Lukewarmers – a follow up

I was reading (don’t ask me why) Ben Pile’s analysis of this whole Lukewarmer issue. If anyone wants an illustration of why I said things like

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…… 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

in my previous post, Ben’s post is a good place to start. I wasn’t going to analyse his post, or discuss what he says – as that would be silly – I was simply going to comment on what Ben says in his update. Roger Pielke Jr appears to have objected to being a labelled a Lukewarmer, and so Ben updates his post with

Roger Pielke Jr. tweets that he rejects the term ‘lukewarmer’, and adds: “Distinguishing political perspectives according to ECS is antithetical to robust policy & inclusive politics”.

I don’t always see eye-to-eye with Roger Pielke Jr, but this is – I think – a very good point, assuming I’ve interpreted it correctly. Fundamentally, the evidence base should be broadly the same. What we decide to do, given that evidence base, is what we should really be discussing. That people seem to be arguing about, or defining themselves according to, something like ECS, rather than about what we should do given the range for ECS, is what lead to me to say

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.

To be fair, I would dislike it if someone claimed that my scientific position was motivated by my policy preferences, so the above is – as should be obvious – a general impression, and is not aimed at any specific individual. I also realise that Lukewarmers are more diverse than my simple description might indicate. However, it does seem as though many Lukewarmers do define themselves according to what they think climate sensitivity (ECS) will be, and – typically – choose a likely/probable range that is not consistent with that presented by the IPCC/mainstream science.

Let me clarify a few things, though. Continuing to investigate climate sensitivity and trying to constrain the range more accurately is – of course – a good thing; that’s what science is about. Discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the different lines of evidence is also a perfectly valid thing to do; again this is a fundamental part of science. There is a caveat, though; that’s why you talk to experts, they can tell you about the different lines of evidence and why some might be stronger than others. Also, you don’t simply dismiss – or accept – some evidence just because you can find an expert who supports that view; you typically try to get the views of a sufficiently large group of experts, like – oh, I don’t know – maybe the IPCC?

I’ll finish with a final comment. Richard Betts wrote a guest post here called label the behaviour, not the person. I agree with that general sentiment; discussing a particular viewpoint, or behaviour, is vastly different to labelling some specific individual. However, as Brigitte Nerlich points out, Lukewarmer appears to be a self-label, rather than a label generated by others. This makes it slightly tricky. It’s one thing to label others in a manner that they might find objectionable, but another to use one that they themselves have developed. The current objection seems to be that some – like me – are defining it incorrectly, but I’m still having trouble seeing how, as everything I read seems broadly consistent with my understanding of the general position.

Anyway, I’ll simply reiterate the point I was trying to make here, and which I think Roger Pielke Jr was getting at; we don’t get to choose our own evidence, and defining yourself according to some subset of the evidence is a poor way to ensure robust policy making. One might even argue that the attempt to develop a self-label is inherently political and divisive.

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91 Responses to Lukewarmers – a follow up

  1. Willard says:

    > I don’t always see eye-to-eye with Roger Pielke Jr, but this is – I think – a very good point, assuming I’ve interpreted it correctly.

    Have you read all of Junior’s books, papers, essays, and editorials? I think not.

    Then you certainly misrepresented to most misrepresented man in the history of ClimateBall, at least according to himself.

  2. He’s offered me a copy of his book, but I declined – well, I was still anonymous, so it wasn’t clear how I would get it 🙂

  3. If a certain group of people have called themselves ‘Lukewarmers’, then arguably it’s a title rather than a label. Unlike ‘skeptic’, ‘denier’ or ‘alarmist’, few seem to have a problem using it. I certainly don’t mind calling them Lukewarmers, if people who, seemingly irrationally, believe climate change won’t be bad—or who use economics to convince themselves that mitigation is a bad idea—want to be known by that title.

    I guess now we need to start titling ourselves ‘Warmers’: if we mean by that, people who generally accept the IPCC’s reports as representing our best understanding of the risks inherent in humans adding additional greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere.

    Now we just need a mutually-agreeable title for ‘those-in-denial’.

  4. @aTTP

    You arrange to meet on a dark night in a carpark somewhere, with the book placed in a brief case on the ground between you while both parties’ henchman look on, nervously.

  5. verytallguy says:

    ATTP,

    Continuing to investigate climate sensitivity and trying to constrain the range more accurately is – of course – a good thing; that’s what science is about

    I don’t think there is any prospect of this happening.

    paleo proxies have fundamental accuracy limitations

    Modelling is constrained by computing power and fundamental uncertainty in processes such as nucleation

    Observational estimates are constrained by historical data and the “one realisation” issue.

    We have the knowledge now that we will have for the next few decades. It’s up to us what to do with it.

    Anyone disagree?

  6. We have the knowledge now that we will have for the next few decades. It’s up to us what to do with it.

    Anyone disagree?

    I broadly agree. I think that some of the work that’s being done on clouds could clarify things somewhat, but given that it will mostly be modelling work (or rely on models) means that it is no more likely to be accepted than anything else and is unlikely, to result in a major change. It might bring the high end down a little, maybe, but ECS ignores slow feedbacks anyway, so that isn’t much of a comfort.

  7. dana1981 says:

    I wouldn’t label Pielke Jr. a Lukewarmer. ‘Honest Brokers’ are a different category that I won’t go into (if you don’t have anything nice to say…). Lukewarmers are pretty specific in arguing for low sensitivity and thus no urgent need for action, which is not the argument Pielke Jr. makes.

  8. Dana,

    I wouldn’t label Pielke Jr. a Lukewarmer.

    Yes, I agree. I certainly wasn’t (hope it didn’t seem that way). I was more interested in his point about how one shouldn’t define oneself according to something like your view on ECS.

  9. jai mitchell says:

    In the dialectic of scientific discourse, as in Jurgen Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action, thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis occurs in an environment of free-thinking and non-violent communications. This is how humanity has achieved its greatest heights in social and scientific advancements.

    If, however one of the parties is NOT a participant in free-thinking analysis but is rather INTENTIONALLY skewing his anti-thesis in a form of violent compromise of the discourse, through intentionally misrepresenting what is known to be ‘truth’, then the process is destined to fail.

    [Mod : In the, somewhat naive, interest of maintaining the possibility of discourse, I’m going to redact this last paragraph.]

  10. Willard says:

    Arguing sensitivity is as relevant as trying to decide under which conditions plateaux exist.

    Don’t be suckered in by your curiosity and keep the eye on the ball.

  11. Eli Rabett says:

    Followers of the IPCC consensus

    One of the 97%

    97%ers

    Cassandras (she was always right, so is Ms. Rabett, but Eli believes her)

  12. Joshua says:

    It’s pretty funny that RPJr. disagrees with Pile as to whether he’s a “lukewarmer” when neither of them (or anyone else) actually knows what the term means.

  13. Joshua,
    Yes, that does seem to be the case. They know that my description is wrong, but they don’t really have a consistent alternative.

  14. Happy to send over copies of my 2 climate books. Plz email me with mailing address. Thx.

  15. As I hinted at in a comment above, aren’t there two clearly defined and somewhat contradictory groups of people who think they’re lukewarmers? Namely people who believe climate change won’t be bad because sensitivity is low—for various reasons they have trouble explaining (eg, Ridley, Lewis)—and those who appear to use economics to convince themselves that mitigation is a bad idea (eg,Tol, Lomborg)?

    Instructively, they never seem to argue with one another, even though they have very different reasons for their lukewarmism, and, perhaps even more instructively, some of them seem to believe that if it’s not one reason, it’s the other—or both at the same time… which could be possible, I suppose; and also really convenient.

  16. semyorka says:

    “when neither of them (or anyone else) actually knows what the term means.”
    Like conservative, liberal, socialist or patriot. It is a contrived term to cobble together an alliance of people. To polarise what should be a broad continuum of opinions.

  17. David Young says:

    “The consensus enforcers don’t even want there to be an index — admitting to an entire axis of perspectives would make the debate far more complicated than the simple matter of right-vs-wrong, good-vs-bad or science-vs-denial that they want it to be. The point of consensus enforcement is to sustain the polarised account of the debate.”

    This observation I think is particularly enlightening as to what is happening here.

  18. redbbs says:

    We all agree in principle that allowing ECS (or ECS equations) to define one’s politics is weird but in the wider world much weirder stuff is being harnessed to drive political polarity.

    I’m wondering if Roger Pielke Jr. has had an epiphany? He dramatically announced he would lessen his climate research as the result of the hoohaa over Wille Soon’s funding but I suspect he’s keen to return and perhaps reposition himself.
    If RPJ is not a Lukewarmer then we must assume that he accepts all or part of AR4’s range. For reasons of his own making Pielke has found himself a long way from the pointy end of climate research and policy. He’s mired in the flaccid lomborgian end and suffers the same funding stench. I think he might be ready to claw his way out.
    If Pielke is not a Lukewarmer and has ambitions re policy influence, then the only place for him is the pointy end – mitigation. I look forward to his next paper.

  19. Willard says:

    > This observation I think is particularly enlightening as to what is happening here.

    Like here:

    One might even argue that the attempt to develop a self-label is inherently political and divisive.

    Must be the lack of solution to the Navier-Stokes equations.

  20. skylanetc says:

    @David Young:
    ” [Ben Pile’s] observation I think is particularly enlightening as to what is happening here.”

    It is twaddle, as is to be expected from Pile.

    That “entire axis” to which Pile belongs is comprised of climate crackpots of every sort, from the sky dragon slayers to Luboš Motl to Jo Nova to Lord Monckton. All fit on that infinitely commodious crank axis in comfort, tolerant of one another’s various dumb-to-crazy views but sharing a constant state of high dudgeon with respect to the climate scientists who comprise the current consensus and to the policy thinkers who accept it.

    Pile’s straw men, the “consensus enforcers,” do not exist in reality. There are no thought police stifling serious positions on science and policy. There ARE many serious people who are bloody sick and tired of clowns like Monckton and ideologues like Pile wasting everyone’s time.

  21. David Young says:

    skylunatic: It is irrelevant to drop names of people you dislike. There is a broad range of opinion among real scientists as even the IPCC acknowledged when it increased its range for ECS in AR5 and refused to give a most likely value. What is your view on the use of uniform priors in ECS?

  22. JCH says:

    The science on CS is not settled, though you would never know that listening to DY.

  23. Adam R. says:

    What is your view on the use of paid stooges and crackpots to give the illusion of genuine scientific dissent, DY?

    Would your list of “real scientists” include Willie Soon? Patrick Michaels? Ian Plimer?

    The fact that the IPCC updates each report as new information emerges in no way implies legitimacy for the views of the cloud of crazies that swarm outside climate science. ECS is a serious issue upon which there are serious competing views, but nothing serious comes from the likes of Ben Pile.

  24. Tom Curtis says:

    Joshua, I think Mosher’s definition is reasonable. A lukewarmer is somebody who:
    1) Thinks that the probability of an ECS of 3 or less is greater than or equal to 50%; and
    2) The probability of and ECS less than 1 is less than 2.5% (my gloss on Mosher’s claim that climate sensitivity cannot be less than 1).

    The problem lies not in the definition, but that in that people who are not lukewarmers by this definition still claim the title without any push back from those who are genuinely lukewarmers that I have seen.

    By this definition, the IPCC AR5 fails to be a lukewarmer document only because it places to high a probability (<5%, 3.5% base on Rogelj's PDF of the AR5 ECS) of an ECS less than 1. Mosher may want to be more specific about the lower limit, and lift it to 5% to allow that the IPCC is not more conservative than those radical lukewarmers.

  25. David Young says:

    JCH, Yes the science is not settled. We are getting better though and there are a lot more recent estimates on the low side than on the high side. Perhaps they re all wrong, but it takes a special selection bias to not accept that they mostly use refinements on earlier estimates that you may have liked better but that had demonstrable problems such as the use of uniform priors. This latter issue I think is finally settled and I don’t expect many to go back to these poor statistical methods. Will they consult real 3rd part statisticians? I doubt it, but there is some progress at least.

  26. David Young says:

    Adam, You are the one who is bringing up people who I do not regard are credible. Why do you do it as it is irrelevant to what I said? Is this a straw man argument?

  27. JCH says:

    They’re using the AMO. I can’t imagine how uniform priors could be worse than that.

  28. Jai Mitchell says:

    Assuming that your dialectical opponent has the same goals as you do (to seek truth) when that opponent is actually operating under different reward structures (financial benefit to cloud discourse for targeted outcomes) is what causes stagnation and eventual collapse of entire systems of complex thought. Some of these debates have long been abandoned and forgotten.

    I think that the desire for amiable debate in the face of obviously bad-faith actors under normal circumstances is foolish, In the instance of climate change, it is prolicide.

  29. DY,

    This observation I think is particularly enlightening as to what is happening here.

    Do you at least acknowledge some irony in both your viewpoint and in what Ben Pile said? I’m guessing “no” but you could try giving it some thought. Not only am I not trying to enforce some kind of viewpoint, I’m simply criticising some viewpoints. That you would whine about that and not see the irony in doing so is quite remarkable, but not surprising.

    There is a broad range of opinion among real scientists as even the IPCC acknowledged when it increased its range for ECS in AR5 and refused to give a most likely value.

    Hmmm, interesting. Do you really think that these “real scientists” each think that they’re right and that the others are wrong, or that these “real scientists” might actually realise that our overall understanding might be best described by an overall view of the evidence, rather than just by their own personal viewpoint?

    Tom,

    I think Mosher’s definition is reasonable. A lukewarmer is somebody who:
    1) Thinks that the probability of an ECS of 3 or less is greater than or equal to 50%; and
    2) The probability of and ECS less than 1 is less than 2.5% (my gloss on Mosher’s claim that climate sensitivity cannot be less than 1).

    Yes, I agree that Mosher’s definition is reasonable. I’m just not sure why this would be described by a word such as “Lukewarmer”.

    The problem lies not in the definition, but that in that people who are not lukewarmers by this definition still claim the title without any push back from those who are genuinely lukewarmers that I have seen.

    Yes, exactly.

  30. Roger,

    Happy to send over copies of my 2 climate books. Plz email me with mailing address. Thx.

    Thanks, I will do.

  31. Jai,

    I think that the desire for amiable debate in the face of obviously bad-faith actors under normal circumstances is foolish

    Yes, I tend to agree. I think my main motivation is to avoid outright conflict. I don’t argue against others doing so, though, just not here 🙂

  32. DY,

    Perhaps they re all wrong, but it takes a special selection bias to not accept that they mostly use refinements on earlier estimates that you may have liked better but that had demonstrable problems such as the use of uniform priors.

    Your ability to miss the point is still evident. I don’t think anyone argues that the uniform priors were the right ones to use. I do think, however, that the supposedly uninformed (if I’ve remembered the correct name) priors have their own issues. Maybe you should consider the statement “estimates that you may have liked” could be directed at many. That you would use it without the self-awareness to recognise this, is in character, at least.

    Will they consult real 3rd part statisticians? I doubt it, but there is some progress at least.

    Well, if the Marotzke & Forster saga is anything to go by, I can’t see how it would be an improvement. Your faith in these mythical 3rd party statisticians is, however, somewhat comforting.

  33. BBD says:

    DY

    ATTP sez:

    Your ability to miss the point is still evident. I don’t think anyone argues that the uniform priors were the right ones to use. I do think, however, that the supposedly uninformed (if I’ve remembered the correct name) priors have their own issues. Maybe you should consider the statement “estimates that you may have liked” could be directed at many.

    And then there’s James Annan on why Nic Lewis is wrong (his words, not mine).

    For more, see the hallowed archives of this very blog.

  34. BBD,
    Thanks, objective priors, not uninformed priors.

  35. BBD says:

    And then there’s some more James Annan on why DY, sorry, NL is wrong.

  36. BBD says:

    So close to ‘uninformative’ that there could be seepage…

  37. Actually, it appears that “uninformative” was a term used to describe these priors.

  38. verytallguy says:

    DY

    We are getting better though and there are a lot more recent estimates on the low side than on the high side.

    Interesting. Could you send us a link to the literature survey which you used to reach this conclusion?

    I have two preconceptions
    – firstly that low estimates are all using the same methodology
    – secondly that other methodologies continue to be published but receive less publicity

    Your survey would be an excellent way of testing my preconceptions. It’s important to be self-sceptical!

  39. vtg,
    Some of the other ones, apparently, use unsuitable methods, well according to Nic Lewis, that is.

  40. BBD says:

    ATTP

    Actually, it appears that “uninformative” was a term used to describe these priors.

    What more can I say?

  41. verytallguy says:

    ATTP,

    interesting. A shame Nic didn’t provide a citation.

    But still, let’s see what DY’s literature survey showed. After all, he won’t have just been asserting something without evidence.

  42. Willard says:

    > You are the one who is bringing up people who I do not regard are credible.

    That shows a crucial function of the lukewarm brand: DY can throw under the bus just anyone but the usual suspects, whom Adam may not know. Recognizing secret handshakes takes time and practice. Incidentally, this is relevant to Mr. Pile’s tepid remarks underlined by DY.

  43. vtg,
    In a sense Nic has. If you look at his slides from the Ringberg meeting he does go through the various issues that he think apply to the other methods. Interestingly, none apply to his own and I’m not convinced that is quite correct. Certainly, I don’t think he can claim there is no influence from internal variability and, as we’ve already discussed, the issue of his choice of priors is relevant.

  44. skylanetc and Adam R telling it like it is.

    David Young is a concern t-roll who thinks because it is difficult to do fluid dynamics for aircraft simulations that this must translate to climate science. In fact, something like the dynamics of ENSO will likely end up being very simple to solve. That’s because scientists don’t listen to scolds who tell them they can’t figure out something because it is too h-a-a-a-rd (whiny voice).

  45. Willard says:

    Oh, and I point to this:

    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.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/lukewarmers-part-ii/#comment-56278

    And I point to this:

    We are getting better though and there are a lot more recent estimates on the low side than on the high side.

    That is all.

  46. Willard says:

    One of the founding fathers of the lukewarm church just issued an hypothesis that renders his faith more than tepid, but useless:

    It is my working hypothesis that if we ordered a list of adaptation and mitigation processes, the first 10 things we would do would be absolutely the same for each level of rise.

    https://thelukewarmersway.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/climate-questions-that-never-get-answered/

    His 94 other hypotheses are forthcoming soon.

    ***

    This change of faith has two crucial implications.

    First, the lukewarm gambit is irrelevant for near-future policies.

    Second, Matt King Coal and the Lomborg Collective misrepresent their credo.

    ***

    Does it mean one of the founding fathers of the lukewarm church is switching to honest brokerage?

    Stay tuned for yet another tepid episode of ClimateBall!

  47. BBD says:

    His 94 other hypotheses are forthcoming soon.

    I wonder which door he will try and nail the list to?

  48. Willard says:

    > I wonder which door he will try and nail the list to?

    As long as there’s an address attached to it, it comes with two free books.

    ***

    Reading back Brigitte’s post, I note that the newly discovered hypothesis may be needed to patch this inconvenience:

    in the end it’s a choice of what ‘as if’ position one adopts on climate change: ‘as if’ its mostly harmless or ‘as if’ its mostly harmful. Risk experts will probably be able to advise on what ‘as if’ is more or less risky, costly etc. in various types of scenarios and over various time-frames. Betting on ‘luck’ is probably not advisable.

    http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2015/05/14/lukewarmers/#comment-968762

    The move in response is a main step in the honest broker dance:

    it’s obvious that you haven’t been reading what Lukewarmers have written

    Groundskeeper has been using this move all morning:

    YOU MAKE THING UP

    I don’t need to make things up,
    you’ll do that for me.

    You couldn’t get through one comment
    without making things up.

    It’s not the computing velocity or power, but
    having to deal with the error messages your comments prompt.

    ***

    This trope is one notch below the “you make no sense” line. Unsubstantiated mystification to break channels and look like one has responded. As the RichardB episode revealed, contrarians are not alone in using such a cheap trick.

  49. dhogaza says:

    And the first respondent’s list starts out with “do nothing” as #1 … though another poster (fuller doesn’t attract many) comes up with a fairly reasonable list for a self-proclaimed libertarian.

    Though humorously that poster states:

    “1) The president goes on television and announced a goal of having 10% of the workforce telecommute”

    and

    “Why didn’t Obama announce a goal of 10% telecommuting on his first day in office? Why don’t we do it now?”

    Following up with:

    “Government is at its worst when it mandates specific solutions.”

    Such as … telecommuting? 🙂

    Fuller, like Mosher, has been working overtime in recent years to try to appear to be reasonable. In fact, his approach to “lukewarmerism” has all along matched well with the mainstream, When pinned down in the early lukewarmer days, he stated he believed that the best estimate of ECS is 2.5C per CO2 doubling, not significantly different than NASA GISS Model E’s 2.7C which presumably Gavin Schmidt has at least some faith in.

    I have always read “lukewarmerism” as being an attempt to discredit so-called mainstream views by focusing on strawman mischaracterizations of them. Lukewarmers call for sanity by rejecting the notion that ECS might be 6C, in a way that would lead the casual reader to believe that 6C represents some kind of mainstream view, while it clearly is an extreme outlier and appears to be held to be extremely unlikely by nearly all researchers in the field. “high sensitivity is mainstream alarmism, so abandon mainstream science and adopt the lukewarmer way”. Strawman at work.

    I also think that Fuller and Mosher’s lukewarmer faith is rooted to some extent in their personal dislike of several prominent climate scientists, as demonstrated by Mosher’s “Michael ‘Piltdown’ Mann” (oh, but it was just a joke!) and the book they collaborated on Climategate which, in their opinion, successfully trashed the personal reputation of the scientists who had their mail stolen.

    They both separate themselves from certain mainstream scientists based on character differences – which I can’t disagree with, though I do disagree with their interpretation of whose character is more noble …

  50. BBD says:

    As long as there’s an address attached to it, it comes with two free books.

    In which Willard makes me laugh out loud.

  51. Willard says:

    > Such as … telecommuting?

    Right on:

    Forgot to add mandatory telecommuting percentages, though. Almost Iowa brought that up at my blog.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/05/19/what-can-we-do-about-climate-change/#comment-704984

    Adding percentages may be how we distinguish those who do from those who don’t.

    Notice how, instead of facing the pragmatic inconsistency of the lukewarm brand, our dynamic duo turns it into a food fight.

  52. Notice how, instead of facing the pragmatic inconsistency of the lukewarm brand, our dynamic duo turn it into a food fight.

    There was certainly an element of “everyone’s been mean to us” 🙂

  53. Willard says:

    There’s no way our dynamic duo can respond to your symmetry argument, AT:

    There is an alternative way to frame this, though, which should be consistent. Let’s see if you agree. If the initial mitigation stages are the same for 2C as they are for 4C, then shouldn’t we start as if we’re mitigating for 4C? If they’re the same, it shouldn’t matter. If it turns out to be 4C, then we’re on the right track. If it turns out to be 2C, then it should be easier to make suitable changes later, than if it turns out to be 4C. Replace 4C and 2C, with high sensitivity and low sensitivity if you wish. Does that sound reasonable?

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/05/19/what-can-we-do-about-climate-change/#comment-704977

    Way better to rip one’s shirt or make it about me instead.

  54. BBD says:

    ATTP

    I see that Tom F is falsely claiming that he was a 2.5C ECS fan 😉

    It was 1.9C last time I checked.

    When challenged, Tom descended into abuse (I became a ‘troll’ for asking him to reference his claim) and outright evasion.

    I have all the links to back this up if necessary. Tom C is being mendacious at Judith’s.

  55. dhogaza says:

    I see that Fuller now claims his best estimate is 2.1C rather than 2.5C. I think that might be a reaction to people pointing out that 2.5C makes him a “warmist” rather than “lukewarmist” … 🙂 James Annan picks 2.5C as his most likely value, and is no “lukewarmist”, so I’m thinking Fuller needs to slide under that number in order to maintain his label …

    Of course, if you engage Fuller for long, you’ll find out that he wouldn’t recognize science if someone slapped him with a textbook upside the head, so his “best estimate” is meaningless. In his world, I think it is simply a number of convenience, a way to stake out his position midway between mainstream science and outright denialism.

  56. dhogaza says:

    For instance, the “league of 2.5C”:

    https://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/moving-the-debate-forward-tom-fullers-league-of-2-5/

    There were other places where TF stated that 2.5C was his best estimate (not simply a convenient planning target as he suggests now). The number itself isn’t particularly important, but the shift shines a light on the lukewarmer strategy, IMO.

  57. Jai Mitchell says:

    ATTP,

    though, just not here 🙂 . . .

    What if I told you that we will experience a +0.4C jump in globally averaged temperatures this year and that the El Nino driven atmospheric water vapor feedback event of 2015-2016 will be marked as the point of no return in later decades?

    What if I told you that ECS is actually 6C when arctic sea ice feedbacks are taken into account? That we will experience albedo-driven arctic May-Sept. temperature anomalies of 8C by 2025, when sea ice falls below 1,000 km^2 by Sept. 1st.

    What if I told you that the arbitrary 2C dangerous threshold limit was based on a gross misunderstanding of the compounding and cascading nature of aggregate impacts of climate change and that we have already embarked upon the 6th global extinction event in the world’s oceans?

    What if I told you that we are rapidly approaching a critical choicepoint where even the most aggressive, globally synchronous and altruistic efforts will not be enough to prevent total societal collapse and the deaths of 90% of humanity within the next 75 years?

  58. dhogaza says:

    BBD:

    “I see that Tom F is falsely claiming that he was a 2.5C ECS fan 😉

    It was 1.9C last time I checked.”

    He’s been all over the field with it, over time. As I mentioned above, he has never presented any reasonable science-based basis for picking one value over another.

    So in 2010, as I referenced above, he was in the 2.5C camp (IPCC “best estimate” 3C). 2012 and 1.9C hmmm that could’ve been a reaction to Nic Lewis or another paper that some argued should lower the “consensus” range? 2.1C today … no idea where that comes from.

    As I said above, I believe that he picks a number that places him above whackadoodle and below the mainstream view, in order to preserve the label “lukewarmer”.

  59. ligne says:

    in my more cynical moments, i might wonder whether “lukewarmer” just means “realises that the IPCC numbers are probably about right, but has too much invested in their position to say so”…

  60. Jai,
    You’d be largely preaching to the converted. I might argue for an ESS between 4C and 5C. I agree that the 2C limit is not a safe limit. I would be reluctant to agree with the last point, but I do agree that we’ve left things rather late and that (as various people have been pointing out) we’re in the shit, whether we like it or not. The question I ponder, though, is what approach will be most effective, not what approach might be more outspoken, but fail dismally.

  61. matt says:

    > “A lukewarmer is somebody who:
    1) Thinks that the probability of an ECS of 3 or less is greater than or equal to 50%; and
    2) The probability of and ECS less than 1 is less than 2.5% (my gloss on Mosher’s claim that climate sensitivity cannot be less than 1).”

    Im a little surprised TC and attp find Moshers definition reasonable. Not saying it isn’t but that is not the impression I get. Main point below, but first I think the range is too big to describe anything – “greater than or equal to 50%” includes a lot of ppl including those I would call deniers.

    As for “equal to 50%”, we are talking about the best estimate in the AR4 range (2-4.5). I have never gotten the impression by someone who self-labels as LW that they think there is a 50:50 chance of it being above a previous estimate of the IPCC.

  62. matt,
    If Mosher thinks that an ECS of around 3K is somewhere near the middle of the range (i.e., 2K – 4K or 1.5 – 3.5K, for example) then that seems reasonable.

  63. matt says:

    attp,

    Oops. Bedtime for me. I thought I read your comment but obviously didn’t.

    > “Yes, I agree that Mosher’s definition is reasonable. I’m just not sure why this would be described by a word such as “Lukewarmer”.”

    The 2nd part is what I was trying to say. Yes 2-4, 1.5-3.5 seems reasonable.

  64. Jai Mitchell says:

    The question I ponder, though, is what approach will be most effective, not what approach might be more outspoken, but fail dismally.

    —-

    you must watch this video

  65. BBD says:

    ATTP

    IIRC Steven originally wrote that he thinks ECS is 50% likely to be *less* than or equal to 3C, which isn’t the same as arguing that 3C is a mid-range estimate at all – is it?

  66. BBD,
    I don’t know. Maybe I’m giving too much benefit of the doubt, but anyone who argues that we should be considering an ECS of around 3K is not far off the IPCC/mainstream position.

  67. Jai Mitchell says:

    What if I told you that the delayed water vapor feedback response of 10 years due to the thermal inertia of the world’s oceans is being greatly assisted by the large volume of (temporary) anthropogenic aerosols. And, that these two factors are keeping current atmospheric forcing values at 1994 CO2e levels?

  68. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    Jai:

    What if I told you that we are rapidly approaching a critical choicepoint where even the most aggressive, globally synchronous and altruistic efforts will not be enough to prevent total societal collapse and the deaths of 90% of humanity within the next 75 years?

    Optimist.

    Personally, I’d give civilization-as-we-know-it until about 2035.

    The Four Horsemen:
    http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2008/09/17/impacts-on-the-threshold-of-abrupt-climate-changes/

    1) instability among marine ice sheets, particularly the West Antarctic ice sheet;

    2) positive feedback mechanisms in subarctic forests and arctic ecosystems, leading to rapid methane release or large-scale changes in the surface energy balance;

    3) destabilization of methane hydrates (vast deposits of methane gas caged in water ice), particularly in the Arctic Ocean; and

    4) feedback between biosphere and atmosphere that could lead to megadroughts.

    When our expertly-managed derivative-leveraged portfolios go down, they will go down fast.
    Assets will be ‘stranded’.
    Margins will become ‘thin’.
    Investor confidence will become ‘soft’.

    Head for high ground.
    Make sure you have access to fresh water.
    Stock up on food.
    And ammo.

    Meanwhile, let’s continue to deliberate over the wording of the small print that may or may not capture the true essence of lukewarm belief-states.

  69. Fuller is a salesman for his brand. You know what you do with salesmen? Ignore them. Did anybody ever buy something from the Fuller Brush Man when he came door-to-door? Only the gullible.

  70. Tom Curtis says:

    matt, Mosher’s definition of “lukewarmer” is a reasonable definition of the term because he, together with Tom Fuller invented the term, and they both appear to agree on that definition. Further, the most prominent participants in the blog debate on AGW who would normally described as “lukewarmers” do have positions that agree with that definition. That certainly includes Nic Lewis, Judith Curry, Lucia Liljegren and I believe (although he keeps his cards close to his chest) Steve McIntyre. It would also include most of the regular denizens at Lucia’s Blackboard and Climate Audit. Officially, I believe Anthony Watts subscribes to that view, but his posts on climate tend to be mutually inconsistent, so that sometimes he clearly argues for values (or positions that imply values) that would put him outside the lukewarmer community.

    Unfortunately there is a clear tendency by some to try and redefine “lukewarmer” to mean anybody who rejects ECS estimates consistent with the IPCC or higher, and who accepts that increased CO2 will have some warming effect, no matter how small. Thus they want to treat Lindzen as a lukewarmer despite his estimates that ECS is 0.7 (0.5-1.3 99% confidence interval).

  71. Willard says:

    The defining characteristics of a “Lukewarmer” have emerged over time and can best be described as follows. “Lukewarmers,” like “alarmists” and “warmers” believe that man’s activity of adding GHGs to the atmosphere will indeed warm the planet. However, they tend to attribute the warming seen to date to a variety of sourcesL GHGs, land use changes, Urban Heat Island, and natural variability. With regards to policy the “Lukewarmers” take the position that actions should be taken based on the certainty of the science. Perhaps most notably, the “Lukewarmers” focus much of their effort on getting access to scientific data and methods.

    That’s on p. 30 of Groundskeeper’s political hit job.

  72. Willard says:

    On the first page of Tony’s, John Nielsen-Gammon is still listed as being lukewarm. I asked him about that a while ago. His response:

    Neven – You must be referring to Watts’ blogroll. To answer the question properly, I need a definition. The first two google hits agree that the original definition is: one who thinks that the world is warmer than it would otherwise be due to anthropogenic gases, but doubts that the impact will be extreme. I agree with the first part, but take exception to the second. The word “extreme” is a bit fuzzy, so I’d put it this way: I think it likely that the eventual impact will be so severe as to reflect disgracefully upon the human race.

    There doesn’t seem to be a better category for me in Watts’ taxonomy, though. ‘Political Climate’? Definitely not. ‘Pro AGW Views’? No, I’m opposed to AGW. (Think about it.) ‘Skeptical Views’? In a normal world, yes, but the word ‘skeptic’ has become loaded with other meanings. Surprisingly, ‘Tools’ would be most apt, but only MIT graduates would know why. – John N-G

    http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2011/05/something-for-everyone-fall-et-al-2011/#comment-1120

    That was 2011. NG’s still listed in that category. We’re in 2015.

    Tony’s might be a place where there are the most Pro-AGW commenters.

  73. Willard says:

    Reminiscing:

    The original definition had to do with attributing a portion of GW to Humans.

    less than 50% was lukewarmer.

    http://judithcurry.com/2013/07/30/denier-blogs/#comment-355736

  74. Willard says:

    Lord Turnbull to the rescue:

    I recently came across this essay, written by Lord Turnbull, that was published by the GWPF. This is a 20 page booklet with 12 pages of main text. IMO this is the best essay that I’ve seen, that is most likely to make someone that is “convinced” to say “hmmm……” and think about it. I would characterize this essay as making the lukewarmer argument. I don’t recall ever seeing a thorough exposition of the lukewarmer position?

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/06/01/making-the-lukewarmer-case/

    The essay is over there:

    http://www.thegwpf.org/images/stories/gwpf-reports/lord-turnbull.pdf

    Those who were convinced they knew about the lukewarm gambit might begin to say “hmmm”.

  75. Willard says:

    In the comment thread of the post I just cited, there’s this comment where the emphasized bit contradicts both Mr. Pile and Junior:

    Lukewarmer ( hey I’m a founding member) was first coined on climate Audit.
    There were two core beliefs we held about the SCIENCE.

    1. IR opaque gases in the atmosphere lead to a warmer planet. That is, an atmosphere with, say, twice the C02 will be warmer than one with half the C02. Most of the initial members of the group are engineers or former engineers who understand the physics of radiative transfer.

    2. The key question of climate science is how sensitive is the long term temperature average ( one climate metric) to the doubling of C02.

    Our belief in radiative physics separates us from those in the Sky Dragon camp and from people who believe that GHGs have nothing to do with the temperature of the planet. We see them as flouting basic physics known to work. They are anti scientific. I cant think of a better word. This is measured working physics.

    The second question is one that we believe can divide the debate into 3 rough groups. The IPCC puts a range of sensitivity between 1.5C and and 6C for a doubling of C02. We see a skeptical camp falling anywhere below ~1C. They are skeptical of the accepted science. You might class Lindzen and Spencer in this group. We dont see them as being anti scientific. They fall outside the mainstream, but they are dedicated to doing science.

    Lukewarmers fall anywhere between 1C and 3C. They believe that the real sensitivity will fall below the mean value of the IPCC (~3C). For reference, ModelE has a sensitivity of 2.7C. Those who believe that the real sensitivity lies above 3 ( say hansen, perhaps) we call them warmers. Lukewarmers are within the mainstream of climate science.

    Policy: There really isnt any consolidated lukewarmer position on policy. Why? well, because science doesnt determine policy. Science can inform policy, but my belief that sensitivity lies between 1.5C and 3C has no logical connection to what I think we SHOULD do. is verus ought. As a Lukewarmer, I’d argue that we really should not have an accepted policy position. We’ve expressed on a few occasions that we support a policy of no regrets. Simply, those actions we would do regardless of the truth of AGW. For example, we tend to support nuclear.

    Of course I realize that the first Lukewarmers have no control over what other people who use the term mean by it. So, I’m just recounting some of our initial thinking. Lukewarmer is a description of a position about the science. GHGs cause warming. Sensitivity is more likely to be less than 3C than it is to be greater than 3C. If you accept those two, you’re a lukewarmer.

    The other thing we all agreed on was the first credo for Lukerwarmers
    Free the data; free the code; open the debate.

    By open the debate I mean this. There IS a debate in climate science. That debate is about sensitivity. If you accept #1 ( see above) you can join the debate.

    The nice thing about the lukewarmer position is that you really don’t need to have a position on tangential issues like the Hockey stick or the ice free arctic or any other number of distractions. It’s all about the sensitivity.

    It also contradicts Groundskeeper’s definition in his political hit job.

    ***

    Even when the data is free, like in my case with blog comments, processing and archiving it is non-trivial.

  76. Willard says:

    And of course Marlowe won that thread:

    Given an over under I pick 3. Having said that I think that you hit the nail on the head when you say “worrying that the value could be as high as 6C, is not a reason for taking the over bet. It might be a thing to consider for policy.

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/06/01/making-the-lukewarmer-case/#comment-73031

    The first emphasis is mine. While I don’t think it’s correct to portray this as a bet (we might never know in due time the real CS), if given a choice, I would pick the bank’s role. The banks have a good score against betters over the years. Of course I’d make sure martingales are forbidden:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martingale_%28betting_system%29

    The second emphasis is Marlowe’s. As seen above, I disagree with it. I just don’t see a reason why I’d consider some such number for policy. There’s thousands of other ways to justify what we ought to do, but public health, security, and reinsurance should be enough.

  77. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    N-G nails it.

    Tom C. –

    N-G nails it. Mosher’s definition might be reasonable, but there is no actual definition. People use the term to mean whatever they want, basically. There are infinite definitions. Look at how Fuller defines the term to elevate his self-identification, for example.

    IMO, the most consistent attribute of how the term is used is that it is leveraged for justifying the mischaracterization of innocuous science as “alarmist.”

    The term is completely unnecessary from a science perspective. Why is a label needed to describe a mathematical calculation of probilities? Particularly, when most of the people who self-identify with the term can’t actually do the technical steps necessary to derive an evidenced-based determination of sensitiviy? The term is used to signal “who I am,” not “what I know”: “I am a sensible person,who is persecuted for trying prevent children from starving in Africa. I am a victim.”

    And the “who I am,” is actually more realistically (since there is no consistent deginition) “who I am not”: “I am not a crank and I am not an “alarmist.”

  78. Willard says:

    Once upon a time, when all was well and good, every rational entity in the world was lukewarm:

    You don’t understand.
    You can’t even decide to be out.
    This would be rational.
    You can’t rationally decide to be irrational.

    Only the Pope decides:

    If I choose to divide the world into 3 classes: wacked out alarmists. Wacked out skeptics; and the sane middle ground, you dont get to challenge my classification. You simply dont get to challenge it. And in the end you will see that 97% of people are in the middle, as I define it.

    http://rankexploits.com/musings/2013/on-the-consensus/#comment-113304

    Enjoy your baptism,

    http://judithcurry.com/2013/05/19/mainstreaming-ecs-2-c/#comment-323766

    Bart R asked to be cast away as a nut. The Pope did not grant his wish.

  79. Willard says:

    As an aside, a small cameo about Judy’s conception of the Charney report:

    > It will be very interesting indeed to see if the IPCC budges from the 2-4.5 C range that has remained unchanged since the 1979 Charney report.

    We estimate the most probable global warming for a doubling of CO2 to be near 3 C with a probable error of 1.5 C.

    http://www.atmos.ucla.edu/~brianpm/download/charney_report.pdf

    INTEGRITY ™ — No Need for Quotes

    Conceptions are even more important without reading harder.

  80. dhogaza says:

    Willard says:

    “I asked him about that a while ago. His response:

    Neven – You must be referring to Watts’ blogroll…”

    Willard is Neven is Willard????

  81. Willard says:

    > Willard is Neven is Willard????

    Good question. I emailed NG in March 2012, and he cited this response to Neven’s question.

  82. dhogaza says:

    Ah, OK. I could care less, but of all the people in the world who Wilard might actually be, Neven would be very low on my list of possibilities … 🙂

  83. It’s important to remember that impacts of our CO2 emissions also include ocean acidification, which has been correlated with mass extinctions. Ocean acidification happens regardless of the exact values the real ECS, ESS, and TCR happen to be.

    As I’ve explained, the Sky Dragon Slayers’ silly belief that climate sensitivity is exactly 0.0°C contradicts centuries of physics and even the existence of blankets. They’re the only ones who should oppose the reasonable risk avoidance suggested by Republicans Art Laffer and Bob Inglis:

    And even the Sky Dragon Slayers should worry about ocean acidification because that doesn’t depend on climate sensitivity at all.

    It’s time for lukewarmers to decide whether they want to share the legacy of the Sky Dragon Slayers.

  84. Willard says:

    A thread on the lukewarm gambit can’t be complete without something about the tail:

    Lets see I I can clarify for Eli since I’m somewhat of the father of Lukewarmerism.

    Origins: The position First got its name back on climate audit where bender was taking a poll about the following; How much warming that we see is due to humans. There were roughly three positions;
    None: less than 50%, more than 50% and the majority of us were in the middle. A) the world is getting warmer. B) C02 warms the planet.
    C) less than 50% of observed warming is due to humans. The position was named Lukewarmer.

    Later, Lucia picked up the term and she was looking at projected trend from GCMs. The IPCC was saying .2C per decade. Observations were tracking at about .15C per decade. So, this seemed a better number to put as the basis of our beliefs. The models run hot, we think that we will see less than .2C per decade.. because that is what the data shows.

    Later I cast the definition in terms of basic physics and sensitivity.

    A) since we believe in radiative theory we are committed to a sensitivity value of NO LESS THAN 1.2C per double.
    B) Since we think the models run hot at 3.2C per doubling…

    We conclude. There is a greater than 50% probability that the true
    sensitivity values lies between 1.2C and 3C. That is, given an over/under bet of 3C.. we take the under bet.

    You are welcomed to look at the CDF of the IPCC sensitivity PDF.

    That is our science position. Its the ONLY position we all agree on.

    Policy? Well Tom has suggested that we can agree to base policy on 2.5C. I’ve said we can base policy on 3C. Bottom line WE TAKE NO POLICY POSITION. Now, this position which I’ve laid out manytimes has been systematically misrepresented by Robert, by BBD, you name it. Lets just repeat for the record what I’ve said consitently

    Lukewarmers stand for: Free data; Free code; Open debate
    On the science: radiative physics is correct. There is Greater than
    50% chance that sensitivity falls below 3C rather than above 3C.

    A lukewarmer could choose to be concerned about the high tail.
    THAT is a risk/policy choice. Not science. Lukewarmers are free to promote any or no policy. Science is one thing, what we choose to do about the risk is something different.

    http://judithcurry.com/2012/09/18/skeptics-make-your-best-case-part-ii/#comment-241497

  85. Tom Curtis says:

    Willard @10:21 I think Mosher’s comments as quoted were intended as parody, and do not reflect his actual opinions.

    Joshua, I don’t think it makes any substantial difference as a description if you describe the situation as one in which a term has a clear meaning which is ignored as a matter of rhetoric by many of its users, or we describe the term as having no clear meaning. However, if we accept the former description, which certainly has justification in the writings of Mosher (who has a very reasonable claim to have invented the term), it effects our descriptions in certain other areas.

    For instance, it then becomes the case that the IPCC reports take a lukewarmer position on climate change. As the opponents of effective mitigation of AGW have built up a rhetoric about the lukewarmer position being very reasonable, even the most reasonable, that makes it difficult for them to reject the IPCC and shows them to be indulging in inaccurate rhetoric in calling the IPCC “alarmist”. It also means that if we emphasize the “not below 1C” part of the definition, people who want to identify themselves as lukewarmer will have greater difficulty treating the Nigel Lawsons, Bob Carters and Richard Lindzens of the world as adopting a rational view. Finally, it also makes it clear that the most archetypal “lukewarmers” are mostly distinguished by there far greater, indeed, dogmatic uncertainty relative to the IPCC. Lukewarmers like Nic Lewis and Judith Curry are in the unusual situation of both looking at far less evidence than does the IPCC in drawing their conclusions, but in being far more certain of those conclusions. That dose of dogmatism is not driven by science.

  86. Willard says:

    So this was the thread where David Smith was mentioned:

    In any case, I believe the name of David Smith (a “voice of reason”, if Judy remembers what some old students told her) should be mentioned:

    > Personally, I’m a “lukewarmer”, in that I believe that manmade CO2 makes the world warmer than it would otherwise be, but whether that effect is big or small, or important or not, is unknown to everyone. My suspicion is that the CO2 impact is small and not particularly important, but I keep reading and asking questions, in the hope of learning whether my suspicion is valid or not.

    http://climateaudit.org/2006/10/08/currys-comments-on-klotzbach/#comment-66275

    http://judithcurry.com/2012/09/18/skeptics-make-your-best-case-part-ii/#comment-242983

    So we have Dick as the tepid God, David Smith as the first archangel, then Moshpit.

    There was also something like a wiki on CA at the time, I believe, but it’s now lost. Perhaps there were additional details there.

  87. Willard says:

    > I think Mosher’s comments as quoted were intended as parody, and do not reflect his actual opinions.

    You’re right. It doen’t reflect his opinion, but it reflects the branding effort. If I may quote myself from the thread I’m glad to have found back:

    A simpler explanation of lukewarmism (of which Moshpit only gets the trademark, a trademark he borrowed I believe, if I read CA correctly, since the Pope [or First Pope, or God] of lukewarmism is Dick) is this one:

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

    Basically, the strategy is this one:

    1. Portray your opponents as alarmists.

    2. Present yourself as the rationally optimistic middle ground.

    In politics, this is the Overton window:

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

    Marketing gurus know this.

    INTEGRITY ™ – It’s what we sell

    http://judithcurry.com/2012/09/18/skeptics-make-your-best-case-part-ii/#comment-241688

    Branding is seldom about content.

  88. matt says:

    tom,

    I agree totally with the 2nd para of your 11:30 which is why I think the definition is no good (forget reasonable).

    > “it then becomes the case that the IPCC reports take a lukewarmer position on climate change… and shows them to be indulging in inaccurate rhetoric in calling the IPCC “alarmist””

    indeed

    > “Lukewarmers like… Judith Curry are in the unusual situation of both looking at far less evidence than does the IPCC in drawing their conclusions, but in being far more certain of those conclusions.”

    funny that this is true given all her uncertainty rhetoric

  89. matt says:

    willard,

    thanks for those posts esp on moshers original definition

  90. jai mitchell says:

    ATTP,

    I just caught this: sorry for the delay.

    you said, ” I might argue for an ESS between 4C and 5C”

    I said, “ECS is actually 6C when arctic sea ice feedbacks are taken into account”

    you are sorely mistaken if you think that we wont experience <1,000 km^2 of arctic sea ice by June 21 under 2XCO2 forcing. This means an additional globally averaged albedo feedback of about 0.23 watts per meter squared for each 1,000 km^2 (may be as high as 0.3 but I low-estimate) The 1970-1980 mean of ice for June 21 is about 11,000 KM^2 so this ice free state is equivalent to about 2.3 watts per meter squared globally averaged forcing feedbacks compared to pre-industrial.

    Add that to the 3.7 of 2XCO2 and you get 6.0 Watts per meter squared without other feedbacks This calculation neglects the reduction of oceanic Dimethyl Sulfide production which is projected to yield (median) +0.3 C of warming feedback, as well as other feedbacks such as carbon cycle, frozen soils and far-infrared emissivity reductions and increased arctic algae blooms causing further albedo effects.

    not to mention northern hemisphere snow-cover anomalies.

    since our best estimate so far is 0.6C of globally averaged warming for each 1.0 Watt per meter squared that is 3.6C of warming just for CO2, WV/Lapse Rate and Arctic sea ice. Add the 0.4 DMS feedback, emissivity and algae bloom effects and you end up with 4.3C as a baseline response.

    Then you can add cloud feedbacks, snow cover albedo effects, frozen soil effects and carbon-cycle effects.

    as you can see the 6.0C ECS is a low-end estimate. This is why we will have to engage in geoengineering activities, including dimming and CO2 atmospheric extraction.

  91. Pingback: Making Science Public » Lukewarmers

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