receiving the assessment required under subsection (c), 23 the Director shall cease those climate science-related initiatives identified in the assessment as overlapping or duplicative, unless the Director justifies that such work is critical to achieving American energy security.”

Thanks to Eli for that little gem.!

59. ‘Pause’ and ‘hiatus’ refer to a (usually temporary) halt in something. Surface warming hasn’t stopped, and the overall warming of the climate system most certainly hasn’t. It hasn’t even slowed.

Here is a plot of running previous thirty years’ trends:

For the last ten years or so, the warming of the previous thirty years ( the traditional climate period ) has declined from around 1.9K per century to 1.7K per century.

Here is a plot of running previous twelve years’ trends:

I do not believe these trends are statistically significant ( there is a lot of variability ).
I do believe that these trends are the closest representation to what’s actually occurred.
For the first time since the 1970s, the last two years indicate cooling in the 12 year trends.

If one believes that radiative forcing from greenhouse gasses cause warming, then one may believe that temperature trends are slowing because the rates of radiative forcing have slowed since peaking decades ago.

60. izen says:

An after-thought.

A ban on overlapping or duplicative research would seem to target any research that attempts to replicate other work or that seeks to confirm, or refute other similar research findings.

I wonder if it applies to ‘auditing’..?

61. Role of Luddism on Innovation Diffusion. (arXiv:1505.02020v1 [physics.soc-ph])

abstract
“We generalize the classical Bass model of innovation diffusion to include a new class of agents — Luddites — that oppose the spread of innovation. Our model also incorporates ignorants, susceptibles, and adopters. When an ignorant and a susceptible meet, the former is converted to a susceptible at a given rate, while a susceptible spontaneously adopts the innovation at a constant rate. In response to the \emph{rate} of adoption, an ignorant may become a Luddite and permanently reject the innovation. Instead of reaching complete adoption, the final state generally consists of a population of Luddites, ignorants, and adopters. The evolution of this system is investigated analytically and by stochastic simulations. We determine the stationary distribution of adopters, the time needed to reach the final state, and the influence of the network topology on the innovation spread. Our model exhibits an important dichotomy: when the rate of adoption is low, an innovation spreads slowly but widely; in contrast, when the adoption rate is high, the innovation spreads rapidly but the extent of the adoption is severely limited by Luddites.”

Don’t let the skeptics blame it on climate scientists. The devil made them do it!

The skeptical contrarian parade: Neo-Luddites and Neo-Malthusians R Us

62. izen says:

@-Turbulent eddy
“I do not believe these trends are statistically significant ( there is a lot of variability ).
I do believe that these trends are the closest representation to what’s actually occurred.”

Indeed, and the most obvious aspect is the difference in the variability between the two graphs. The twelve year trends can alter by over 2deg/Cent within a year or two. The thirty year trends vary by less than 0.1deg/Cent, per year. Over an order of magnitude difference for a timescale less than three times larger.

There is an obvious conclusion to be drawn from this glaring difference in the degree of variability over different timescales.
I am not surprised you have chosen to ignore it.

63. BBD says:

Once again, TurbEd tries to trick with graphs. What did he do this time? He conflated surface temperature trends with the climate system as a whole.

Let’s look at the quote from Dana at the start of TE’s comment, with bold added to emphasise what Dana actually said vs what TE tries to peddle:

‘Pause’ and ‘hiatus’ refer to a (usually temporary) halt in something. Surface warming hasn’t stopped, and the overall warming of the climate system most certainly hasn’t. It hasn’t even slowed.

Let’s look at the rest (>90%) of the climate system in the light of Dana’s last sentence:

Well, well, well.

64. BBD says:

If one believes that radiative forcing from greenhouse gasses cause warming, then one may believe that temperature trends are slowing because the rates of radiative forcing have slowed since peaking decades ago.

Getting more than a little fed up with the calculating mendacity, TE.

65. Steven Mosher says:

Hi Richard (B)

“Has anyone actually shown where these words were first used? I first remembering “pause” within the Met Office, and “hiatus” a bit later.”

I believe that the history went something like this

Skeptics said the warming STOPPED
and folks responded that
A) it has not !
B) Its paused and will return
C) its not stopped its a hiatus

In any case what I find Hilarious is that any one would care Where a term originated.

of course in linguistics we understand lewandosky’s puritanical interests.

bottom line, you dont control the language. it controls you.

66. John Hartz says:

The crux of the problem is, in my opinion, the fact that GMST is not a measure of climate change. Rather it is a measure of what’s happening in one part of one component of the Earth’s total climate system. This basic fact has not been particularly well communicated by the scientific community in my opinion.

67. dana1981 says:

ATTP – I generally agree terminology is less important if everyone is engaging in the discussion honestly (which is clearly not the case when it comes to climate). But I would still argue that language is important, because most people have little if any exposure to climate science research. If they just read an article with a headline about a global warming pause, for example, that would probably leave them with the false impression that global warming has stopped. It might not even matter if later in the article the science were explained correctly in more detail, because many people wouldn’t read that far. So language is still important even in an honest discussion. And of course deniers aren’t engaged in an honest discussion and have certainly taken advantage of the inaccurate terminology.

Of course there’s more to this than just the terminology. Sou has a great summary of the paper at HotWhopper, including a very nice comparison of the 1990s acceleration to the 2000s slowdown.
http://blog.hotwhopper.com/2015/05/on-seeps-and-scams-part-i-lessons-for.html

68. Willard says:

>you dont control the language. it controls you.

For instance:

69. Turbulent eddy: “I do not believe these trends are statistically significant ( there is a lot of variability ). I do believe that these trends are the closest representation to what’s actually occurred.

Do you belong to the rare class of mitigation sceptics that accept that the temperature increase in the last century is basically accurate? Or are you able to think that the large change is not accurate, but the small recent one is, like many of your peers?

70. Richard Barnes says:

Posted on WUWT:

““It is perplexing that Lewandowsky et al do not seem to be aware of this research on short-term climate variability. One explanation may be that there is more effective communication of research.”

So their lack of awareness is explained by “more effective communication of research.”

Yeah, got it, Dr Betts.

“Over the past 25 years, successive UK governments have led the world in supporting climate science and in developing climate policy both at home and internationally.”

With the result that industry is leaving for countries with lower environmental standards, that the UK is generating electricity from wood chips imported from North America, and that good farmland is being covered with solar panels.

However, Dr Betts continues to profit from UK and EU support for “climate science”, so that’s all good.”

Dr Betts has not responded to anyone on WUWT.

71. Richard Barnes,
Your comment is largely insulting to Richard Betts, but I’ll post it only to highlight the standard on WUWT. Also,

Dr Betts has not responded to anyone on WUWT.

Would you? I wouldn’t. I read the first 10 comments on the WUWT post and 6 of them contained some kind of insult. Personally, I think people should be ashamed to be associated with such a cesspit, but that’s just my view.

72. Dr Betts has not responded to anyone on WUWT

As I believe I have pointed out many times here and at WUWT, BH and other places, I have other things to do than sit around monitoring the internet all day (even when I’ve just posted on a blog). Today I’ve been presenting my high-end impacts project HELIX at the European Conference on Climate Adaptation, and meeting the organisers because I’m co-organising the next ECCA conference in a couple of years. I’m considering inviting papers on implications of the ‘pause’ for adaptation in honour of this discussion 😉

I may or may not read WUWT. I will try to respond to other comments here in due course, as time permits.

73. I’m co-organising the next ECCA conference in a couple of years. I’m considering inviting papers on implications of the ‘pause’ for adaptation in honour of this discussion 😉

If you do, I hope for you the conference comes quickly. 😉

That there is no statistically significant trend change also means that the situation can change quickly.

Personally, as someone working on the quality of station data, I would advice not believe too strongly in such a minimal deviation. Even for people who feel you can start trends in a Super El Nino year, a bias of just a tenth of a degree Centigrade would completely change the situation. I am not willing to guarantee that there is not such a small bias in the data. That would require an enormous measurement and homogenization quality. That in a time where there is a huge transition from conventional Stevenson screens to automatic weather stations.

74. Joshua says:

“and folks responded that

B) Its paused and will return”

Really? I wonder who these “folks” be.

75. Richard Barnes says:

aTTP, where is the insult? More to the point, where is your response to any of the points raised, by me or by others on WUWT?

Dr Betts, your work on “climate impacts” is not a hobby. It is funded by the taxpayers of Europe. You have made an effort to make the point that the garbage from Lew et al is, well, garbage. This has led to many points and questions that surely deserve responses. You deserve some credit for allowing the re-post on WUWT. Others there have made this point.

stewgreen on BH says “PS Respect to RB as ever, he’s putting a lot of effort into the comments exchanges aswell”. Engage on WUWT, and you will earn real respect.

76. redbbs says:

Am I correct in assuming that WUWT has copied and pasted this piece by Dr Betts without attribution to ATTP and has passed it off as a guest post submitted by Betts to Anthony?

77. Richard Barnes,
I think this is pretty close,

However, Dr Betts continues to profit from UK and EU support for “climate science”, so that’s all good.”

It’s a job. He gets paid. There’s no need to point it out and by doing so you appear to be implying thay someone is profiting despite all the damage that is being done. You can disagree that it’s an insult if you wish, but I have no interest in discussing it further.

More to the point, where is your response to any of the points raised, by me or by others on WUWT?

Seriously, why would I? I think what the site promotes is ridiculous nonsense, and the comments are either juvenile taunts or illustrate a massive misunderstanding of this topic. I find it remarkable that a group of people who I suspect are adults would behave in a manner that one would normally expect to find in a school playground. I would say that I might respond if someone actually made a point worth responding to, but I wouldn’t waste my time trying to wade through all the other dross to find it.

78. redbbs,

Am I correct in assuming that WUWT has copied and pasted this piece by Dr Betts without attribution to ATTP and has passed it off as a guest post submitted by Betts to Anthony?

No, I think it does say it originated here. I don’t particularly care if it doesn’t, though. I think Richard was happy to have it posted elsewhere.

79. niclewis says:

hi Richard (B), thank you for writing this article. You make many good points. One comment: you write:

“It is true that some papers have also used the observational record to try to understand and constrain key quantities of relevant to anthropogenic change, namely equilibrium climate sensitivity and transient climate response. … Exclusion of recent years from such studies would lead to misleading results, so of course the “pause” period is going to be included.”

You may have been taken in by some misleading claims in the literature, that recent estimates of ECS and TCR based on the instrumental temperature record have reached lower estimates than previous studies by virtue of including the “pause” period. These claims are incorrect. Excluding the “pause” period does not generally produce misleading best-estimate results in well-designed studies, although it does give rise to wider uncertainty ranges.

As pointed out in Lewis and Curry (2014) (in response to claims of the foregoing nature in Rogelj et al 2014), inclusion of the “pause” period makes little difference to best estimates of ECS and TCR. For Aldrin et al 2012 and Otto et al 2013, inclusion of the “pause” period increased their best estimates for ECS/TCR. Although global surface temperature has increased little since the early years of this century, decadal mean temperature rose about the same amount from the 1990s to the 2000s as it did from the 1980s to the 1990s.

Incidentally, even with the “pause” period included it is still possible to produce high estimates of ECS and TCR in instrumental-period warming based studies by using unsuitable methods (and to get them published in high impact journals).

80. Nic,

Incidentally, even with the “pause” period included it is still possible to produce high estimates of ECS and TCR in instrumental-period warming based studies by using unsuitable methods (and to get them published in high impact journals).

Care to back this up? You do seem to have something of a habit of making insulting comments about other scientists that you either don’t back up or that you don’t retract when it’s clear that you’re wrong. Marotke & Forster being one particular example. I find it remarkably unprofessional, but maybe that’s just me.

81. MIchael Hauber says:

NIc Lewis made a presentation at Ringberg which explains why he thinks other estimates of climate sensitivity use ‘unsuitable’ methods. http://www.mpimet.mpg.de/en/science/the-atmosphere-in-the-earth-system/ringberg-workshop/ringberg-2014/talks.html

The faults he picks are AMO influence, bad priors and too high aerosol forcing.

I suspect there may be at least a grain of truth in these issues. To paraphrase a well known saying ‘every study is wrong, but some are useful’. My interpretation of Nic is that he plays the game of pointing to uncertainties in all climate studies that show a high sensitivity and ignoring the uncertainties in the studies that show a low sensitivity. He dismisses all paleo-climate studies broadly as ‘large uncertainty so not much impact’, and all climate model studies due to the fact that they overestimate the warming period from 1988 to 2012.

82. Ken Fabian says:

Temperature goes up, goes down in equal measure over some reasonable period of time (3 decades is it) – no warming.
Temperature goes up more than going down over reasonable period – warming.
Temperature goes up and levels off without going back down – greater warming.
Temperature goes up and goes up more (minimum climate science denier’s threshold for ‘real’ warming) – extreme warming.

83. redbbs says:

I know how busy Richard is today but I hope he will find time to read Sou’s criticism of this post

84. JCH says:

Simply put, is he saying climate sensitivity is lower because the AMO was exercising a significant influence, up and down, on the GMST?

Because if he is, I think that’s his achilles heel.

85. Eli Rabett says:

Now some, Eli suspects Richard Betts, might think that the variation in response of the climate system to forcings on an annual or somewhat longer or shorter basis is where research needs to concentrate.

Others, such as Stephan Lewandowsky might think that there is considerable opportunism in how some purposefully confuse the trees for the forest and that the study of this opportunism and how it is affecting the forestry service is also of considerable interest

86. Susan Anderson says:

I don’t know why I posted this on the wrong article, apologies for duplicating it here, where it was meant to go. (late at night, my guess):

Now that’s a whale of a lot of malarkey. What exactly is a blue wale?

But seriously, after at least 10 years of being battered with continuous garbage, the kind of stuff SkS is hated for cleanly eviscerating, how can anyone claim that the inability to ever acknowledge any kind of error, make any correction, or even admit that clean energy might, in principle, be a good thing to develop, is rational. It is intended to cause doubt and delay, purely and simply. There is no “there” there, never has been, never will be.

Letting people move the goalposts is a mug’s game.

Speaking of which, “consensus” is only a word. It means almost all experts have come to the same conclusions.

The confusionists never let up.

87. Peter Jacobs says:

With regards to aerosol forcing, we have to guard against confirmation bias. Dr? (I’ve been informed by Tamsin Edwards that he’s a super serious scientist but I don’t know what his proper title is) Lewis is fond of claiming aerosol forcing is small, but for every paper he claims in support, one can easily find others contradicting him, e.g.:

Cherian, R., J. Quaas, M. Salzmann, and M. Wild (2014), Pollution trends over Europe constrain global aerosol forcing as simulated by climate models, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41(6), 2176–2181, doi:10.1002/2013GL058715.

Shindell, D. T., G. Faluvegi, L. Rotstayn, and G. Milly (2015), Spatial patterns of radiative forcing and surface temperature response, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 2014JD022752, doi:10.1002/2014JD022752.

If Dr? Lewis thinks that the “AMO” is also a reason to believe TCR/ECS is small, I’m afraid he has more bad news in his future.

88. Peter Jacobs says:

I do have to say I found Dr. Betts’s characterization of the seepage paper to be disappointingly superficial and misguided, at times claiming things the authors go out of their way to emphasize they aren’t saying.

Also, dikran might be able to laugh off Betts’ insulation but that likewise comes across poorly.

I would be interested to see our host re-post HotWhopper’s response as a guest post, and invite Dr. Betts to respond.

89. Brandon Gates says:

ATTP,

No, I think it does say it originated here.

It doesn’t. The byline is Barry Woods even though the intro is a cut-down version of your own.

I don’t particularly care if it doesn’t, though.

As a further indication of sloppy WUWT editorial practise, I think it at least warrants (dis)honourable mention.

90. Brandon Gates says:

Peter Jacobs,

I would be interested to see our host re-post HotWhopper’s response as a guest post, and invite Dr. Betts to respond.

Seems a bit redundant. What’s the upside of him responding to Sou’s words here instead of on her own turf?

91. Brandon Gates says:

Eli,

Obviously I don’t eat enough carrots because you completely lost me.

92. JCH says:

Peter Jacobs – I somewhat agree on aerosols in the sense I don’t think they are a primary cause of mid-century cooling.

93. Michael,

My interpretation of Nic is that he plays the game of pointing to uncertainties in all climate studies that show a high sensitivity and ignoring the uncertainties in the studies that show a low sensitivity. He dismisses all paleo-climate studies broadly as ‘large uncertainty so not much impact’, and all climate model studies due to the fact that they overestimate the warming period from 1988 to 2012.

Yes, that is my interpretation too. I looked through Nic’s Ringberg presentation. Interesting that he highlighted problems with almost all methods other than his own and a few of the other methods that results in low sensitivity. There is, however, a vast difference between having a scientific debate about other peoples’ work and accusing them of applying unsuitable methods. Maybe Nic doesn’t realise that that can be seen as quite an insulting accusation?

94. redbbs says:

Brandon it’s deliberately misleading. The Intro says it’s a guest post but that characterisation implies that RB sat down and wrote it for publication on WUWT.
At the end of the post Woods reveals its provenance.
Richard’s willingness to have it posted on that site informs both the seepage discussion and his role in it.

95. BBD says:
96. BBD says:

JCH

Peter Jacobs – I somewhat agree on aerosols in the sense I don’t think they are a primary cause of mid-century cooling.

The evidence would suggest that you are mistaken.

97. Brandon Gates says:

redbbs,

At the end of the post Woods reveals its provenance.

Sneaky. Still and all, I don’t like it that I missed it.

Richard’s willingness to have it posted on that site informs both the seepage discussion and his role in it.

One thing I am sure of: I am quite interested what Richard Betts himself has to say about that charge, as well as Sou’s rebuttal.

98. Brandon Gates says:

[Mod: Best not to mention people who cannot comment here. Thanks!]

99. Richard S.J. Tol says:

Betts is the love child of Charles and David Koch!

100. Brandon Gates says:

Eli,

On review, your comment begins to make sense. That I was eating popcorn, not carrots, at the time may be entirely coincidental.

101. Brandon Gates says:

Mod: I stand corrected.

102. BBD says:

Mod:

I’ve got one stuck in moderation 🙂

103. Brandon Gates says:

It’s good to know that my particular brand of naughty gets past the automated filters. I think. Maybe …

104. semyorka says:

“Richard’s willingness to have it posted on that site informs both the seepage discussion and his role in it.”
The UK is going to change in a very fundamental way in the next 5 years. The new government is pursuing a policy of what looks like “full spectrum dominance” for its allies in the press. The BBC is about to receive a de facto (not de jure) cut in its funding, Channel 4 will also see big cuts form the same pot. The “Overton window” in the UK wrt climate change is going to get a very big push towards inaction. The government sits in a parliament dependent on the votes of climate change deniers to get its legislation program through.
Helping to validate the opinions of folk like Mr Watts, may not look quite so smart in a couple of years time.

105. Richard Barnes says:

“profiting despite all the damage that is being done.” Are you referring to the damage to EU industry, fuel poverty, or the carbon dioxide emissions from all the conferences for academics, politicians and NGO activists to discuss how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions?

You complain about “insults”, then write a diatribe on WUWT?

I wonder what golf charlie would say.

106. Sou says:

Not sure if it’s necessary to explain this – but I started writing the series when I read Pat’n Chips article at WUWT (see Part II). Then I read Richard’s article at WUWT. It wasn’t until I was quite a way through drafting the three articles that I was made aware that the WUWT article was from here, which resulted in my re-writing sections of Part III. My bad for not keeping up with my blog roll.

I’m explaining because, in retrospect, I realise my article could come across as “bashing” rather than as intended, which was to correct and clarify the paper as I understood it. (The authors seem okay with my understanding of it, too.)

107. johnl says:

James Annan’s comment on Nik Lewis:

Nic Lewis appears to be arguing primarily on the basis that all work on climate sensitivity is wrong, except his own, and one other team who gets similar results. In reality, all research has limitations, uncertainties and assumptions built in. I certainly agree that estimates based primarily on energy balance considerations (as his are) are important and it’s a useful approach to take, but these estimates are not as unimpeachable or model-free as he claims. Rather, they are based on a highly simplified model that imperfectly represents the climate system.

108. Sou

So you keep up with WUWT more than ATTP? And you accuse me of giving too much time to sceptics! 😉

But it is revealing that the tone of what you wrote about my post was determined by where you first saw it, not by the content.

It was also quite revealing that you were initially happy to accuse me (incorrectly) of “not bothering to read the paper” even though you hadn’t actually taken the opportunity to check this with me when we exchanged twitter DMs. I see you have corrected this, but it’s normally preferable to fact-check beforehand….

109. Richard T.,

Betts is the love child of Charles and David Koch!

I’ll just refer you back to this comment. I can see why you feel comfortable commenting at WUWT, though.

110. Richard Barnes,

Are you referring to the damage to EU industry, fuel poverty, or the carbon dioxide emissions from all the conferences for academics, politicians and NGO activists to discuss how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions?

This is climate policy, not climate science. Just because policy makers make stupid decisions on the basis of some evidence, does not make those who present the evidence responsible.

You complain about “insults”, then write a diatribe on WUWT?

Well, possibly, but I don’t particularly care. I’m not the one going “why didn’t you respond to the points made on ….”. I think what is promoted on WUWT is ridiculous, as are many of the comments. Either you care about my opinion, in which case you could give it some thought, or you don’t, in which case you can ignore it.

111. redbbs says:

Richard, Sou’s role in helping to protect species is to read denier blogs and tear them to shreds. That’s obvious to anyone even remotely involved in climate.
What’s not obvious is the nature of your role.

112. redbbs,
Can we keep this pleasant, please? Also, you are – I think – violating one of my moderation rules.

113. redbbs says:

Richard I read you comment on an email notification not on this page. The yellow smiling face was absent so I took it at face value. I’m relieved that you were joking.

114. dikranmarsupial says:

Richard Betts, do you have statistically significant evidence for the existence of a “pause” or “hiatus”?

115. Sou says:

Richard, as I indicated in my previous comment and on my blog, I toned down Part III (a lot),after I found out your original article was here 🙂

As for checking with you about whether you’d read the paper or not, I was dumbfounded when you said that you had. I’d never have guessed in a million years from your article. There’s not the slightest hint. It is way too wrong in way too many places and there are no references or quotes from the paper. (Also, isn’t it a bit cheeky of you to want me to check with you first on what would never have occurred to anyone who’d read the paper, when it doesn’t look as if you did any checking with the authors of the paper.)

116. Joshua says:

==> “Maybe Nic doesn’t realise that that can be seen as quite an insulting accusation?”

I doubt it. He has established a track record of repeatedly adding “something extra” into his analysis of the science – by impugning the integrity of climate scientists whose analysis he disagrees with.

What’s interesting to me is how Tamsin, (Richard Betts?), and some others seem to overlook those behaviors from Nic.

Why do they do that?

117. Peter Jacobs says:

@Brandon Gates: “What’s the upside of him responding to Sou’s words here instead of on her own turf?”

This blog has a different audience than HotWhopper, and for better or worse, I think Sou’s comments would be given a different exposure if aired here. Having Hot Whopper’s critique and Dr. Betts’ response all here would keep the entire dialog in one location. Just a thought.

118. Peter Jacobs says:

@dikran writes: “Richard Betts, do you have statistically significant evidence for the existence of a “pause” or “hiatus”?”

I have read some critical commentary that a few scientists remarking on this issue, Dr. Betts included, seem to be saying that it doesn’t matter that the framing of the issue is factually incorrect, as it gets a certain point or message across that is never the less valuable.

It would be nice if Dr. Betts could confirm or reject that interpretation himself, as I would like to not misrepresent his actual position.

119. Sou says:

@Peter Jacobs – re a re-post here – short answer, no. Long answer. It would need re-writing to suit this more polite forum 🙂

120. Willard says:

If indeed “short-term climate variability did receive a lot of attention in the 1990s,” one has to wonder if Lew & al have any leg to stand on. Before that gets settled, all this huffing and puffing is pure ClimateBall ™.

121. Paul S says:

dikran

Richard Betts, do you have statistically significant evidence for the existence of a “pause” or “hiatus”?

Many of the purely statistical analyses looking at this issue (for example Tamino’s, cited by Victor earlier) fail to incorporate known basic physical reasons for climate variability. For example, Tamino points to residuals of the linear trend through GISS data and challenges people to show how recent residuals differ from those in previous decades. However, negative residuals in previous decades are mostly explained by volcanic forcing.

Taking a more physically-informed approach by using the CMIP5 mean to define the trend, scaled to match the slope of GISS 1970-2013, the residuals now look like this:

I’ve added a 5-year running mean to make decadal/inter-decadal changes clearer. 4 out of the 6 years from 2008 to 2013 are comfortably cooler beyond one standard deviation. That’s also true of the early 70s though one year is in the opposite direction.

Interestingly, I’ve found that Gulf of Alaska SSTs appear to provide some predictability for these residuals:

The Gulf of Alaska data has been scaled to fit the y-axis but otherwise unprocessed from ERSSTv4 using 48-60N, 165-125W. The comparison appears to suggest two things:

1) What happened in the 1970s is a reasonable analogue for the present.

2) “The hiatus” is essentially over, for the internal variability component at least. Perhaps that’s obvious from recent global average temperatures though.

122. Eli Rabett says:

Willard, you have to play the ball. Lew&al write about the language shift between “short term variability” and “hiatus” or “pause” not about research interest in “short term variability”. If you want to go down that hole, you should compare the use of “acceleration” in the 1990s to “hiatus” or “pause” today. Eli suggests a few days on the bench to recapture your form.

123. James Risby

some prominent climate research papers on the so called ‘hiatus’ have started out by pointing to an apparent conundrum between steadily increasing CO2 and fluctuating GMST. i.e. that which was not a conundrum now is.

The recent global mean temperature record is a bit surprising. Not earth-shatteringly so, but enough to make an interesting research question. Temperatures have done something that was considered unlikely – in fact, something that was specifically predicted not to happen. The paper by my colleagues Smith et al attempted to make the first prediction of global temperature changes over the coming decade, taking account of the initial state at the start of the decade and hence trying to predict internal variability as well as the long-term warming trend. (This is different to the usual centennial-scale climate simulations initialised in the mean state for pre-industrial times, which therefore cannot be expected to get internal variability correct year-on-year). Smith et al concluded:

internal variability offsets the effects of anthropogenic forcing in the first few years, leading to no net warming before 2008

and

[the simulations] predict further warming during the coming decade, with the year 2014 predicted to be 0.30° ± 0.21°C [5 to 95% confidence interval (CI)] warmer than the observed value for 2004. Furthermore, at least half of the years after 2009 are predicted to be warmer than 1998, the warmest year currently on record.

The second one did not happen in reality. So, there was a conundrum!

We need to understand why global temperatures did what they did, so we can improve this kind of near-term forecasting. That’s the motivation for the research.

124. Willard says:

I always play the ball, Eli, even when I play the man.

Following the evolution of a lexicon is one thing. Showing that this evolution influenced literature is another. To infer anything from these two tasks is yet another thing.

For instance, here’s where the word “crucially” enters the field:

Crucially, on previous occasions when decadal warming was particularly rapid, the scientific community did not give short-term climate variability the attention it has recently received, when decadal warming was slower. During earlier rapid warming there was no additional research effort directed at explaining ‘catastrophic’ warming. By contrast, the recent modest decrease in the rate of warming has elicited numerous articles and special issues of leading journals and it has been (mis-)labeled as a ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’. We suggest that this asymmetry in response to fluctuations in the decadal warming trend likely reflects the ‘seepage’ of contrarian memes into scientific work.

http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/lewandowskyseepage.html

Somehow, these occasions are supposed to be crucial. Crucial for what exactly does not matter much. What matters is that this is supposed to be the landmark by which the focus on the plateau is contrasted. Notwithstanding the relative importance of the two topics (I smell dependent variables here), you have to admit that if the crucial episodes did not exist, there’s a problem.

None of Lew’s wordology needs to be justified by any of this, of course, if what you want is wordology. If the historicist details are tough to get, one has to wonder why one would need to choose them in the first place.

125. dikran

I hope my above response to James explains why I don’t think statistical significance is the point here. To answer your question, I don’t know if the “pause” is “statistically significant” or not, but that’s not the point. If I may quote Doug again:

Statistically significant is sometimes used as a proxy for true, and is sometimes muddled with significant or meaningful or large.

Even those that have done lots of statistics can forget that it only tells how likely you are to see something, given something you think probably isn’t true.

Recent global temperatures did something that was unexpected. Attempting to wave this away with purely statistical arguments is not helpful – we need to understand the physics of what went on. While internal variability is sometimes regarded as random background noise, there are mechanisms behind the variability – and if we want to understand how the climate system works, this is one the things that we need to research.

The argument seems to be that, for recent temperatures, “there is no case to answer”. This is not true.

126. Sou says:

Willard and Richard (Betts) are missing crucial elements and arguments set out in the paper (still). I suggest both read it again, paying particular attention to how “seepage” is defined, and the two essential criteria. Plus the following paragraph from the paper.

Our conclusion does not imply that research aimed at addressing the causes underlying short-term fluctuations in the warming trend is invalid or unnecessary. On the contrary, it is a legitimate and fruitful area of research, and we are certain it was not done because climate scientists intended to accept a contrarian frame—rather, if any values other than scientific curiosity drove their research, it was more likely to have been a desire to rebut contrarian talking points than a willingness to accept them.

Whether that research constitutes seepage depends on whether it ignores, adopts, or rejects the framing of those fluctuations as a ‘‘hiatus’’ in climate change. Research that ignores or rejects that framing could not be seen to be subject to the cognitive processes underlying seepage and is not seepage. On the other hand, research that explains fluctuations by uncritically adopting the language of ‘‘pauses’’ and a ‘‘hiatus’’ likely fits the definition of seepage.

(Even if neither ever understands it, it won’t hurt to try.)

127. Sou says:

Willard, for someone who puts such store on words, it’s curious that you elevate the importance some words and ignore others altogether.

128. Eli Rabett says:

Richard,

If you go back to Hansen 1988 and look at the 100 year control run Eli is surprised that you are surprised wrt model predictions of global warming and observations

129. Willard says:

Dear Sou,

Your curiosity is duly acknowledged, and your quote is unresponsive to what I said.

Thanks for playing,

W

130. Eli Rabett says:

and Willard continues as Dave Schultz on the way to the penalty box

131. I’ve been away all day, so have completely lost track of what’s going on in this thread. Seems to be some kind of conflict, the cause of which I’m failing to actually see.

132. entropicman says:

On Realclime is a discussion post following up on Brown et Al’s recent paper on internal variability.

The bullet point is that internal variability is large enough to account for all the 1940-1970 and 1998-2013 varation around the long term warming trend.

With such large variation study of the mechanisms involved would be useful regardless of who inspired it.

It is noticeable o the sceptic websites that they are keen to attribute global warming to internal variability. Those same sceptics then deny the results of research quantifying internal variability, which has been shown to be too small to produce the warming observed.

133. JCH says:

Even Hansen talks about the PDO and the pause. (there, good grief)

134. Willard says:

> continues as Dave Schultz on the way to the penalty box

If you’re to pick a Flyers, Eli, pick Tim Kerr:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Kerr

Cross-checks won’t prevent me from standing in front of a net. From that distance, I can even score. Saying that I can’t read may not have been the best approach to tame me.

135. John Hartz says:

ATTP: It’s just normal thread deterioration. Time for a new OP.

136. dikranmarsupial says:

Richard Betts, wrote “The argument seems to be that, for recent temperatures, “there is no case to answer”. This is not true.”

O.K., so you didn’t read what I wrote then. I am not saying that there is no case to answer, I am saying that you should not be so unequivocal in asserting that there actually has been a pause or hiatus, when its existence is not supported by the usual hurdle of statistical testing. Instead you should say “apparent pause” or “apparent hiatus”. If I thought there was no case to answer, I wouldn’t be asking for you to merely be less unequivocal.

I agree on the importance of investigating the physics behind internal variablity; being a statistician I am more swayed more by physics than statistics. BUT you ought to be no more certain in your discussion of the physics than good use of statistics allows, and you are failing to do so on this issue.

I’m sorry to say, but your attitude on this thread has been pretty disappointing.

137. dikranmarsupial says:

To be fair to Richard, at least he was prepared to say that he didn’t know if the pause was statistically significant. It is an interesting question though (not least from a statistical perspective) as it provides a bound on one side of how far our arguments should go.

138. BBD says:

Paul S

This was very interesting. Thanks.

139. semyorka says:

GISSTEMP 1999-2016
http://www.skepticalscience.com/trend.php

Another month or two and the famed “pause” will be over.

140. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

I am not saying that there is no case to answer, I am saying that you should not be so unequivocal in asserting that there actually has been a pause or hiatus, when its existence is not supported by the usual hurdle of statistical testing.

Existence is not a predicate.

Well, existence is not a REAL predicate.

141. Andrew Dodds says:

@semyorka

You mean, the next ‘Pause’ is about to begin, starting with the 2015 super-el-nino.. and at a higher temperature than the last pause, but let’s memory-hole that thought..

(you heard it here first)

142. jsam says:

143. Betts: “Attempting to wave this away with purely statistical arguments is not helpful – we need to understand the physics of what went on. While internal variability is sometimes regarded as random background noise, there are mechanisms behind the variability – and if we want to understand how the climate system works, this is one the things that we need to research.

This sounds like beating a by definition dead strawman to me. Studying climate variability or even the apparent “hiatus” is fine. The blog post of Lewandowsky states: “Is the research on the “pause” wrong? No. On the contrary, irrespective of the framing chosen by their authors, all articles on the pause have reinforced the reality of global warming from greenhouse gas emissions, and this body of work has yielded more knowledge of the processes underlying decadal variation. None of this work has come to the conclusion that the physical processes underlying global warming are somehow in abeyance or that prevailing scientific conceptions of them are incorrect.

And their paper states according to HotWhopper: “Our conclusion does not imply that research aimed at addressing the causes underlying short-term fluctuations in the warming trend is invalid or unnecessary. On the contrary, it is a legitimate and fruitful area of research, and we are certain it was not done because climate scientists intended to accept a contrarian frame—rather, if any values other than scientific curiosity drove their research, it was more likely to have been a desire to rebut contrarian talking points than a willingness to accept them.

Whether that research constitutes seepage depends on whether it ignores, adopts, or rejects the framing of those fluctuations as a ‘‘hiatus’’ in climate change. Research that ignores or rejects that framing could not be seen to be subject to the cognitive processes underlying seepage and is not seepage. On the other hand, research that explains fluctuations by uncritically adopting the language of ‘‘pauses’’ and a ‘‘hiatus’’ likely fits the definition of seepage.

Betts: “The argument seems to be that, for recent temperatures, “there is no case to answer”. This is not true.

There is also no conflict between stating that the hiatus is not statistically significant and studying why the temperatures deviates from the trend line or predictions. I thought only people at WUWT claimed that climatologists only study CO2 and that all people know that there are many reasons for fluctuations in the temperature, especially on short time scales. For details see my recent post:

How can the pause be both ‘false’ and caused by something?

144. entropicman says:

Insured by Tamino I put this graph together a while back for a discussion on BH.

It shows post-1970 Gistemp, linear trends for 1970-present and 1998-2014, and +/- 0.09 confidence limits.

Three points are apparant

1) The “pause” is a slowdown.

2) Gistemp is running well above both linear trends.

3) None of the above is statistically significant.

145. izen says:

@-The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse
RE:-“I am saying that you should not be so unequivocal in asserting that there actually has been a pause or hiatus, when its existence is not supported by the usual hurdle of statistical testing.”
Existence is not a predicate.
Well, existence is not a REAL predicate.”

“-when its (existence) REIFICATION is not supported by the usual hurdle of statistical testing.”
Would be better perhaps.

What I find puzzling is how short term predictions that were ‘wrong’ but which should never have been expected to have been correct given the scale of short term variability known, are used to justify a snark hunt for why the predictions were ‘wrong’. Especially when the longer term trend is statistically unchanged.
Boojums perhaps….

146. Bernard J. says:

I’m interested to see more than a few people defend the thesis that scientists are not affected by the frequent reference to the “pause” and the “hiatus”. I’m somewhat bemused by this stance, and wonder if these folk are circulating widely beyond their own laboratories and offices.

I am a vey frequent listener of my local (Australian) ABC radio, especially the morning broadcasts which involve interviews with various experts discussing the news of the day. On numerous occasions climatologists, glaciologists, oceanographers, atmospheric scientists and other experts from my university have been so interviewed, and almost without fail when the interviewer asks about the reality of climate change (one of the things forced upon ABC staff by our conservative government in the name of “balance”) the conversation inevitably turns to the “pause”, and to various fumbling explanations that do not simply refute any current validity of the notion in the first place.

On several occasions I’ve been excruciatingly embarrassed for the interviewee because they (unintentionally, I presume) leave an impression that there has been a several-decades cessation of warming, and that there is much less to be concerned about than what objectivity would tell us. Oh, with the advantage of my background and work I know exactly what they think they’re saying, but what goes in the ears of the listeners is basically “nothing to see, nothing to worry about, it’s all a storm in a teacup”.

Yes, there’s seeping. Like water through a sieve.

147. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

izen:

…REIFICATION…
Would be better perhaps.

It’s boojums all the way down.

148. Bobby says:

I was going to say something but noticed that Victor Venema said it better than I would have at May 14, 2015 at 4:16 pm

I think Richard Betts should read the original paper in its entirety and stop protesting too much.

149. Brandon Gates says:

Peter Jacobs,

Having Hot Whopper’s critique and Dr. Betts’ response all here would keep the entire dialog in one location.

I understand, thanks for the response. Since I read both blogs regularly I guess I have a different perspective. On that note, Dr. Betts has engaged over at Sou’s, and for me his comments there better illuminate his objections. Worth a trip over there, IMO, if you have not been following.

150. izen says:

@-Willard
The crucial difference is that research into short term variability during the period of ‘accelrated’ warming and during the period of the ‘hiatus’ have been pursued with a difference in purpose that is the result of ‘seepage’.

Investigations into the rapid rise and short term variability before 1998~ were not conducting a defence of the central understanding of AGW. Finding that temperatures had risen or ice melted or sea level rose by more than the short-term predictions was not seen as an issue that undermined the reality or scale of the warming trend already established.

As the paper in question frames it –
“—rather, if any values other than scientific curiosity drove their research, it was more likely to have been a desire to rebut contrarian talking points than a willingness to accept them.”

This Guest post provides a clear example of this seepage in the new intent that is asserted to be required.

@-Betts: “The argument seems to be that, for recent temperatures, “there is no case to answer”. This is not true.”

The argument of course is weather there is a case to answer.

151. Victor

There is also no conflict between stating that the hiatus is not statistically significant and studying why the temperatures deviates from the trend line or predictions.

You forgot to put quotation marks around “hiatus”! 😉

But yes, this is why I said that the question of whether it’s statistically significant or not is irrelevant to whether the deviation from predictions is worth studying. And if it’s something worth studying, why not identify it with a convenient name? Probably is best to use quotation marks, which is usually but not universally the case. As I said above, all this agonising really does seem to be about political concerns.

152. Brandon Gates

Thanks. Yes, nobody here has engaged on the points I made about whether the proposed mechanisms of seepage really do seem to be relevant, at least here in the UK. Sou has also not really addressed that, she’s just agreed that I understood what these mechanisms supposedly are.

153. My apologies.

There is also no conflict between stating that the “hiatus” is not statistically significant and studying why the temperatures deviates from the trend line or predictions.

My quality standard for internet comments is somewhat lower than for scientific articles. 😉

Although I could imagine that had I written the first “hiatus” paper, I might also have gotten the framing wrong. When someone explains me why it is wrong, I see no reason not to improve my formulation.

154. Willard says:

> The crucial difference is that research into short term variability during the period of ‘accelrated’ warming and during the period of the ‘hiatus’ have been pursued with a difference in purpose that is the result of ‘seepage’.

Sure. We can even go further and say that pre-internet papers were less prone to be influenced by the Internetz.

The crucial point here is that one does not simply project one’s purpose into otters’ work.

***

> This Guest post provides a clear example of this seepage in the new intent that is asserted to be required.

You can find seepage in just about any piece that does not sound like preaching to the choir. On one hand, seepage. On the other, echo chambers.

The very concept of seepage begs an ethical grandstanding that Lew’s online presence doesn’t caution.

155. anoilman says:

A new study has determined what the source of the problem really is. There’s a new strain of Fact Resistant Humans endangering the world’s ability to sustain itself.

http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/scientists-earth-endangered-by-new-strain-of-fact-resistant-humans

156. John Hartz says:

Willard: Until reading the OP and this comment thread, I naively thought “seepage” was an affliction of old age. 🙂

157. Peter Jacobs says:

I’m not sure how to phrase this without “outing” the person in question. Let’s see…

I had a graduate course not that long ago focusing on a component of the earth system that is intrinsically climate related. The instructor of the course does not work on climate dynamics per se, but is familiar with most of the WG1 type stuff, at least for TAR and AR4.

This professor was not a denier. He presented the science in a pretty unobjectionably mainstream way for the most part. However, he was an infrequent fan of Judith Curry’s- mostly he just knew her work pre-blogging, when she published normal stuff on TCs or the Arctic. Not the silliness she’s become known for now. Anyway, he was in a meeting with a bunch of other researchers in his discipline and they were talking about how they had seen a talk by Curry that had shown warming had stopped, which I understand made references to a bunch of denier material in support.

So my professor, apparently under the impression that Curry still spoke for mainstream climate science, brought it up in class completely uncritically, posing the “pause” as an unquestionably real stoppage of global warming and saying that it was a problem the climate community needed to solve to maintain its credibility. He had never heard of the Foster & Rahmstorf or similar methods to account for ENSO. He did not critically look at the surface instrumental record, to see if the phenomenon was data-set dependent or statistically significant. He just accepted that there was a problem and told students- some of whom were pursuing a degree in climate dynamics- that this was something that had to be answered.

I don’t know if this fits the exact definition of seepage used in the paper, but the effect was clearly similar. Conceptual frames making their way from deniers to established mainstream researchers (and the incoming crop of new ones).

@Brandon Gates writes: “On that note, Dr. Betts has engaged over at Sou’s, and for me his comments there better illuminate his objections. Worth a trip over there”

Hmm. I have to say I haven’t found his comments there to be any more illuminating. It really does sound like he didn’t read the paper, although of course I take him at his word that he did.

Perhaps, based on his comments about the UK, he interpreted the paper as being directed at certain people that it actually wasn’t, and this misperception is behind the divergence between Dr. Betts’ complaints about the paper and what it actually says?

158. Steven Mosher says:

Willard, I think some of the people on this thread as well as Dr. Lew would benefit from actually understanding the difficulties involved in wordology.

I wont say DK, cause I don’t do psychology.

159. Marco says:

Stephan Lewandowsky has responded to this guest post:
http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/lewandowskySeepageII.html

160. Willard says:

> Until reading the OP and this comment thread, I naively thought “seepage” was an affliction of old age.

That’s because you were more pluralistically ignorant than you are now, JH.

Let’s thank Lew & al for creating cognitive diapers for more ClimateBall comfort.

161. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

The crucial point here is that one does not simply project one’s purpose into otters’ work.

It offends the otters, and one’s porpoise may never be the same afterwards.

162. Brandon Gates says:

Richard Betts,

You’re welcome. I appreciate your responses both places.

Yes, nobody here has engaged on the points I made about whether the proposed mechanisms of seepage really do seem to be relevant, at least here in the UK.

As you point out immediately above: As I said above, all this agonising really does seem to be about political concerns.

That is close to my view as well, and I’ll add that I don’t see anything wrong with that per se. What troubles me about this instance of those ongoing conversations is that many of those concerns are being expressed in ways which come across as a clear-cut mandate on the basis of Dr. Lewandowsky’s research — not just for the politics but of the research focus.

Sou has also not really addressed that, she’s just agreed that I understood what these mechanisms supposedly are.

Yes, and acknowledged that you read the paper itself, not just the blog post. However she also says: The question now becomes: why then did he get so many fundamental things so wrong?

I’ll let that stand as an example of the “clear-cut mandate” I speak of above. The question I’d have for you is: why then do you disagree? Having read your responses at Sou’s, at this point for me it is strictly a rhetorical question.

163. Brandon Gates says:

Steven Mosher,

I wont say DK, cause I don’t do psychology.

Too late, you just did. Better to have that one out in the open methinks, you’re not the only one seeing that subtext in all this.

164. Willard says:

Anyone who doesn’t use the D word has a clear case of seapage. The plateau is not a C-meme: it’s a D-meme. To fail to properly identify those who pull your vocabulary strings are getting the better of the C users.

This matters because otherwise the pause will kill the cause. Talk of Cs when we should talk of Ds has risks. Think of all the African schoolgirls who were killed or worse.

Thank you.

165. JCH says:

You guys, Nic Lewis has gone went Girma on you.

Today on a RC a scientist posted with a question about the AMO. His paper estimated CS at 1.6.

Look at his AMO paper, and this is what you get:

Acknowledgements. We would like to thank two reviewers for their constructive suggestions; Nicholas Lewis, Jos Hagelaars, Marcel Crok, and Rob Dekker for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper; all data providers for sharing their results publicly; and Geert Jan van Oldenborgh for maintaining the Climate Explorer at KNMI. This work was supported by the European Research Council (ERC), grant number 280061. Python code and data used for the analyses can be derived from http://www.falw.vu/~gwerf/code/MLR_AMO_TCR/.

So where do they demonstrate that the AMO has any influence on the GMST?

166. Roger Jones says:

Richard Betts: I’m considering inviting papers on implications of the ‘pause’ for adaptation in honour of this discussion 😉

I presented two papers at the same conference yesterday and today that maintained that atmospheric temperature is a series of plateaus punctuated by step changes and that trends are the illusion. There are valid theoretical and evidential reasons for thinking why this may be the case. This is where research should be looking, rather than either defending or proscribing language with statistical tests.

Both presentations also presented risk analyses and economic analyses that showed non-linear climate change to be of greater concern than trend-like changes, discussing those implications for adaptation. I suspect that in two years time, this will be a major theme.

167. BBD says:

Roger Jones

Is there not a suggestion that as the forced signal strengthens it will increasingly overprint natural variability?

168. BBD says:

JCH

van der Werf & Dolman estimate TCR:

Our results indicate that both the high and the low end of the anthropogenic trend over the past 30 years found in previous studies are unlikely and that a transient climate response
of 1.6 (1.0–3.3) C best captures the historic instrumental temperature record.

Seems within the plausible range to me.

169. BBD,
That’s similar to what Cawley et al. got. As I understand it, both Cawley et al. and van der Werf & Dolman fit to the full temperature record, not just to early and late averages.

170. Roger Jones says:

BBD, I think the extra energy due to climate change is interacting with climate variability, and is not behaving independently. In that sense, it wont “overprint” but will speed up the rate of variations in both time and space. Over many decades this will appear trend-like but on shorter time scales is not.

171. BBD says:

ATTP

I’m probably missing something here but allowing for methodological bias introduced by reliance on historical data (absence of future non-linear feedbacks) a TCR of ~1.6C fits with an ECS of ~2.4C.

This doesn’t seem to conflict with more physically complete ECS estimates of >2.5C.

172. Roger Jones

I presented two papers at the same conference yesterday and today that maintained that atmospheric temperature is a series of plateaus punctuated by step changes and that trends are the illusion.

Thanks, that’s an interesting point. So I guess the key issue here is about being lulled into a false sense of security by a period of slow change, then being caught out by a step change.

I agree that this could become a major theme – please bear this in mind when we put out the call* for sessions for ECCA2017

[*caveat – I assume that this is how we will do it, but nothing is decided yet. We’ve only just decided where it will be held (Glasgow)]

173. BBD says:

Roger Jones

BBD, I think the extra energy due to climate change is interacting with climate variability, and is not behaving independently. In that sense, it wont “overprint” but will speed up the rate of variations in both time and space. Over many decades this will appear trend-like but on shorter time scales is not.

Okay, I think I see what you mean. Warming troposphere -> increased variability in OHU (eg. England et al. 2014) -> sharply step-wise warming pattern?

174. izen says:

@-Willard
Grrowth in temperatures will dry out the seepage.

175. izen says:

@-BBD
“Warming troposphere -> increased variability in OHU (eg. England et al. 2014) -> sharply step-wise warming pattern?”

Sawtooth variation plus trend = stepwise pattern.

Metrics that capture the aspects of the climate with low thermal inertia show this. Metrics of other, less volatile metrics tend to just show the trend.

On those occasions they do not, the pause/drop in sea level rise ~2009, the explanation is found, accepted and no basic theory was cast in doubt along the way.

176. Eli Rabett says:

Eli underestimated Willard.

Ulf

177. John L says:

@Richard Betts
“It seems to me that asserting that these words are “scientifically inaccurate” is akin to the various pointless arguments about whether warming has been “statistically significant” or not. It doesn’t particularly matter whether warming has been “statistically significant”, you can look at the temperature record and see quite clearly that the world is warmer now than a hundred years ago, and the point is that there is a physical explanation for this. I just use “pause”, “hiatus” and “slowdown” as a way of describing a feature of the raw data – just looking at the data, you see a run of years in which the later ones are not particularly warmer than the earlier ones. The question that all the “pause” papers have been addressing is, why did this happen? Saying that these terms are not “scientifically accurate” is just an opinion, in which the focus is on a particular view of statistics rather than physics.”

I think this is a pretty remarkable statement coming from a scientist. “just looking at the data”, well, as soon as you start talking about ” a feature” of the data, that you even name in a serious publishable context, then you are into statistics regardless if you understand it or not. Basic statistics already provides perfectly good tools in this case, as Tamino and others have pointed out.

And it has nothing to do with physics vs. statistics. Or perhaps Mr Betts please may inform us of how to do physical attribution studies on data without critically involving statistics 🙂 If the data is not significantly outside of what the physical model predicts there is no new “phenomena” to explain, you just risk wasting a lot of time doing the wrong research prioritizations. And just “looking at the data” (i.e. only global temperature data) means not doing a serious physical interpretation. I think Betts contradicts himself here, with two individually incorrect arguments.

Lewandowsky et al points out that this “seepage” phenomena is well known in the psychological literature. Naturally, people tend to adapt to each other and each others terminology, which is perfectly fine in the normal social context and even critical for groups to work properly. You would expect the scientists to keep their integrity and seeking clarifications instead of joining the echo-chambering of confusing terms. But syllogistically, scientists are just people so it is not surprising with “seepage” occurring, especially as it is a subconscious effect.

178. BBD says:

izen

On those occasions they do not, the pause/drop in sea level rise ~2009, the explanation is found, accepted and no basic theory was cast in doubt along the way.

Yes, of course.

179. Brandon Gates says:

Peter Jacobs,

Hmm. I have to say I haven’t found his comments there to be any more illuminating.

Ok.

Perhaps, based on his comments about the UK, he interpreted the paper as being directed at certain people that it actually wasn’t, and this misperception is behind the divergence between Dr. Betts’ complaints about the paper and what it actually says?

I quote what he wrote in the OP: Lewandowsky et al suggest three mechanisms by which their proposed “seepage” may occur ­does the evidence support these proposed mechanisms? Here I focus on the situation in the UK, as this is where I am most familiar, and also because this is where a focus on the “pause” is quite common.

I don’t understand why the latter sentence should not be taken at face value.

Dr. Lewandowsky has written a follow-up post featuring positive feedback from Drs. Dessler, Rahmstorf and Trenberth, and then moves on to Dr. Betts’ critique. Richard has been responsive in the comments there as well: http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/lewandowskySeepageII.html

180. Willard says:

> Grrowth in temperatures will dry out the seepage.

Plateaus and Grrrowth go hand in hand.

181. MIchael Hauber says:

I like your chart Paul S. If we define P as the time period during which the GISS temperature is mostly lower than the scaled CMIP5 trend it is not clear that P is over. In particular there is an obvious connection with ENSO, and we are currently in positive territory due to the almost el nino of 2014 (I assume the last year is 2015 YTD?. 2015 ENSO will have its impact on temp in 2016). The question is what will ENSO/PDO do in coming years. It looks like a strong el nino, and previous strong el ninos such as 72 and 98 were followed by strong multi-year la nina. That could drive the difference back to negative and extend P for another 2 or 3 years. Or it could be more like another strong event in 83 with no significant following La Nina in which case P could be over.

182. Eli Rabett says:

Climate variability is not noise although it may be chaotic because the links between the underlying causes are complex. Thus statistical models that assume random changes will not be very useful and the search must be for the underlying causes and their linkages (physics). How many layers of the onion can be peeled is another question worthy of study.

183. Tom Dayton says:

A similar problem exists for scientists’ use of the shorthand “temperature” instead of “surface temperature” when referring to surface temperature. Had deniers not confounded the two, especially in regard to “the pause,” this would not be a problem. But it is a problem. I mentioned this to James Hansen a couple years ago when he gave a talk here, thinking that of all people he would understand how that could be taken incorrectly by the media and others. But he seemed to dismiss my concern.

184. You can describe turbulence statistically and physically. Both is done, both is useful, both lead to insight.

185. Eli Rabett says:

The statistics requires a physical model to be meaningful.

186. Eli Rabett says:

And since it is turbulent, visa versa, but the underlying physics can be simple

187. Sou says:

@Richard Betts – you wrote:

Yes, nobody here has engaged on the points I made about whether the proposed mechanisms of seepage really do seem to be relevant, at least here in the UK. Sou has also not really addressed that, she’s just agreed that I understood what these mechanisms supposedly (sic) are.

If you have a follow-up question for me I suggest you ask it at my place – much as I value ATTP’s blog, unfortunately I don’t keep up with everything said here (and elsewhere).

188. dikranmarsupial says:

“Yes, nobody here has engaged on the points I made ”

oh, the irony ;o) .

189. dikranmarsupial says:

VV indeed statisticians are often just as interested in the noise – I ran a competition a few years ago on modelling environmental uncertainty on that topic and uncertainty quantification is an interesting branch of statistics.

190. Sou says:

@dikranmarsupial – “oh, the irony” – Yep, I’m still waiting at HW – I think it will be a very long wait 😦

191. dikranmarsupial says:

” Although global temperatures remain within the envelope of uncertainty implied by multi-model studies, this is not the same as actually predicting it. ”

I’m not sure I really agree with that. If a model provides an indication of its predictive uncertainty (e.g. the envelope of the model runs) then it is predicting that the observations will lie within that range of uncertainty. The conditional mean may be the most probable outcome, but the prediction of the model is the conditional mean AND the stated uncertainty.

As I understand it, the mean of the multi-model ensemble is not directly a prediction (projection) of the path the climate will actually take, but a prediction of only the forced response of the climate system (the plausible effects of the unforced response being represented by the spread of the model runs). It may be that the forced response is the best point prediction of the actual climate trajectory (as the unforced response tends to cancel out in the longer term), but that does not mean that it actually is (by itself) the models prediction of the actual climate.

192. Willard says:

> I think it will be a very long wait

193. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

Roger Jones says:

I presented two papers at the same conference yesterday and today that maintained that atmospheric temperature is a series of plateaus punctuated by step changes and that trends are the illusion. There are valid theoretical and evidential reasons for thinking why this may be the case.

In an often quoted remark, Gould stated, “Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists—whether through design or stupidity, I do not know—as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups.”

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

194. redbbs says:

I note that WUWT has granted Monckton free rein to attack the CEO of the Met Office,
Rob Varley.
I wonder if Varley has formed an opinion about senior Met staff publishing commentary on that site?

195. redbbs says:

My link didn’t take. (I wish one could preview HTML on WordPress).
The Monckton v Varley post is currently up on WUWT.

196. Monckton:

Mr Varley has misled his readers by not presenting a balanced account of the state of global warming science. He is by no means unique. Profiteers of doom all over the world have taken advantage of the near-universal ignorance of science among politicians, press and public. That ignorance is costly, not only in treasure but also in lives.

197. Eli Rabett says:

Eli saw Roger Jones’ poster two years ago at AGU and published key graphs. Unfortunately link rot has set in so Roger will have to provide updates

198. Andrew Dodds says:

VV –

That goes so far past Irony we need to invent a new term. Osmium-y?

199. Eli Rabett says:

“Yes, nobody here has engaged on the points I made ”

Now some, not Eli to be sure, and certainly not our humble host, might think this is Richard Bett’s fall back, kink of like the Roger Pielke Jr. go read every one of my publications before you say anything.

Richard, to be kind, and some say Eli is never kind, your entire jeremiad was OT if the topic was Lewandowsky, et al. Everybunny here agrees that climatic variation outside of the envelope of forcings is an important topic that requires more thought and research. Even the authors of Lewandowsky, et al. agree. If anything Eli is on your side that figuring out the physics and chemistry is more important than the statistics.

However, their point is that the language used to describe the evolution of the global temperature anomaly was the language pushed into the discussion by the Moncktons and Watts not the Betts’, and like it or not, word choice is a formative component of a field.

200. redbbs says:

In a nutshell Eli.

201. Tom Dayton says:

Regarding what Dikran wrote about the envelope of the model runs (yes, he’s correct): I suggest this is another area in which climate scientists have fallen into the fake skeptics’ trap, by scientists publicly being defensive about short-term deviations of observed surface temperature from the multi-model mean, and tending to not mention the envelope. Or if they mention the envelope they do so in ways that are misinterpreted by the fake skeptics and media as an excuse. The misinterpretation is that even for short terms, observed temperatures being near the edge of the envelope means the models are barely correct.

In reality, none of the models projects short-term temperature along the individual mean, because the models are too good. Each model is trying to capture a specific trajectory of temperature, which in reality varies much more than the multi-model mean.

202. dikranmarsupial says:

Eli “If anything Eli is on your side that figuring out the physics and chemistry is more important than the statistics.”

me too, and I am a statistician ;o)

203. Tom Dayton says:

Sorry, “individual mean” was supposed to be “multi-model mean.”

204. Willard says:

> Richard, to be kind, and some say Eli is never kind, your entire jeremiad was OT if the topic was Lewandowsky, et al.

By chance Eli is never kind, for this is false:

It’s an intriguing paper, not least because of what it reveals about the authors’ framing of the climate change discourse (they use a clear “us vs. them” framing), their assumptions about the aims and scope of climate science, and their awareness of past research. However, the authors seem unable to offer any real evidence to support their speculation, and I think their conclusions are incorrect.

As their example of scientists apparently giving undue weight to “contrarian memes”, Lewandowsky et al focus on what they describe as the “asymmetry of the scientific response to the so-called Œpause’”.

https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/guest-post-climate-variability-research-did-the-sceptics-make-us-do-it

Some, but not me, might say that the “entire” was hyperbolic. Let’s discount them on the basis that stereotype threat makes them think suboptimally.

205. If I may repeat myself: Nothing justifies comparing a honest scientist to the honest broker.

It also distracts from your good argument that Richard Betts is beating up a strawman.

206. Willard says:

> It also distracts from your good argument that Richard Betts is beating up a strawman.

While I applaud the seepage of critical thinking memes like “strawman,” this claim seems to imply RichardB has not addressed Lew’s main (or “crucial” to borrow the wordologists’ meme) point. This is false:

So overall I do not see that “seepage of contrarian memes” is necessary to explain research on the recent slowdown in global surface warming, nor do I see any evidence that this is likely to be occurring in the UK climate science community where such research is prominent.

Lew’s “and the list goes on…” is a poor excuse to dodge RichardB’s main, nay crucial, point.

207. BBD says:

This is all rather disappointing given that the contrarians have pushed the ‘pause’/’hiatus’ meme into the public discourse. The contrarians *have* successfully created the impression that surface temperatures are the climate system as a whole and they *have* successfully created the misleading impression that global warming has slowed or even stopped, when of course it has not.

208. Willard says:

> [T]hey *have* successfully created the misleading impression that global warming has slowed or even stopped

Until it stops to look like it has slowed, there’s very little the deep oceans can do about that seachange. The same can’t be said of global warming, which is now called climate change. (Even some scientists prefer “climate change,” and some argue it’s more precise. Whatever.) It would be more troublesome for Lew to try to shame those who use “climate change”, since there’s even less no facts of the matter behind that convention.

Here’s how Lakoff would suggest we do to change framing:

Consider the word “freedom”. Using the morality frame, conservatives have patented “freedom” and now progressives act as if they are scared of that word. Here’s a familiar policy example. Take the healthcare bill. The pollster that Obama used identified individual policies with 60%-80% popularity, and those became the conditions in the plan. However, even though each provision was very popular, only about 50% of the public actually supports it. How did the whole plan become unpopular when each provision was overwhelmingly popular? Any cognitive scientist will tell you that the policy parts don’t determine how the whole is perceived.

This is how progressives shoot themselves in the foot. They focused on communicating the policies, the statistics. Conservatives understand that communication has to do with the moral basis. (They never said anything about provisions. Instead, they said this was about “freedom and life.” They talked about a government takeover and death panels.

So, what should Obama have done? Not named it the “Affordable Care Act.” He should have used the word “freedom” in it. Bottom line, progressives can’t say, “They’ve already got that one.” It’s too important. We can’t let them get that word. … We reclaim it by using it over and over. … What about freedom from weather disasters and pollutants? … You need to name the issues then use the word repeatedly.

Trying to reclaim the P word by writing a scientific editorial with passive aggressive moralistic crap portrayed as hypotheses about a strawman (yes, the existence of a pause, besides being a question Lew begs, is a strawman regarding the framing issue) is just despicable.

This will not end well. You have been warned.

209. Brandon Gates says:

Eli,

However, their point is that the language used to describe the evolution of the global temperature anomaly was the language pushed into the discussion by the Moncktons and Watts not the Betts’, and like it or not, word choice is a formative component of a field.

I agree that word choice is important, but do not consider it important exclusive of word context, or more specifically, meaning conveyed by a string of words. I refer now to a passage from Dr. Lewandowsky’s intial blog post: http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/lewandowskySeepage.html

In our article, we illustrate the consequences of seepage from public debate into the scientific process with a case study involving the interpretation of temperature trends from the last 15 years, the so-called ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’. This is a nuanced issue that can be addressed in multiple different ways. In this article, we focus primarily on the asymmetry of the scientific response to the so-called ‘pause’—which is not a pause but a moderate slow-down in warming that does not qualitatively differ from previous fluctuations in decadal warming rate.

Euphemism does not impress me, especially when it is factually incorrect. While I agree that Le Grande Millenial Pause is within norms for previously observed surface temperature fluctuations, below the surface …

… warming ….

… continues …

unabated.

Monckton, Watts, et al. pushed the concept that the only important metric of AGW is surface temperature. The labels they choose to describe that are not the main problem. I opine that the apparently pernicious seepage in my quotemined example is.

When a contrarian challenges me that global warming has stopped, I say, “Why yes, there has been a pause in upward surface temperature trends since 1998 relative to prior decades,” and then I show them the observational data below the surface which directly refute the notion that AGW has in any way shape or form stopped responding to anthropogenic CO2 forcing.

Contesting the word choice to describe the phenomenon of internal variability as manifest at the surface

a) allows them to dictate the terminology of the debate and
b) gives them an opening to attack me for obfuscation by wordsmithing.

It’s against my religion to give my adversaries that kind of power over me. The data are on my side, and nothing delights me more than cramming them down the throat of a howling ignoramus. It’s all the better for me when I shove their own marketing collateral right along with it.

210. Brandon Gates says:

Willard,

It’s worth noting that Obama calls the ACA Obamacare without hesitation and no small amount of pride.

211. Willard says:

The operative word is global, BrandonG. Not pause. There’s no pause in global warming, as BBD said. What looks like a pause in surface is not a pause when you look at it globally.

As Don Cherry is fond to say, finish your checks.

Pussyfooting about “pause” and “slowdown” gives the game away.

As soon as you argue semantics, contrarians win.

***

You use the word “pause” and you beat your opponent with it:

First you say it is true that there is a pause. Then you make a pause yourself. You pause to make sure everyone got you just acknowledged something.

Then you say that this pause has not much to do with the price of tea. Or what the echo chamber echoes in its chamber. Or what not. My favorite is John Nielsen-Gammon’s:

[I]n addition to a flat trend over some period of years, I’d want evidence that it was not merely a temporary flat trend. In the absence of such evidence, I’d settle for a trend longer than half a PDO cycle, or 35 years or so. With such evidence, the trend could be as short as a year, because I’d be swayed not by the trend but by the evidence.

It is very tough for Denizens to challenge this.

Reclaim the pause.

212. JCH says:

I believe Gavin Schmidt argued, in the midst of the pause talk, that the definition of global warming is the surface air temperature.

213. JCH,
I think what people have suggested is that the term “global warming” refers to the surface air temperature. That doesn’t, however, change that the consequence of our emissions is to create a planetary energy imbalance which increases the total energy in the system.

214. Me: “It also distracts from your good argument that Richard Betts is beating up a strawman.

Willard says: “While I applaud the seepage of critical thinking memes like “strawman,” this claim seems to imply RichardB has not addressed Lew’s main (or “crucial” to borrow the wordologists’ meme) point. This is false:

Betts: “So overall I do not see that “seepage of contrarian memes” is necessary to explain research on the recent slowdown in global surface warming, nor do I see any evidence that this is likely to be occurring in the UK climate science community where such research is prominent.

Already before this guest post I had written that the increase in research on natural variability is not only due to seepage, but that there are many other reasons why this topic has gotten more interest. In my first comment I wrote, linking to a comment of mine from before this guest post:

I agree with you that the increase in studies on natural variability is well explained by impact, decadal and season prediction studies:

A second reason why people are more interested in natural variability would be that in impact studies you have a problematic break between historical data and the projections. As a consequence we have started working on decadal climate prediction. This is also again because something like that is nowadays possible. We hope. Framing your work as decadal climate prediction is the scientific version of writing an article about the non-existent hiatus for a science glossy.

(And thinking longer about it, I am not even sure if there is such an increase. Research on El Nino, NAO, and a zoo of other climate modes has been prominent for as long as I know. It might not have been a Nature or Science topic that much, but a lot of research on this is performed.)

However these quotes from scientific articles, listed on the last blog post of Stephan Lewandowsky are clearly the wrong framing for such research.
“Despite ongoing increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases, the Earth’s global average surface air temperature has remained more or less steady since 2001.”
“Despite a sustained production of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, the Earth’s mean near-surface temperature paused its rise during the 2000–2010 period.”
“Given the widely noted increase in the warming effects of rising greenhouse gas concentrations, it has been unclear why global surface temperatures did not rise between 1998 and 2008.”
“Despite the continued increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, the annual-mean global temperature has not risen in the twenty-first century, challenging the prevailing view that anthropogenic forcing causes climate warming.”
Lewandowsky:
What those citations show is that a short-term fluctuation, sometimes over as short a period as a decade, was considered by those scientists to constitute a “problem” for climate science that had to be resolved.

Maybe I had written the same to get published in one of the Nature Hiatus journals, without this reference to the public “debate” the glossies would likely not have been interested. Then these articles would simply have been about natural variability, something for the climate connoisseur. That such a framing is nowadays good for your career does not make it good science to act like something which is no problem is a problem.

Betts:”Lewandowsky at al regard research into natural variability as “entertaining the possibility that a short period of a reduced rate of warming presents a challenge to the fundamentals of greenhouse warming.””

The main point of the article of Lewandowsky is about this framing coming from the climate “debate”. One of the arguments is that there has been an increase in research on natural variability. (And the article explicitly states that the research is fine.) This argument is certainly not sufficient by itself, because there are indeed other reasons for the increase.

Other arguments for seepage are the wrong framing in the above quotes and the difference in how much research there is on the trend in the 15 years since 1998 and the trend in the 15 years before 2008. The latter is a larger deviation, but not studies (much?). The title of this guest post Climate variability research: did the sceptics make us do it? suggests that this is not just one argument, but the main argument or maybe even the main result of the article, which is a strawman.

Scientists are humans and have blind spots and likings like everyone else. To be aware of ones biases is an important part of avoiding introducing them into the literature.

215. BBD says:

JCH

I believe Gavin Schmidt argued, in the midst of the pause talk, that the definition of global warming is the surface air temperature.

Well, to me, global warming refers to an accumulation of energy in the climate system as a whole, which is >90% ocean. The troposphere is only a tiny little bit of the climate system.

It is correct to say that there has been a slow-down in the rate of tropospheric / surface warming but none in the rate of global warming.

216. BBD says:

Willard

This will not end well. You have been warned.

It didn’t start well either.

217. BBD,

Well, to me, global warming refers to an accumulation of energy in the climate system as a whole, which is >90% ocean. The troposphere is only a tiny little bit of the climate system.

Well, yes, it does to me too. I have, however, been told that many do regard the term “global warming” as referring to the surface temperatures only. More seepage? 🙂

218. BBD says:

ATTP

Well, we would be less likely to have these discussions were it not for the contrarian influence on public discourse…

219. Brandon Gates says:

Willard,

Something else which has been nagging at me, and frankly is beginning to piss me off, is this — beginning with the crucial clause: http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/lewandowskySeepage.html

Crucially, on previous occasions when decadal warming was particularly rapid, the scientific community did not give short-term climate variability the attention it has recently received, when decadal warming was slower. During earlier rapid warming there was no additional research effort directed at explaining ‘catastrophic’ warming.

Critically, that argument is straight out of the climate contrarian playbook — “60 excuses for The Pause and counting”. I keep handy a small warchest of pre-pause internal variability papers going back to the Stone Age to refute just this sort of nonsense. Continuing on:

By contrast, the recent modest decrease in the rate of warming has elicited numerous articles and special issues of leading journals and it has been (mis-)labeled as a ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’. We suggest that this asymmetry in response to fluctuations in the decadal warming trend likely reflects the ‘seepage’ of contrarian memes into scientific work.

Except it’s not mislabled when specifically talking about surface temperature trends. Let the WTFUWT crew deal in ambiguous application of cherry-picked anecdote to the global. Now for the part which is starting the turn of my crank:

4. Is the research on the “pause” wrong?

No. On the contrary, irrespective of the framing chosen by their authors, all articles on the pause have reinforced the reality of global warming from greenhouse gas emissions, and this body of work has yielded more knowledge of the processes underlying decadal variation. None of this work has come to the conclusion that the physical processes underlying global warming are somehow in abeyance or that prevailing scientific conceptions of them are incorrect.
However, by accepting the framing of a recent fluctuation as a ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’, research on the pause has, ironically and unwittingly, entrenched the notion of a ‘pause’ (with all the connotations of that term) in the literature as well as in the public’s mind. Some of that research may therefore have inadvertently misdirected public attention.

Which is it? Has climate research been affected by seepage, or has seepage affected the framing of climate literature?

If we must impute motive: It is vested political interests which have intentionally and wittingly entrenched the notion in the minds of some segments of the public that the pause in surface temperature trends constitutes anthropogenic global warming hiatus.

Or plateau.

220. John Hartz says:

The term “Climate Sensitivity” is also a total misnomer beasue it only measures changes in the global temperture of the lower troposphere. Since the scientific commumnity coined this term, it is responsible for the conusion that its use has caused.

Here’s the official IPPC definition of the term:

In IPCC reports, equilibrium climate sensitivity refers to the equilibrium change in the annual mean global surface temperature following a doubling of the atmospheric equivalent carbon dioxide concentration. Due to computational constraints, the equilibrium climate sensitivity in a climate model is usually estimated by running an atmospheric general circulation model coupled to a mixed-layer ocean model, because equilibrium climate sensitivity is largely determined by atmospheric processes. Efficient models can be run to equilibrium with a dynamic ocean.

The effective climate sensitivity is a related measure that circumvents the requirement of equilibrium. It is evaluated from model output for evolving non-equilibrium conditions. It is a measure of the strengths of the climate feedbacks at a particular time and may vary with forcing history and climate state. The climate sensitivity parameter (units: °C (W m–2)–1) refers to the equilibrium change in the annual mean global surface temperature following a unit change in radiative forcing.

The transient climate response is the change in the global surface temperature, averaged over a 20-year period, centred at the time of atmospheric carbon dioxide doubling, that is, at year 70 in a 1% yr–1 compound carbon dioxide increase experiment with a global coupled climate model. It is a measure of the strength and rapidity of the surface temperature response to greenhouse gas forcing.

Definition courtesy of IPCC AR4.

All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

221. Brandon Gates says:

ATTP,

I have, however, been told that many do regard the term “global warming” as referring to the surface temperatures only. More seepage? 🙂

No. Direct, intentional actions of motivated lobbyists and pundits.

BBD

Well, we would be less likely to have these discussions were it not for the contrarian influence on public discourse…

Yes, which is a political reality. And since policy non-response is not a palatable option, I hold that research directed at refuting it is an appropriate scientific endeavour. I say call that for what it is, and own it without hesitation or apparent distaste bordering on shame. Fleeing the scene makes one look guilty of a crime which has not been committed.

222. BBD says:

John Hartz

The term “Climate Sensitivity” is also a total misnomer beasue it only measures changes in the global temperture of the lower troposphere.

Which is equilibriated with the oceans, by definition.

223. BBD says:

JH

Sorry – Which is equilibriated with the oceans, by definition when discussing ECS.

224. BBD says:

Brandon G

Yes, which is a political reality.

Is not the problem with Lewandowski’s paper that it argues for an asymmetry in the scientific literature which is difficult to demonstrate? If the argument had been for a distortion of the public discourse then perhaps it would have attracted less opposition.

225. Richard Barnes says:

“policy makers make stupid decisions on the basis of some evidence”

You said it, aTTP.

” the consequence of our emissions is to create a planetary energy imbalance which increases the total energy in the system.”

Whence the pause, I suppose.

[Mod : redacted]

226. Richard Barnes,

Whence the pause, I suppose.

You do realise that the pause refers only to the slowdown in surface warming? The energy in the system continues to accumulate.

227. John Hartz says:

BBD:

You state;

Which is equilibriated with the oceans, by definition when discussing ECS.

What do you mean by “equilibrated with the oceans”?

228. semyorka says:

Week in week out we get told global warming has “paused” by people who mean the greenhouse effect has stopped in increasing or it has become saturated. When we respond there is no real pause and that this is just an artefact of internal variability we inevitably have some or other science paper that refers to a pause or hiatus throwing back at us with the statement we are lying. Global warming has paused.

While professor Betts seems to think it is still 2002 and real scientist have no need to take into account such trivialities, its not. Its 2015 and our world has changed fundamentally. Trust in the establishment is at a post war low. Scandals from Saville to the banking crisis have eroded public trust in nearly every element of society and there is a very large and very well connected body lobbying to the effect that climate change is a scam.

If scientists are not going to listen to people who are much closer to the ground war in this when they tell them this lose use of language is damaging, they may wake up one day and find that ground war is lost.

If Labour can get wiped out in Scotland you had better believe the certainties of British public life have changed fundamentally. We may not have a UK in 8 years time. We may not be a member of the EU come Jan 1 2018. The current PM has a wafer thin majority and a very significant body of deniers on his benches, including his neighbour and the second lord of the treasury.

If people like professor Betts feel that paying attention to what is happening on the ground in all this and not thinking about the impacts of the language people chose to use when publishing, they may find themselves as employable as a Labour MP in Glasgow.

229. BBD says:

John Hartz

In my admittedly simplistic understanding, tor radiative equilibrium to occur at TOA, the oceans must be absorbing and emitting roughly the same amount of energy over time. This determines the surface / tropospheric temperature.

230. > The title of this guest post Climate variability research: did the sceptics make us do it? suggests that this [the increase in variability research] is not just one argument, but the main argument or maybe even the main result of the article, which is a strawman.

Compare and contrast the two titles:

[RichardB] Climate variability research: did the sceptics make us do it?

[Lew] Seepage: Climate change denial and its effect on the scientific community

Since seepage is introduced to identify the crucial effect on the scientific community, and that the example being discussed is climate variability research, I submit that the two titles meet eye to eye. RichardB’s title presents the question that discusses the crucial topic expressed in Lew’s title. His “did the sceptics make us do it” also seems to question Lew’s crucial thesis.

Let also note that “I do not see that “seepage of contrarian memes” is necessary to explain research on the recent slowdown in global surface warming” responds both to Lew’s title and the crucial thesis of the paper.

***

If the crucial elements of seepage are the concept of framing and of contrarian memes, then the “climate change denial” in Lew’s title is imprecise. Contrarianism doesn’t imply denial. Some, but not me, may hypothesize a not so mild form of prejudice in that wordology. The same some, but not me, might note that Lew’s

it is important to be aware of the factors that may cause scientists to take positions that they would be less likely to take in the absence of outspoken public opposition

besides conflating seepage with “taking a position,” looks a lot like counterfactual thinking.

231. BBD says:

Richard Barnes

Sometimes a little bit more energy gets kept in the ocean. Wind-driven ocean circulation can do this. If the wind blows over the ocean mainly from one direction, it sets up spiral eddies in the sun-warmed surface water which transport it down (like tightening a screw) into the deeper ocean. There are several huge, permanent spiral currents called gyres which ‘spin up’ when there is a sustained increase in wind speed. Slightly stronger Trade Winds across the equatorial Pacific can increase the rate of ocean heat uptake enough to make a difference to surface temperatures. There are other factors, including more solar-reflecting volcanic aerosols in the upper atmosphere and the diminution of solar output during solar cycle 24. It all adds up to a slowdown in the rate of surface warming that is in no way incompatible with the ongoing increase in CO2 forcing.

232. Brandon Gates says:

BBD,

Is not the problem with Lewandowski’s paper that it argues for an asymmetry in the scientific literature which is difficult to demonstrate?

That kind of qualitative assessment is always difficult. To the extent that such an asymmetry exists — and I think it arguably does — I see fewer reasons to label it as a “problem”, and every reason to own it and stand by it:

1) The past cannot be undone.
2) Why shouldn’t climate research be at least somewhat responsive to the exigency of setting appropriate policy?

If the argument had been for a distortion of the public discourse then perhaps it would have attracted less opposition.

In our sewing circle, surely. But I’ll be darned if my own biases — however painful it is to consider that they may be due to seepage — necessarily negate the substance of my actual critique.

233. BBD says:

Brandon G

In our sewing circle, surely. But I’ll be darned if my own biases — however painful it is to consider that they may be due to seepage — necessarily negate the substance of my actual critique.

Then you will run afoul of Willard.

I agree with the spirit of what you say of course. This stuff pains me, which is why I haven’t had much to say on this thread.

I haven’t said all that much because I’ve just been confused by this whole episode. This whole “climate debate” continues to amaze and entertain?

235. What Hugh Kenner styled “The rhetoric of motives” seems to be enjoying a recrudescence in the Climate Wars. Todays talk of ” contrarian memes” all too shrilly recalls old Bolsheviks or Cultural Revolution cheerleaders noddiing in unison at Stalinists denouncing reactionary running dogs as the source of ‘ left deviationism’.

236. Richard Barnes says:

BBD,

” It all adds up to a slowdown in the rate of surface warming that is in no way incompatible with the ongoing increase in CO2 forcing.”

Or:
” It all adds up to a slowdown in the rate of surface warming that is in no way compatible with the ongoing increase in CO2 forcing.”

Very amused by your redaction, aTTP.

“I haven’t said all that much because I’ve just been confused by this whole episode.”
Can’t argue with you there.

Looking forward to my “redaction.” Have a great weekend.

237. BBD says:

ATTP

238. Brandon Gates says:

BBD,

Then you will run afoul of Willard.

Oh dear … that will never do …

I agree with the spirit of what you say of course.

Appreciated, and I you. It may be the case that to some hunting dogs (certainly NOT me!) everything that moves an unexpected direction begins to look like a squirrel …

This stuff pains me, which is why I haven’t had much to say on this thread.

1) It’s been an interesting and important discussion.
2) It also smacks of polishing the brightwork on the Titanic.

What possibly needles me most about Dr. L.’s paper is that me being so steeped in contrarian thought on a daily basis is the very thing which makes me a prime seepage candidate — both real and perceived. I’m really not liking that. Not one bit.

239. [RichardB] Climate variability research: did the sceptics make us do it?
[Lew] Seepage: Climate change denial and its effect on the scientific community

Strange, I see an enormous difference. Title 1 claims the “sceptics” made scientists work on climate variability, which they would otherwise not have done. Title 2 only claim an effect.

Since seepage is introduced to identify the crucial effect on the scientific community, and that the example being discussed is climate variability research, I submit that the two titles meet eye to eye.

Even with that addition, title 2 would only claim that there is an effect on climate variability research, without specifying which effect.

The main effect is that scientists present the “hiatus” as a potential problem that needs to be studied rather than just write: we see a lot of noise around trend line. This noise is important for climate impacts (for example for extreme events) and for decade climate prediction. We would thus like to understand this noise as well and its physical reasons

Without the climate “debate” scientists would write the second version. Without the climate “debate” most articles studying climate variability would not have gotten into a Nature journal.

240. John Hartz says:

BBD: Thanks for the explanation but I still don’t understand what you mean by “equilibrated with the oceans”. perhaps someone else can chime in.

Regardless, I still find the label “Climate Sensitivity” to be misleading because the measurements pertain to only part of one component of the Earth’s total climate system.

241. What possibly needles me most about Dr. L.’s paper is that me being so steeped in contrarian thought on a daily basis is the very thing which makes me a prime seepage candidate — both real and perceived. I’m really not liking that. Not one bit.

You are a prime seepage candidate. What makes me wonder how you and Sou manage to stay sane.

I already made a fool of myself once by repeating among colleagues something that came from WUWT: that all global temperature datasets are based on GHCN. You would expect that even WUWT would be able to get something so basic right, if only because it is so easy to show that they are wrong. But they do not care about being wrong, their readers will not check anyway, even if you point them to errors, they are not interested and try to deflect the discussion to the greenhouse effect or anything else but the error. Their memes are just for everyday discussions with the neighbour who knows nothing about climate science.

It is better to be aware of biases, than to ignore them.

242. Regardless, I still find the label “Climate Sensitivity” to be misleading because the measurements pertain to only part of one component of the Earth’s total climate system.

It is just one of the numbers to compare models. Also some other number related to oceanic heat content (or even tropospheric temperatures) would be incomplete. What if the climate sensitivity is low because more heat goes into the ocean, then we would get more sea level rise. What is the climate sensitivity deviates because of changes in the hydrological cycle (cloud and rain)?

In the end you will have to make an overview with all the data available. For the climate debate, with its understandable but climatologically bizarre focus on last decade’s, year’s or even month’s values, the ocean heat content may be preferred because it is less noisy. Thus I understand that you guys like it. But for changes in land ecosystems or heat stress that does not help you much. For a historical perspective you also will often need near-surface air temperature. Changes in precipitation may be even more important for agriculture and casualties than temperature. They are not discussed much in the climate “debate”, but a large part of the scientific debate.

243. Peter Jacobs says:

Willard writes: “The same can’t be said of global warming, which is now called climate change.”

Oh dear.

The irony of this occurring in a thread about seepage is simply too much.

244. John Hartz says:

Relevant tlo the ongoing discussion and perhaps a topic for ATTP’s next OP…

A new study, just published in Environmental Research Letters by Steven Sherwood and Nidhi Nashant, has answered a number of questions about the rate at which the Earth is warming. Once again, the mainstream science regarding warming of the atmosphere is shown to be correct. This new study also helps to answer a debate amongst a number of scientists about temperature variations throughout different parts of the atmosphere.

When someone says “The Earth is warming”, the first questions to ask are (1) what parts of the Earth? and (2) over what time period? The Earth’s climate system is large; it includes oceans, the atmosphere, land surface, ice areas, etc.

When scientists use the phrase “global warming” they are often talking about increases to the amount of energy stored in oceans or increases to the temperature of the atmosphere closest to the ground. By either of these measures, climate change has led to a progressive increase in temperatures over the past four decades. But what about other parts of the climate system? What is happening to them?

New study finds a hot spot in the atmosphere by John Abraham, Climate Consensus-the 97%, The Guardian, May 15, 2015

245. John Hartz says:

Victor Venema: I understand all of what you say about “Climate Sensitivity”. My point is, however, that the use of rhge word “climate” in this term tends to reinforce the general public’s misconception that the Earth’s climate system consists entirely of the lower troposphere that we all experience on a daily basis. The average person does not, for example, perceive the oceans to be part of the “climate” system.

I cannot point to any specific surveys on this matter so I am obviously expressing my personal views.

246. > Strange, I see an enormous difference. Title 1 claims the “sceptics” made scientists work on climate variability, which they would otherwise not have done. Title 2 only claim an effect.

Sure. There are also other differences too. The first is a title of a blog post, the second is a title in lichurchur. The second reifies a purported effect, while the first refers to it by way of a meme coming from transactional analysis:

In its classical form this is a marital game, and in fact is a “three-star marriage buster,” but it may be played between parents and children and in working life.

RichardB’s reverses the blaming game of SWMD, but gets the roles right: wordologists are the parent, and scientists who use the P word are the bunch of kids who should get off the contrarian lawn. That game is apparent here:

This matters because political momentum for mitigative action is difficult to sustain or mount while the public believes that there is a “pause” in global warming. Talk of a “pause”, when there is none, therefore has political consequences and, by implication, also carries ethical risks.

Lest one think that this risk is remote, the legal aftermath of the earthquake in L’Aquila, which embroiled scientists in charges of manslaughter for their alleged failure to warn the community, vividly illustrates the legal and moral hazards that are incurred when the public is not informed (or misinformed) of the full envelope of identifiable risks arising from scientific findings.

http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/lewandowskySeepageII.html

This shows that RichardB read Lew quite well enough, the only topic relevant here to the crucial point that strawman there was none.

***

> Even with that addition, title 2 would only claim that there is an effect on climate variability research, without specifying which effect.

Lew’s title only mentions seepage and its effect on the scientific community. I would have preferred the plural here, or “climate community” for a more cautious generalization.

Neither does it identify the kind of effect mentioned. The title alone therefore insures what some may call plausible deniability.

***

> Without the climate “debate” scientists would write the second version. Without the climate “debate” most articles studying climate variability would not have gotten into a Nature journal.

Counterfactuals are multifarious. Here’s mine. Without Lew’s cognitive gerrimandering RichardB might have wasted less time playing word games that favor contrarians and spend more time finishing up his hits (say) at our beloved Bishop’s, as the Climate Ombudsman he should become:

Professional room service is exactly what we all need. With more budget, we could extend to Willis, the Monktopus, Dick, Tall One, Pointman, even Brad.

https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/10/04/a-meeting-of-minds/#comment-33526

RichardB already spends more time in these auspices than semyorka, who has the affront to tell him that he should be “paying attention to what is happening on the ground”. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.

The notion of ground introduces an interesting framing. When contrarians use it, it oftentimes followed by populist claptraps: cf. Judy’s. Instead of seeing a seepage, one might see there a tentative to reclaim that meme. If that’s the case, well played!

247. > The irony of this [“The same can’t be said of global warming, which is now called climate change”] occurring in a thread about seepage is simply too much.

“The same” refers to a claim that “climate change” would be incorrect. Nobody can argue that “climate change” is incorrect. Remember, this is crucial for the moralism to trigger:

We show that although scientists are trained in dealing with uncertainty, there are several psychological and cognitive reasons why scientists may nevertheless be susceptible to uncertainty-based argumentation, even when scientists recognize those arguments as false and are actively rebutting them.

http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/lewandowskyseepage.html

Thank God Dressler read Lew & al. Now there are fair chances his mind frames are inocculated against contrarian memes. But wait:

Dessler mentioned the following “important points that we know with high confidence”:

1. The climate is warming.

Let’s take this opportunity to show the updated figure by Cowtan and Way, extending their infilling method to the entire instrumental period (pause? which pause?):

Andrew does not seem to have mentioned the P word there. So he’s safe. What about BartV? He’s anticipating the contrarian meme. Hmmm.

Pause? Which pause?

I like that.

248. Yes, the comparison with the earthquake in L’Aquila is completely wrong. To those members of the public that are willing to listen, it should be completely clear that we have a problem. Scientists are not responsible for what spin doctors do and the stupidity of the people who listen to them. Even if you are not responsible, there is also no need to help the spin doctors.

249. Brandon Gates says:

Victor,

You are a prime seepage candidate.

I’m SO glad we agree! 🙂

What makes me wonder how you and Sou manage to stay sane.

Speaking only for myself: when I’m not wondering whether I am sane, I wonder what sanity really means. I’m only mostly kidding.

This happened across my radar today: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012821X1500151X

The fast flowing northwestern part of the remnant ice shelf exhibits increasing fragmentation, while the stagnant southeastern part seems to be prone to the formation of large rifts, some of which we show have delimited successive calving events. A large rift only 12 km downstream from the grounding line is currently traversing the stagnant part of the ice shelf, defining the likely front of the next large calving event. We propose that the flow acceleration, ice front retreat and enhanced fracture of the remnant Larsen B Ice Shelf presage its approaching demise.

The NASA press release is not so dryly worded: http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-study-shows-antarctica-s-larsen-b-ice-shelf-nearing-its-final-act

A new NASA study finds the last remaining section of Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf, which partially collapsed in 2002, is quickly weakening and likely to disintegrate completely before the end of the decade.

A team led by Ala Khazendar of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, found the remnant of the Larsen B Ice Shelf is flowing faster, becoming increasingly fragmented and developing large cracks. Two of its tributary glaciers also are flowing faster and thinning rapidly.

“These are warning signs that the remnant is disintegrating,” Khazendar said. “Although it’s fascinating scientifically to have a front-row seat to watch the ice shelf becoming unstable and breaking up, it’s bad news for our planet. This ice shelf has existed for at least 10,000 years, and soon it will be gone.”

I find myself rooting for it to go sooner rather than later as a wake-up call. First for ME, and secondly as a club to wield against the rather more thick-headed amongst us. Plus, no small amount of Dr. Khazendar’s scientific curiosity. I’ll even go one further and cop to morbid fascination as well.

I’ve lamented out loud at WUWT that I’m almost forced to root for disaster just to win the damn argument, and it isn’t lost on me that they’re egging me on to do just that so they can slap the alarmist label on me. I believe Dr. Lewandowsky also speaks to that very discomfort in his present work.

I already made a fool of myself once by repeating among colleagues something that came from WUWT: that all global temperature datasets are based on GHCN.

They don’t?!! 🙂

Their memes are just for everyday discussions with the neighbour who knows nothing about climate science.

That’s one of those such obviously true things which very annoyingly had not already occurred to me.

It is better to be aware of biases, than to ignore them.

Let it not be said I disagree, nor that I think all Dr. Lew’s notes on that point are wide of the mark. I have some specific objections which are at the same time general to the overall AGW policy struggle.

250. Peter Jacobs says:

Willard writes: ““The same” refers to a claim”

That wasn’t the part I was highlighting. Was I sufficiently unclear? I am terrible at, and have no interest in playing, calvin ball, so I apologize in advance for being a bit literal.

Let me try again, more plainly.

“global warming, which is now called climate change”

This is terribly unfortunate, especially in a thread about seepage. Do I need to be more explicit about why?

251. > Even if you are not responsible, there is also no need to help the spin doctors.

Everything scientists say or do will be hold against them. Spin doctors can spin anything. They can spin their own schtick, they can spin the scientists. They even have empirical means to orient their spin.

Consider the concept of seepage:

the process by which a liquid leaks through a porous substance;
the process of seeping water that seeped or oozed through a porous soil

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/seepage

Take a moment to see that oozing process through porous stuff. Water and earth are dangerously powerful symbols. (John Harz captured how this could be spinned.) However, neither are related to frames (wood) or to memes (air).

The word “seepage” does not evoke much by itself, just by reading the title of Lew & al. I doubt the concept is spin-doctor approved. If we’re to be serious about framing and winning the PR war, perhaps scientists ought get more scientific about that.

***

Conservatives are notoriously good at wordology. Just like Napoléon realized, it doesn’t matter if you got full metal jackets if you can’t get them from A to B faster than your opponent. Memes ought to move fast, and conservatives are disciplined, relentless, and plain. At least that’s Lakoff’s story.

At the end of the day, it’s not the words or frames or memes that count. The crucial ingredient are stories. Telling stories is good, but what good is it if no one listens?

How do we make people listen? Here’s an hypothesis:

It’s about LISTENING. People trust people they feel are listening. They don’t trust people who don’t listen. Scientists are VERY bad at listening. This is part of why we use improv techniques in our workshops — they foster listening.

Again, it all comes down to trust. As Kahneman says, it doesn’t matter how much data and how strong your arguments are. Without trust, you have nothing.

http://thebenshi.com/?p=5592

People listen to people they trust, and they trust people who listen to them. If reading’s a bit like listening, this whole charade about RichardB misreading Lew serves to break the readers’ trust in RichardB.

Something’s seeping through this, and it stinks.

252. > Was I sufficiently unclear?

One does not simply use the word “ironic” while trying to be sufficiently clear.

***

> Do I need to be more explicit about why?

Go for it. I know you want to.

You really seem oblivious to the fact that this does not constitute the trump card you might think it is. More than that, you don’t even seem to get that I may know what you think everyone knows, and that was the reason why I issued that memo in the first place.

Am I being clear enough for you?

253. Peter Jacobs says:

Willard writes: “You really seem oblivious to the fact that this does not constitute the trump card you might think it is. More than that, you don’t even seem to get that I may know what you think everyone knows, and that was the reason why I issued that memo in the first place.”

First of all, “trump card”? Straightforwardly, no. I am not that invested. I don’t want to embarrass you or contradict you. I really just would like people to reach some sort of mutual understanding on this issue, even if they never reach agreement.

But back to you- you’re intentionally repeating demonstrably false memes from deniers (but that you yourself know to be false, I guess you’re claiming now?) to what end?

You weren’t highlighting it to call attention to its falseness. You sandwiched it between stuff you apparently actually believe. How is one supposed to glean from your usage that you already know what you said was complete bullshit and derived from the denier crowd?

254. Peter Jacobs says:

Willard writes: “At the end of the day, it’s not the words or frames or memes that count. The crucial ingredient are stories”

That itself sounds like a testable hypothesis. What if were to test naked consensus messaging vs. naked evidence messaging vs. a narrative of some kind (or many kinds!) and see which if any outperformed the others?

“How do we make people listen? Here’s an hypothesis:”

The “I feel your pain” narrative. It’s compelling. Is it evidence-based? At least in terms of its success rate?

We could design or look for some real world experimental set up in which someone who had climate science credentials did a lot of sympathetic listening to “contrarians” and looked at the latter’s behavior. (I am making the big assumption here that whether the “contrarians” felt flattered is less important than whether they stopped mercilessly rejecting mainstream science and/or mitigation policy, depending on which outcome one happens to be focused on).

I wonder though. Why do stories count and not memes or frames? Aren’t they interrelated? Isn’t “death tax” vs. interference fees simultaneously a meme, a frame, and tapping into a narrative?

255. Peter Jacobs says:

* inheritance fees

Autocorrect or not, that one’s on me.

256. Brandon Gates says:

Peter Jacobs,

The “I feel your pain” narrative. It’s compelling. Is it evidence-based? At least in terms of its success rate?

Establishing a personal connection by any empathetic means is a standard sales technique.

We could design or look for some real world experimental set up in which someone who had climate science credentials did a lot of sympathetic listening to “contrarians” and looked at the latter’s behavior.

Pitching hard-core deniers is a lost cause and of least concern. The biggest action is in the largely unseen and unheard middle of the curve.

257. Peter Jacobs says:

Brandon writes: “Establishing a personal connection by any empathetic means is a standard sales technique.”

Accepted.

Does that also mean it’s evidence-backed successful in changing votes or support on something like this?

“Pitching hard-core deniers is a lost cause and of least concern.”

I don’t disagree but I think that some people who read this blog might.

258. Brandon Gates says:

Peter Jacobs,

Does that also mean it’s evidence-backed successful in changing votes or support on something like this?

It’s been a while since I’ve read any poly-sci literature, so I don’t have a handy cite. My memory from a decade or so ago was yes. I have specific training outside of politics, and enough personal anecdotes such that I don’t doubt it works for getting votes to swing one’s way.

I don’t disagree but I think that some people who read this blog might.

I’m listening …

259. Willard says:

>. I really just would like people to reach some sort of mutual understanding on this issue, even if they never reach agreement.

Oh dear indeed:

This is terribly unfortunate, especially in a thread about seepage. Do I need to be more explicit about why?

One does not simply ask a rhetorical question twice and expect to reach mutual understanding in Mordor.

260. Willard says:

> I don’t disagree but I think that some people who read this blog might.

Add that to the column of Peter’s non-ClimateBall outreach for mutual understanding.

261. Willard says:

> Why do stories count and not memes or frames?

There is no need to tell what’s a story, while the other two concepts are far from being obvious, even in cognitive science. (For instance, frames presume representationalism, and memes are not well defined.) Also, frames and memes don’t stand alone: they need a vehicle. They’re not ingroup taboos either: any frame or meme can be adapted to whatever story one needs to convey.

The importance of stories in human affairs is pretty well established. People are attracted by people, not meme machines. Mind framers are even repulsive.

We trust scientists when we hear their stories, not their theories. Compare:

Understand that there are two kinds of causation: direct and systemic. Every language in the world has direct causation in its grammar; no language has systemic causation in its grammar. Climate scientists are the worst offenders because they understand and use systemic causation at work, but in communication they think that “causation” means direct causation. This has nothing to do with their talent or how articulate they are. They just don’t know basic cognitive science.

That smells talking points. Contrast:

Here’s a story. I’m at the Aspen Institute in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. Gore and Kerry are there, but the smartest guy in the room is Ronald Reagan’s chief strategist, who was partly progressive on environmental issues. Anyway, the scientist gets up there and gives an excellent science lecture. A reporter asks him, “Did global warming cause Hurricane Katrina?” A scientist cannot say that there was direct causation, but what he should have done was explain the chain of events and then string it together to show how Hurricane Katrina was systemically caused by global warming. You have to connect the dots for your audience.

Whatever moral to that story, at the very least I have another story to tell.

The two paragraphs follow one another here:

262. Jim Hunt says:

Richard B – As you are aware, the following perfectly polite comment from yours truly has remained invisible over at WUWT since 16:54 BST yesterday afternoon:

Richard V – As regular readers here will know I have a tall Arctic soapbox! By way of example please watch this video:

If that isn’t “climate change” what is it, in your view?

263. Brandon Gates says:

Willard,

It is said in politics, “If you’re explaining, you’re losing.” The yes/no question is a case where connecting the dots for the audience can be the exact wrong thing to do. I think the way out of the Katrina question is to lead with yes or no, and qualify without using any ifs ands or buts: “No, AGW did not directly cause Hurricane Katrina.” And then wait for the follow-up, which stands a chance of being more open-ended.

I can imagine the poor sod saying something like, “Well … it’s not that simple …” because I’ve been that guy more times than I can count.

264. izen says:

While the issue of how much the contrarian stories have altered the amount, focus and framing of climate research seems to be contentious, and according to Willard comes down to wordology…

Back in the real world, the cause of the seepage is not the passive osmosis of contrarian stories into the scientific field. There is considerable effort behind the ingress of certain ideas.

Take the story that the surface temperature record is the product of fraudulent manipulation. A mainstream UK tabloid paper promotes this idea from the contrarian fringe with an article ‘reporting’ the GWPF progress on its investigation into the temperature record.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/577281/Climate-change-global-warming-statistics
Climate change: New claims ‘murky’ global warming statistics are ‘GUESSED AT’
CLIMATE CHANGE expert Dr Benny Peiser has claimed some surface temperature recordings used as the basis for global warming evidence are GUESSED AT – including in the Arctic and Antarctic.

The ongoing research into data homogenisation becomes a response to this story, whether it wants to be or not.
But this is not the passive ingress of an idea into the public and scientific discourse, it is forcefully pumped into the general discourse while those promoting it also accuse the scientific community of forcibly imposing the (fraudulent) rising temperature record upon the public.

This is not seepage, science is being fracked.

265. Pehr Björnbom says:

I have some thoughts about the disadvantages with present terminology in this context. The words skeptic and contrarian are used in an asymmetric way that seems not natural for me.

The following reasoning shows my view. Let us assume that A and B have two different, but not uncommon, views within a scientific field. Then A is skeptic to B’s view and B is skeptic to A’s view. A may consider B as a contrarian and B may think the same about A. Another more neutral way of classifying A and B would be to consider them as members of two different groups of scholars, two different schools.

In climate science we could define two groups of scholars differing in their views on how much of observed climate change is anthropogenic. Members of the H-school (H for high) support the view that most of the climate change is anthropogenic while members of the L-school (L for low) give more emphasis on the effect of natural variation.

A typical member of the H-school would be Kerry Emanuel and a member of the L-school would be John Christy. They are especially interesting as examples in this context because of this podcasted discussion on climate change:
http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2014/03/john_christy_an.html

266. Pehr,
Well, except you seem to be assuming that both schools of thought have equal validity. In the physical sciences that’s rarely the case. The problem with assuming that most of the climate change could be natural variability is that it largely violates conservation of energy. That’s why most regard it as an implausible scenario. Just because some think it is possible, doesn’t make it scientifically credible.

267. Pehr Björnbom says:

aTTP, fair enough! However, if I have not missed something (I may be wrong), the argument that “assuming that most of the climate change could be natural variability is that it largely violates conservation of energy” was not used by Kerry Emanuel in his discussion with John Christy. Perhaps, if this is so, that may be a sign that this argument is not self-evident.

268. Peter Jacobs says:

Hi Willard,

I’m sorry, but you’re comments are too oblique for me. So if you could just try to have a little less self-stimulating fun and be a little more blunt in your replies to me, I would appreciate it. I’m sure I’m just not smart enough to pick up what you’re laying down, so have some pity for me and just be direct.

I will do so too. You repeated a false meme (“global warming, which is now called climate change”), one that has entered the more general discourse as a product of agitation from “contrarians” (or deniers or whatever we’re calling them today).

In a subsequent comment, you seem to be implying that you’re aware you’re doing this, but there’s no indication of this in your original comment. So you seem to be either trying to backtrack on a mistake or perhaps you’re just being a little too meta in your comments. I don’t know which, possibly neither.

I hope none of this was insulting. It would be nice to clearly communicate even if we might not be in complete agreement about everything.

269. Pehr,
I haven’t read it all, but Kerry Emanuel does say

But in the last few decades it’s very clear that the heat content of the ocean is going up.

In a sense, this is energy conservation. Paleo climate tells us that we’re about as warm – or slightly warmer – than we’ve been for 1000 years, and yet the total energy is going up. This has to be a consequence of some kind of radiative forcing that is reducing the outgoing flux (since the Sun isn’t much brighter). That something is almost certainly anthropogenic GHGs.

270. anng says:

Richard,

Here in the UK it’s a lot easier to sell global warming because our British Isles are noticeably warming. We’re a nation of gardeners, and every gardener will have noticed that the number of frost-free winter nights has increased many-fold over the past several years. Our seas are warmer holding different types of fish – so anglers will have noticed. Some of our sea-birds e.g. Puffins in Wales, have to fly 2 days north of their nests to fetch food for their young.

271. Willard says:

> The yes/no question is a case where connecting the dots for the audience can be the exact wrong thing to do.

Exactly. The journalists “framed” a question in a way that traps the scientist into a game she’s bound to lose if she accepts it. Journalists have their own stories to tell, with scientists being lab coats adjudicators of slogans. “Professor, yes or no?” Look at how David Rose uses Judy in his stories about the plateau. The most important reason why Judy is popular, in my opinion, is because she plays Judge Judy.

Journalists have their own notion of framing, BTW, distinct from the one popularized by Lakoff. In cognitive science, it once referred to a way to store information in an artificial agent. Now, it has become some kind of etheral structure that contains images, emotions, values, etc. Semiotics rediscovered. As a meme, it just works. As a scientific construct, I have my doubts. They don’t matter.

For Lakoff, “conecting the dots” meant explaining the events by connecting them together. That’s a kind of storytelling to me. You don’t waste time trying to explain how causation is complex in science. (As Donald Davidson once observed, the more a science evolves, the less it needs that concept anyway.) You focus on your communication objective. What’s that in that case? Telling the events, and telling what we know about global warming. You connect the dots, but you leave dots to be filled.

This is a story. A detective story, actually. Even if all you have is circumstantial evidence, that makes for good storytelling. Speaking of which, have you ever wondered why people read the Auditor’s? He sets puzzles for readers. His inspiration:

Important stuff – 24 starts up again after the 2nd football game today. Last season ended with Jack Bauer’s death being faked in order to avoid an assassination attempt against Jack commissioned by the Vice President, acting as President while the President was incapacitated. Jack was also being sought by the Chinese for the attack on the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles, while they were looking for information about Marwan and the nuclear bomb. So how does Jack get back into the picture to start the season and who will be the adversary this year? Predictions please. I am unaware of how to apply R2 or even RE statistics to this validation.

http://climateaudit.org/2006/01/15/24/

A bit later, the Auditor succeeded.

***

When you play chess, you study your opponents’ games. You try to find how they win, and how they lose. You respect them, without idealizing them too much.

How the hell can you win against contrarians if you don’t play with them? More importantly, how can you expect to win against the better ones if you keep telling yourself that they’re stupid patzers? It just makes little sense.

I get that it’s important to inform about misinformation, but preying on blunders goes beyond that. When it gets to a point where only lulz is conveyed, it becomes an in-group defense mechanism more than anything. Then we get one notch nearer full-blown bigotry.

***

Social shaming is seldom justified.

272. Pehr Björnbom says:

aTTP, I have also the following argument that I personally find convincing based on well-known and experienced climate scientist.

Judith Curry may be considered an L-scholar since she proposes that natural variability may have a bigger role in global warming than suggested by H-scholars like Kerry Emanuel. It’s difficult to believe that she has overlooked the conservation of energy considering that she is an expert in the following fields.

Judith Curry is an expert in planetary thermodynamics:

Thermodynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans, Volume 65 (International Geophysics)

She is also an expert in the thermodynamics, kinetics and microphysics of clouds:

Thermodynamics,Kinetics, and Microphysics of Clouds

273. Willard says:

> You repeated a false meme (“global warming, which is now called climate change”)

Oh, I see. Interesting.

There’s no reason to dispute that “climate change” tends to dominate the field nowadays:

Some argue this new wording has been engineered by men in black to implement Agenda 21. Others argue that it’s all because of Luntz’ memo. There is also evidence that some scientists simply prefer “climate change”.

Since I’ve been introduced to the idea via the Luntz theory, does it really constitute seepage?

Cue to systemic causation.

***

On the Internet, a meme is a set phrase meant to be funny. The concept has evolved a lot since Dawkins’ half-baked theory. The notion of meme is itself a meme.

A meme is not, strictly speaking, true or false. It’s main rhetorical function is to bait and switch. By way of a meme, a ClimateBall player has something to respond, and something to shoot back.

Take “but climategate”. How can you know if it’s true or false? That’s not the point. The point is to inject the word “climategate” into the discussion! Classical bait and switch. That’s why I usually abbreviate it. “CG” deflates the meme, and I usually prefer to keep to my own communication objective.

Worse, consider what happens when you decide to show a meme false. What do you do? You talk about it! Now, if what you want to make sure ClimateBall players stop using that meme, discussing its truth value may not be the most brilliant ClimateBall move around.

Now, what do you think will happen after Lew’s paper?

***

Memes are not frames, and there’s an annoying confusion there, but I’ve ran out of steam.

274. John Hartz says:

This thread seems to have evovled into a collective examination of conscience. (For the record, I was raised in the Catholic faith.)

275. Peter Jacobs says:

Willard writes: “There’s no reason to dispute that ‘climate change’ tends to dominate the field nowadays”

To be completely clear, are you saying that you think “climate change” is the more recent term?

And also wrote: “Nobody can argue that ‘climate change’ is incorrect.”

What do you mean by this statement, explicitly?

276. Peter Jacobs says:

Pehr writes: “It’s difficult to believe that [Curry] has overlooked the conservation of energy”

Would it be difficult for you to believe that she’s overlooked the conservation of mass in a similar context?

277. BBD, Question at an older post you may not be reading any more: When people are denial, why do they not simply see the topic as not interesting and move on?

278. Pehr,
Well, yes, but I did try to get Judith to explain how she thought it might work and she didn’t really do so (apart from linking to some posts about ocean heat content). I, also, don’t think her expertise is a particularly good argument. There are plenty with similar expertise who regard it as clear that the dominant influence since 1950 has been anthropogenic.

279. Pehr says:

She is also an expert in the thermodynamics, kinetics and microphysics of clouds:

Thermodynamics,Kinetics, and Microphysics of Clouds

No expert. Called her on some bad physics in that book and she went running to her co-author. And he didn’t acknowledge his cranksmanship either.

Please ignore scientists such as Curry. They are not advancing the science at all. What we need to do is encourage those that are doing good research.

280. Willard says:

> Let us assume that A and B have two different, but not uncommon, views within a scientific field. Then A is skeptic to B’s view and B is skeptic to A’s view. A may consider B as a contrarian and B may think the same about A. Another more neutral way of classifying A and B would be to consider them as members of two different groups of scholars, two different schools.

In the case of contrarianism, this would not work, since contrarians do not belong to any specific school. It’s mostly a conceptually ichoate hord of freedom fighters raising concerns.

The same non-neutrality argument would apply to any relational concept. I don’t think we should stop using space and time because they’re relational concepts.

Besides, the concept of “school” always break down at some point. Each member of the lukewarm church has its own conception of lukewarmism. Even the founding fathers disagree.

Finally, there’s nothing intrinsically non neutral in using “contrarian.” The word refers to the fact that it runs against the established viewpoint. Whatever contrasts with mainstream science is contrarian.

“Contrarian” just works. The concept comes from investment strategies. Thinking in a contrarian way has its own advantage, even if it comes at the expense of being mostly wrong. It’s part of the contrarian ethos: you keep losing until you win a lot.

281. Willard says:

A possible way to win:

282. Jim Hunt says:

WHT – In my experience Judy is somewhat economical with the truth:

The David and Judy Show

As a somewhat belated postscript, all the recent brouhaha over at Judy’s place about “skeptical denizens” reminds me that earlier this year I reminded her about this lingering little inaccuracy on her personal blog.

David Rose’s erroneous headline still remains on proud display at Climate Etc. to this very day.

283. Brandon Gates says:

Willard,

The journalists “framed” a question in a way that traps the scientist into a game she’s bound to lose if she accepts it.

“No comment” in this context is a lose.

You connect the dots, but you leave dots to be filled.

I’ve found that the longer my answer, the more likely I am to stand charged of having not answered the question.

Speaking of which, have you ever wondered why people read the Auditor’s? He sets puzzles for readers.

Ah, see, your own puzzles are seepage. To the rack with you, heretic!

When you play chess, you study your opponents’ games. You try to find how they win, and how they lose. You respect them, without idealizing them too much.

Respecting someone’s skills is quite a different thing from respecting their position, motivations and/or values.

How the hell can you win against contrarians if you don’t play with them? More importantly, how can you expect to win against the better ones if you keep telling yourself that they’re stupid patzers? It just makes little sense.

Underestimating an opponent is not a good idea. In this arena, my opponent is very often trying to paint me out to be the idiot. When I lose, which is frequently, it is often because I allow that gambit to work.

Social shaming is seldom justified.

There is tactical justification and moral justification. Both are rooted in self-justification.

284. Ah, see, your own puzzles are seepage. To the rack with you, heretic!

Seepage just means that there is some observable influence. It does not mean that you turn into a mitigation sceptic. Just in case it was not just a joke, which could explain why some react so violently to the idea seepage.

285. > [A]re you saying that you think “climate change” is the more recent term?

Hulme traces “climate change” back to Theophrastus, a student of Aristotle [1]. His timeline goes: Tyndall (1859), Arhenius (1896), Callendar (1938), Keeling (1957), Manabe (1975), and Broecker (1987). Notice how he proceeds: he presents climate science using the giants as pillars for his storytelling.

Hulme cites Goodall 2008 [2], who did an ISI research on both “climate change” and “global warming.” She observes:

The term “global warming” predates the now more commonly used, and technically correct, term “climate change”.

I am not sure if Hulme cites this specific article, as I don’t have Hulme’s book, and I haven’t seen the figure in her courtesy PDF.

What I am saying is that “climate change” is taking over as the dominant epithet, except in places like Florida, perhaps, where both expressions are threatened:

“We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,'” attorney Christopher Byrd, who worked with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013, told the Florida investigative reporting outlet.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/florida-bans-use-of-climate-change-by-state-agency-report-says-1.2987348

***

> What do you mean by this statement [Nobody can argue that ‘climate change’ is incorrect], explicitly?

What I mean by that is that the expression “climate change” subsumes the relevant issues. Yet, climate change does not represent the same issue as global warming. One is quite broader than the other. Also, as the Luntz memo states:

The phrase “global warming” should be abandoned in favour of “climate change”, Mr Luntz says, and the party should describe its policies as “conservationist” instead of “environmentalist”, because “most people” think environmentalists are “extremists” who indulge in “some pretty bizarre behaviour… that turns off many voters”.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2003/mar/04/usnews.climatechange

This proposal is related to framing backed up by trials under the fire focus groups. Luntz knows how this works.

***

In any event, I brought this example for two reasons.

The first is because it seems to me that “climate change” itself looks like a good candidate for a seepage analysis. The main hindrance is that there can’t be any tsk tsk about the inaccuracy of the expression.

The second is because it is not the concept of pause that is problematic, but the pause in global warming. The sentence “there’s a pause” is not false. Void of context, it carries little meaning. A pause of what? What pause?

Only when we clarify the object of the pause that things get more definite. For instance, this goes a bridge too far:

Global warming stopped 16 years ago, reveals Met Office report quietly released… and here is the chart to prove it

The figures reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012 there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures

This means that the ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2217286/Global-warming-stopped-16-years-ago-reveals-Met-Office-report-quietly-released–chart-prove-it.html

Judy distanced herself from this article, if I recall correctly [3]. Yet she said:

Nothing in the Met Office’s statement (…) effectively refutes Mr Rose’s argument that there has been no increase in the global average surface temperature for the past 16 years.

Notice the switch from “pause in global warming” to “no increase in the global average surface temperature”. While we may argue that this is not true, as JCH observes on just about every thread at Judy’s since then, plunging into this rabbit hole without having pinpointed what is meant by global warming is a losing proposition. It gives enough wiggling room: first, you settle “global warming,” then you go after the pause.

But even if you do that, if what we want is not to talk about the pause, then all these psycho-pop considerations are pretty self-defeating. By “self” I don’t refer to Lew, since he’s well entrenched behind his own walls, which seem just thick enough to prevent the Oxonian invasion [4]. I mean ClimateBall players like me who get to clean up his mess on the field.

Lew gives contrarians the ball with that paper and it oozes, doubly so that he’s playing Monday morning quarterback with colleagues who may have more ClimateBall skills than he showed so far.

***

286. Brandon Gates says:

Victor,

Just in case it was not just a joke, which could explain why some react so violently to the idea [of] seepage.

It was a satirical comment directed mainly, but not exclusively, at Peter Jacobs’ beef with Willard, which I see as a violent reaction to Willard’s biting critiques the present Lewandowsky et al. work. I say “not exclusively” because my initial reaction to Sou’s piece directed at Richard Betts’ comments here was fairly violent. Other comments directed at Richard from nominally “friendly” quarters have been worse.

Your exchanges with Richard have been better for me to read; less emotive, showing willingness to give ground, having the outward quality of being open-minded and reasonably tolerant of differences in opinion. Yet, there is this implicit argument in your comments to all, including me, that someone objecting to Lew & Co. is necessarily rejecting the concept of seepage. Which by extension, is rejecting the possibility that one is affected by it. My satirical caution would also apply to that argument.

If I am reading you incorrectly I apologize.

Now. There is some evident bad blood here I don’t understand — some politics from some backstory I’m not privy to, and perhaps I should lay off lobbing bombs at things I’m ignorant of, or that which is frankly above my pay grade. I don’t know. Obviously I’m not shy about speaking to that which I perceive and with which I do not agree. I am willing to be wrong and do try my best to be open to illuminating correction.

I take some solace in the fact that Anders has expressed confusion at what’s going on here. I know of myself that true humility does not come easy, and that I am overly fond of poking at hornets nests by way of attempting to figure out if the buzzing is just in my head or if I really do need to haul out the diesel fuel and a match.

287. > what’s going on here

TL;DR – Americans and Aussies attack the UK’s way to deal with contrarians, and Canada, yet again, says “eh.”

***

> Underestimating an opponent is not a good idea. In this arena, my opponent is very often trying to paint me out to be the idiot. When I lose, which is frequently, it is often because I allow that gambit to work.

The best way to deal with ad homs is to ignore them and to keep to one’s communication objective. The second best way is to reuse that ad hom against the aggressor when he least expects it.

The second best way costs something, since physical plays always cost something. However, ClimateBall requires physical contact to be a gentlemen’s sport, otherwise it would be as boring as cricket curling.

288. Brandon Gates says:

Willard,

TL;DR – Americans and Aussies attack the UK’s way to deal with contrarians, and Canada, yet again, says “eh.”

Well now, that does ring true save for noting that at least one UKer I’ve read is not happy about Labour getting shellacked this week and was seen hunting for scapegoats down at the MET. As a member of Team USA, I feel obliged to note that we may wish to mind our own shop first.

289. Brandon Gates says: “Your exchanges with Richard have been better for me to read; less emotive, showing willingness to give ground, having the outward quality of being open-minded and reasonably tolerant of differences in opinion.

Professional training. 🙂

When I debate an open-minded person about a non-natural-scientific question I prefer to keep it open. It is rare for people to change their mind in a discussion, especially a public one. It is better to just exchange arguments and hope that the other picks them up and slowly considers them over time.

Furthermore, I am going to the MetOffice this summer and may have lunch with Richard. The climate “debate” would look very different if people would physically meet each other once in a while. 🙂

Hopefully, the MetOffice canteen is good enough to be able to distinguish between salmon and beef.

Brandon Gates says: “Yet, there is this implicit argument in your comments to all, including me, that someone objecting to Lew & Co. is necessarily rejecting the concept of seepage. Which by extension, is rejecting the possibility that one is affected by it. My satirical caution would also apply to that argument.

Yes, I have assumed that rejecting this article also means rejecting the concept of seepage. Maybe I should read it again trying to differentiate.

It seems a natural assumption that some people reject the idea of seepage because they prefer to think they cannot be influenced by their social environment. This is naturally not provable, especially for a specific person. My personal impression is that one’s social environment is a very strong force, especially because many people do not seem to notice it. We are social animals.

290. > [R]ejecting this article also means rejecting the concept of seepage.

A paper introducing the concept of seepage would have been enough. Comparing the “effect” of “climate denial” on the community to another source might also have been nice. There may be nothing special about contrarian seepage. Or is it seepage only when contrarian memes get trojaned into the lichurchur?

The secondary title reveals that the authors are overextending. The executive summary goes beyond describing the theorical novelty and posits explanatory hypotheses that are downright demeaning. (Just think about what stereotype threat entails.) Top this with vacuous preachification and you get months of ClimateBall rounds about something that should go without saying.

You just can’t make this up.

291. Or is it seepage only when contrarian memes get trojaned into the lichurchur?

I would not mind if some ideas from science would seep into the blogs of the mitigation sceptics.

Ideas from science seeping into the scientific literature also seems fine to me.

Keep playing.

292. Brandon Gates says:

Victor,

Professional training. 🙂

It’s my opinion that some people take that training better than others, and some are able to do it without formal training. Many don’t get it either way.

It is better to just exchange arguments and hope that the other picks them up and slowly considers them over time.

I believe that’s probably correct. I like to win and that often doesn’t end well.

The climate “debate” would look very different if people would physically meet each other once in a while. 🙂

Perspective I don’t have, but also don’t at all doubt. Of course, if medical researchers are anything like climatologists too much physical proximity can be a bad thing. I’ve witnessed some across-the-lab spats where I began to fear for the safety of the glassware.

Yes, I have assumed that rejecting this article also means rejecting the concept of seepage. Maybe I should read it again trying to differentiate.

Well hey, come summer Richard B. might help you decide more than just whether it’s fish or cow on the lunch plate before you … 🙂

It seems a natural assumption that some people reject the idea of seepage because they prefer to think they cannot be influenced by their social environment.

I absolutely 100% agree. I’ve placed myself in a position where I almost have to believe that of myself, yet must constantly resist the same belief. It isn’t comfortable, and hasn’t ever been.

This is naturally not provable, especially for a specific person.

Again we’re in perfect agreement. Now you are speaking directly to one of the things which has been bothering me about the discussion surrounding the paper.

293. Hi Victor

Look forward to meeting you!

294. Richard,
I take it that you’re offering to buy Victor lunch (and maybe a pint?) 🙂

295. While your having that pint with Betts perhaps you can share this observation… questions with him.

What irritates me to no end, is that although scientists thoroughly understand the physics of atmospheric greenhouses, the impressions experts like Betts project is that until we achieve totally complete and absolutely correct measurements of every component of our Global Heat Engine – we can somehow pretend greenhouse gases aren’t doing their job 24/7/365 – specifically relentlessly increasing the heat and energy within our climate system.

I wish someone like Betts could explain what I’m missing.

296. Jim Hunt says:

Hang on a minute. Richard’s got a date booked with me first!

297. Pehr Björnbom says:

aTTP, I don’t claim being an expert in climate science but I have made some own thinking to evaluate the credibility of L-scholars like John Christy and Judith Curry. I don’t subscribe to the opinion that L-scholars are less credible than H-scholars like Kerry Emanuel (L-school, lower anthropogenic origin, H-school, higher anthropogenic origin of the observed global warming, see a previous comment by me). They are a minority but from that doesn’t follow that they are less credible. I find the following line of arguments a reasonable and credible way of thinking that supports the L-school view.

The following equations represent the global energy balance (the conservation of energy) using the top of the atmospheres as the system boundary. They are derived from the simple fundamental theory of climate sensitivity. N in W/m2 is the net energy flux downward, essentially the difference between downwelling short wave radiation and upwelling reflected short wave radiation and emitted long wave radiation. F W/m2 is the forcing with reference to an unknown equilibrium state where N=F=0. T is the global mean temperature and Te is that temperature at the equilibrium state. We also consider the energy balance at a time zero, t0, which could be, say, 1880. α may be called the climate feedback parameter and ECS=Equilibium Climate Sensitivity.

N=F-α(T-Te); N0=F0-α (T0-Te); N=N0+F-F0-α(T-T0); ECS=3.7/α

The temperature increase over a given time period from t0 to t depends on both changes in forcing (F-F0) and internal redistribution of thermal energy (N0-N) according to the following equation. The sensitivity for both forcing and redistribution of thermal energy is evidently determined by the climate sensitivity.

T-T0=(F-F0-N+N0)/α=ECS/3.7 (F-F0+(N0-N))

A case with a period of global warming by natural redistribution of thermal energy without change of forcing during the warming gives (it’s of course unlikely that the observed temperature increase of about 0.8 K has happened without changed forcing considering the effect of increasing greenhouse gases and other reasons):

F-F0=0 => T-T0 = ECS/3.7 (N0-N)

If the energy imbalance is decreasing over a period without any increase in forcing the temperature will according to this equation rise as specified by the climate sensitivity. A large imbalance N0 could for example in principle be generated during a previous longer period with a large volcano activity affecting the deep sea, which I believe is a possible and proposed scenario for a little ice age.

The climate sensitivity may be calculated from observed forcing and redistributed thermal energy as follows.

ECS = 3.7(T-T0)/(F-F0+(N0-N))

An example giving a very low climate sensitivity could be as follows .

T-T0=0.8 K; F-F0=2.9 W/m2; N0-N= 0.4 W/m2 => ECS= 0.9 K.

This example assumes some natural increase of the forcing (due to changes in the climate system independent of the temperature changes) and a significant energy imbalance at the end of the nineteenth century due to the previous little ice age. N has been determined to 0.6±0.4 W/m2 so I consider N0-N=0.4 as a reasonable possibility for a limiting case.

298. Pehr,

The temperature increase over a given time period from t0 to t depends on both changes in forcing (F-F0) and internal redistribution of thermal energy (N0-N) according to the following equation.

I don’t think this is correct, at least as far as the equilibrium response is concerned. In equilibrium $N - N_o = 0$ by definition, therefore $ECS = 3.7/\alpha$.

299. Willard says:

> Ideas from science seeping into the scientific literature also seems fine to me.

I hope you do, the phenomenon is as old as science. However, this may not be the concept introduced in the title Seepage: Climate change denial and its effect on the scientific community. The colon indicates something like an explicitation. In the executive summary, we can read:

[B]eing human, scientists’ operate with the same cognitive apparatus and limitations as every other person. In consequence, it is important to be aware of the factors that may cause scientists to take positions that they would be less likely to take in the absence of outspoken public opposition. We refer to this phenomenon as seepage.

http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/lewandowskyseepage.html

This phenomenon goes beyond following through the memes and the frames. It’s about taking position.

***

When you say what is fine by you, Victor, you don’t say what’s not. I think it is fair to say that the seepage of contrarian frames, memes or positions (pending further clarification) may not be fine by you. The question is: why? I can see at least three somewhat implicit answers in Lew & al.

First, it comes from contrarian sources. This explains why Lew & al “initiate [their] argument with the known fact that vested interests and political agents have long opposed political or regulatory action in response to climate change by appealing to scientific uncertainty” (Ibid.).

Second, it’s unjustified. This explains why Lew & al focuses ” primarily on the asymmetry of the scientific response to the so-called ‘pause’—which is not a pause but a moderate slow-down in warming that does not qualitatively differ from previous fluctuations in decadal warming rate” (Ibid).

Third, it’s caused by psychological mechanisms that render the scientists’ reaction suboptimal. This is where stereotype threat, pluralistic ignorance, and the third-person effect comes into play.

Are there other reasons? I hope there are.

***

In any case, the paper describes and explains a phenomenon that is not necessarily “fine” by the target audience. Nor does it seem “fine” by the authors themselves. Nevertheless, the paper bypasses the crucial step to bridge the gap between the descriptive and the normative.

Notice the notion of “asymetry”. This indicates a gap. It functions as a distancing word. It distances the authors from the normative judgement that carries their study.

This could indicate seepage from the auditing sciences. This is not fine by me, wherever it comes from, and whoever does that.

300. Pehr,
Actually, I see what you’ve done. You’ve just done a basic energy balance calculation. So, yes, your calculation is correct. You have, however, chosen some values that give a low ECS. The change in anthropogenic forcing is thought to be around 2.3W/m^2. The current planetary energy imbalance may be as high as 0.6W/m^2. The change in temperature may be 0.85K. Hence we could get an ECS of 1.85K. That also assumes certain things like homogeneous forcings, no influence from internal variability, etc. There are also various uncertainties that should also be considered.

301. Pehr Björnbom says:

aTTP, yes, one may calculate different ECS depending on where in the uncertainty intervals F-F0, N-N0, T-T0 the values are taken. This is characteristic for the L-school view that we have large uncertainties. The value of N for example is rather uncertain 0.6±0.4 W/m^2. This is also so for the value of F-F0 due to limited understanding of the effect of aerosols and cloud effects not depending on the temperature.

I wanted to illustrate that a low value of ECS is compatible with conservation of energy. There are credible arguments founded on the Earth’s energy balance that may give such results.

302. Pehr,

This is characteristic for the L-school view that we have large uncertainties.

Sorry, but that is not L-school only. The uncertainties exist, I don’t think anyone credible disputes this.

I wanted to illustrate that a low value of ECS is compatible with conservation of energy.

Well, yes, if those values are correct and the other factors don’t influence the ultimate value, then yes. In fact, even the IPCC does not rule out an ECS of 1K, it’s just regarded as highly unlikely. I don’t know the actual probability, but it is very small, as I understand it.

My point about energy conservation was different, though. If you want nature to have contributed singnificantly to the observed warming, then the energy has to have come from somewhere. Given, that ice sheets are melting, sea ice is melting (even the rise in Antarctic sea ice doesn’t compensate for the overall melt), glaciers are melting and ocean heat content is rising, where is it coming from?

303. What is not fine by me is bad science. Writing about the “hiatus” as if it were a thing is bad science. (Studying variability is fine, I would even say great.) You may case about your climate ball, I care about the scientific literature, what you call “lichurchur”. We have different interests.

304. Willard says:

> What is not fine by me is bad science.

Then you share something with the Auditor, Judith “INTEGRITY ™” Curry , Ed “wrong method” Wegman, Richard “Gremlins” Tol, and many more. Most contrarians I know justify the concerns they raise on that basis. This means we need to inspect the specific justification regarding what counts as “bad science.”

You invoke the existence of the hiatus:

Writing about the “hiatus” as if it were a thing is bad science.

There are at least two problems with that claim.

First, there seems to be a fine line between slowdown and hiatus or pause. Since Lew uses “slowdown” in his elevator pitch, and also cites Boykoff who does, then “slowdown” is kosher, while “hiatus” or “pause” is not. It’s unclear why, except because of the fact that the good guys use “slowdown” while others use “hiatus” or “pause”. If the pause is not statistically significant, so does the slowdown (at least if we’re to believe Tamino’s analysis). The slowdown, just like the pause or the hiatus, are mere appearances. Therefore, all this wordology on the name of bad science could be dodged by adding the weasel words “what appears to be” instead of “is”.

I find that quite underwhelming, and that’s just for starters. We could revisit the examples you gave above and look at their specific wordings and see how bad they really are, but the second point is too crucial and the wordology will have to wait.

***

Second, the “bad science” is about existence which, as Reverend observed a while ago on this thread, is not even a predicate. This leads us ontology, and I don’t think scientists ought to use ontology to distinguish good from bad science, if at all. Most theorical concepts in all the science are mere posits anyway.

Take the concept of seepage. What kind of thing is that? Lew & al’s title presents it as what produces an effect. Lew’s elevator pitch (it may not be a real executive summary, since it omits its crucial part, i.e. the wordology) presents it as a series of “factors”. How is seepage really a thing?

The same line of questioning can be applied to frames and memes. In fact, we can go further and wonder if the global temperature exists [1]. Yet, we hear about that concept all the time. In this tread alone, there are more than 15 occurences of that term. Suppose it does not exist: does it mean any climate scientist writing papers in the lichurchur presupposing the existence of global temperature will then be “bad”? I doubt it very much.

(My own answer to that quandary is the same as Vaughan’s: who cares?)

Requiring statistical significance for existence does not fare better. Take the consensus about AGW. Just about anyone (including Richard “load of crap” Tol) accepts that there’s one. Do we have a definite series of statistical tests showing without doubt (say a few sigmas) that the consensus exists? I don’t think we do.

***

These are very basic points. Now, why do we have so much brilliant minds fumbling on so basic points? To explain that phenomenon, let’s metaphorize: I hereby introduce the concept of leachate [2]. Let’s succinctly describe leachate as the smelly product of a lack of ClimateBall self-awareness, but enough corporatist know-how to play the publish or perish and the social pundit games.

Of course, that does not mean that those who produce leachate don’t do good work. What they study is valuable, and anyway they reach good conclusions at least half of the time. How that last sentence conflicts with the putative risk that the earth will explode or that they’ll get sued into bankrupcy would they persist is left for another comment.

305. Willard writes: “The same can be applied to frame and meme. In fact, we can go further and wonder if the global temperature exists. Yet, we hear about that concept all the time. ”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
How do you figure that?
Is the global a physical finite planet?
Why would the global not have an intrinsic global temperature?

Why should our inability to completely define and quantify that number – change that reality?

Why would even want to dispute that physical reality?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
You know Willard things you write (and I’ve seen you around neighborhood plenty) consisently seem intended to confuse rather than to help clarify our understanding of reality. What’s up with that?

Bonus question:
Does the concept of a global heat and moisture distribution engine, make any sense to you?

306. sorry about the typos – I mean to say the globe > as in the planet Earth.
as opposed to a mental construct.

307. You know Willard things you write (and I’ve seen you around neighborhood plenty) consisently seem intended to confuse rather than to help clarify our understanding of reality. What’s up with that?

It’s a challenge. It can be worth taking the challenge, sometimes 🙂

308. John L says:

@Victor Venema
I think It’s worth pointing out that a bad framing does not necessarily imply incorrect conclusions, natural science including climate science, is normally quite robust against framing mistakes. There is more of a risk that you focus (your research) on wrong things. A good example may be from the last IPCC report box 9.2 “Climate Models and the Hiatus in Global-Mean Surface Warming of the Past 15 Years” where there is a quite long discussion about the “hiatus” which is supposed to appear during the period 1998-2012. But nothing is really said about why that specific period should be picked or how the “hiatus” should be defined and where the concept comes from (at least as far as I could find). But we know the old “sceptic” trick of starting the period in the extreme El Nino year of 1998 to be able to say that “look, global warming has stopped!”, so it is a good guess that the framing originated in these campaigns. However, the conclusion of the discussion is that there was nothing special about that period:
“In summary, the observed recent warming hiatus, defined as the reduction in GMST trend during 1998–2012 as compared to the trend during 1951–2012, is attributable in roughly equal measure to a cooling contribution from internal variability and a reduced trend in external forcing (expert judgement, medium confidence)”
So the GMST followed the forced trend + internal variability. Really? Well, natural laws don’t tend to change over time so it wasn’t too surprising. Instead, IPCC should have motivated their choice of period, e.g. perhaps being the only period with relevant satellite data, or they should have asked a more general question like “Do models reproduce the size of natural variations?”. And to answer that better analyse all available data and not just some cherry-picked subset.

An interesting follow up study where the actual conclusions were affected could be about the climate sensitivity assessment. It seems to me that the IPCC lowering of the ECS likely limit to 1.5 was not supported by a correct analysis of the evidence. Seepage and/or fear of being wrong is my best bet. But of course, this is a more complex subject which is difficult to judge…

309. Willard says:

How do I figure what, why does it matter with the cup of tea, how does our inability to completely define and quantify which number relate to Essex’ argument, and why would you argue using many leading questions at the same time showing you don’t grok much, Challenging One, as if you did not produce enough leachate already, e.g. [1]?

310. tlitb1 at 02:08 AM on 18 May, 2015 writes
“… Can you point to something Richard Betts has actually said that confirms him pretending about science as a fact? …
I am all ears 😉
_____________________________

tlitb1, No I’m not going to play that game.
Besides, I’m not picking on Professor Betts himself, I’m talking about the “subjective” “projection” that the entire scientific/political/media community is sending out the public >> meaning anyone and everyone who has devoted any great deal of time, energy and treasure peddling or playing into this contrived “hiatus” while ignoring the reality of how greenhouse gases are recognizably changing our global heat and moisture distribution engine.

“TinyCO2” summarizes my assessment of my metaphorical Betts et. al’s attitude quite eloquently: “A pause or not a pause, that is the question.”

And I think how disconnect from the geophysical realities of our planet can we get? We understanding the physics of greenhouse gases, we have the Earth observations to confirm scientists have the fundamental nailed down damned well. What more do you expect?
_________________________________________________________
What’s the deal with this “Hiatus” putting the full brakes on proactively getting together and dealing with what’s coming our way? Justify that one tlitb1.
__________________________________________________________

Seems to me a politically inspired diversion to continue keeping everyone confused and running away from coming to grips with the really of what our actions are doing to the biosphere we depend on for everything.
~ ~ ~
And why would anyone want to keep confusing the public… well, you know, if you admit it, it obliges us to do take action.

311. Willard: People listen to people they trust, and they trust people who listen to them. If reading’s a bit like listening, this whole charade about RichardB misreading Lew serves to break the readers’ trust in RichardB.

Thank you for making me regret so fast to have responded to you. A “debate” with you is as productive as with a mitigation sceptic because there is no willingness to listen, to understand each other and learn only to win some pathetic game.

For what it is worth: I consider the term “slowdown” as bad as “pause”. And both should never be used without explaining that it does not exist in the climate records, but stems from the climate “debate”. Just like “lukewarmer” is no better than “denier” if there are no arguments for the tepidness. It is not a matter of size, but of arguments and evidence.

If you really want to piss me off, which you may well want to, do compare me to Curry or Tol one more time.

312. John L, I fully agree with your first part on the above discussion.

Whether the IPCC was too careful when they lowered the lower bound of the climate sensitivity, I do not know. That is not my field. Just before the deadline of the IPCC there were several papers with lower estimates, not only from instrumental data (EBM), but also some paleo estimates, if I am not mistaken. Thus at the time it may have made sense. If I hear scientists from this field now, it sounds like they understand better why the estimates from the EBM models are most likely too low. Thus I guess they would not have done so now, but at the time it may have made sense. The lack of understanding was likely also the reason why they did not want to give a best estimate for the ECS.

Officially this lowering was not due to the “slowdown”, it has hardly any effect on the estimated ECS. But it might have been in the back of their heads and then scientists talking about it being a problem that needs study (see the above mentioned quotes collected by Lewandowsky) or even simply calling it a “hiatus” is not helpful. Scientists are also humans and I do not want to rule out that the climate “debate” has unfortunately influenced the decision. It was, however, defensible. There is fortunately a limit to how much harm social influences can have in science. There is some wiggle room, some expert judgement involved, but I would guess not much than half a degree for the ECS.The wiggle room in the natural science parts is limited.

313. Willard says:

Dear Victor,

Besides the wordology, which will have to wait for another time, I only wished to add a comment on this quip:

I would not mind if some ideas from science would seep into the blogs of the mitigation sceptics.

I do hope you understand how derogatory this is. Par for the course, no doubt. Yet, so misguided as to make me cringe.

If contrarian blogs could not even science [0], they would close shops. Sure, they get most things wrong, and they use science as a proxy for political warfare, but they still get things right from time to time. Could be random, which is even plausible, since they attack everything from everywhere. Look at the Contrarian Matrix:

http://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com

Horror vacui may apply to contrarian memes. By sheer combinatorics, some things they say will hold true as soon as mainstream science change its orthodoxy. This may be too strong. Suppose instead that from the multitudinous ClimateBall exchanges emerge the most potent ones. Then, among the most popular memes, there ought to be concerns worth inspecting.

There’s very little issuing polite mockery or testifying noble interests regarding the scientific lichurchur can do about that. Such concerns will, sooner or later, need to be addressed. The short of it, then, is that Lew’s contempt toward contrarian memes is self-defeating. That a meme is from a contrarian source is not a bug, but a crucial feature that scientists ought to stop dismissing out of hand as frivolous. They are produced by meme engines that kick the progressive asses around the world since at least before the Reagan golden years.

We need to be thankful for the contrarian concerns if we wish to prevail.

Judging the validity of a meme from its source is fallacious. Any Internet ninja can be right from time to time, whether they studied cognitive science (like I did) or not. The only conclusion from Lew’s work is that the scientific lichurchur is in due need for a big change.

Producing leachate is not enough anymore.

***

Draping yourself in the white cloak of pure science does not justify why you’re here, and grandstanding does not cohere with the personal attacks you hide under a façade of politeness. Your reading of Lew’s title, besides being insulting, was wrong.

Not one single element in Lew’s title resists analysis. Yet other apathetic academics in need of an editor. Science communication starts at home.

If on the face of the mindless hordes that’s coming [1], all you can muster is a dignified finger, I feel sorry for our predicament. You are playing ClimateBall, dear Victor, whether you like it or not.

In ClimateBall, the only losing move is not to play.

314. redbbs says:

Willard your posts reveal a mission to find or manufacture fault in others.
Is your automatic gainsay a desperate attempt to avoid confronting your own imperfections?

315. Brandon Gates says:

Well there goes an irony meter.

316. Brandon Gates says:

Victor,

For what it is worth: I consider the term “slowdown” as bad as “pause”. And both should never be used without explaining that it does not exist in the climate records, but stems from the climate “debate”.

The average layperson who has not been initiated to the subject is going to read your statement, then be presented this plot like this one ….

… except from RSS not HADCRUT4, and from 1997 not 1850. At which point they might just think that you are a lying sack of crap. Justifiably so, I might add — NOT because you are a liar (you’re anything but!!) but because they don’t have the context of your knowledge to correctly evaluate your claim against the pretty picture someone at WUWT shoves in front of them.

I care deeply about the integrity of the scientific process. I care more about the political expedience of putting that science into action by way of mitigation policy. There are two balls to play here, and argue that one does indeed take priority over the other. With respect, please consider this perspective.

317. John L says:

@Victor Venema
Yes, naturally I cannot claim any formal authority 🙂 But my reasoning goes a bit like this about the ECS: There was a meme “more and more studies point to a lower sensitivity” that was often repeated. But that many EBM methods simultaneously pointed low is not surprising because they were heavily dependent on each other by using same methodology and data set. It was of course well known already then that EBM:s were based on a quite rough linearisation, which hadn’t been shown to well predict ECS. Instead the result of other methods implicitly pointed to a low bias and the forcing efficacy issue was known since at least Hansen (1997). PALEOSENS summarized the paleo-evidence with a likely 2.2–4.8 K. When combining probabilities correctly this interval can hardly become smaller. And finally as IPCC argued cited above, the 1998+ interval didn’t strongly dispute GCM mean results.

318. Willard says: “That a meme is from a contrarian source is not a bug, but a crucial feature that social scientists ought to stop dismissing out of hand as frivolous. ” ~~~~~~~~
But Willard (and such defenders of the contrarian crazy-making) never acknowledges that most of what you’ll find at contrarian sources is based on unmitigated and demonstrable lies.

So basically he’s sneakily implying we are supposed to treat lies and ignoring vast swaths of certain knowledge as a “Fair and Balanced” response, when it’s nothing of the kind – it’s an orchestrated lie.

Furthermore, Willard types projects an assumption that lively informed skepticism and debates are not the main stay of science. From decades of paying attention I know that’s another lie. The informed scientists are the most skeptical of the whole bunch of us – and they allow facts and knowledge to sway them.

Case in point Piers Corbyn:
http://whatsupwiththatwatts.blogspot.com/2015/05/piers-corbyn-story.html
Willard an invitation: http://whatsupwiththatwatts.blogspot.com/2015/05/debating-piers-corbyn.html

319. Brandon Gates says “There are two balls to play here, and argue that one does indeed take priority over the other. With respect, please consider this perspective.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1) Understanding the state of the science.
2) Political/business action to address what we are doing to our planet.

Seems to me a realistic appreciation for what scientists can tell us about the reality unfolding upon this planet is a prerequisite for taking realistic effective political/business action.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Does that summation pass muster?

320. Willard says:

> But Willard (and such defenders of the contrarian crazy-making) never acknowledges that most of what you’ll find at contrarian sources is based on unmitigated and demonstrable lies.

Calumnies may not be the most optimal strategies to win ClimateBall.

First, the “defending contrarian crazy-making” is unjustified. Perhaps Challenging One missed the end of that sentence, in italic above:

We need to be thankful for the contrarian concerns if we wish to prevail.

In return, perhaps I missed his contributions lately on contrarian playing fields, for I don’t recall the last time he left a comment (say) at Judy’s instead of playing Sir Robin on his cozy little playgrounds to talk about them.

***

Second, the “never acknowledges that most of what you’ll find at contrarian sources is based on unmitigated and demonstrable lies” is the kind of thing you say when you want to lose a winning position.

It is very risky, since I only need to find one quote [from] one of these “defenders” to prove him wrong. It is even riskier considering that accusing someone of lying is subject to defamation laws. If you doubt that, let Challenging One identify himself and go tell the Monktopus that he’s a liar. I can connect both of you if need be.

It is also far from being necessary, as there are a thesaurus (the fiercest of the dinosaurs) full of related concepts that does not imply an intention to deceive by something knowingly false. A lie is notoriously hard to demonstrate. Same goes for “fraud,” a word that got Steyn sued by our favorite Mike.

To break another irony meter after BrandonG’s, the second calumny could be mitigated if ClimateBall players paid due diligence to the contrarian blog ring. At the very least, those I visit pay attention to not going a bridge too far in their accusations. They have nothing to gain by ventilating using hyperboles that can lead to legal problems. This might very well be the best example of seepage that would be beneficial to the mainstream blogs.

Considering the pussyfooting about “pause,” “hiatus” or even “slowdown” on this thread, and the standard of proof required to use them, I hope we expect the same about the word “lie.”

***

Poor taste and bad judgement show poor ClimateBall skill. It is a pain to read, and it is an annoyance to manage. When I’m on a contrarian blog, I am being burdened to defend those who suboptimally say that “what you’ll find at contrarian sources is based on unmitigated and demonstrable lies.”

Next time this happens, I’ll notice Challenging One. Let’s hope he won’t courageously do like Sir Robin.

321. Some thoughts to share…

Seems to me the real prerequisite is a curiosity and genuine desire to understand our Earth; a willingness to put accurate learning above defending ego.

Too bad so little of that exists anymore, thus this time wasting dog-chasing-tail “dialogue”
______________________________________________________________________
Everyone is totally focusing on their particular mind construction –
and forgets to step back and simply behold that transformation going outside our shelters within our thin atmosphere and oceans.
You know out there on Earth.
Who gives damned if the numbers 40% off,
this is real and it is happening,
yet here we are 2015 haggling over percent points and fractions.

Our science research and measurements are supposed to help us understand IT –
the territory our Earth and it’s many inter-connectioned operations.

Science and people have never, ever, been able to provide total accuracy and certainty,
and it’s never been needed to inform society’s progress.

Yet, this contemptible Republican/libertarian PR machine of self-interest
has driven this demand for absolute “proof” and haggling over minutia
demanding absolute accuracy where none has ever been possible.
It’s crazy-making at it’s most malicious.

{Willard, Pehr, et al., stuff that in your pipe and puff on it awhile. }

322. John Hartz says:

Like it or not, scientists are now using terms such as “slowdown” and “hiatus” when speaking with journalists. Here’s a current example…

“This is a really important study as it resolves how Pacific Ocean variability has led to the warming slowdown without storing excess ocean heat locally,” Matthew England, a professor at the University of New South Wales, said. “This resolves a long-standing debate about how the Pacific has led to a warming slowdown when total heat content in that basin has not changed significantly.”
—–
Tom Delworth, a climate modeler at Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory who has also examined the Pacific trade winds in the hiatus, agreed, though he noted, “the results are very interesting, but I’m not sure they help us with predicting the future evolution of the hiatus.”

Heat is Piling Up in the Depths of the Indian Ocean by Brian Kahn, Climate Central, May 18, 2015

323. Pehr Björnbom says:

aTTP, please note that my calculation in my comment May 17, 2015 at 4:12 pm considered “that ice sheets are melting, sea ice is melting (even the rise in Antarctic sea ice doesn’t compensate for the overall melt), glaciers are melting and ocean heat content is rising”. The heat received by the planet causing those effects comes from the imbalance at the top of the atmosphere, N=0.6±0.4 W/m^2, that was used in my calculation.

There is evidently a considerable uncertainty in the value of N. It could be between 1.0 and 0.2 W/m^2, but all the values in this interval are compatible with the heat effects mentioned above. I assumed in my calculation that N0-N=0.4 W/m^2. This could for example correspond to N=0.4 W/m^2 and N0=0.8 W/m^2. The positive value of N0 was justified as an imbalance following an assumed radiative forcing causing the little ice age, for example a high volcanic activity.

As I am no expert on this there is of course a considerable risk that I have overlooked arguments that contradict my assumptions. My calculation is in principle compatible with conservation of energy since the equations I have used are applications of the energy balance at the top of the atmosphere. However, perhaps there are other arguments based on conservation of energy that I have overlooked. In any case this seems to me to be an interesting topic for discussion of physics.

324. Brandon Gates says:

citizenschallenge,

Seems to me a realistic appreciation for what scientists can tell us about the reality unfolding upon this planet is a prerequisite for taking realistic effective political/business action.

I fully agree in the general case of any science informing any policy decision. In the specific case of CO2, the science is clear as it can be about the answer. The theoretical solution is trivial, the practical solution is anything but. If little to no action is taken on the basis of that science, then it becomes a truly academic exercise. All other concerns are secondary to policy implementation, and the clock ticks.

325. Pehr, I’m wondering can you explain what good your calculation and conjectures are?
Either to you ; or for others . . .

I’m mean, like what does it add to helping us understand what the experts have puzzled out?

326. Brandon Gates says:

John Hartz,

Like it or not, scientists are now using terms such as “slowdown” and “hiatus” when speaking with journalists.

I like it. Those terms succinctly describe in lay terms what’s been happening at the surface. The article makes this clear in the opening paragraphs:

The world’s oceans are playing a game of hot potato with the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gas emissions.

Scientists have zeroed in on the tropical Pacific as a major player in taking up that heat. But while it might have held that heat for a bit, new research shows that the Pacific has passed the potato to the Indian Ocean, which has seen an unprecedented rise in heat content over the past decade.

The new work builds on a series of papers that have tracked the causes for what’s been dubbed the global warming slowdown, a period over the past 15 years that has seen surface temperatures rise slower than they did the previous decade. Shifts in Pacific tradewinds have helped sequester heat from the surface to the top 2,300 feet of the ocean.

A sharp editor might have asked for a qualifier such as: ” … for what climate contrarians have dubbed the global warming slowdown … ”

I think it’s worth noting that the WUWT crowd doesn’t much care for “pause” or “hiatus” becuase they correctly imply that surface warming is going to “start up again”. They prefer “stopped” to “slowdown”. Plateau is popular.

327. Pehr,

My calculation is in principle compatible with conservation of energy since the equations I have used are applications of the energy balance at the top of the atmosphere.

Yes, I realise, but what your calculation does not do is show that you can generate those properties naturally, rather than predominantly anthropogenically. For example, how do we naturally generate a planetary energy imbalance of this magnitude, that can persist for many decades?

328. Pehr Björnbom says:

aTTP, the matter of the planetary imbalance isn’t so easy, it seems to me. It seems to me that there is no clear picture of a positive planetary energy imbalance that has persisted “for many decades”.

Again, I’m not an expert in this field but some reasoning seems to me to be rather basic physics of energy conservation. The planetary energy balance follows the principle In – Out = Accumulated where the system boundary is the top of the atmosphere. In – Out is the imbalance at the top of the atmosphere and if we consider that calculated per unit of time and per planetary surface area it’s equal to N W/m^2.

Accumulated is equal to the change in the internal energy U J of the climate system if we neglect kinetic and potential energy. U=U_O+U_C+U_L+U_A where the four terms in the RHS are the internal energies of the ocean, the cryosphere, the land and the atmosphere. However, the term for the ocean is 90% so we may in this context approximate that U equals the internal energy of the ocean.

This means that N=1/A dU/dt W/m^2 with U approximately equal to the internal energy of the ocean. An increasing U gives a positive planetary imbalance while a decreasing ditto gives a negative imbalance.

The following data gives information on N since about 1955 (we have no data before 1955?).

Estimated ocean heat content by depth.
Balmaseda, Trenberth, and Källén, courtesy of the American Geophysical Union

This data probably has a lot of uncertainties. The planetary imbalance is proportional to the slope of this curve which shows how the internal energy of the ocean has changed. A slope around zero means no planetary imbalance, a negative slope means a negative imbalance etc.

Thus it seems that the imbalance was negative 1960-1975 and positive 1983-1991, around zero 1993-2000 and positive 2000-2010. Three volcanic eruptions are indicated and they were producing stratospheric aerosols initiating strong negative imbalance for some subsequent years. To me, of course being not an expert in the field, this picture doesn’t show a clear picture.

329. Pehr Björnbom says:

My html-code failed so I give the link to the diagram here:

330. Pehr,
Your figure shows that the energy has increased since about 1960, with some periods (associated with volcanoes mainly) where it did not. Ponder the following. According to paleo-reconstrutions, we’re probably about as warm now as we’ve been for 1000 years. The amount of energy we radiate depends on the surface temperature and the composition of the atmosphere (assuming only small changes in albedo). If the temperature goes up, we radiate more. If it goes down, we radiate less. How can we then have – on average – a positive planetary energy imbalance if surface temperatures are, now, about as high as they’ve been for about 1000 years? For example, how could that be natural?

331. Pehr Björnbom says:

aTTP, thanks for your interesting questions. However, I think that the limited amount of data that also is uncertain, especially the early data, makes it difficult to find some convincing answer. We don’t know how this curve looked like before 1955. Neither we know what the imbalance is at present. The value of N=0.6±0.4 W/m^2 refers to period of perhaps a decade (I am not sure about the length) which ended before the present. It’s possible that the imbalance may change sign rapidly.

This curve raises several other questions on the relation between the surface temperature and the ocean heat content (OHC). Why have volcanoes such different effects. After the around 1963 eruption the OHC fell rapidly but after that it continued to fall, indicating negative planetary energy balance, until around 1976, much longer than a volcanic eruption should have an influence. Then OHC rose rapidly indicating a positive imbalance but stalled without recovering to the level before 1963.

After the volcanic eruption around 1982 OHC fell rapidly, negative imbalance, but after a couple of years began to rise rapidly, positive imbalance, until the next volcanic eruption around 1991. This positive balance occurred together with at temperature rise.

After the eruption around 1991 OHC fell rapidly again, but after a couple of years stabilized without much change, zero imbalance, until around 2000. But the temperature obviously rose during this period, in fact rapidly compared to the temperature change in many other periods after 1955.

After 2000 OHC began to rise rapidly, positive imbalance, but now the temperature rose at a much slower rate, the hiatus rate.

The OHC values are more certain in the last decade due to the ARGO buoys. It will be interesting to see how the OHC will develop in the future. Will it continue rising or will it stabilize or even show a maximum? I am no expert, that’s best to repeat, but since we cannot see any clear pattern about what gives a positive, zero or negative imbalance perhaps it’s better not to expect anything at this stage.

332. Pehr,
Okay, but here’s something else to ponder – from a Bayesian perspective. We have measurements of an increase in surface temperature. We have measurements showing an increase in ocean heat content. We have reducing ice sheets and sea ice. We have ground based measurements showing an increase in the downwelling long wavelength flux. We have satellite measurements showing a decrease in the outgoing long wavelength flux. We have basic physics that tells us what we would expect to happen if we increases GHG concentrations in the atmosphere. It all ties together. What are the chances?

333. Pehr Björnbom says:

aTTP, thank you for your questions. The original talking point was that natural variability as an explanation is not compatible with conservation of energy, a view that I partly challenged. I repeat what I wrote previously, but in parenthesis within my comment May 17, 2015 at 4:12 pm: “it’s of course unlikely that the observed temperature increase of about 0.8 K has happened without changed forcing considering the effect of increasing greenhouse gases and other reasons”.

So we are basically discussing what the observed warming compared with what we know about increased radiative forcing, the changing heat content in the ocean, the cryosphere, land and atmosphere and observed changes in radiation means for the climate sensitivity. Our tools for interpreting those data is climate science, for example “what we would expect to happen if we increases GHG concentrations in the atmosphere”. I assert that our knowledge may well be explained by a very low climate sensitivity but it could of course also be the opposite. What I wanted to emphasize in this thread is that the climate scientists arguing for a low climate sensitivity, who belong to what I called the L-school in my comment May 16, 2015 at 12:32 pm, are equally credible in my eyes as the H-school climate scientists.

Some detailed comments (may be irrelevant, I repeat that I’m not an expert in this field):

Melting of sea ice and ice sheets doesn’t contribute much to the energy balance but increased temperature means that more sea ice and more glaciers and ice sheets are affected by melting. This doesn’t consume much more latent heat but probably the effect on the rate of sea level rise is more important.

I remember that recently a study was published on ground based measurements showing an increase in the downwelling long wavelength flux and that they claimed to have connected this to increased carbon dioxide mixing ratio. But we have to wait to see how this study will be received by the scientific community.

Regarding satellite measurements showing a decrease in the outgoing long wavelength flux tied to increased GHG mixing ratios I seem to have missed the news. Do you have some further information about a paper reporting on the solution of that long-standing problem?

334. Pehr,

The original talking point was that natural variability as an explanation is not compatible with conservation of energy, a view that I partly challenged.

Hold on, I didn’t say natural variability wasn’t consistent with conservation of energy, I was suggesting that a long-term, multi-decade, naturally-driven surface warming trend, that is accompanied by increased ocean heat content and reduction in planetary ice mass, is not consistent with energy conservation.

You could try this for discussions about the outgoing spectrum with links to actual sources.

335. [Chill. -W]

336. citizen,

337. And I don’t think I’m asking an unreasonable one !

To what point are these questions? What are they trying to resolve?

Perhaps more importantly, what’s the value of focusing on tiny details while ignoring the elephant in the room?

338. Perhaps more importantly, what’s the value of focusing on tiny details while ignoring the elephant in the room?

Because I’m a scientist and if someone wants to engage in a pleasant and thoughtful discussion about something scientific, I’m more than happy to do so. I am still regarding this as a science blog, more than any other kind of blog.

339. Pehr Björnbom says:

aTTP, okey, the talking point is much more complex than I described. Thank you for this lengthy discussion that I think has been very interesting and will stimulate further thinking.

I finish with the following comment on satellite observations of the GHG effect. I followed your link and found the following text:

“This result has been confirmed by subsequent papers using more recent satellite data. The 1970 and 1997 spectra were compared with additional satellite data from the NASA AIRS satellite launched in 2003 (Griggs 2004). This analysis was extended to 2006 using data from the AURA satellite launched in 2004 (Chen 2007). Both papers found the observed differences in CO2 bands matching the expected changes from rising carbon dioxide levels. Thus we have empirical evidence that increased CO2 is causing an enhanced greenhouse effect.”

However, the links to the two mentioned papers are not working. What paper “Griggs 2004” represents I cannot understand and “Chen 2007” seems to be a paper from some conference or workshop proceedings. My impression that this long-standing problem so far hasn’t got a solution generally accepted by the climate scientist community remains.

340. Pehr,
Here is another one. This seems slightly more recent.

341. …and Then There’s Physics says:May 21, 2015 at 2:58 pm
CC asked: Perhaps more importantly, what’s the value of focusing on tiny details while ignoring the elephant in the room?

Because I’m a scientist and if someone wants to engage in a pleasant and thoughtful discussion about something scientific, I’m more than happy to do so. I am still regarding this as a science blog, more than any other kind of blog.
___________________________________________________

OK, I appreciate that ATTP, and I’m not trying to be a jerk for the sake of being a jerk. But this thread started about how political activism has seeped into the way scientists are framing their questions. So it seems a place where it would be appropriate a pull back a little and perhaps think a bit deeper about the difference between our mental constructs and what’s really and truly unfolding upon this planet.

I constantly get the sense that the community at large is more focused on justifying formulas, then on appreciating what those formulas are telling us about the infinitely complex world we exist within. It’s a tough thing to verbalize, which is why I’m paying attention to this dialogue and playing devil’s advocate now and then – and learning a little along the way. And most hopefully nudging a few to think outside their envelope’s of comfort.

342. Heck, case in point, take a look at the first sentence of your second link.

Climate Change Detection and Attribution of Infrared Spectrum Measurements:
“Climate change occurs when the Earth’s energy budget changes due to natural or possibly anthropogenic forcings. ”

“Or possibly” anthropogenic forcing – to me inserting that word seems absolutely ludicrous.
What like anthropogenically produced greenhouse gases aren’t going to behave exactly as natural greenhouse forcing?
Or is it suggesting we haven’t been injecting massive quantities of the stuff?

How would you or Pehr justify injecting that word?

343. Okay, I don’t know why the put possibly in. I added it for this sentence

Since then, a number of other studies have advanced the concepts of spectral signatures of climate change. Today the concept of using spectral signatures to identify and attribute atmospheric composition change is firmly accepted and is the foundation of the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) satellite mission being developed at NASA.

344. ATTP
This is important stuff and not sure why you seem offended.
And yes this is a duplicate because the question remains the same.

Now back to Lewandowsky et al 2015 and the matter of recognizing seepage in how scientists communicate science.

It’s not a trivial error – and it’s not rude either – it needs to be thought about.

Back to the point of May 21, 2015 at 3:49 pm
It’s a sloppiness in definitions that I can find a hundred similar examples of.
And it’s such sloppiness that the ruthless Republican/libertarian machine have leveraged into confusing leaders and the public and stalling all positive proactive action of the past decades.

And I believe it’s an example of exactly what Lewandowsky et al 2015 is pointing at.
____________________________________________________
Does any of this make the slightest sense to anyone here???

PS – (yes it’s a bit sloppy I’m not a professional writer, but the point still gets made.)
Friday, October 25, 2013
“Colorado Floods – statistical certainty vs geophysical realities”
http://whatsupwiththatwatts.blogspot.com/2013/10/colo-floods-statistics-vs-physics.html

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