Lukewarmers part II

I wrote about Lukewarmers a while back. Idiotracker has also discussed them, and Eli calls them Luckwarmers. Tamsin Edwards’s recent Guardian article has, however, reinvigorated the topic and Brigitte Nerlich has tried to understand the emergence and spread of such labels.

My understanding of the basic Lukewarmer viewpoint is that they regard lower climate sensitivity values as being more likely than the IPCC suggests, and higher one as being less likely. Replace IPCC with mainstream scientists, or whatever other term seems more appropriate, if you wish. Since the impacts probably depend on the temperature change, this means that Lukewarmers presumably think that, for a given future emission pathway, the impacts will probably be less severe than the IPCC suggests. This then means that we potentially have more time to develop sensible policy and technology, and that we can focus on other important things, before focusing on what should be done with regards to climate change. It would seem, though, that Lukewarmers essentially ignore – or downweight – evidence that suggests that their preferred probability distribution function may be incorrect.

I have, unfortunately, made the mistake of reading some recent posts by self-professed Lukewarmers. I won’t link to them, but you can probably find them if you want to. It appears that there are some subtleties about Lukewarmers that I may not have appreciated. The range for the scientific view seems quite broad, and appears – in some cases – to essentially include the full IPCC position and – in others – to be verging on outright denial. There are some other subtleties. Lukewarmers apparently regard themselves as being in the sensible middle, between two extremes. This presumably means that everyone else regards themselves as being in one of the ridiculous extremes? Lukewarmers apparently want to do reasonable, good things, as opposed to everyone else who wants to do silly, bad things. Apparently being a Lukewarmer also means that if you can’t actually find an explicit description of someone else’s view, you can just make one up, because it is obvious what it has to be. In addition, if you can find one, you can still say “they might have said this, but it’s clear that they really meant that”. Apparently, virtually everyone else is a Green activist. Lukewarmers also seem to think that “play the ball, not the man” applies only to other people; labels are discouraged, unless you are a self-professed Lukewarmer.

So, all in all, I’ve been rather confused by this whole episode. I think it probably stems from my assuming that the Lukewarmer viewpoint was a scientific viewpoint, rather than a political viewpoint. I suspect that Chris Shaw’s comment on Brigitte Nerlich’s post puts things into the right perspective. Lukewarmerism appears to be a way of attempting to justify a certain policy position, rather than a genuine attempt to develop a position based on a reasonable interpretation of the available evidence. If things go as they have in the recent past, I will be vitriolically told that I’m completely wrong about this, by people who then say things that are entirely consistent with what I’ve just said.

Moderation note: I know my tagline has changed, but civility is still encouraged. Let’s keep comments civil and thoughtful. I’ve also discovered that Lukewarmers tend to be very sensitive. Mild criticism is, according to some Lukewarmers, an attack. As such, I’m going to moderate heavily if necessary; I’m not interested in any attacks on individuals – well, mild criticisms.

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184 Responses to Lukewarmers part II

  1. Marco says:

    The figure in this blog by Michael Tobis appears relevant here:
    http://initforthegold.blogspot.dk/2010/01/ok-getting-serious-again.html

  2. Well, I think you’ve described the situation very accurately there, aTTP. The only people who will disagree are those who consider themselves lukewarm, I guess.

    It seems to me that lukewarmism has now become the thinking person’s denial position. This fits in nicely (stage 3) with the stages of denial along which society is steadily advancing. 1) It’s not happening. 2) It’s happening but not human caused. 3) It won’t be bad. 4) We will adapt.

    The last stage will segue into ‘we have to adapt’: because it’s too late to do anything else.

  3. john,

    The only people who will disagree are those who consider themselves lukewarm, I guess.

    Indeed. What appears to be the norm is that either you’re told that you’re wrong without the other person explaining why, or they explain why you’re wrong by repeating something that appears to be pretty much what you said in the first place. It’s as if they think that when they say it, it sounds more sensible than when you say it.

  4. semyorka says:

    Luke warmism is like intelligent design. It dumps the obvious nonsense and instead stakes out the most scientifically credible position that suits their objectives. Their primary objective to polarise those who accepts mainstream science into competing camps and engage in a kind of “paralysis by analysis”. Its the house position of the GWPF and their recent “lets have another look at the temperature data” is a good example of the paralysis by analysis.

  5. semyorka,

    Their primary objective to polarise those who accepts mainstream science into competing camps and engage in a kind of “paralysis by analysis”.

    That certainly seems to be the case. What is interesting is how often you see Lukewarmers explaining their intentions, or where they see themselves. “We see ourselves as being in some sensible middle ground”, or “we want to promote sensible policies that will do the most to help the developing world”, as if this isn’t where others see themselves. I tend to assume that this is everyone who is decent’s intent. It’s when they feel the need to explain it that I start to consider that it might not be.

  6. Brandon Gates says:

    ATTP,

    This presumably means that everyone else regards themselves as being in one of the ridiculous extremes?

    Bias is always someone else’s problem. Or so says this radical centrist.

  7. T-rev says:

    I see no effective practical difference in the position taken by the troika. Denialists, Lukewarmers and the vast majority of those who accept the science and the need to mitigate, who don’t act that way.

    I understand there’s a difference in the rhetoric of the different groups but there’s no effective difference in outcomes, it’s “emit as per usual”. They’re all all equally “culpable” for ineffective action being taken. Neither groúp takes any personal responsibility for their own emissions, nor do
    they vote for politicians who will drag freeriders along via legislation. Look to the recent UK election, anyone voting for UKIP, Labour, SNP or Tory had no interest in seeing effective emissions mitigation as a priority.

    Until that changes, until the now tiny minority who act in concert with their understanding of the need for mitigation becomes a significant minority, nothing will change.

    All we have to do to ensure continued vast emissions is keep doing what we’re doing now.

  8. andrew adams says:

    In my experience many of those who call themselves lukewarmers are not just convinced that CS is at the low end of the IPCC range but also that the impacts of warming will be relatively benign. They are especially keen to minimise the extent to which recent extreme weather events can be in any way attributed to climate change.

    They try to frame their views as being part of the mainstream, usually by arguing along the lines of “the IPCC says CS is 1.5 – 4.5C, I think it’s about 1.5C, so I agree with the IPCC”, which to anyone who actually understands the IPCC view on CS is an obvious non-sequiteur.

    So if we’re considering the spectrum of opinion they are at one extreme, with those who are convinced CS is high and that impacts will be at the severe end of the range and who overstate the link between recent extreme weather and climate change at the other.

    Those who just deny that warming is happening at all or that there is a link between warming and human activity (ie those who share the “skydragon” or Salby views) are just cranks, they don’t fit on the spectrum at all.

  9. BBD says:

    What is really pernicious about lukewarmerism is its habit of presenting the best central estimate sensitivity as ‘high’ and ‘alarmist’. Lukewarmers try to portray the objective middle ground as extreme and their own highly subjective and selective editing of reality as the rational middle.

  10. T-rev,

    Denialists, Lukewarmers and the vast majority of those who accept the science and the need to mitigate, who don’t act that way.

    I think it depends on who you mean by “those who accept the science” here. I see quite a lot of climate scientists getting it in the neck from both sides. I feel the same way myself sometimes. Scientists are presenting evidence that can be used to inform policy. Expecting them to also be advocating for/against policy is, I think, a little unfair. On the other hand, if you mean the general public, then – yes – there is a definite apathy. However, given all the misinformation, how can you blame them? I’d like to think that I help a little with what I write here, but am not convinced that I do.

  11. victorpetri says:

    I think part of the Lukewarmer’s position is due to the idea that experts have had a history of alarmist hyperbole on problems that turned out to be not that problematic and/or solvable, e.g. acid rain, peak oil, y2k bug, doomsday, nuclear accidents, ebola, HIV, etc.
    Here your favourite author on the topic:
    http://www.wired.com/2012/08/ff_apocalypsenot/
    That said, it might have been of great importance that we have had experts that did point to worst case scenarios, in order for people to take the appropriate countermeasures.

    In that sense Ridley might undermine society’s appropriate response.

  12. vp,
    Something to bear in mind is that that the problems were solved does not mean that they did not present serious risks. We seem to like to look back and say “look, everything turned out fine” while ignoring that this may be because people were pointing out that we had a problem that needed addressing.

    That said, it might have been of great importance that we have had experts that did point to worst case scenarios, in order for people to take the appropriate countermeasures.

    Well, yes, and as I understand risk assessment, the whole point is to consider the worst case scenarios. You want to determine the risk of something severe happening and whether or not it is worthwhile addressing that risk. We take risks all the time but, typically, we’ve optimised how much we spend to minimise extreme risks with the likelihood of such events actually occuring.

    In that sense Ridley might undermine society’s appropriate response.

    You think? 🙂

  13. Eli Rabett says:

    As the Idiot Tracker pointed out the Luckwarmer trifecta is lower emissions than reasonably anticipated, lower climate sensitivity that reasonably anticipated and lower damage than reasonably anticipated.

    You feeling lucky?

  14. Everett F Sargent says:

    “Unless you’re knee deep in the mud of the climate debate, as I am, you might not know that so-called “climate denial” is actually not that common in the UK. Not that I call people deniers anyway: it antagonises, partly because it is thrown around indiscriminately. There are still people who are unconvinced that carbon dioxide has any greenhouse warming effect, particularly in the US and Australia. But by far the most common kind of non-mainstream, contrarian view I see in the UK – particularly in politicians, journalists and bloggers – is the self-described “lukewarmer”.”

    Typical op-ed piece, no references.

    1st sentence needs some links. Anybody have any circa 2014-15 data for the UK/USA/AU/NZ/CA? GWPF and Christopher Booker and all the UK climate science denial blogs?

    NOTE: The USA is quite obviously #1 in Deniersville. Also, in my book at least, LW’s are just another word for Denier.

    Tasmin is just in denial about deniers in the UK. LW’s in the UK are not deniers according to Tasmin. That’s called moving the goal posts. Go figure.

    Bye.

  15. entropicman says:

    Put yourself into the mind of a lukewarmer.

    The evidence for AGW is so overwhelming that even Morton’s Demon cannot keep it out. It is equally obvious that any viable solution will compromise your libertarian principles.

    Stage 3 (Its not a serious problem) is as close to resolving this cognitive dilemma as you can get.

    As to occupying the rational middle ground; you may be to the left of Marx or to the right of Ghengis Khan, but you will always regard your own position as rational, reasonable and moderate.

  16. As to occupying the rational middle ground; you may be to the left of Marx or to the right of Ghengis Khan, but you will always regard your own position as rational, reasonable and moderate.

    Indeed, that’s why I find it out that anyone would try to argue that the do occupy some reasonable, rational, moderate position. Surely they understand that almost everyone regards this as being their basic position.

  17. entropicman says:

    Everett F Seargent

    There are still deniers in the UK. Consider this discussion at Bishop Hill.

  18. verytallguy says:

    T-rev

    Look to the recent UK election, anyone voting for UKIP, Labour, SNP or Tory had no interest in seeing effective emissions mitigation as a priority.

    I think that’s really unfair actually. The parties all presented a consensus opinion (other than perhaps UKIP) of supporting the climate change act, which does set pretty hard reductions in legislation.

    How you expect voters to understand whether or not their actual policies support this (they all say they do, they are all hopelessly wrong) without becoming a technical expert in energy generation and supply I’m not sure.

  19. Eli Rabett says:

    There are no longer any Morton’s Demons, only Tol’s Gremlins roam the journals.

  20. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “So, all in all, I’ve been rather confused by this whole episode.”

    Your capacity for being continually optimistic that these discussions will follow a logical pathway, or represent good faith exchange, or reveal people to be holding consistent opinions, is admirable. Despite what some “lukewarmers” might think, it seems to me that you must be a glass half full kind of guy.

    Anyway, I think that BBD gets to the heart of the matter here:

    What is really pernicious about lukewarmerism is its habit of presenting the best central estimate sensitivity as ‘high’ and ‘alarmist’.

    As we can see at the discussion at Brigitte’s crib that you linked, there is no coherent and consistent definition of what is or isn’t “lukewarmerism” from a scientific perspective. The term shape-shifts to accommodate whatever a self-identified “lukewarmer” wants to believe about the science, and also to accommodate whatever someone else wants to say about a “lukewarmer’s” view on the science.

    We could say that the viewpoint is consistently and coherently captured by describing it as a policy perspective (that we should not be attempting to mitigate ACO2 emissions) – but even there, it is a unified policy perspective only from a bird’s eye view. The could think that we shouldn’t be mitigating because, coal is great, or because warming is good, or because taxes are the work of the devil, or because mitigating won’t work, or because children are starving in Africa, or because …..well, the list is endless.

    What I see as the most specific and coherent interpretation of the term relates to what BBD describes. “Lukewarmerism” is a perspective that is built on an identity-related foundation. The identity-related foundation reveals identity-aggression and identity-defense. The identity-aggressive aspect is that non-“lukewarmers” are either “alarmists” (or warmunists, or eco-Nazis, blah, blah) or cranks (Sky Dragons) – with most of their aggression targeted towards the “realist” side (as opposed to the “skeptic”) side. For some reason, self-dentified “lukewarmers” seem to feel more antipathy towards “realists” than “skeptics.”

    The identity-defensive aspect is revealed in their sense of themselves as a persecuted and misunderstood common-sense minority.

    The important point about “lukewarmerism,” IMO, is that it’s sameolsameol. It’s labeling that is used without any of the prerequistes needed to make labeling useful as opposed to just more identity food fighting.

    “Lukewarmerism” is not a coherent entity because it cannot be defined independently. It can only be defined by describing what it is not, and unfortunately, invariably, what it “is not” is usually (always?) a strawman.

    Please, show me a prominent “lukewarmer” who does not describe everyone, who lies to the risk side of them on the cost benefit analysis spectrum, as an “alarmist.” Maybe Mosher is an exception.

    Maybe.

    Sometimes.

    IMO, there is an obviously important discussion that could be taking place between those who want to do scenario-planning to inform policy that addresses the full range of cost/benefit analyses related to the probabilities of ACO2 emissions – but that discussion can’t take place unless people fucking grow up, put down the Jell-O mold, walk out of the junior high school cafeteria food fight, and stop engaging in identity battles.

  21. verytallguy says:

    VP,

    experts have had a history of alarmist hyperbole on problems that turned out to be not that problematic and/or solvable, e.g.

    …acid rain…
    solved by fitting flue gas desulfurisation to power stations?

    …peak oil…
    This will happen; the earth is finite!

    …y2k bug…
    Solved as a result of investment

    …doomsday…
    you may need to exemplify this one. A citation to predictions of doomsday would be nice,

    …nuclear accidents…
    are you saying that experts are too alarmist? Again, exemplification needed

    …ebola…
    tens of thousands have died and countries have been turned upside down to control it.

    …HIV…
    millions have died, brought into some degree of control through education and retrovirals. Progress was though slowed through antiscientific denial and ideological (religious/moralist) posturing. Sounds familiar.

    All of these seem to be either examples of real, current significant issues, or ones where potential issues were controlled through societal action.

    Or have I misunderstood?

  22. entropicman says:

    aTTP

    “Surely they understand that almost everyone regards this as being their basic position.”

    Most people don’t analyse their own, or other people’s thinking to that extent. When you associate mainly with people you agree with, there is no need or incentive.

    I learned considerable psychology debating at BH, watching people thinking in ways they though reflected rational common sense and objective analysis of data.

    It brought home how rare the ability to objectively analyse data scientifically actually is.It also made me wonder where my own blind spots are.

  23. Magma says:

    As long as they effectively dismiss even the possibility of catastrophic environmental, health, social and economic consequences of rapid climate change (including shallow ocean acidification), the lukewarmers are optimistic lowballers. Some may genuinely believe in their own analyses, but for others it’s just one of the fallback positions or stages noted by Mann and others years ago.

    Society doesn’t tolerate vehicles with a 1% chance of mechanical loss of control or over-the-counter drugs with a 1% chance of fatal side-effects. It would be strange for us to ignore a slowly developing crisis with 25 years advance warning, but those who would have us disregard the heavy tail of potential climate change consequences do exactly that. It’s as if the captain of the Titanic had been given a half-hour’s notice of the iceberg ahead but decided to socialize with the first class passengers instead, figuring the ship would ‘probably’ miss it.

  24. victorpetri says:

    @vtg
    If you assume you are telling something new, you have indeed misunderstood.

    “Progress was though slowed through antiscientific denial and ideological (religious/moralist) posturing. Sounds familiar. ”
    I do find the constant posturing and manoeuvring of you and most people here to claim to be the pinnacle of reason and science to be quite frankly rather arrogant and somewhat dangerous.
    In my opinion, there is plenty of ideology and “anti-economics denial” on this blog, that most here seem to be quite unaware of.
    You and your ideas do not represent a monopoly on how to progress human well being.

  25. BBD says:

    Joshua

    For some reason, self-dentified “lukewarmers” seem to feel more antipathy towards “realists” than “skeptics.”

    Something of a tell, IMO 😉

  26. vp,

    I do find the constant posturing and manoeuvring of you and most people here to claim to be the pinnacle of reason and science to be quite frankly rather arrogant and somewhat dangerous.

    I think you overstate the significance of this blog, but I think what people might be hoping is that you might state/acknowledge these things up front.

    You and your ideas do not represent a monopoly on how to progress human well being.

    Indeed, and I think you would struggle to find someone who claimed that they did.

    EM,

    It brought home how rare the ability to objectively analyse data scientifically actually is.It also made me wonder where my own blind spots are.

    I struggle with the latter myself. If others can make what appear to be clearly incorrect claims and make extremely poor arguments, maybe I am too (some will clearly claim I definitely am). A problem I have, though, is when I do go to BH, or find another post criticising me, often it’s criticising my character, not my viewpoint. I’m quite comfortable defending a viewpoint, or acknowledging if it’s wrong. I’m far less comfortable defending my character, especially against random people on the internet. In some sense, I still find it surprising that people who presumably regard themselves as being reasonable, can say such things. It’s one reason I try hard not to do the same myself, and to discourage it in the comments. I don’t always succeed, but I do try. Of course, I get the impression (as I pointed out at the bottom of the post) that there are some who regard a mild criticism from me as an attack, and an attack from others as simply a mild criticism.

  27. dana1981 says:

    I said much the same about Luke/Luckwarmers. Ultimately it’s just another stage of denial, although denial of a more specific subset of evidence (for not-low climate sensitivity and not-benign climate impacts), but is still based on ideological opposition to proposed policy solutions.

  28. Joshua,

    Despite what some “lukewarmers” might think, it seems to me that you must be a glass half full kind of guy.

    I’d like to think so. Sometimes I’m not so sure 🙂

  29. BBD says:

    vp

    I do find the constant posturing and manoeuvring of you and most people here to claim to be the pinnacle of reason and science to be quite frankly rather arrogant and somewhat dangerous.

    This from someone who is apparently unable to grasp that the wellbeing of nations is imperiled by their decision to follow a high carbon pathway to industrialisation.

    You of all people are in no position to accuse others of dangerous intellectual arrogance, posturing, sloppy thinking and denial.

  30. Brandon Gates says:

    ATTP,

    Indeed, and I think you would struggle to find someone who claimed that they did.

    I think he’s saying that’s the problem …

    BBD, you finished the rest of my thought for me.

  31. verytallguy says:

    vp,

    in that case I’ve no idea what the purpose of your list was.

    In future, if you’re going to reply to a comment of mine with accusations of “ideology” or “ant-economics denial” I’d very much appreciate a link to where I’ve demonstrated either.

    Or an apology for making those accusations.

  32. Joshua says:

    ==> “Something of a tell, IMO ;-)”

    Maybe.

    The explanation could be that there is more reciprocal antipathy directed their way from “realists” than from “skeptics.” You sometimes read a “skeptic” directing vitriol at someone like Lomborg, but it is relatively infrequent. It’s clear that there is more identity-protective engagement between “realists” and “lukewarmers.”

    What might a logical explanation for the antipathy be? If two groups were really only distinguishable by a different take on proabablities within a highly complex process of estimating costs and benefits of risk-based policies in the face of uncertainty, then I think that an over-riding characteristic of antipathy would be a tell, but perhaps more w/r/t the overall context of engagement as opposed to one group relative to the other.

    And here’s the key, IMO. If we were to create a hypothetical context where identity-related behaviors better explained the interactive dynamic between two groups than scientific disagreement, I think that we’d find each side, respectively, absolutely convinced that there was some clear and obvious disproportionately greater antipathy on the “other side” even as identity-protective behaviors could easily and ubiquitously be identified emanating from both groups. We’d also find both sides convinced, with great certainty, that the other side was ignorant of the science, motivated by self-interest, indifferent to the starving of children in Africa, etc. We’d also find each side convinced that media bias was the reason there wasn’t greater affinity among the larger public for their perspectives, respectively.

    If you wanted to create a textbook example of how motivated reasoning is manifest, I think you’d have a hard time finding a better example than the discussion about climate change between “realists,” “skeptics,” and “lukewarmers.”

  33. semyorka says:

    ” We’d also find both sides convinced, with great certainty, that the other side was ignorant of the science, motivated by self-interest, indifferent to the starving of children in Africa, ”

    Thanks for confirming that Luke warmism as a concept serves to polarise a debate. It manufactures a tribal allegiance for people to fight for.

  34. Joshua says:

    ==> “Thanks for confirming that Luke warmism as a concept serves to polarise a debate. ”

    That’s certainly my perception. The “lukewarmer” label seems to me to essentially stand in for “We are not “alarmists” and we are not cranks.” In other words, at it’s core it means, we are not “them” ’cause “they” be bad people.

    Maybe my perspective is skewed, but I can’t recall seeing any prominent “lukewarmer” who doesn’t employ the “alarmist” and “CAGW’ strawmen to describe the entire group of people who see BAU as more risky than they.

    Certainly, Ridley, Lomborg, Judith, Stevie-Mac, all employ those strawmen as a matter of course. My sense is that they do it so reflexively that they’re not even able to how it’s tribalism, how it’s fundamentally fallacious, and how it’s very likely counterproductive if the end goal is to leverage dialogue in order to develop better policy.

  35. MarkB says:

    entropicman,

    It brought home how rare the ability to objectively analyse data scientifically actually is.It also made me wonder where my own blind spots are.

    This is perhaps the most important take away I’ve had from my journey through the online climate debate. One hopes that being self-aware enough to ask and fairly explore the question, “What are the weaknesses in my position”, is adequate defense against self-delusion, but it’s no proof. If I were a raging nut job, how would I know?

  36. entropicman says:

    MarkB

    I had scientific method hammered into me at school and again at university and “What are the weaknesses in my position?” was a key part of it. I tried to do the same with my own pupils in my teaching days.

    Pity it is not compulsory. I recently advised two A Level pupils on a biology project and, a year into their course, none of their science teachers had specifically discussed how science should be done.

    “If I were a raging nut job, how would I know?”

    You are sane enough to ask the question, which is a good sign. 🙂 A genuine raging nut job would have absolute confidence in his own sanity and the rightness of his beliefs.

  37. 1. Warming is Luke-Warming: at rates lower than the low end scenarios, past models, and IPCC
    That’s as it should be, because
    2.Radiative Forcing has been
    Luke-Forcing: rates lower than the ‘B1’ scenario
    Also, because
    3. There is Luke-Sensitivity: the temperature response of what has occurred indicates the low end of climate sensitivity.
    And for the future
    4. Population appears to be headed for the low end population scenario.

    Regarding blind spots, it’s probably worthwhile to reflect on this list.

    ‘Climate-change’ is a stew of facts and observations, most of which we might all agree on.

    But ultimately, the emotion of answering the question:
    ‘Is this a problem that we need to react to?’

    Some imagine the concept of a problem ( a killer hurricane or walking on hot asphalt or something ). Some imagine the reaction: economic depression or fascist government.

    But it is the emotion regarding the end game that gives us the blinders.

    Personally, when I think of the year 2100, I worry more about the dystopian, dehumanizing robotic future where human contributions aren’t significant. I’m not sure the robots will care about the temperatures.

  38. TE,
    That was my understanding of the basic Lukewarm position and appears to be consistent with Eli’s. However, I get the impression that I’m still being accused of misrepresenting it.

  39. ATTP, ya – you’re getting some flack elsewhere.
    Most of my posts go un-replied to though, so I may have to go by thread-killer.

    Being part of a group is the first step to groupthink.
    But then we’re social animals that like groups, so…

  40. so, in Wotts’ redefinition, lukewarmers are soft-in-the-head hypocrites

  41. BBD says:

    3. There is Luke-Sensitivity: the temperature response of what has occurred indicates the low end of climate sensitivity.

    That’s just not true, Eddie, so you can stop repeating it in comments here.

  42. BBD says:

    2.Radiative Forcing has been Luke-Forcing: rates lower than the ‘B1′ scenario

    Having demonstrated just how sensitive the climate system actually is to small changes in forcing we have the basis on which to agree that stringent emissions cuts are necessary to avoid rapid and potentially dangerous climate change later this century and beyond.

  43. Robert says:

    “the stages of denial along which society is steadily advancing. 1) It’s not happening. 2) It’s happening but not human caused. 3) It won’t be bad. 4) We will adapt.

    The last stage will segue into ‘we have to adapt’: because it’s too late to do anything else.”

    I respectfully disagree. The final stage will be “This is a disaster and the leftists who kept us from acting in time must be publicly shamed.”

    Think that’s too brazen? Check out the right’s line on race relations.

  44. entropicman says:

    Turbulent Eddie

    The topic is the Lukewarmer meme. When you start listing beliefs which contradict the observed science it is difficult to engage you without going off-topic.

    There is indeed a group-think here. It is an agreement that scientific research and scientific papers are the basis on which our world view should be built, not political belief. Evidence overrides belief, no matter how cherished the belief.

  45. Michael 2 says:

    “This presumably means that everyone else regards themselves as being in one of the ridiculous extremes?”

    I believe nearly everyone considers himself.reasonable, balanced, well centered. It is everyone else that is at one extreme or another.

    “Lukewarmers” occupy everything from 1 percent to 96 percent. It’s big, diverse, not organized and like a lukewarm bath not very exciting — but you won’t get burned and you won’t freeze.

  46. Richard,

    lukewarmers are soft-in-the-head hypocrites

    Are you trying to illustrate my point, or do you not see that you’re doing so?

  47. Robert,

    The final stage will be “This is a disaster and the leftists who kept us from acting in time must be publicly shamed.”

    That would not surprise me, along with “climate scientists should have spoken out more.”

  48. Joshua says:

    ===> “Are you trying to illustrate my point, or do you not see that you’re doing so?

    My impression is that as amazing at it is, Richard doesn’t get that he’s illustrating your point.

    ==> “so, in Wotts’ redefinition, lukewarmers are soft-in-the-head hypocrites

    On on what basis is it determined what the “definition” is? Who makes it? Why is Anders’ perspective a “re-definition?” Notice that Richard makes no attempt to actually engage. His argument about “lukewarmers” amounts to nothing other than identity politics.

  49. Joshua,

    My impression is that as amazing at it is, Richard doesn’t get that he’s illustrating your point.

    Yes, I actually have the impression that Richard really thinks that he’s saying some very clever things that he thinks is illustrating something deep and meaningful. If so, it’s so clever that it’s beyond me as it just comes across as silly and petty.

  50. izen says:

    @-ATTP/Joshua
    I think you may be too hard on Richard on this occasion.

    When he writes;
    @-“so, in Wotts’ redefinition, lukewarmers are soft-in-the-head hypocrites”

    He has recognised that as difficult as defining what a ‘lukewarmer’ is, the best and politest description would be those who reject the extreme dragon-slayers and cosmic ray cranks, AND reject the extreme alarmists at the IPCC.
    They regard the scientific assessment of the’most probable’ ECS as hyperbole and see talk of serious impacts and a 2deg rise as political/ideological theatre.

    ATTP clearly does not accept that as an accurate definition. It omits the policy aversion that seems to shape the scientific stance, and the victimology when mildly critiqued. and from anecdotal, but characteristic evidence of the actions, rather than claimed position of those who may claim or be placed in the lukewarmer camp has judged they ARE hypocritical.

    However the soft-in-the head part does seem to be an Richards own personal insight.

  51. John Hartz says:

    I’m definitely lukewarm about participating in this discussion. 🙂

  52. izen,
    A fair point, maybe, but just in case it wasn’t clear, my point was simply that I have not claimed that Lukewarmers are “soft in the head hypocrites”. Until such time as I do so (and I doubt I ever will) suggesting that I have would be incorrect. Of course, if Richard wishes to regard Lukewarmers as “soft in the head hypocrites” that’s entirely his choice, but it is certainly not something I have ever claimed.

  53. entropicman says:

    Izen

    “AND reject the extreme alarmists at the IPCC.”

    An odd thing to say.

    Based on recent evidence, the IPCC position on most aspects of climate change is looking relatively conservative.

    But then, you are a lukewarmer and reluctant to accept such evidence.

  54. EM,
    I think izen was characturing the Lukewarmer viewpoint.

  55. Michael 2 says:

    entropicman says: “A genuine raging nut job would have absolute confidence in his own sanity and the rightness of his beliefs.”

    I suggest consideration of the “No True Nutjob” fallacy. Your method of determining sanity and rightness cannot distinguish beween a nutjob and a professor of mathematics.

    You need better methods.

  56. entropicman says:

    Izen

    My apologies.

  57. entropicman says:

    Michael 2

    Yorkshire folk may have it right.

    “The world’s all mad but thee and me; and thee’s a bit odd.” 🙂

  58. David Young says:

    Lukewarmerism appears to be a way of attempting to justify a certain policy position, rather than a genuine attempt to develop a position based on a reasonable interpretation of the available evidence. If things go as they have in the recent past, I will be vitriolically told that I’m completely wrong about this, by people who then say things that are entirely consistent with what I’ve just said.”

    As this remarkable statement exemplifies mind reading is the first thing you should do to demonstrate your devotion to science and civility. And of course it really helps to understand what other people think.

  59. DY,
    Maybe you should think about the words “appears to be”. You might not like my impression. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t hold it. If it particularly ircs you, you could try to make sure that you strive to actually present a scientifically credible viewpoint, rather than simply claiming to hold one. You also seem to be doing what most seem to do, which is make some kind of complaint about civility (despite there not being anything particularly uncivil), make some comment about science (not sure why you did that), and then claim I’m wrong. What you don’t do is illustrate that I am. I guess, you didn’t do it particularly vitriolically, so that is a plus.

  60. DY,
    Also, why did you say mind reading? I think it’s quite reasonable to have a view about a particular viewpoint, without requiring mind reading. I just need to read what other people say. I know people claim I haven’t, but I really have. That you seem to dislike my characterisation, doesn’t make it not true.

  61. Steven Mosher says:

    “Lukewarmerism appears to be a way of attempting to justify a certain policy position, rather than a genuine attempt to develop a position based on a reasonable interpretation of the available evidence.”

    weird. For the longest time I avoided saying anything about policy even when hectored by folks on Kloor’s. AS IF I needed to take a policy position based on my lukewarmer views. AS IF a conclusion about sensitivity would lead to a policy in some unavoidable way. Frankly I avoided writing about policy and refused to write a book about policy with Fuller because I didnt know enough about policy to have a defensible position. After a little study I thought I could agree with Hansen with regards to nuclear and a revenue neutral carbon tax.

    How in the world an agreement with Hansen made after the fact, drove my interpretion of the evidence is a mystery to me. Maybe it was time travel.

  62. Steven Mosher says:

    Joshua

    “That’s certainly my perception. The “lukewarmer” label seems to me to essentially stand in for “We are not “alarmists” and we are not cranks.” In other words, at it’s core it means, we are not “them” ’cause “they” be bad people.
    ##############

    Huh?

    Maybe my perspective is skewed, but I can’t recall seeing any prominent “lukewarmer” who doesn’t employ the “alarmist” and “CAGW’ strawmen to describe the entire group of people who see BAU as more risky than they.
    #########################

    BAU is hella risky. CAGW? hmm never used that to describe a group of people. I’ve criticized specific people who are skeptics for using the term.

    Alarmist. Alarmist describes a position not a group. Typical positions that focus only on the worst outcomes without any recognition of the probabilities involved.

    in short I see BAU as being just as risky as the IPCC does. No more no less.

  63. izen says:

    @-entropicman

    -grin-

    I think ATTP has got it about right. The recent resurgence of the label ‘lukewarmer’ has coalesced around the idea that they are the sensible middle rejecting the alarmists and deniers. However the function, as opposed to the claimed virtues or validity of this lukewarmer position is that it results in them regarding the mainstream IPCC position as alarmist, and is considered to justify the same policy of inaction as the dragon-slayers would advocate on reducing emissions.
    Then there is the tendency to misrepresent, or disparage scientific arguments, and scientists that dispute their position, but go touchy-tone-troll if called out on the abusive behaviour.

    Richard Tol’s interjection, I particularly liked the way it started with a (small case ) “so, in Wott’s…” – seemed to be the turnicated part of a longer comment where he acknowledged the accuracy of ATTP’s summary of the claimed position/definition and accepted his RE-definition of the lukewarmer actions as showing hypocrisy.
    Wonderful way to imply a long involved analysis without actually having to do it by starting with
    so,… !

    But While ATTP may be disavowing the caricaturization ‘hypocrite’ on a “you may possibly think that..” basis, he certainly does not suggest soft-headed is one unacknowledged but obvious quality of the lukewarmer identity. He does suggest a political or ideological shaping to their stance.
    I think. I would go further.

    The central tribal assumption that generates the lukewarmer stance is that modern civilisation as presently conducted is the best possible way to optimise and maximise human welfare. The purely adaptive and reactive response of which the lightly regulated market is capable are more than sufficient to cope best with any environmental impact from natural or purported anthropogenic changes to the environment.
    Pr emptive and precautionary action like mitigation is necessary and dangerous. Such policy actions to mitigate emissions by definition means an interference with what is known (they know) to be the ideal way to respond to any emergent problems. The global governance and collective action is a greater threat to the optimal system to maximise human happiness and freedom than any climate change.
    Or ocean acidification.!

    Of course those of us who are ‘alarmists’ may be equally blind to our unjustified ready acceptance that because the science says pre-emptive and precautionary mitigation looks like a rational course of action, (with what looks like hand-waving to lukewarmers) the fundamental basis of our optimal socio-economic system must be radically modified.

    It may be obvious to others that the mitigation policy that alarmists advocate, would definitely require radical political and economic change away from the optimal system we have. And the attempt to justify this radical regulatory intervention is a series of claims about potential and uncertain projections of possible harmful impact, at some point in the future when the individual is likely to be dead.
    Or the government re-elected and the money made.

  64. jsam says:

    Many LuckWarmers are equally well categorised as Denier-Lite.

  65. izen says:

    @-David Young
    “Lukewarmerism appears to be a way of attempting to justify a certain policy position, rather than a genuine attempt to develop a position based on a reasonable interpretation of the available evidence. — :-”
    As this remarkable statement exemplifies mind reading is the first thing you should do to demonstrate your devotion to science and civility. And of course it really helps to understand what other people think.

    No, “appears” in this context is not a claim of mind reading or any magical insight into the mental intentions or others. It is the result of observing the actual functional role of a particular behaviour instead of accepting the self-declared qualities, benefits and values it is claimed to embody.

  66. Nathan says:

    So Mosher, where’s the Luke Warmer modelling thatshows impacts will be less than what the IPCC summarises. Or the economic modelling to show that the Stern Report or Garnaut Reports were overestimating the cost. It does look like Lukewarmerism, is simply marketing, and a label that people can assign to pretty much any claim that says AGW will impact us less than is claimed by the IPCC.

  67. Michael 2 says:

    Joshua says: “I can’t recall seeing any prominent lukewarmer who doesn’t employ the alarmist and CAGW’ strawmen…”

    That is likely a problem of recall rather than existence. It is hard enough to remember lukewarmers for any reason. Lukewarmers that speak softly of others may be common but relatively forgettable.

  68. Anon just this once says:

    Also passive lukewarmers.

    Like someone I know personally who has looked a bit at WUWT, looked a bit at other sources, gotten a little confused and takes the WUWT semi-seriously. He has a science degree with honours and so is reasonably equipped to dig into the details, He is smart enough to see through some of the stuff on WUWT as nonsense. But climate change is too big for one person to fix, and he has other priorities in life than to get to the bottom of it all. I remember that making up my mind took me months of digging through response and counter-response on various blogs, during which it often seemed that whichever source I read last was correct. So the ‘reasonable middle’ ground is to decide its all to hard and assume that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

  69. semyorka says:

    “weird. For the longest time I avoided saying anything about policy”
    One counter example does not disprove a general observation.

  70. semyorka says:

    ” Or the economic modelling to show that the Stern Report or Garnaut Reports were overestimating the cost.”
    Richard Tol and friends tend to have plenty of them.

  71. Joshua says:

    ==> “BAU is hella risky.”

    And for saying that, you will get labeled by many who self-describe as a “lukewarmer” for being an”alarmist.”

    ” CAGW? hmm never used that to describe a group of people. I’ve criticized specific people who are skeptics for using the term.”

    Who is a “skeptic” and who is a “lukewarmer?” How are you distinguishing between the two? The term “CAGW” runs through the rhetoric of many people who self-describe as “lukewarmers.”

    These labels are less than useless because (practically) no one works from any kind of consistent definitions. The terms mean whatever people want them to mean at any particular time. We’ve talked before about the ink blot nature of these terms. Is Muller a “skeptic?” A “lukewarmer?” An “alarmist?” Why don’t we fill a few threads with comments where people are absolutely certain of completely opposite opinions that only one of those terms can accurately be used to describe him. That would be so refreshing and unique.

    Oh.

    Wait.

    Nevermind.

    ==> “Alarmist. Alarmist describes a position not a group”

    ?????

    Go to basically any thread in the “skept-o-sphere” and you will find “lukewarmers” lining up to call individuals, and a group of people, “alarmists.”

    ==> “Typical positions that focus only on the worst outcomes without any recognition of the probabilities involved.”

    Right. And “alarmist” is one of the pejorative terms of choice that many self-described “lukewarmers” use to describe not only people who fail to recognize probabilities, but also those who judge the probabilities different than they.

    These terms are meaningless in any scientific sense. They are only useful as identification markers, so people can know who is good and who wants to starve children in Africa.

    ==> “in short I see BAU as being just as risky as the IPCC does. No more no less.”

    And for saying that, you will get labeled by many who self-describe as a “lukewarmer” as being an “alarmist.” Or even if because you wrote a book about Climategate you will get a pass, basically anyone else who says that BAU is just as risk as the IPCC says will be branded as an “alarmist” (or warmunist, or eco-Nazi, or neo-McCarthyite, blah,blah).

  72. Joshua says:

    Mosher –

    ==> ” I’ve criticized specific people who are skeptics for using the term.””

    Here’s the interesting question: Do you criticize specific people who are “lukewarmers” for using the term?

  73. BAU is hella risky.

    Do you even know what you mean by BAU?
    People use BAU to indicate unbridled high end emissions.
    But that is incorrect.

    Evidently, in the US, BAU means falling per capita CO2 emissions
    ( thanks to the Arab oil embargo and the Iran-Iraq war ):

    BAU has meant falling national CO2 emissions in the developed world:

    And now it appears BAU means falling emissions in China:

    To be sure, India is young and growing, but the balance of trends is toward slowing CO2 and a big reason that not only have Lukewarmers been correct, they’re likely to be correct going forward.

  74. SM writes: “<BAU is hella risky. CAGW? hmm never used that to describe a group of people. I’ve criticized specific people who are skeptics for using the term.

    Alarmist. Alarmist describes a position not a group. Typical positions that focus only on the worst outcomes without any recognition of the probabilities involved.”

    But that seems inconsistent with his earlier position (Jan 14, 2011):

    1. barely measurable? mousewarmers
    2. 1-3C per doubling? lukewarmers
    3. 3-6C per doubling? alarmists
    4. 6C+ catatrophists.

    Alarmists as a group – check.
    CAGW …. catastrophists …. I think we can give that a check as well.

  75. Joshua says:

    TE –

    Wouldn’t the trend in atmospheric CO2 accumulation be a better measure of BAU?

  76. Joshua – not only is it more relevant, it’s also a higher concentration than any of the SRES projections for this point in time.

  77. Everett F Sargent says:

    And using the above extremely small butt nugget of deeply flawed mathematical logic of per capita emissions, the sooner we get to infinite people the sooner we get to zero per capita emissions. 😦

    Even LW’s don’t know what they are, but they’ll defend to the death their wishy-washy constantly moving target of whatever it is they think they are.

  78. Steven M.,

    For the longest time I avoided saying anything about policy even when hectored by folks on Kloor’s.

    I was generalising, obviously, and I was referring, to a certain extent, to what I’ve read in the last couple of days. I certainly see plenty of self-professed Lukewarmers who will make some comment about how much money we’re spending (or will spend) to address this issue about which they think we have insufficient knowledge, or that they think is not really an issue that needs addressing now. Especially, according to them, the best evidence suggests that lower climate sensitivity values are more likely than the higher. I don’t you would find it difficult to find such an example. Lomborg and Ridley – for example – seem to pretty much make this part of their argument.

    I actually am not quite sure why you regard yourself as a Lukewarmer, other than because you came up with the term (I think). As far as I can tell, your scientific views are pretty mainstream. That’s why I added in the post that some seem to almost accept the full IPCC scientific position.

  79. BBD says:

    TurbEd

    Per capita CO2 emissions fell in the US because it exported them to China. Chinese trends are supposed to be leveling off but there are big questions over accuracy and also marine bunker is excluded from totals. Rising Chinese wages is shifting manufacturing to India which has yet to industrialise like China did since ~2000. Then there’s Brazil, Indonesia, etc. and projected 2bn more people by mid-century. And CO2 persists. The effects are cumulative. Your arguments are nonsense based on misdirection after misdirection.

    This is the truth:

    Look at it carefully.

  80. BBD says:

    TurbEd

    In addition to effectively repeating Joshua’s response, I’m going to repeat Kevin O’Neill’s as well:

    not only is it [atmospheric CO2 data] more relevant, it’s also a higher concentration than any of the SRES projections for this point in time.

    Did you get that?

    Now stop incessantly repeating misleading and debunked crap.

  81. BBD says:

    ATTP

    I certainly see plenty of self-professed Lukewarmers who will make some comment about how much money we’re spending (or will spend) to address this issue about which they think we have insufficient knowledge

    Steven has done this with me. He’s being disingenuous, and not for the first time. He has said that every half-degree difference in sensitivity would come with a cost of ‘trillions’.

    Own it, Steven.

  82. DocRichard says:

    From the point of view of scientific method, the useful definition of lukewarmer is someone whose hypoesis is that anthropogenic CO2 will not have a serious effect on global climate. This enables us to apply the falsification principle to their arguments. Which is not that difficult.

  83. Andrew Dodds says:

    DocRichard –

    There are shades of Lukewarmerism, though.

    Some will say that the effect of CO2 won’t be any more significant than the day to day changes in the weather. This is falsifiable, although it does get into ‘Not Even Wrong’ territory.

    Then there are those who say that the benefits of increased CO2 (higher crop yields, fewer winter deaths and.. stuff) will outweigh the costs. This generally means picking a lowball climate sensitivity and minimal SLR/cryosphere/circulation changes. Just about falsifiable, but only if the person making the case is sufficiently rigorous that you have something to falsify.

    Then there are those who admit that costs may outweigh benefits, but only by small amounts and in any case moving away from fossil fuels will cost more, and if we add this cost then we shouldn’t do anything (The ‘because Africans’ position, really). Again this depends on a lowballing of sensitivity and impacts, and some probably unjustified assumptions about the future costs of using fossil fuels.

    These three propositions are progressively harder to falsify and easier to fudge. Of course, the policy outcome is the same for all of these – sit on your backside.

  84. Andrew,

    There are shades of Lukewarmerism, though.

    Joshua should probably comment on this, but I’m starting to think that it is all just a form of identity politics. It seems quite hard to actually define Lukewarmerism, given the range of views. Hence it does seem as though self-professed Lukewarmers are associating with those with whom they identify most strongly in terms of their politics, rather than with those they identify most strongly scientifically. I should probably clarify that by “politics” I’m meaning non-physical-science viewpoints, rather than some specific politicial affiliation.

  85. verytallguy says:

    Andrew Dodds,

    Of course, the policy outcome is the same for all of these – sit on your backside

    perhaps the best definiton of lukearmer would be something along the lines of:

    “Those who argue there is a scientifically credible position which avoids mitigation policies”

    the subtitle is

    “this requires ignoring or downplaying large parts of the science”

  86. Once more I see some people misunderstanding the word ‘alarmist’. ‘Alarmism’ is definitely not “positions that focus only on the worst outcomes without any recognition of the probabilities involved.” An ‘alarmist’ is (dictionary definition) “a person who tends to raise alarms, especially without sufficient reason, as by exaggerating dangers or prophesying calamities”.

    Frankly anyone warning that if we don’t change our ways we’re heading for the top end of the IPCC’s projections is not being in any way alarmist, even if they don’t mention probabilities. Manufacturers don’t put seat belts and air bags in a car for the minor bumps passengers might experience, they’re there for the statistically rare circumstances in which one of their cars is totalled.

  87. john,
    I agree. I recently was accused of both being alarmist, and encouraging alarmism, for a single post in which I said “it’s hard not to be alarmed….”

    What this does make me consider is that it’s almost not worth trying very hard to be careful about what you say, it will be misinterpreted anyway by those who want to do so. To be clear, being careful about what you say is always a good thing, but doing so so as to try and avoid being mis-interpreted isn’t a reason for doing so.

  88. Andrew Dodds says:

    vtg –

    And assuming that the Final Score will be tallied up at the end of history (2100 AD).

  89. verytallguy says:

    Andrew,

    yes, it’s interesting that all projections finish in 2100, but that the worst of impacts are, in all scenarios, beyond that due to the inertia of economies, oceans and ice sheets.

    This seems to be often waved away in a “that’s far to far off to be certain of anything” – but then there’s physics (see what I did there?) which dictates to a very large extent that given a set of conditions in 2100, there is an *inevitable* consequence following on.

    I have a feeling that somewhere in the IPCC remit there is a cutoff at 2100, perhaps that’s the origin of this. Perhaps someone more knowledgable could comment on that.

  90. victorpetri says:

    Off topic, but very interesting, a new study of the IMF on fossil fuel subsidies:
    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/7c6512a6-fd27-11e4-b072-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3aaEN8x7K

  91. vp,
    It requires payment. This Guardian article – I think – relates to this. Here are Stoat’s thoughts. I tend to agree with Stoat that the Guardian has certainly been rather lax in its use of the term “subsidy”.

  92. John Hartz says:

    Burning question of the day:

    Why does “lukewarm” get two OPs and “tepid” just one?

  93. Joshua says:

    vp –

    For those w/o a subscription – what’s the bottom line of the FT article?

    John –

    ==> “Once more I see some people misunderstanding the word ‘alarmist’. ”

    I don’t think it is a matter of misunderstanding. The term is intended as a pejorative, and that’s how it is used.

    This is why, IMO, the whole “lukewarmer” concept simply avoids the policy-relevant discussion and instead, focuses on identity (and perpetuating sameosameo). Show me a prominent “lukewarmer” who doesn’t brand everyone, who is more concerned than they about the probabilities associated with the full range of sensitivity, as an “alarmist.”

    Maybe Mosher is an exception,.

    Maybe,

    Sometimes.

    If a “realist” says that given the full range of probabilities w/r/t sensitivity, it probably makes sense to implement policies to start mitigating ACO2 emissions now (so as to mitigate against a low probability by high damage function outcome in the future), then the vast majority of self-identified “lukewarmers” I’ve come across call that “realist” an “alarmist.”

    Related

    http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/weitzman/files/damagesfunctionglobalwarming.pdf

    (I can’t understand much of the paper itself, but the conclusion hits the nail on the head, IMO):

    Plausible axioms can be extremely useful for narrowing down a universe of possible
    specifications to a particular functional form that can be of practical use for weighing
    tradeoffs and making decisions — but the axioms rarely give the decisive final word.
    No matter how theoretical debates about multiplicative vs. additive damages are
    eventually resolved, the vulnerability of policy to postulated forms of utility functions
    or damages functions is an unsettling empirical finding for the economics of climate
    change. With this kind of fundamental non-robustness, the outcomes of CBAs or IAMs
    are held hostage by core structural uncertainties about how high temperature change
    and high productive capacity should be combined to yield utility. Such a dismal
    message is not intended to bring despair to the economics of climate change, nor to
    negate the need for further study and numerical simulations to guide policy. Instead,
    this message is just another warning, in a growing series of cautionary tales, that the
    particular application of CBAs or IAMs to climate change seems more inherently
    prone to being dependent on subjective judgments about structural uncertainties than
    most other, more ordinary, applications of CBAs or IAMs.

    The notion of “lukewarmerism” does not, IMO, advance the discussion of decision-making in the face of uncertainty, but instead it only advances the identity battle overlay that serves as an obstacle to addressing the fundamental problem of “subjective judgments about structural uncertainties.”

    This is where, IMO, folks like Tamsin and Richard Betts are pursuing an ineffective strategy.

    The problem of subjectivity will not be resolved by people bickering about who is more/less subjective, IMO, but by people who are willing to accept and address and control for the intrinsic effect of subjectivity on the discussion.

  94. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Perhaps I am missing something, but the Guardian article* is about the findings of an IMF analysis. I believe that you and Stoat are directing your concerns about the lax use of the term “subisdy” to the IMF, not the Guardian. Correct?

    *Fossil fuels subsidised by $10m a minute, says IMF by Damian Carrington, The Guardian, May 18, 2015

  95. victorpetri says:

    FT article, if you feel this copy paste is inapproriate, please remove:
    [Mod : I’m not sure, so I’ll remove it to be on the safe side, but it does seem to be also calling it a subsidy, as was the case in the Guardian article.]

  96. Joshua,

    by people who are willing to accept and address and control for the intrinsic effect of subjectivity on the discussion.

    This is my rather simplistic illustration of the problem. If someone asks me if I think climate sensitivity could be low and that the impacts could be less severe than the IPCC suggests, I would say “yes, but given that this may not be the case, I think we should consider the significance of these higher climate sensitivity values, that we should consider the possibility that the impacts could be severe, and also recognise that climate change is probably irreversible on human timescales”. My impressions is that if you ask – for example – a Lukewarmer if climate sensitivity could be high and if they think the impacts could be severe, they will tend to either not answer the question, find a reason to dismiss/downweight these possibilities, and argue that there are other much more important considerations, without ever really quantifying why these other factors are more significant. So, in a sense, it seems almost impossible to actually have the discussion, which may explain why labelling is the norm; find a way to dismiss those with whom a discussion isn’t actually possible.

  97. JH,
    I’m not sure. That may be the case. I haven’t specifically checked the IMF report and I couldn’t read vp’s link to see how it was described there. Whatever the case, I think that Stoat makes a reasonable case that we should be careful of suggesting that this is subsidising the fossil fuel industry. They benefit by being able to ignore externalities, but they certainly don’t receive the amount of financial benefit that the article appears to suggest.

  98. Michael 2 says:

    entropicman says “Yorkshire folk may have it right….”

    Sounds like the fine gentlemen from “Last of the Summer Wine”.

  99. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Re: your 1:28. My observations are consistent with what you wrote:

    ==> “…if you ask – for example – a Lukewarmer if climate sensitivity could be high and if they think the impacts could be severe, they will tend to either not answer the question, find a reason to dismiss/downweight these possibilities, and argue that there are other much more important considerations, without ever really quantifying why these other factors are more significant.”

    Right.

    I find that often, they’ll respond with guilt by association (“Realclimate moderation,” “but…but…Climategate….Peter Gleik…”they called me a “denier.” etc.), moral equivalence-based arguments (starving children in Africa need more coal plants), or by dismissing uncertainty (mitigation is “economic suicide” and will clearly bring more costs than benefits)….

    There’s a long list of fallacious arguments…

    ==> “I would say “yes, but given that this may not be the case, I think we should consider the significance of these higher climate sensitivity values, that we should consider the possibility that the impacts could be severe, and also recognise that climate change is probably irreversible on human timescales”.”

    I see you making that argument over and over, and I can’t recall any “lukewarmers” actually addressing it.

    The question of scenario-planning based on the full range of sensitivity is where the discussion needs to go, IMO. In that sense, yes, “lukewarmerism” does present the potential for forward movement, as it does implicitly suggest such discussions as a follow-on. You can potentially discuss the range of probabilities with someone who accepts that a range exists (as opposed to someone who dismisses any potential impact of ACO2 on the climate). But when someone’s identity in the debate is, by definition, embedded in a strawman that anyone who thinks the probabilities of harm are greater than their own estimate is thereby an “alarmist,” then you have no possibility of realizing that potential..

  100. Willard says:

    > This is where, IMO, folks like Tamsin and Richard Betts are pursuing an ineffective strategy.

    I disagree. The strategy looks more promising if we take a good look at the game state. Those who frown upon “game” can replace it with “situation” or “facts of the matter” if they wish. They can even add a “crucial” or “key” if they please.

    The MSMs are not the scientists’ friends. They protect their own interests. Among these interests, we find the energy old guard.

    The lukewarm brand is perfect for them. It looks sciency, whence it’s mostly a rebranding of mainstream science, homeopathicized to one number (usually represented by “CS”) and pasteurized by the lowest bounds justified disingenuousness (and sometimes the GWPF) can buy.

    Scientists do not have the power (or even the intelligence) to replace MSMs. They may think they own the knowledge brand, but they can’t sell it unless the MSMs play along. More journalistic power would go a longer way than yet another generation of scientists hitting their heads on the wall of the science communication problem.

    From the scientific standpoint, the IPCC is the establishment, but from an energy standpoint, they are not. Whence the Lomborg Collective is a scientific contrarian, it speaks the dominant economic ideology. Mainstream climate scientists are thus energy contrarians.

    The conflict between two axis of power is enough to explain why it’s hard to get the ball moving as fast as it should. MT once said that the press was the ball. He was almost right: the press is the main ClimateBall field.

    This is where the last battle will be fought.

    ***

    With this picture in mind, what RichardB and Tamsin do makes perfect sense. RichardB has also public duties to take into account. Tamsin has other things to do with her life than embody atavic bad blood.

    Tamsin succeeded in inserting “tepid” in her fall. That word alone is worth millions, and months of rounds of ClimateBall.

    Use that word. Every time you can. Make it a meme. See what happens.

  101. JH,

    As to the gaudy article read the headline:

    “… SAYS IMP”

    “The IMF calls the revelation “shocking” and says the figure is an “extremely robust” estimate of the true cost of fossil fuels.”

    “The IMF, one of the world’s most respected financial institutions, said that ending subsidies for fossil fuels would cut global carbon emissions by 20%. ”

    “Furthermore, the IMF said the resources freed by ending fossil fuel subsidies could be an economic “game-changer” for many countries, by driving economic growth and poverty reduction through greater investment in infrastructure, health and education and also by cutting taxes that restrict growth.”

    ““These [fossil fuel subsidy] estimates are shocking,” said Vitor Gaspar, the IMF’s head of fiscal affairs and former finance minister of Portugal. “Energy prices remain woefully below levels that reflect their true costs.”

    David Coady, the IMF official in charge of the report, said: “When the [$5.3tn] number came out at first, we thought we had better double check this!” But the broad picture of huge global subsidies was “extremely robust”, he said. “It is the true cost associated with fossil fuel subsidies.”

    Please see this link (specifically the disclaimer):
    http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.aspx?sk=42940.0

    “Disclaimer: This Working Paper should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF. The views expressed in this Working Paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy. Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to further debate”

    (NOTE: Also the IMF can’t even put a period at the end of that last sentence. Go figure.)

    Actually no, the IMF did not say anything of the sort, employees of the IMF expressed their personal opinion on said subject and were author(s) of said subject. Go figure.

    It’s like reading the Dunce.

    One of those “Pants On Fire” moments for the Gaudy!

    Bye.

  102. Willard says:

    Yet another adept of a tepid science:

    Oil tycoon Harold Hamm told a University of Oklahoma dean last year that he wanted certain scientists there dismissed who were studying links between oil and gas activity and the state’s nearly 400-fold increase in earthquakes, according to the dean’s e-mail recounting the conversation.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-05-15/oil-tycoon-harold-hamm-wanted-scientists-dismissed-dean-s-e-mail-says

    ***

    See the not so tepid discussion that followed the posting of this bed time story at Judy’s:

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/05/17/week-in-review-politics-and-policy-edition-3/#comment-704280

  103. victorpetri says:

    Also from the FT, a different article:
    The IMF is right (if it says so itself) that its new findings on the true costs of fossil fuels are shocking. It calculates the difference between what users pay for such fuels and the true cost to the global economy – which it somewhat misleadingly labels “subsidies” – at a stunning $5.3tn, or one-fifteenth of the world’s economic output.

    The label is slightly unfortunate because the number encompasses both actual subsidies – tax exemptions and government payments to keep consumption costs below market supply prices – and economic externalities, which are the unaccounted-for costs imposed on third parties when people produce and consume fossil fuels. These are different in important ways: the more or less hidden costs are not necessarily borne by the same people. Outright subsidies are paid by current taxpayers; externalities are paid by those least able to protect themselves against them, ie. disproportionately the poor and the unborn. On the other hand, the benefit of artificially low prices is probably distributed similarly regardless of the source of the “subsidy” – and that means in favour of the rich. A 2014 World Bank study found that the richest fifth typically enjoys around half the value of outright subsidies. If anything, then, “post-tax subsidies” (the IMF’s label for “subsidies” including externalities) are even more iniquitous than the regular kind.

  104. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    I couldn’t follow all of your comment – or quite figure out whether you were being sarcastic.

    But for me, the bottom line is that you can’t have a discussion of probabilities with someone who thinks that a different view than their own on the probabilities is by definition “alarmism.”

    Discussing the evidence related to probabilities is science. Branding people as “alarmist” because they disagree on the probabilities is identity politics. Tamsin and Richard distancing themselves from the polemics in and of itself is probably good, IMO. And them gaining media power is good, also. But if it plays out that they will create their niche as the climate scientists you’d like to share a beer with – by building on a foundation of conflating “lukewarm” identity-based political arguments with scientific arguments, how will they be effective beyond those limited ends of creating a media niche?

    Advocating for dialog with Nic, or others who cloak their politics with a sciency mantle, will not alter the fundamental dynamic. I’m not arguing that their strategy is counterproductive (I don’t think anything will change as a result), only that it won’t be effective.

    Are there examples where prominent “lukewarmers” attempt to de-couple their view on sensitivity from the identity-battle? I can’t think of any. That’s why I say I don’t think that “lukewarmerism” exists outside of the identity-battle dimension. As a matter of science, it mostly exists within the “consensus” view that “lukewarmers invariably rail against.”

    Except with Mosher.

    Maybe.

    Sometimes.

    When I see Tamsin or Richard leveraging their gains to get a prominent “lukewarmer” to actually do something like address the questions that Anders raises about the “lukewamer” position, I will change my view. When Anders asks Nic to address the issues, Nic ducks. Do we have an example of Nic, or Ridley, or Lomborg, or Judith, or Stevie-MaC, or Watts, or RPJr., or Montford, etc., taking on questions like Anders’ when they come from Tamsin or Richard, (or Hulme, or ????)…

  105. vp,
    I think that is essentially what Stoat was getting at, and it makes sense to me. A company would have a competitive advantage if externalities weren’t included in the price, but they’re not actually getting that money as a subsidy. The consumer is not paying directly, and the company presumably has an advantage over it’s competitors, but that will probably be a financial benefit – to the company – that is much smaller than the actual cost of the externalities.

  106. Willard says:

    How you think this is a discussion will always escape me, Joshua. ClimateBall is a word placement discipline based on basic ethology. Every time RichardB gets Nic to duck on Nic’s tepid home field, he wins. Simple, really.

    ***

    In other news:

    We need lower hanging fruits
    Let’s cut down all the trees
    A few inches more
    In their middle.

    Never listen to alarmists
    Otherwise we’re doomed
    Tepid is the new true

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/05/19/what-can-we-do-about-climate-change/#comment-704607

  107. John Hartz says:

    Willard: There must be something in my water. Not only did I comprehend your prior two posts, but I agree with them.

    One point of clarification. You state:

    The MSMs are not the scientists’ friends. They protect their own interests. Among these interests, we find the energy old guard.

    I presume by that you mean that the MSM derives one heck of an income flow through the purchase of advertising by the fossil fuel industry. Correct?

  108. russellseitz says:

    Since when did the IPCC pick a fixed value of doubling sensititvity?

    After five iterations of the AR, the stated range remains 3 degrees wide , and where in the stated range the true value lies remains the best-known unknown in the game.

    At which point an historiographic reminder is called for : defining that number could do what a lot of people are out to do : It could define the future.

    One of the best selling books of the year Jim Hansen became famus was “That Noble Dream: The ‘Objectivity Question’ and the American Historical Profession” by Peter Novick , who in a capter entitled “Every group its own historian” wrote :

    “It is a truism that all historical writing, at least on highly charged subjects, is the product of a particular moment in time, which shapes historians’ decisions about what needs to be explained; which often leads them to conclude that their social responsibilities require that they write history of a certain sort.”

    Nowadays this is termed “framing”.

  109. Russell,

    After five iterations of the AR, the stated range remains 3 degrees wide , and where in the stated range the true value lies remains the best-known unknown in the game.

    Indeed, isn’t that kind of the problem? You don’t get to pick the value you want?

  110. So VP recommends that nothing should have been done concerning the Y2K bug.

    And nothing should ever be done about anything.

    Except for some old guy screaming at the kids to get off his lawn. That is apparently OK.

  111. Willard says:

    > the MSM derives one heck of an income flow through the purchase of advertising by the fossil fuel industry

    That would be too tepid. It goes beyond that:

    From Orbis 2007, a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, they pulled out all 43,060 TNCs and the share ownerships linking them. Then they constructed a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company’s operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power.

    The work, to be published in PLoS One, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships (see image). Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What’s more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy – representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228354.500-revealed–the-capitalist-network-that-runs-the-world.html

    Without the banking and the mining industries, Canada would not even exist.

    ***

    > Not only did I comprehend your prior two posts, but I agree with them.

    It usually works other way around.

    It’s harder to understand what we don’t agree with. Joshua could write an essay on this if he could string his comments together. He should.

    How do we know if we don’t agree with something we don’t understand? We look at who’s talking, and his overall demeanor. Social psychology tops critical thinking.

    Since I could not care less if ClimateBall players trust me or not, and that I kneel to noone, distrust happens. Floridity doesn’t help either, I somewhat tepidly concede.

  112. Wouldn’t the trend in atmospheric CO2 accumulation be a better measure of BAU?

    Joshua, yes,
    emissions->accumulations->radiative forcing->’effective radiative forcing’->temperature change

    We can’t really measure ERF, (and the IPCC just dreamt it up in the AR5),
    but as for RF, BAU appears to be a low end situation ( less than ‘B1’ ):

  113. TE,

    BAU appears to be a low end situation ( less than ‘B1′ ):

    Come on, if we have to be careful about what we mean by BAU, so do you. It’s quite possible for another emission scenario to be followed, for atmospheric CO2 to double (relative to pre-industry) or more. Extrapolating from the past is not a particularly scientific way in which to make a projection.

  114. BBD says:

    TurbEd

    but as for RF, BAU appears to be a low end situation ( less than ‘B1′ )

    You keep asserting this, but Hansen’s fig. 5 does not support your assertion. I keep pointing this out and you keep repeating your unsupported and very probably false claim.

    See the problem?

  115. BBD says:

    Lest we forget, B1 is defined as:

    The B1 scenarios are of a world more integrated, and more ecologically friendly. The B1 scenarios are characterized by:

    – Rapid economic growth as in A1, but with rapid changes towards a service and information economy.

    – Population rising to 9 billion in 2050 and then declining as in A1.

    – Reductions in material intensity and the introduction of clean and resource efficient technologies.

    – An emphasis on global solutions to economic, social and environmental stability.

    This is a very long way away from ‘BAU’ which is a much more accurate description of what is happening at the moment.

    We need to think of these emissions scenarios playing out over the rest of the century.

    As ATTP points out, taking a snippet of the past and extrapolating it into the future is meaningless. In your hands, it is deceptive too.

  116. BBD says:

    Russell Seitz

    Since when did the IPCC pick a fixed value of doubling sensititvity?

    IPPC AR4 WG1:

    Since the TAR, the levels of scientific understanding and confidence in quantitative estimates of equilibrium climate sensitivity have increased substantially. Basing our assessment on a combination of several independent lines of evidence, as summarised in Box 10.2 Figures 1 and 2, including observed climate change and the strength of known feedbacks simulated in GCMs, we conclude that the global mean equilibrium warming for doubling CO2, or ‘equilibrium climate sensitivity’, is likely to lie in the range 2°C to 4.5°C, with a most likely value of about 3°C. Equilibrium climate sensitivity is very likely larger than 1.5°C.

    If you read the references I gave you at Eli’s you would know that there is much less ‘uncertainty’ about this than luckwarmers would have us believe.

  117. BBD says:

    Oops – skipped the link:

    IPCC AR4 WG1 10.5

  118. Paul S says:

    I think the tricky part of ‘BAU’ is understanding exactly what vector we’re on at the moment. There are multiple facets to what we’re doing right now, and what direction that will point us unguided. Generally we only get a big picture understanding of what we were doing with hindsight.

    However, Eddie’s graph is close to meaningless with regards to which scenario we will follow because the only real difference between forcing in the scenarios and from observed concentrations is methane. CO2 and N2O are pretty much bang on the money, with little difference between scenarios at this stage. Since the CO2 part of the scenario is the main determinant of future forcing, what methane has been doing over the past decade isn’t very relevant.

  119. John Hartz says:

    TE’s most recent post does not contain appropriate documentation of the source of the graphic.

  120. russellseitz says:

    BBD , your addition of emphasis to the midpoint of a range more Bayesian than Gaussian serves to illustrate Novick’s point. There are about four dozen peer reviewed estimates of doubling sensitivity in the literature , and over the century since the first they have not converged– the best we can do is stil a range four times wider than the delta T of the last century.

    This is not good.

  121. dhogaza says:

    “This is not good.”

    It is especially not good for those holding the lukewarmer position …

  122. Steven Mosher says:

    ATTP

    ‘Hence it does seem as though self-professed Lukewarmers are associating with those with whom they identify most strongly in terms of their politics, rather than with those they identify most strongly scientifically.”

    Like my co author Tom Fuller, the SF liberal? People always wondered how a libertarian and liberal could see eye to eye on things.

    It was simple: There was much in politics where we could not even talk. So we choose not to.
    We never talk about Obama or health care or gun control or any of that stuff.

    We sought a common ground: we agreed on the science. then we looked for areas of policy we could agree on. Simple. I could give a rats butt what his political affiliation is. Same with the dang Rhinos who agree.

    If you are serious about taking action, you seek out agreement. you crawl.
    after you have crawled a bit, you look for wider agreement. you horse trade. you walk.
    The hope is that someday you’ll run.

    The alternative you’al seem to be recommending is “my way or the highway” and then you wonder why people hunker back into the comfort of their tribe.

  123. Steven Mosher says:

    “From the scientific standpoint, the IPCC is the establishment, but from an energy standpoint, they are not. Whence the Lomborg Collective is a scientific contrarian, it speaks the dominant economic ideology. Mainstream climate scientists are thus energy contrarians.”

    Yup!

  124. BBD says:

    Steven

    And that is mankind’s tragedy.

  125. John Hartz says:

    While we obsess over the “correct” value of Climate Sensititivity, bad stuff containues to happen in the real world that has little to do with temperatures in the lower troposphere. For example…

    Controlling climate warming may ultimately make a difference not only about how fast West Antarctic ice will melt to sea, but also whether other parts of Antarctica will take their turn. Several “candidates” are lined up, and we seem to have figured a way to push them out of equilibrium even before warming of air temperature is strong enough to melt snow and ice at the surface.

    Unabated climate warming of several degrees over the next century is likely to speed up the collapse of West Antarctica, but it could also trigger irreversible retreat of marine-based sectors of East Antarctica. Whether we should do something about it is simply a matter of common sense. And the time to act is now; Antarctica is not waiting for us.

    Global warming: it’s a point of no return in West Antarctica. What happens next? by Eric Rignot, The Guardian, May 17, 2015

  126. BBD says:

    Russell Seitz

    Above 2C and below 4C are bounds accepted by most and they provide no policy wriggle-room.

    That is where we stand. There is no basis for pointing to pretended uncertainty and pleading it as grounds for inaction.

  127. Steven Mosher says:

    “As we can see at the discussion at Brigitte’s crib that you linked, there is no coherent and consistent definiton of what is or isn’t “lukewarmerism” from a scientific perspective. The term shape-shifts to accommodate whatever a self-identified “lukewarmer” wants to believe about the science, and also to accommodate whatever someone else wants to say about a “lukewarmer’s” view on the science.”

    By design.
    By design the goal was to find a place within the science where there is the most flexibility.

    As willard noted climate scientists are energy denialists. So if you are an energy realist how do you get on the same science team? You have to find a place in the science that offers you the opportunity to say “I’m inside the scientific consensus on climate” and then you speak your energy realism.

    Hansen actually was an inspiration.

  128. Steven,

    If you are serious about taking action, you seek out agreement. you crawl. after you have crawled a bit, you look for wider agreement. you horse trade. you walk. The hope is that someday you’ll run.

    Yes, I do agree with this. It takes both sides to be willing to reach some kind of agreement, though.

    The alternative you’al seem to be recommending is “my way or the highway” and then you wonder why people hunker back into the comfort of their tribe.

    I don’t think this is what I’m suggesting. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve really suggested anything. It’s not as if I haven’t ventured out. I haven’t always felt particularly welcome when I have. The recent thread of doom on Judith’s blog also doesn’t inspire confidence. If there’s one thing that I have regarded as virtually certain, it’s that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic. That there are still people who dispute this is quite remarkable. To be fair, though, when I brought up on Bishop-Hill, I was pretty much a lone voice (well apart from Dikran and maybe one other). On Climate Etc., at least, there were a number of people making the case.

  129. Steven Mosher says:

    “From the point of view of scientific method, the useful definition of lukewarmer is someone whose hypoesis is that anthropogenic CO2 will not have a serious effect on global climate. ”

    Strawmen are useful.

  130. Where has everyone been on this issue? When you compare the paucity of good data concerning fossil fuel accounting against the shrieking of skeptics for perceived slights in measuring global temperature, it puts everything in perspective. “Hide the decline” does not refer to temperature but in fact refers to the natural decline of high-grade fossil fuel reserves that the BAU will never want to admit is occurring.

    GoogleBooks “The Oil ConunDRUM”

  131. Pingback: Lukewarmers – a follow up | …and Then There's Physics

  132. Steven,

    As willard noted climate scientists are energy denialists. So if you are an energy realist how do you get on the same science team? You have to find a place in the science that offers you the opportunity to say “I’m inside the scientific consensus on climate” and then you speak your energy realism.

    I can accept this situation. However, I still feel that scientific reality and energy reality could still be regarded as separate but related. Some limitation related to energy don’t change physical reality with respect to climate change. I’ve seen a number recent arguments that climate scientists are being unrealistic when it comes to negative emissions. The problem I have with this argument is that if climate scientists are showing that to keep below some target will require negative emissions, that if negative emissions are virtually impossible doesn’t change that this might still be the only way to keep below that target. It still provides relevant information.

  133. Steven Mosher says:

    “So Mosher, where’s the Luke Warmer modelling that shows impacts will be less than what the IPCC summarises. Or the economic modelling to show that the Stern Report or Garnaut Reports were overestimating the cost. It does look like Lukewarmerism, is simply marketing, and a label that people can assign to pretty much any claim that says AGW will impact us less than is claimed by the IPCC.”

    That’s a great idea! We should lobby for the next report to focus on impacts from lower sensitivity estimates. ! The IPCC could actually do this and demonstrate that sensitivity doesnt matter.

    Since we bound to accept the consensus science, the question comes: what are we bound to where the consensus is silent? If the consensus never bothered to see the impacts under the assumption of a 2C ECS, then what?

    It would be a great step forward to show that the impacts were the same for an ECS of 2C and one of 3C. do you think thats true?

  134. Steven Mosher says:

    ATTP

    ‘. I’ve seen a number recent arguments that climate scientists are being unrealistic when it comes to negative emissions. ”

    yes, I was going to use Eli’s “luck” word against him, but need to sharpen my wit a bit cause luckwarmer is hard to beat.

  135. Steven,

    Since we bound to accept the consensus science, the question comes: what are we bound to where the consensus is silent? If the consensus never bothered to see the impacts under the assumption of a 2C ECS, then what?

    Broadly speaking, I think they do. They certainly show the impacts for different temperature changes. That’s presumably approximately equivalent to comparing a high emission pathway with a low ECS and a low emission pathway with a high ECS.

    It would be a great step forward to show that the impacts were the same for an ECS of 2C and one of 3C. do you think thats true?

    Along the same future emission pathway, I doubt it. I’m pretty sure that the impacts are thought to be temperature change dependent.

  136. Steven,

    yes, I was going to use Eli’s “luck” word against him, but need to sharpen my wit a bit cause luckwarmer is hard to beat.

    Except, when it comes to technology development we have the possibility of generating our own luck. The same doesn’t apply to climate sensitivity. It will be whatever it happens to actually be.

  137. Earlier I said :


    Except for some old guy screaming at the kids to get off his lawn. That is apparently OK.

    #WHUT did I tell you?

    @WHUT Don’t think about cutting firewood on my property or grazing on my grass. @ImaBannedd @Yowan @luisbaram @RichardTol— Fallor Ergo Sum (@SlagOffTwits) May 19, 2015

    So utterly predictable.

  138. Willard says:

    > As willard noted climate scientists are energy denialists.

    Strawmen are useful. In this case, it helps wedging in the notion of “realism.” The honest broker prefers “pragmatism” for a very similar trope. Whatever rocks the tepid boat.

    That the energy establishment is realist is far from being obvious.

  139. Steven Mosher says:

    “Broadly speaking, I think they do. They certainly show the impacts for different temperature changes. That’s presumably approximately equivalent to comparing a high emission pathway with a low ECS and a low emission pathway with a high ECS.”

    ya I know I shoulda used the sarc tag.

  140. Steven,
    Ahh, sorry, it did seem like an odd thing to say. My sarc filter is clearly off today 🙂

  141. Steven Mosher says:

    ATTP

    “Except, when it comes to technology development we have the possibility of generating our own luck. The same doesn’t apply to climate sensitivity. It will be whatever it happens to actually be.”

    yes.

    My larger point would be this.

    If I were to argue that we should delay mitigation, and invest in technology so that we can rapidly shift to carbon free sources, The counter would be that I was too trusting of technology.

    If, however, someone argues that we can count on technology to get us to negative emissions and maintain warming below 2C, then that trust in technology is ‘Ok”

  142. Steven Mosher says:

    willard

    “As willard noted climate scientists are energy denialists. So if you are an energy realist how do you get on the same science team? ”

    “As willard noted climate scientists are energy denialists. So if you are an energy non denialist how do you get on the same science team? ”

    There. doesnt really matter what I substitute once I use your denialist language.

  143. Steven,

    If I were to argue that we should delay mitigation, and invest in technology so that we can rapidly shift to carbon free sources, The counter would be that I was too trusting of technology.

    If, however, someone argues that we can count on technology to get us to negative emissions and maintain warming below 2C, then that trust in technology is ‘Ok”

    Well, they both seem to be “technology in future” arguments. If they were both using the same underlying evidence to motivate their positions, I might regard them as equivalent in some way. I might not agree with them both, or with either, though. One subtlety, though, is that I don’t see those who show models with negative emissions as arguing for negative emissions specifically. As I understand it, they’re illustrating that given certain assumptions about energy reality, population growth, etc one of the only ways that we can follow a pathway that gives us a reasonable chance to avoid 2oC, is to find a way to have negative emissions at some point in the future.

  144. Willard says:

    > There. doesnt really matter what I substitute once I use your denialist language.

    Where did I use the “denialist language”?

    Strawmen bear tepid fruits.

  145. Eli Rabett says:

    Eli thinks that >1C is going to be very stressful and expensive and >2C is going to cost much treasure and lives. The Rabett also believes that doing nothing now guarantees >3C. So there are no great choices.

  146. Eli Rabett says:

    A one dimensional model gets an ECS of 2-5 C or so. An averaged global ECS from more complex models up to Earth System Models is also in that range. The advantage of the ESMs is that it explains many other things about global circulation, but not yet on the regional level.

    Which is why arguing ECS is a fools errand, might as well just reference Arrhenius.

  147. Eli Rabett says:

    Mosher is engaging in the chew gum and walk fallacy.

    There is no reason that one cannot develop technology while taking action. Indeed, if the action is to impose a carbon tax of some sort, then the action will generate its own technology thrust.

    So yes, we need better renewables, we need negative carbon technologies, but we can make a significant dent in the problem with what we have now and not forego many other possibilities such as getting the smoke out of huts.

    As John put it at Rabett Run, we don’t know everything but we know enough

  148. John Hartz says:

    Speaking of BAU…

    Shell’s AGM (Annual General Meeting) was dominated by questions and comments over Shell’s environmental track record as well as the oil and gas giant’s efforts to curb carbon emissions.

    Van Beurden (CEO of Royal Dutch Shell) lambasted calls by environmental activists to reduce investment in new oil production in order to reduce carbon emissions to prevent global warming.

    “The theory also ignores the reality of our industry and as a matter of fact it actually risks distraction from the real issues around energy transition needs,” Van Beurden said.

    “If there will be no further investments in oil production, the gap between supply and demand could be 70 million barrels per day by 2040 … we will need sustained and substantial investment just to meet the demand to fuel economic growth especially in the developing world.”

    Shell vows to explore Arctic despite Seattle protests by Ron Bousso, Reuters, May 19, 2015

  149. russellseitz says:

    “Above 2C and below 4C are bounds accepted by most and they provide no policy wriggle-room.”
    Has all of wonkdom suddenly suffered an arthritis attack ?

    “Eli thinks that >1C is going to be very stressful and expensive and >2C is going to cost much treasure and lives. The Rabett also believes that doing nothing now guarantees >3C. So there are no great choices.”

    If people kept on moving south to the sun belt in the face of 0.8 C, which stands to be slightly less stressful and expensive than 1.1C, could the Rabbitt’s belief system reflect the fact that he already lives two degrees soth of me in both senses of degree?

    We knoe enough to observe that one man’s existential threat is another’s choice of where to head when he retires.

    Because access to energy broadens one’s options, to the point of pricing air conditioners rather than externalities.

  150. Russell,
    I get the impression that that is a very US-centric viewpoint?

  151. Willard says:

    Please tell us about the Arctic, Russell.

    Here could be a starting point:

    http://e360.yale.edu/feature/linking_weird_weather_to_rapid_warming_of_the_arctic/2501/

    For some reason, lukewarmers usually have tepid things to say about the vortex. They usually leave Neven’s alone. Wonder why?

  152. Michael 2 says:

    Eli Rabett says “There is no reason that one cannot develop technology while taking action.”

    Perhaps you could demonstrate this procedure to confirm your assertion, or alternatively, discover the reason why one cannot do both at the same time.

    It is a bit like developing a computer program and using it in production at the same time. It works, but is buggy and depending on what you are doing the bugs could be very bad (loose o-rings on a space shuttle fuel tank comes to mind).

    The United Kingdom did both; developing windmill technology while implementing windmills. Now they have a serious problem with early failure of main rotor bearings.

  153. Michael 2 says:

    WHT says “Hide the decline does not refer to temperature but in fact refers to the natural decline of high-grade fossil fuel reserves”

    Well there’s a new one I don’t see every day. I do not believe your assertion. I believe it referred to failure of dendrochronology in the most recent decade or two at the time those words were written. The context was dendrochronology and there’s no reason to hide the decline of fossil fuel and every reason to promote awareness of it.

  154. Michael 2 says:

    Mosher says “If you are serious about taking action, you seek out agreement.”

    Indeed, and the areas of agreeement might be small but if you can find one, it is a place to start. Solar power is starting to gain real traction in the American southwest where electricity is already expensive and sunlight abundant. The storage problem is alleviated for now by using “grid tied” solar power and the capital problem is partly alleviated by entrepreneurs that front the cost of installation in return for monthly revenue from the energy produced.

    Naturally, new problems are created — shall the house now be taxed at a higher value because of the addition of solar panels? What happens to the grid when so many people are generating electricity that there’s too much of it during the day and of course none at night? The daily swing in demand on generating stations is going to be enormous with potentially zero net revenue to the energy provider.

  155. Michael 2 says:

    Willard cites a study that “revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships”

    Fascinating, but I wonder if this is straying into conspiracist ideation? 😉

    I’m surprised that there’s 1318 companies. That’s more diversity than I expected.

  156. dhogaza says:

    M2:

    “It is a bit like developing a computer program and using it in production at the same time. It works, but is buggy and depending on what you are doing the bugs could be very bad (loose o-rings on a space shuttle fuel tank comes to mind).”

    o-rings aren’t software, and they weren’t loose, they were burned due to flexing in the joints in the solid fuel boosters.

    Now, regarding software, this:

    http://searchsoftwarequality.techtarget.com/essentialguide/Next-generation-Agile-Guide-to-continuous-development

  157. dhogaza says:

    M2:

    ‘Eli Rabett says “There is no reason that one cannot develop technology while taking action.”

    The United Kingdom did both; developing windmill technology while implementing windmills. Now they have a serious problem with early failure of main rotor bearings.’

    We could say that commercial airliner development should’ve been frozen a century ago until the technology was perfected to the point where no fatal accidents were possible. But that’s not how one gets operational experience that leads to technological improvements.

    Regardless, I read Eli as saying one can, say, develop windmill technology while, say, implementing a carbon tax to encourage lower consumption of fossil fuels.

  158. Michael 2 says:

    Willard (re May 19, 2015 at 1:49 pm) that’s the most I’ve seen you write in a long time and a very worthy commentary it is.

  159. Michael Hauber says:

    Steven,

    ‘It would be a great step forward to show that the impacts were the same for an ECS of 2C and one of 3C. do you think thats true?’

    I believe that an ECS of 4 is probably in all ways worse than ECS of 3. I’m not sure that an ECS of 2 would be better than an ECS of 3. In particular an ECS of 3 seems to be what you get with minimal changes to the hydrological cycle. That is you get a tropospheric hotspot because tropical instability is maintained about the same level, a water vapor feedback because of the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship etc.

    To get an ECS of 2 would seem to require some sort of negative feedback to offset all this. Cloud feedback being the most likely culprit. Or something to change in the hydrological cycle so that Clausius-Clapeyron does not accurately predict the water vapor feedback. Lindzen and Spencer, who probably have the best credentials of anyone promoting a substantially lower ECS both seem to think that a negative cloud feedback is involved. Either case would suggest a more drastic change to the hydrological cycle then the standard ECS of 3, and I’m not sure that the trade of between a lower temperature increase and more drastic changes in the hydrological cycle would be good news or bad news.

  160. John Hartz says:

    The beat (heat) goes on…

    Even if 2015 doesn’t take the record, it is likely to place among the hottest years. Of the 15 warmest years on record, 13 have occurred in the 21st century, which shows the clear warming effect that accumulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have had on global temperatures. No record-cold year has been observed since 1911.

    Past 12 Months Tied for Warmest on Record by Andrea Thompson, Climate Central, May 19, 2015

  161. Brandon Gates says:

    Michael 2

    Now they have a serious problem with early failure of main rotor bearings.

    So there is some downtime repairing the unit which failed. The failure is analyzed and design is improved. We constantly do this even for presently mature “essential” technologies.

    I don’t understand the problem. I’ll add: better to work out the bugs early.

  162. Brandon Gates says:

    Willard,

    Scientists do not have the power (or even the intelligence) to replace MSMs.

    Agree.

    Without the banking and the mining industries, Canada would not even exist.

    If knowledge were “efficiently” monetized and scientists were thereby motivated by maximizing shareholder equity they would have more power. The consumer energy market gets undue attention because populist messages sell papers and buy votes. On that note, I’m not seeing how the tepid meme overcomes a lobbyist who is adept at brokering campaign finance deals.

  163. russellseitz says:

    ATTP correctly notes : “Russell,
    I get the impression that that is a very US-centric viewpoint?”

    Though aimed at Eli, who lives in a city were Foreign Office folk once recieved tropical hardship pay , it is indeed an air-conditioner-hugging Yankecentric view, tempered by the observation that it takes a kilowatt per capita six months of the year to render America’s belt of deserts and fever swamps habitable– in 1950 Florida’s coastal towns were small ands eparated by vast expanses of uninhabited scrub. Absent ample power and efficient heat pumps this might still be the case..

    Popular perceptions of climate have always been parochial, but it is only with modern transport that the physics of everyday experience has come to encompass traveling far enough in a day to notice the change in climate. As temperstures rise, and temperate zones are compressed poleward by the expansion of the tropics , the same thing is happening to those who stay put, but to an increasingly urban specise like ours, the ecological consequences are not the same as the human ones.

    At the high end of the IPCC range climate zones are projected to migrate northward at rates on the order of a meter an hour. which though it heralds declining forest diversity remains something a snail could outrun. This remains a far cry from an existential threat , because dystopic futurists failed to predict the acceleration of food production would stand Malthus on his head .

    Does Willard know anyone planning to move to the arctic?

  164. BBD says:

    Russell

    As temperstures rise, and temperate zones are compressed poleward by the expansion of the tropics , the same thing is happening to those who stay put, but to an increasingly urban specise like ours, the ecological consequences are not the same as the human ones.

    Agriculture does not shift poleward with the ease and alacrity you imply. Tundra does not become productive arable soil at all rapidly. All those billions of mouths in their citadels need to eat something. Even Pollyanna needs to eat something.

  165. BBD says:

    cont…

    This remains a far cry from an existential threat , because dystopic futurists failed to predict the acceleration of food production would stand Malthus on his head .

    The impressive increase in agricultural yields during the C20th is not something that can be extrapolated across the C21st. It was achieved by the creation of high-yield strains which were cultivated with intensive fertiliser and pesticide inputs, aka the ‘green revolution’. What comes next is likely to be problematic – a couple of billion more people to feed in a century of flattening yields afflicted by increasingly erratic global productivity as drought, flooding, soil salination, summer heat waves, and fungal and insect pests take their toll, especially in the NH where most global agriculture is done.

  166. Willard says:

    > Does Willard know anyone planning to move to the arctic?

    The army, drillers, and enough population to claim sovereignty.

    Russell may someday need to transgress his oversensitive manners and look beyond the location of his AC, if only to make sure he and his grandchildren have enough food and water for a while.

  167. Eli Rabett says:

    “Does Willard know anyone planning to move to the arctic?”

    Well, New Hampshire is close enough.

  168. Eli Rabett says:

    dh: “Regardless, I read Eli as saying one can, say, develop windmill technology while, say, implementing a carbon tax to encourage lower consumption of fossil fuels.”

    Plus which the carbon tax will encourage development of better windmill technology. FWIW a ride through the Altamont Pass west of Livermore CA will show bunnies all the stages of windmill R&D.

  169. dhogaza says:

    BBD:

    “Agriculture does not shift poleward with the ease and alacrity you imply. Tundra does not become productive arable soil at all rapidly. All those billions of mouths in their citadels need to eat something. Even Pollyanna needs to eat something.”

    Not to mention that the area covered by 1 degree latitude diminishes as one moves north or south from the equator. Don’t let yourself be fooled by the Mercator projection, which is really dandy for navigation but rather useless for eyeballing how much land will be available for future agricultural purposes.

    To trivialize the point, how much area is covered by the north or south poles?

  170. Michael 2 says:

    Oops, it was dhogaza that asked that question.

    Also, “Don’t let yourself be fooled by the Mercator projection, which is really dandy for navigation but rather useless for eyeballing how much land will be available for future agricultural purposes.”

    So what if I am fooled by it? I am not the appointer of future farming leases. One thing about growing food in the arctic, 18 to 24 hours of sunlight a day produces incredible growth.

    http://www.adn.com/article/20090904/127-pound-cabbage-breaks-world-record

    “But with an apparently ideal mix of long, sunny days and rainy nights, his crop — fenced in to keep munching moose away — took off. During Alaska’s short growing season, cabbage will pack on several pounds each day.”

  171. Michael 2 says:

    Dhogaza (at May 19, 2015 at 9:58 pm) suggests Agile development (*) as an example of Eli’s question about developing technology at the same time as taking action. So let us examine Agile development.

    “The four core values of agile software development as stated by the Agile Manifesto emphasize: …”

    No wonder things are such a mess in the computer world. Consider:

    (1) Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.

    We don’t need no steenkin tools or processes; we just need to be friends!

    (2) Working software over comprehensive documentation.

    It’s nice to have working software for sure. But without documentation it can be a bit difficult to make it work and impossible to repair or alter.

    (3) Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.

    We don’t need no steenkin contracts! We’ll just “collaborate” for a while.

    (4) Responding to change over following a plan.

    Yeah, you’ll be responding to many changes since you don’t have a plan. –especially bad where databases are concerned. Yep, today we change the database schema and we’ll figure out soon enough how much of the application fails and must be recoded.

    Versus the “old school” where you have a plan, maybe a contract, a clearly defined goal, and you inspect business processes and design your inputs, outputs and database schema before writing a single line of code and about half the total effort is creating meticulous documentation during which creation you also realize weaknesses in the design.

    * http://searchsoftwarequality.techtarget.com/essentialguide/Next-generation-Agile-Guide-to-continuous-development

  172. dhogaza says:

    Something tells me that M2 doesn’t work in the industry … or at least not at a very high level of skill.

  173. dhogaza says:

    M2:

    “One thing about growing food in the arctic, 18 to 24 hours of sunlight a day produces incredible growth.”

    Palmer, Alaska is not in the Arctic. It features rich soils, moderate temperatures during the growing season, and is the prime agricultural region in Alaska. Which means it is not typical of Alaska. It is not, for instance, tundra or boreal forest which is what you typically find north of the arctic circle.

    Since you don’t know much about modern software engineering, I was tempted to suggest you take up farming but … after this … maybe not.

  174. BBD says:

    M2

    Read. The. Words:

    Agriculture does not shift poleward with the ease and alacrity you imply. Tundra does not become productive arable soil at all rapidly.

    We aren’t talking about some enthusiast’s carefully built-up vegetable patch. Try to understand the topic before posting irrelevant nonsense in response. Please. After – how long have you been here now? – this behaviour becomes tiresome.

  175. Brandon Gates says:

    dhogaza,

    Something tells me that M2 doesn’t work in the industry … or at least not at a very high level of skill.

    Perhaps he works for a large institution, like a really big bank, where the waterfall model is alive and well. Works just fine when the business team know AND understand what it is they want up front … and the development team aren’t being asked to write the business requirements document.

    I likely stretch the analogy past breaking, but this is one of my pet rants.

  176. anoilman says:

    dhogaza: M2 is a technician. You know… 2 year diploma type. He’s never seen or done actual science. He said he spent 10 years or so configuring Cisco Routers. That should give you an idea about what he’s like.

  177. anoilman says:

    BBD: Some crops are moving. Monsanto has been running seminars in the Canadian prairies about the fact that we can grow corn here now. Of course drought will become a serious issue. There’s already talk of diverting fresh water away from the arctic basin to the prairies to compensate.

    M2 also has a conveniently silly memory. Most crops can’t move. The soil here is crap, and soil productivity is significantly lower than, say, California. (Interestingly around where I live, the sun is little less than Los Angeles.)

  178. BBD says:

    M2 also has a conveniently silly memory. Most crops can’t move. The soil here is crap, and soil productivity is significantly lower than, say, California.

    Exactly. And it gets worse the further North you go. This ‘we’ll just shift agriculture North’ meme is some of the most pernicious ‘adaptation’ dross out there.

  179. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP observes “self-professed Lukewarmers are associating with those with whom they identify most strongly in terms of their politics, rather than with those they identify most strongly scientifically.”

    Agreed, not that my agreement is necessary or useful as this is almost a statement of the obvious.

    What I found intriguing was that anyone would identify (form social relationships with) someone “scientificallly”. It suggests that you could form a social group entirely around a bit of science, and while that seems silly to me, on consideration I suspect it may be rather common. My geologist friend identifies with people whose views on geology are most similar. Same with my chemist friend.

    But even in those circumstances I suggest that the scientific item around which people cluster is just a proxy for the emotional bond. Humans do bond; but you need to know “friend or foe” and the proxy which you use to accomplish that can be almost anything. In this present context, someone that subscribes to RPC8 and is terrified of it can be your “friend” because it implies a great many things, including your favorite futbol team and whether Scotland ought to secede from the United Kingdom.

    Political parties serve a similar purpose and are more effective in Europe (many choices) than the USA (two choices).

  180. russellseitz says:

    “The impressive increase in agricultural yields during the C20th is not something that can be extrapolated across the C21st.”

    It’s even harder to extrapolate from all the books the Ehrlich’s wrote in the 20th.

    You don’t have to be a cornucopinacoladian to be boggled by the fact that agricultural land use has receded in the face of the Green Revolution – the world is awash in GMO corn.

  181. BBD says:

    It’s even harder to extrapolate from all the books the Ehrlich’s wrote in the 20th.

    Ehrlich was premature, not wrong. If population increases as projected and climate change impacts agricultural productivity as seems likely, there will be trouble in due course. For example, one can imagine the effect on Borlaug’s legacy in India if the monsoons start to fail. High yield, high input agriculture is extremely sensitive to water shortage.

  182. Pingback: Making Science Public » Lukewarmers

  183. Pingback: We don’t even agree on the basics | …and Then There's Physics

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