Greenland and climate science denial

There is beautiful interactive New York Times article called Greenland is melting away. In the spirit of climate science denial, the Global Warming Policy Forum has promoted a couple of other articles on Greenland, with the title Greenland blowing away all records for ice gain (H/T Stephen Marshall, who contacted me to point this out.).

They show the figure below, which appears to show a substantial increase in ice mass. What they do not highlight very well is that it comes from here, which says

Over the year, it snows more than it melts, but calving of icebergs also adds to the total mass budget of the ice sheet. Satellite observations over the last decade show that the ice sheet is not in balance. The calving loss is greater than the gain from surface mass balance, and Greenland is losing mass at about 200 Gt/yr.

In other words, the figure shown by the GWPF only shows the surface mass balance, and doesn’t include mass loss via calving. Overall, Greenland has typically been losing > 100 Gt/yr.

Credit : DMI

Credit : DMI

fig3.3-tedesco_smlFor completeness, it’s probably worth at least mentioning this NOAA Greenland report, which indicates that the 12 months ending June 2014 saw a loss of only 6Gt. However, the previous 12 months saw a loss of 474 Gt, and the figure on the left shows that typical losses – for the last decade or so – have been in the 100 Gt/yr range.

So, this brings me to a problem that I think I face. Richard Betts wrote a guest post a while ago about labelling the behaviour, not the person. This was largely motivated, I think, by people complaining about being called climate science deniers, or being associated with climate science denial. The problem, though, is that some seen to continue associating with science denial. The GWPF, for example, continue to promote this kind of nonsense. In fact, one of the posts they’re highlighting is by someone who is – IMO – undisputably a climate science denier. According to this, Matt Ridley has praised the article that we criticised here (I have asked Matt Ridley on Twitter if this is true; he hasn’t responded). The article is a gish-gallop of science denial. I had a discussion on Twitter with someone who was rather put out when I pointed out that much of their views on science (climate science in particular) appeared to be coming from science denial sites.

So, as far as I can tell, the complaints about the use of climate science denier are mainly coming from people who want to associate with science denial, but to do so without criticism. Well, tough. If you don’t like people pointing out the association, stop doing it. If you think it’s right, own it. You can’t have it both ways. I also have a suggestion for a possible social science project. Search the internet, and other media, and find all occasions when someone associates climate science denial, or climate science denier, with the Holocaust. Then determine the ratio of those who are complaining about its use, to those who are actively using it.

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288 Responses to Greenland and climate science denial

  1. There’s a good article about mass balance here.

  2. jsam says:

    You just can’t get good academic advisors these days. Right, Richard?

  3. Steve Marshall says:

    I’m with Stephen Fry when somebody says that they are offended http://youtu.be/zqPcjm-X5GQ.

    However, I suppose it is all about whether the individual is sufficiently open to argument that they will change their opinion or not, if somebody will never change whatever the evidence, then why not offend them?

    I have been called a climate sucker, alarmist, conspirator and warmist and I do take great umbrage at those that aren’t true because they damage my ability to convince the undecided. Likewise deniers don’t like to be dubbed denier because it reduces their ability to do the same. So I think that it is important to call a denier a denier because that is what he is and it is a waste of time trying to convince him otherwise. Effort is better spent on convincing the undecided and keeping those who accept the evidence informed particularly if they hold political power.

  4. Maybe what Stephen Fry says at the end of that youtube clip should become the standard response to anyone who complains about the use of climate science denier, or climate science denial: “so f**king what?”

  5. I guess the GWPF haven’t realised that the higher Greenland temperatures become, generally speaking, the heavier any snow falls are likely to be (because warmer air can hold more moisture) [ http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2015/jul/14/global-warming-is-causing-rain-to-melt-the-greenland-ice-sheet ].

    So the increase in ice mass due to snowfall is as much a proof of global warming, as any increase in ice loss due to melting. But of course they aren’t interested in the whole story, just in feeding the denial in their readers.

  6. elmer says:

    You know that ice calves when there’s too much of it right? Calving is the opposite of melting.

  7. elmer,
    I’m not sure what your point is. The point here is that the overall mass balance is set by all the processes. Greenland is losing mass.

  8. Jim Eager says:

    Ah, so that’s why the calving line of Jakobshavn has been retreating for over a century, right Elmer?

    Stupid that burns. Offended by that Elmer? So f**king what?

  9. Joshua says:

    ==> “I have been called a climate sucker, alarmist, conspirator and warmist and I do take great umbrage at those that aren’t true because they damage my ability to convince the undecided. Likewise deniers don’t like to be dubbed denier because it reduces their ability to do the same. So I think that it is important to call a denier a denier because that is what he is and it is a waste of time trying to convince him otherwise. Effort is better spent on convincing the undecided and keeping those who accept the evidence informed particularly if they hold political power.”

    My guess is that you have no evidence that calling someone a “denier” has much impact on “the undecided” has some net effect. I doubt that calling someone a “denier’ has much impact either way, but to the extent that it might I would guess roughly equal amounts of “the undecided” by pushed in opposite directions.

    My opinion is that for the most part the “offense” taken by the name-calling, on both sides, amounts to professional victimization. As Anders suggests in the OP, my guess is that for very “skeptic” who claims great offense at being called a “denier” there are probably hundreds that in the end are cynically exploiting the real problem of holocaust denial to score identity-oriented points in the climate wars. But even there, IMO, “realists” are kidding themselves if they think that using the term “denier” is either significantly effective or really, anything other than player-hating.

  10. But even there, IMO, “realists” are kidding themselves if they think that using the term “denier” is either significantly effective or really, anything other than player-hating.

    I doubt that it’s effective. Similarly, I doubt that not using it has much effect either. My problem is more with the idea of not using terminology that is a reasonable descriptor of what people are doing.

    I will add that I do still distinguish between calling someone a climate science denier, and discussing the existence of climate science deniers. I also think that there is a difference between pointing out that someone/some organisation is explicitly associating with science denial and actually labelling them as a climate science denier.

  11. izen says:

    The accumulation rate of snow in ice-cores makes it clear that we should be expecting the Greenland and Antarctic ice-caps to be accumulating mass.
    The past dynamics of ic-caps derived from cores and radar scans –

    Shows the pattern of ice cap growth is fasted just after the big melt in the transition from the peak glacial to the warm interstadial. As temperatures fall accumulation decreases because the atmosphere carries less moisture, so less snowfall. But claving and ablation losses decrease at a greater rate so the ice-caps continue to grow at a slowing rate as the warm inter-glacial period cools back down. Accumulation is slowest at the lowest, peak glacial conditions when the ice-caps reach the largest extent, covering much of the N hemisphere continents.

    After the loss of more than half the ice that had accumulated during the ice age before the big melt that started the Holocene, the Greenland ice-cap is around half snowfall that has accumulated in the last ~7000 years of warmer temperatures. Both the Antarctic and Greenland ice-caps MUST have been growing during the Holocene because a significant thickness of the existing icecaps is the result of snowfall during the Holocene.

    That Greenland is now in negative mass balance, and the Antarctic at best showing a falling accumulation rate at this point in an inter-glacial period would seem unprecedented in the paleoclimate history. Will the Holocene leave any remnant ice cap layers for future ice-core borers to analyse in another 100k yrs ?

  12. Joshua says:

    ==> “My problem is more with the idea of not using terminology that is a reasonable descriptor of what people are doing.”

    Words have different connotations. I don’t really think that it’s accurate because you can’t get into someone’s head to know if they’re “in denial” – and that is often the connotation intended and intepreted. Yes, you can say that some are “denying” facts, but there is also built in subjectivity there; for example, if someone doesn’t know about evidence that runs counter to their views, are they “denying” that evidence?. “Skeptics” likewise often justify the use of polemics (like alarmist) by saying that they’re “accurate.”

    ==> “I will add that I do still distinguish between calling someone a climate science denier, and discussing the existence of climate science denier”

    Sure. There are, I would say, some measure of people who knowingly reject any evidence that runs contrary to their views, for political or financial aims. It is meaningful to recognize that they are part of the spectrum. But on the other hand, using what are typically perceived as polemics has another function – to label and player hate.

  13. izen says:

    In my thankfully limited experience online of Holocaust deniers I have found that when faced with the strong motivating force of the anti-semitism at the heart of German national-socialism, and the large amount of historical data that provides evidence of the holocaust, they will claim that it is at least over-exaggerated, and most probably a conspiracy by ‘powerful groups’ to advance special interests inimical to personally held ideological views.

    The unpleasant irony is that they often seem to hold the same views that led to the Holocaust, and while denying that it actually happened as history reports, are clearly in favour of such an approach and would apparently be defending such actions if they had actually happened…?!

    No comparison to climate change denial should be made, the inherent attitudes are clearly very different.

  14. BBD says:

    ATTP

    My problem is more with the idea of not using terminology that is a reasonable descriptor of what people are doing.

    Exactly what I said the very first time this came up on your blog. Joshua objected in a woolly sort of way then as now, to equally little effect.

  15. BBD says:

    ATTP

    You might recall that I was arguing that allowing contrarians to hijack the language was a poor strategy. Some water under the bridge since then, so I hope you can see what I was driving at now.

  16. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “My problem is more with the idea of not using terminology that is a reasonable descriptor of what people are doing.”

    I know that some argue that it is “allowing “skeptics” to determine how words are used” but if using the term has no significant beneficial effect, what is the “problem” in not using the term? That “skeptics” gain a meaningless victory? Because it’s demoralizing to see the other team do a touchdown dance when they score a TD that has no effect on the ultimate outcome of the game?

  17. Words have different connotations. I don’t really think that it’s accurate because you can’t get into someone’s head to know if they’re “in denial”

    Yes, but that’s why I think it is reasonable to discuss the existence of climate science deniers and to point out that some are basing their views on climate science denial, because neither specifically points to the motivations of an individual.

    “Skeptics” likewise often justify the use of polemics (like alarmist) by saying that they’re “accurate.”

    Except I don’t hugely care and I think you see far less complaining about the use of alarmist than you do about the use of climate science denier. As I’ve said before, either ignore it if the person doing the labelling is wrong, change your behaviour if they have a point and you don’t like it, or own it.

  18. Joshua says:

    I see that as I was writing that last comment, BBD posted on what I was getting at…

    In what way was my objection”wolly?”

  19. I know that some argue that it is “allowing “skeptics” to determine how words are used” but if using the term has no significant beneficial effect, what is the “problem” in not using the term?

    Simply because sometimes you need to use words to describe something. My point isn’t that using, or not using, this terminology will gain something specific. However, since it seems to do little either way, then why not use what seems to be the best descriptor. If not this terminology, what else?

  20. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “Yes, but that’s why I think it is reasonable to discuss the existence of climate science deniers and to point out that some are basing their views on climate science denial, because neither specifically points to the motivations of an individual.”

    I get the distinction that you’re making, but I think it’s unrealistic to expect, certainly at this point, that many people will recognize and consider salient your distinction between calling someone a “denier” and saying that their views are based on climate science denial. Who is it that you think will really consider that distinction as salient? Most people engaged are already entrenched. Among those who aren’t, my guess is that the distinction you’re making would be lost.

    To be clear, I’m not saying that using the term, even in the fashion you describe, has some significant negative impact. I’m certainly not saying that it justifies the professional victimhood that is so ubiquitous among “skeptics” (and other combatants in similar identity-related struggles).

  21. I think it’s unrealistic to expect, certainly at this point, that many people will recognize and consider salient your distinction between calling someone a “denier” and saying that their views are based on climate science denial.

    Oh, sure, I agree. I think my main point is that I don’t really care. This isn’t about dialogue, but simply about how things are described. On the other hand, if I do want to have some kind of dialogue with another individual who I knew did not like that terminology, then I wouldn’t use it. However, simply avoiding some general terminology because some people might complain, isn’t a good reason for doing so.

  22. Joshua says:

    ==> “Simply because sometimes you need to use words to describe something. My point isn’t that using, or not using, this terminology will gain something specific. However, since it seems to do little either way, then why not use what seems to be the best descriptor. If not this terminology, what else?”

    The purpose of using words is to communicate. The choice of words should be considered in the context of whether they lead to effective communication. Why is it the “best” descriptor? Does it achieve some desired goal better than other terms?

    Certainly, we could think of other terms that would, perhaps, be better in some ways even if they don’t capture the polemical connotation that is associated with “denier” (whether you intend it as a general term or to apply to an individual or not, whether you intend it as a polemic or not)….

    What would be lost from simply describing this group as people who “are less concerned about ACO2 emissions because they consider the scientific views expressed by an outlier group in the expert community to be more valid, even if they can’t actually understand the science?” Obviously, that terminology is unwieldy and impractical…finding good terms is a problem here.

    I’m not saying that you should or shouldn’t use any particular term. I’m saying that people should check their assumptions about the effect of using various terms, and consider that they’re using terms that have widespread polemical connotations, whether intended that way or not.

  23. The purpose of using words is to communicate. The choice of words should be considered in the context of whether they lead to effective communication. Why is it the “best” descriptor? Does it achieve some desired goal better than other terms?

    Sure, this is true. Is it the “best” descriptor? In some circumstances (i.e., when someone appears to be suggesting that CO2 plays no role, for example) I think it probably is. You could use “disputes mainstream science”, or something like that too, I guess. On the other hand, the response to using it might indicate that it does have some kind of impact.

  24. BBD says:

    In what way was my objection”wolly?”

    Pointless, wordy, irrelevant. Denial is denial and the rest of us reserve the right to use the term as and when applicable. You can suit yourself, but that’s as far as it goes.

  25. BBD says:

    finding good terms is a problem here.

    No, it isn’t. We have the correct term to hand.

  26. Joshua says:

    ==> “Oh, sure, I agree. I think my main point is that I don’t really care.”

    Sure. My point isn’t that you should care whether or not a “skeptic” expresses faux “outrage, outrage I say.” about being “compared to a holocaust denier.” I don’t care about that either. In fact, I find it pretty amusing – especially because so many of them term right around and use the term “denier” themselves, along with a long list of other pejoratives.

    ==>.” However, simply avoiding some general terminology because some people might complain, isn’t a good reason for doing so.”

    Hmm. There’s a lot there I wonder about. I think it’s often advisable to adjust terminology based on whether someone takes offense. Your qualifiers of “simply,” and “general” and “some people” leave a lot of room for variation and need for context. So I’m not sure how useful it is for understanding this particular context.

    I’m not concerned about the faux outrage expressed by “skeptics” about the use of the term (I suppose for some small minority it isn’t faux) because I don’t want to hurt their feelings. I do think, however, that at some point to gain any progress (short of the unlikely event of short term climate change having such an ambiguous effect on a large # of people’s day-to-day lives that no further discussion is necessary) a non-polemical engagement where people are seeking synergy between interests would be more productive. I’m framing this from a basic conflict resolution perspective.

  27. Joshua says:

    ==> “Denial is denial and the rest of us reserve the right to use the term as and when applicable. You can suit yourself, but that’s as far as it goes.”

    I’m not telling you what term you should use. If you think “denier” suits your purpose, have at it. It’s for you to decide what your purpose is and what terminology suits your purpose, not mine.

  28. Joshua says:

    meant “unambiguous” above…

    ==> “On the other hand, the response to using it might indicate that it does have some kind of impact.”

    What kind of impact? MO, the response indicates nothing new. The response is just more in an endless list of examples where justify their professional victimhood. Sameosameo.

  29. Hmm. There’s a lot there I wonder about. I think it’s often advisable to adjust terminology based on whether someone takes offense.

    The simply was intentional. Changing terminology only because some people might take offense is a poor reason for doing so. On the other hand, changing it because it has other conotations may well be a good reason. I presume this is why many who object to denier/denial make the association with the Holocaust; it allows them to appear to make a stronger argument than simply them being offended. There are two reasons I think this is wrong. One is because it’s mostly nonsense; these are words with fairly precise definitions that don’t include the Holocaust. The other is that I think it is them using an appalling event to try and score some kind of point.

  30. The response is just more in an endless list of examples where justify their professional victimhood. Sameosameo.

    Of course, but that they don’t like the terminology probably says something.

  31. BBD says:

    ATTP is correct. They don’t like it because on some level they know it is true. Hence the whining.

  32. BBD makes a point that’s related to something I’ve often wondered. Why are there so many people who claim not to be climate science deniers, who so strongly object to its use in general? It’s one thing to object to being labelled personally, but why object to the more general use of a particular label, if you think that it doesn’t apply to you?

  33. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Ok. I’ll stop cluttering up the thread after this.

    ==> “Changing terminology only because some people might take offense is a poor reason for doing so.”

    Not always. It depends on the context. For example, the objective: If the larger goal is undermined by an insistence of using a term, and simply dropping the term will advance that larger goal, then it might make sense to drop the term (depending on what is lost in doing so).

    I don’t think that dropping the term “denier” will change the approach of “skeptics” (in general) one iota. However, I do think that ultimately, to achieve progress, “stakeholder dialog” process will be needed. (Until such time as there really is no ambiguity in the signal to noise ratio of anthropogenically cause climate change within a day-to-day framework).

  34. Joshua says:

    Ok, one more…

    ==> “It’s one thing to object to being labelled personally, but why object to the more general use of a particular label, if you think that it doesn’t apply to you?”

    Because they’re seeking victimhood.

  35. Joshua says:

    I suppose my 4:34 doesn’t fall under the category of “simply.”….

  36. ‘Those in denial’, ‘fake/pseudo skeptics’, or whoever, will continue to object to any labelling that accurately describes their activities. Just like they’ll continue to use labelling to describe ‘our side’ that is erroneous and as offensive as they can make it.

  37. Not always. It depends on the context. For example, the objective: If the larger goal is undermined by an insistence of using a term, and simply dropping the term will advance that larger goal, then it might make sense to drop the term

    Yes, but then you wouldn’t be doing it only because some people might object. In this particular case, I’m unconvinced that we achieve anything by dropping the term. I might be wrong.

    Because they’re seeking victimhood.

    Yes, precisely.

  38. I suppose my 4:34 doesn’t fall under the category of “simply.”….

    Sorry, I missed that you’d already noticed 🙂

  39. BBD says:

    Joshua

    However, I do think that ultimately, to achieve progress, “stakeholder dialog” process will be needed.

    You can’t have a dialogue with the deniers. Mercifully, progress isn’t contingent on doing so. The purpose of this exercise for the most part is to provide a counter to the blaring misinformation pumped out by the other lot. It is a public information service of sorts, not a ‘debate’.

  40. Mal Adapted says:

    OP:

    So, as far as I can tell, the complaints about the use of climate science denier are mainly coming from people who want to associate with science denial, but to do so without criticism. Well, tough. If you don’t like people pointing out the association, stop doing it. If you think it’s right, own it. You can’t have it both ways.

    Admirable clarity 8^D!

    ATTP, replying to Joshua:

    But even there, IMO, “realists” are kidding themselves if they think that using the term “denier” is either significantly effective or really, anything other than player-hating.

    I doubt that it’s effective. Similarly, I doubt that not using it has much effect either. My problem is more with the idea of not using terminology that is a reasonable descriptor of what people are doing.

    I’m with Anders regarding “denier” as terminology. I’ll repeat myself: AGW-denial is denial in the psychological sense, “in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.”

    A psychotherapist may say her clients are in denial if they insist they’re not addicted to tobacco, prescription painkillers or fatty snacks. It means her cigarette-smoking, pill-popping or obese clients are fooling themselves. She might not use the term in their hearing, at least not early in their therapeutic relationship, because people are commonly offended by the suggestion that they’re fooling themselves, and that’s often counter-productive to the goal of therapy. Nevertheless, we know the addict won’t be free of his addiction until he stops fooling himself and accepts responsibility for it.

    Now, I Am Not A Psychotherapist (for which everyone should be profoundly grateful), and when I use “denial” and “denier” in the context of climate science, I have two purposes:

    1) Empirical: It’s concisely descriptive of the lopsided majority of soi-disant “skeptics”, who simply seek to evade responsibility for the external costs of the prosperity they’ve purchased with “cheap” fossil energy. The basics of the consensus case for AGW are easy to understand, and merely ignorant bystanders can find credible information sources at the click of a button. Anyone who actively rejects the consensus of working climate scientists is either in denial, that is, they are fooling themselves; or else they are trying to fool you.

    2) Rhetorical: If an AGW-denier is offended by the label, good! It may not change the outspoken AGW-denier’s mind, but it may help lurkers understand that AGW-denial isn’t respectable. Even confirmed AGW-deniers may become more reticent about it. In turn, dialing down the AGW-denier noise may allow the climate-science signal to be heard by undecided but well-meaning voters. Regardless, I presume even Joshua will acknowledge that “player-hating” has been shown to be effective in American politics. If he doesn’t, he’s either not paying attention, or he’s fooling himself.

  41. BBD says:

    To round off:

    For example, the objective: If the larger goal is undermined by an insistence of using a term, and simply dropping the term will advance that larger goal, then it might make sense to drop the term

    Since the most useful thing to emerge from the climate ‘debate’ is awareness in the public mind of what denialism is and what it does, then calling it by name is essential. That is another part of the reason why deniers hate being called deniers. They don’t want the public to be aware of the real nature of what they are doing.

  42. Carl says:

    Yes, Greenland ice loss is indeed slowing down now. In a year or two we will see this also regarding Greenland:

    Latest science from NASA shows Antarctica is gaining ice now: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/igsoc/jog/pre-prints/content-ings_jog_15j071

  43. Carl,

    Yes, Greenland ice loss is indeed slowing down now. In a year or two we will see this also regarding Greenland:

    Hmmm, you sound remarkably certain. Funny how some people completely reject projections based on complex, physics-based models, while others will make strong statements of what will happen based on hand-waving.

    You should probably read this. In particular

    “We’re essentially in agreement with other studies that show an increase in ice discharge in the Antarctic Peninsula and the Thwaites and Pine Island region of West Antarctica,” said Jay Zwally, a glaciologist with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

    “Our main disagreement is for East Antarctica and the interior of West Antarctica … there, we see an ice gain that exceeds the losses in the other areas…..
    …..
    “If the losses of the Antarctic Peninsula and parts of West Antarctica continue to increase at the same rate they’ve been increasing for the last two decades, the losses will catch up with the long-term gain in East Antarctica in 20 or 30 years, I don’t think there will be enough snowfall increase to offset these losses,” Zwally said.

  44. Actually, there is an interesting issue regarding the possibility that Antarctica isn’t contributing to sea level rise. As the article I linked to above says

    “The good news is that Antarctica is not currently contributing to sea level rise, but is taking 0.23 millimeters per year away,” Zwally said. “But this is also bad news. If the 0.27 millimeters per year of sea level rise attributed to Antarctica in the IPCC report is not really coming from Antarctica, there must be some other contribution to sea level rise that is not accounted for.”

    So, either the slr measurements are wrong, or the recent Antarctic results are wrong, or the oceans are absorbing more energy than we think (unlikely), or some other land ice is melting faster than we currently think.

  45. BBD says:

    Carl

    During the Eemian interglacial (~130 – 115ka), which was only ~1C – 2C warmer than the present, MSL was ~6m higher than the present. Probable contributions were about 2m from Greenland, 3m from the WAIS and 1m from the EAIS.

    When it gets warmer, the ice melts. Fact!

  46. When it gets warmer, the ice melts.

    Yes, this seems pretty self-evident.

  47. BBD says:

    ATTP

    Cryosat data show accelerated Antarctic ice loss: McMillan et al. (2014)

  48. BBD,
    Thanks. I can’t seem to find the Zwally paper that suggests otherwise.

  49. Okay, here is the Zwally et al. (2015) paper.

  50. Okay, Zwally et al. (2015) says

    Gains of 136 Gt a–1 in East Antarctica (EA) and 72 Gt a–1 in four drainage systems (WA2) in West Antarctic (WA) exceed losses of 97 Gt a–1 from three coastal drainage systems (WA1) and 29 Gt a–1 from the Antarctic Peninsula (AP).

    McMillan et al. (2014) says

    Between 2010 and 2013, West Antarctica, East Antarctica, and the Antarctic Peninsula changed in mass by −134 ± 27, −3 ± 36, and −23 ± 18 Gt yr−1, respectively.

    So, the Antarctic Peninsula values seem similar, but the rest seem quite different.

  51. Willard says:

    > Yes, Greenland […] Antarctica

    Yes, but Antarctica.

  52. Mal Adapted says:

    The disagreement between McMillan et al. (2014) and Zwally et al. (2015) clearly shows there’s no “party line” in climate science ;^).

  53. BBD says:

    ATTP

    Sorry about dropping out there – Halloween just hit in the form of ~400 children hammering on the door.

    Very quickly, and from the article about the Zwally study you linked a few comments back, it looks as though it’s different instruments and different periods:

    The study [Zwally 15] analyzed changes in the surface height of the Antarctic ice sheet measured by radar altimeters on two European Space Agency European Remote Sensing (ERS) satellites, spanning from 1992 to 2001, and by the laser altimeter on NASA’s Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) from 2003 to 2008.

    IIRC, Cryosat flies better instruments capable of improved measurement accuracy than previous satellites. I think the really interesting/odd thing about Zwally’s results is what you quoted earlier:

    The good news is that Antarctica is not currently contributing to sea level rise, but is taking 0.23 millimeters per year away,” Zwally said. “But this is also bad news. If the 0.27 millimeters per year of sea level rise attributed to Antarctica in the IPCC report is not really coming from Antarctica, there must be some other contribution to sea level rise that is not accounted for.

    Or perhaps there are measurement / reanalysis errors.

  54. Magma says:

    I’ve been slightly skeptical of the last two years of Grace data as that mission enters its final years of mission life with some degraded or failed components. For Greenland, at the very least I’d like to see corroborating evidence from other platforms or measurement types indicating abrupt changes from long-term trends of snowfall and snow/ice retention/loss.

    My default position is to expect relatively steady long-term changes in annual continental or sub-continental-scale datasets (with noise) unless there are demonstrable reasons to argue otherwise. If there are, fine.

  55. Willard says:

    > Search the internet, and other media, and find all occasions when someone associates climate sciece denial, or climate science denier, with the Holocaust.

    It would be more interesting to study its uses. I suspect lots of Yes, but the D word.

  56. Magma says:

    Following the link from the GWPF webpage to the DMI Greenland Ice Sheet page, I couldn’t help but notice this:
    Here you can follow the daily surface mass balance on the Greenland Ice Sheet. The snow and ice model from one of DMI’s climate models is driven every six hours with snowfall, sunlight and other parameters from a research weather model for Greenland, Hirlam-Newsnow.

    Yes, you read that correctly. The deniers are actually relying on a regional climate model here.

  57. BBD says:

    @ Willard

    Yes, but Antarctica.

    A meme is born.

  58. Michael 2 says:

    Denier: I don’t much care what I am called although it can matter if it is a person whose opinion I value. If all y’all want to do is call me names; well, I survived childhood despite plenty of that sort of thing.

    I could use a word for a person that is interested, but neither denies nor affirms anyone’s complete set of claims, but rather accepts, doubts or denies each of the many thousands of specific claims, building his own set of acceptances gradually.

    My word for such a person is “wise”.

  59. sidd says:

    Zwally uses Icesat and ERS, period ends in 2008. McMillan uses Cryosat, 2010-2013.

  60. Joseph says:

    I think some might be in denial and some just don’t understand the science well enough (and probably don’t want to) so they believe whatever some person in a “skeptical” forum has to say about the issue. For them, I think, the actual science done is less important than the interpretation of that science by others. I say this because I understand how little I really know about the current research except in general terms and that understanding coming from what I learn in various forums.not from the actual papers. So there is room for skepticism that I have no way of stopping because of that lack of knowledge. Although, I do trust what is told to me by what I consider reliable sources.

  61. > If all y’all want to do is call me names; well, I survived childhood despite plenty of that sort of thing.

    Circumlocutions may work the same way as namecalling.

    You kids get off my lawn!

  62. Sidd,
    I missed that, thanks. Does that potentially explain the difference? Seems a rather large change in quite a short time interval.

  63. Richard says:

    I agree with Richard Betts that labelling the behaviour is better than labelling the man (and sadly for my sex, it usually is a man), so let’s do some labelling …

    If someone presents data on the rate of snow accumulating on Greenland and not the nett change is mass of Greenland, to give the impression at the planet is not warming and sea-levels are not going to rise, I call that:

    “Intellectual dishonesty”

    And if I see someone getting affronted by the possibly ill-judged denier label, I call that:

    “Self-righteous indignation”

    For those like Matt Ridley who like to present themselves as Public Intellectuals, it is of course a much worse label (of their behaviour) to cite them for intellectual dishonesty than being a ‘denier’.

    The ‘denier’ label puzzles me. In normal English usage, denier is used in the following way “Jim is in denial about his gambling … Mary is in denial about her drinking …” etc. Even the UK’s Chancellor uses the label for “deficit deniers”. No hint of the holocaust in either common usage or fiscal usage!

    Jim and Mary intellectually know they have problems. Emotionally they find excuses for diminishing the magnitude of their problem. “Jim, do you gamble too much?”, and Jim’s response is, “Sometimes I do, I like a little flutter, but I am controlling it”. He lied, emotionally to himself and others at that point. “Mary do you drink too much?” and she replies “I like a tipple, wha’s wrong with that? … sometimes I over do it, but I am in control”. She ain’t, trust me.

    The so-called global warming ‘deniers’ appear not to understand we have a problem.

    They don’t secretly curl up at night with a copy of Nature Climate Change or a book entitled “Partial Differential Equations for Beginners” to sate their secret desire for knowledge so that during the day they can present themselves as illiterates.

    They are not conflicted between intellectual knowledge and emotional angst – the essential angst at the heart of denial in its normal usage.

    No, they are some combination of arrogant, ignorant and angry, and so the intellectual and emotional positions are 100% aligned (albeit in an erroneous direction) in not being curious enough to actually do the work needed to get an education. Or, maybe, too lazy.

    That is not ‘denial’. It requires a different label, to reflect the demonstrable behaviour:

    “Obdurate ignorance”

    coupled with the even more annoying …

    “Self-satisfied smug indifference to the plight of the world”

  64. That’s a bit too cryptic, for me at least.

  65. BBD says:

    ATTP

    Sidd,
    I missed that, thanks.

    Then that’s my fault – I thought I’d pointed to that but looking back, I was not clear enough:

    it looks as though it’s different instruments and different periods:

  66. Willard says:

    > That’s a bit too cryptic

    “Intellectual dishonesty” does not refer to behavior.

    In “self-righteous indignation,” the first part does not refer to behavior.

    “Emotionally they find excuses” goes beyond behavior.

    “Appear not to understand” is a cognitive hypothesis.

    “To sate their secret desire for knowledge” is also psychological.

    “[T]he essential angst at the heart of denial” is almost psychoanalytic.

    “Arrogant, ignorant and angry” does not refer to behavior.

    “Not being curious enough” and “too lazy” are more than behavioral descriptors.

    “Obdurate ignorance” contains two concepts that are not behavioral.

    “Self-satisfied smug indifference to the plight of the world” is not a behavior either.

    ***

    Editorial psychology can be read in contrarian outlets zillion times a day.

  67. Okay, I see what you’re getting at.

  68. Carl says:

    BBD: “When it gets warmer, the ice melts. Fact!”

    “Warming” produced by adjusting the data will not melt any ice. That’s also a fact 🙂

  69. Carl,
    There are sites that welcome such conspiracy-like thinking. This is not one of them.

  70. Joshua says:

    ==> “2) Rhetorical: If an AGW-denier is offended by the label, good! It may not change the outspoken AGW-denier’s mind, but it may help lurkers understand that AGW-denial isn’t respectable. Even confirmed AGW-deniers may become more reticent about it. In turn, dialing down the AGW-denier noise may allow the climate-science signal to be heard by undecided but well-meaning voters. Regardless, I presume even Joshua will acknowledge that “player-hating” has been shown to be effective in American politics. If he doesn’t, he’s either not paying attention, or he’s fooling himself.”

    (1) Not sure how you’d prove that player hating has been effective. Say the civil rights movement, What has brought about (limited) success? Peaceful marches over bridges while women and children get clubbed? Calling Bull Conner racist? Maybe some measure of both? How do we measure? What are you measuring? Outcomes? Anger on part of those labeled? Feeling of satisfaction on the part of those labeling?

    (2) Not sure that we can generalize from one situation to another.

    What evidence do you use to determine that calling people “deniers’ has had some differential benefit. You say:

    ==> “It may not change the outspoken AGW-denier’s mind, but it may help lurkers understand that AGW-denial isn’t respectable.”

    It may. Or it may not. It may tend towards “lurkers” judging those who use the term negatively rather than have the intended effect. It may lead those who are lurking but lean towards identifying (ideologically, politically, culturally) with those being labeled to go in the opposite direction than you intend.

    I doubt that it has much, if any effect, on how people view climate change, and I’m even more doubtful that the net effect is of any meaning value, policy-wise. The name-calling is a by-product of deeper mechanisms in play, not a proxy measure for outcomes.

    It is clear to me that it predominately comes across as polemic and name-calling, despite the intended effect. Such behavior, suggest to me, identity-protective cognition, of the sort that we see ubiquitously in the climate wars and countless other politicized issues. As such, I think that people tend to benefit from the use of “denier” in a similar way as how people benefit from name-calling in other contexts: use of the term helps to draw lines between “us” and “them.” It seems to me that people justify its use based on a theorized effect without (1) integrating into the theory, possible counter-effects, (2) grounding their confidence in their theory, by gathering and testing evidence,(3) reaching for justifications that don’t match the rationale that it’s effective – such as “well, it’s accurate,” or “well, we can’t let them define language.”

    People on-line call me all sorts of names, fully convinced that they are merely describing me accurately. But they’re often wrong. And I know that underneath, their name-calling is based in tribalism. Surely, you’ve had similar experiences?

    ==> “Even confirmed AGW-deniers may become more reticent about it.”

    Is that speculation based on evidence? What you say could be true: Some “skeptics” have shifted somewhat from, “AGW is a trace gas” or “AGW is a hoax” to “No one doubts that ACO2 affects the climate, they only disagreement is over the magnitude of the effect.” It does seem that over time the proportion of “skeptics”‘ who say the latter as opposed to the former has increased. Maybe that is because they’ve been called “denier.”

    But from what I’ve seen, “skeptics” see being called “denier” as all that much more reason to engage at the “us” vs. “them” level. IMO, there is opportunity cost when that happens. Of course, that (“skeptic”-effect) is different than the possible lurker-effect that you described – but I think that confidence in either effect should be evidence-based.

  71. Carl says:

    How can a fact be part of conspiracy-like thinking? IF the warming is the result of adjustments then obviously it cannot melt anything. Let’s leave it there and see whether the future will bring some melting..

  72. Carl,
    Because the warming is almost certainly NOT the result of adjustments. We have multiple lines of evidence for warming, including surface temperature measurements, ocean heat content measurements, sea level rise, reductions in land ice mass, reductions in sea ice mass, cooling of the stratosphere,…..

  73. BBD says:

    Joshua

    The name-calling

    You insist that it is name calling. Others simply that it is correct English usage.

  74. BBD says:

    IMO, there is opportunity cost when that happens.

    IMO the potential for dialogue with deniers is negligible and so your argument is specious.

  75. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    It’s true that we have a different perspective on that. As I see it, it’s a pejorative term, with a pejorative intent. It’s not different than “alarmist” or the long list of names that “skeptics” use in a similar, pejorative fashion, which they justify as “correct English usage.”

    Language takes its meaning in a communicative context.

  76. BBD says:

    If you have something useful to contribute, Richard, I will be happy as ever to read your comment.

  77. BBD says:

    which they justify as “correct English usage.

    But they are demonstrably wrong, so this is false equivalence.

  78. Joshua says:

    ==> “IMO the potential for dialogue with deniers is negligible and so your argument is specious.”

    I think there is opportunity cost in that sameosamo will not lead towards stakeholder dialogue. There are contexts where stakeholders with oppositional “positions” can have constructive dialogue to explore common “interests.” Again, that is a basic tent of conflict resolution. I think that haggling with “skeptics” over “positions” will produce nothing useful, but that there is potential for useful outcome through exploring “interests.” To the extent that sameosamo is not moving towards stakeholder dialogue, then I think there is an opportunity cost. In lieu of stakeholder dialogue, I little prospect of meaningful policies. I don’t think that the name-calling makes anything worse, it just doesn’t produce anything different.

  79. BBD,
    I don’t think Richard’s comment was aimed at you.

  80. BBD says:

    ATTP / Richard

    Then I misspoke and apologise.

  81. BBD says:

    I don’t share your belief that stakeholder dialogue is possible with deniers, Joshua. Therefore I maintain that your argument is specious. And the evidence is overwhelmingly on my side, I’m afraid.

  82. RickA says:

    I agree 100% with Joshua. Name calling is all about de-humanizing your opponent. Calling someone a denier is name calling and is very tribal.

    It is also inaccurate.

    If you think I am wrong – then call me wrong.

    Don’t call me names – which makes you look like a 3rd grader.

  83. BBD says:

    And this is also going way, way too far:

    In lieu of stakeholder dialogue, I little prospect of meaningful policies.

    While I fully agree that denialism and vested interest have inhibited evolution and implementation of climate policy they have not and will not prevent it from emerging.

  84. BBD says:

    Your problem, RickA, is that you peddle nonsense (I’m reporting conversations ongoing elsewhere, mods). When you do that and fail – despite correction – to alter your position, you demonstrate that you are denying evidence. And I can say that as a matter of fact, without pejorative intent. It’s just accurate, fair and true.

  85. Kevin O'Neill says:

    RickA, what then do you call a group of people that collectively dismiss science?

    Science-wrongists?

    Meaningless drivel.

  86. RickA,

    Name calling is all about de-humanizing your opponent. Calling someone a denier is name calling and is very tribal.

    When it comes to individuals, then this may be true. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do so, but once you’ve done so it would typically mean that any dialogue is over. Some people may well deserve it too.

    Of course, as others are pointing out, how do you describe a group of people who deny/dispute some mainstream, well-accepted science, like climate science?

  87. Joshua says:

    ==> “…how do you describe a group of people who deny/dispute some mainstream, well-accepted science, like climate science?”

    Towards what effect?

  88. Joshua,

    Towards what effect?

    Simply because sometimes it seems necessary to describe things?

  89. Joshua says:

    But you have a choice to simply describe using a pejorative or using a non-pejorative. The desired effect is to communicate something to someone. Does the choice affect the communication act?

  90. Joshua,
    Sure, and that may well be the best option at times. On the other hand, it’s only really pejorative because some people have been trying hard to argue that it is. In it’s simplest form it simply means to deny something.

  91. Joshua,
    Something else that I was trying to get at in the post is that if some people find the association offensive, why don’t they try harder to avoid associating. For example, why would Matt Ridley email the author of an article that is a gish gallop of science denial and praise the article? He may not have done this, but if he did, why would he do it?

  92. BBD says:

    Joshua

    The deniers do not want the public to understand that what they are doing is science denial so they have striven mightily to stop you and I from using the correct term. You are assisting them in this endeavour, which is counter-productive. Yet you insist on telling everyone else that they are doing it wrong and your way is best. It might not be.

  93. Joshua says:

    I have a hard time seeing how “denier” could be anything but pejorative. All the definitions have a pejorative connotation.

  94. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> ” He may not have done this, but if he did, why would he do it?”

    I am not one to explain the logic of a “skeptic.” I see the same logical disconnect as you see. I think that the “offense” taken to the term is mostly faux, and cynical exploitation.

  95. I have a hard time seeing how “denier” could be anything but pejorative. All the definitions have a pejorative connotation.

    But then the word should be used by noone. Even you know that this is not the case.

  96. BBD says:

    Joshua

    The deniers are trying to deny you the right to express accurately what they are doing. And not only are you complying, you are trying to tell others to comply too. This is counter-productive.

    And when it is pointed out to you, you blank it, which is also counter-productive.

  97. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    =>> “The deniers do not want the public to understand that what they are doing is science denial…”

    The question is whether calling them a “denier” will change ANY of that.

    =>> “…so they have striven mightily to stop you and I from using the correct term. ”

    Look at Anders’ logic. If they really wanted an end to the use of the term, they would act differently. As far as I can tell, they are more than happy to have another excuse for their professional victimization.

    ==> “You are assisting them in this endeavour, which is counter-productive. ”

    Don’t overestimate my impact as an anonymous blog troll.

    ==> “Yet you insist on telling everyone else that they are doing it wrong …”

    Do what you want. I will continue to question its effectiveness. Actually I think you are much more prone to drawing definitive conclusions and prescribing what should and shouldn’t be done.

  98. BBD says:

    The question is whether calling them a “denier” will change ANY of that.

    How can raising public awareness of science denial fail to help? It is by doing this that the deniers will eventually be marginalised and rendered ineffectual.

    You might be wrong about many other things too.

  99. Michael 2 says:

    BBD writes “IMO the potential for dialogue with deniers is negligible and so your argument is specious.”

    Would you rather:

    1. Ping agreements back and forth among sycophants — “you are so right!” “What you said!” hoping that someone will say something so y’all can agree with it. This is the purpose of Facebook.

    2. Argue across a divide such that you are compelled to think carefully about what you think you know so that you can express it. Since it didn’t work the first fifteen times you tried you work on a new approach for your 16th attempt.

    In that process you check your sources and citations, show your homework, and in the end it doesn’t really matter if you changed anyone’s mind — you have changed *yours*, or more particularly, you changed the way you approach *science*, because some of it is, and some of it is not.

  100. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “But then the word should be used by noone. Even you know that this is not the case.”

    You judge its use by the effect it has on communication in context. Describing holocaust denial has a pejorative connotation. That doesn’t mean that you don’t describe the phenomenon of holocaust denial. Same with racism.

    What is the desired effect, IN CONTEXT, you obtain from referencing holocaust denial (accepting that you aren’t using it in reference to an individual)?

    The vast majority of people you’re communicating with are already well aware of the dynamics you are referring to. What are you achieving, differentially, with t those who aren’t, from using a pejorative?

  101. Joshua,
    Are you actually suggesting that using “climate science denier” automatically makes an association with the Holocaust. I disagree if you are. The main reason I know of this link is because of those who make the association while complaining about the use of “denier”. I realise that some have made the link, but that doesn’t mean – IMO – that everyone who does so is making that association. I’m certainly not.

  102. Joshua says:

    ==> “How can raising public awareness of science denial fail to help?”

    Kind of hard to answer that structure of a question. So I’ll answer that question with another question. What evidence do you have of using the pejorative option to advance a specific goal?

    I think that your construct of “raising public awareness” lacks depth. What is the differential effect in public awareness from using the pejorative? You’re obviously entitled to speculate, and I get the logic of your speculation. But I think there are obvious counterargument.

  103. BBD says:

    What evidence do you have of using the pejorative option to advance a specific goal?

    Your framing, not mine. It’s accurate use of language. Accurate use of language conveys the actuality of the situation to the general public effectively.

  104. Joshua says:

    ==> ” It’s accurate use of language. Accurate use of language conveys the actuality of the situation to the general public effectively.”

    I’m a descriptivist. I think that the meaning of a word takes shape in context, as a communicative act. Thus:

    ==> “Accurate use of language conveys the actuality of the situation to the general public effectively.”

    stands unsupported, IMO. Anyway, I’m clearly spinning my wheels here.

  105. BBD says:

    Anyway, I’m clearly spinning my wheels here.

    I love the way you imply that you are correct and the other party impervious to you superior reasoning. It’s surprising, given your evident facility in debate, that you cannot see how the deniers are playing you.

  106. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “Are you actually suggesting that using “climate science denier” automatically makes an association with the Holocaust.”

    ???? No, of course not. I must have phrased something poorly. I’ve said many times that I see that association as the product of cynical exploitation of the actual problem of holocaust denial, by “skeptics” to score cheap points in the climate wars. As a Jew, I’m particularly aware of just how specious the association is.

  107. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    ==> “I love the way you imply that you are correct and the other party impervious to you superior reasoning.”

    That wasn’t what I was “implying.” I was implying that I obviously wasn’t communicating my views very effectively. I don’t know the reason.

  108. Joshua,
    Okay, I think I see what you were getting at.

  109. Joshua says:

    ==> “I’m clearly spinning my wheels here.”

    IOW, witness the disconnect between what I’m trying to communicate and Anders’ belief that I might be saying that the connection between calling someone a “climate denier” is (at least automatically) associates them with holocaust deniers. What’s the reason?

    Ultimately, I think that successful communication is the responsibility of the “speaker” – certainly when someone is engaging in good faith (as I think that Andrers does)… If he reaches such a misunderstanding, ultimately, it is my responsibility (which, ironically, goes back to the root of the larger discussion taking place).

  110. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Actually, I found the problem:

    This…“What is the desired effect, IN CONTEXT, you obtain from referencing holocaust denial (accepting that you aren’t using it in reference to an individual)?”

    should have been

    “What is the desired effect, IN CONTEXT, you obtain from referencing holocaust denial climate science denial (accepting that you aren’t using it in reference to an individual)?

    Indeed, the responsibility WAS mine.

  111. BBD says:

    ==> “Accurate use of language conveys the actuality of the situation to the general public effectively.”

    stands unsupported, IMO.

    Oh come on. Consider the converse:

    “Inaccurate use of language conveys the actuality of the situation to the general public effectively.”

  112. Joshua,
    Ahh, yes, that was indeed the issue.

    To answer your question. I don’t know. The desired effect is to simply point out what something appears to be: “science denial”. I guess one could use some kind of different descriptor, but sometimes it just seems more appropriate to simply say what it is.

  113. Willard says:

    > Don’t call me names – which makes you look like a 3rd grader.

    Never call anyone names, kiddos.

  114. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    I was speaking in context. What does “denier” communicate more effectively than [what other term], to whom? What is the effect that you’re measuring, and how are you measuring it?

    Look (in my best Obama imitation)…I don’t buy the argument that a lack of progress in shifting public opinion proves that practices such as using “denier” has been counter-effective. I think that those who claim “offense” at the term, in the main, are professional victims. They start out with a sense of victimhood and read any configuration of tea leaves to confirm that bias. So saying that use of the term pushes “skeptics” to be “skeptics” stands unsupported, IMO. On the other hand, committed “realists” aren’t getting anything new conveyed to them by the use of the term, IMO.

    So that leaves the “lurkers.” I see no evidence that “lurkers” are significantly affected by the use of “denier” as compared to a non-pejorative term. I can see the logic in speculating that some might be “informed” by the use of the term about valid interpretation of the science, but I doubt that there is much of such an effect. Do you really think that someone who isn’t already aligned on the issue of climate change will look at you or Anders or ??? using the term “denier” and then say, “Well, ok, XYZ called them deniers [as opposed to skeptic or some other non-pejorative], therefore I think that ACO2 emissions are a problem?”

    I’m not trying to create a straw man there. Honestly, So explain to me the causal mechanism you see taking place, in some depth.

    And I am speculating that there is probably a counterbalancing effect (those lurkers who are identified politically, ideologically, and socially with “skeptics” will align in an “us” vs. “them” more strongly when pejoratives are used to describe those they’re aligned with).

  115. BBD says:

    You are still insisting that describing science denial as science denial is pejorative. I disagree. It is informative and helps the public to understand who is – and who is not – acting in good faith.

  116. BBD says:

    Honestly, So explain to me the causal mechanism you see taking place, in some depth.

    I have explained it but clearly I’m spinning my wheels here.

  117. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “but sometimes it just seems more appropriate to simply say what it is.”

    There are different ways to say what it is. Some are pejorative and some aren’t.

    I look at the climate wars and I see a lot of pejoratives that just roll off the tongue. Why is that so frequently the choices as compared to many alternatives? My impression is that there is a recursive process in place, a closed loop. And I don’t think that it’s coincidental to the association between identity-protective cognition and cultural cognition.

    I had a discussion the other day at Judith’s with someone who was defending the use of “alarmist.” He said (as a “skeptic”) that he would have no problem with being called an “alarmist” on the issue of energy supply problems with renewables. Really? He wouldn’t mind being analogized to a “chicken little,” or a “scare-monger?” or a “doomster,” or a :”Cassandra?” It’s as if he simply weren’t aware of the pejorative connotation of “alarmist,” as opposed to “someone who is alarmed.” Hmmm.

    I think that the use of pejoratives probably does serve a purpose, otherwise it wouldn’t happen so frequently. So then the question is what is the purpose being served?

  118. Joshua says:

    ==> “I have explained it but clearly I’m spinning my wheels here.”

    Bingo!

  119. Joshua,
    One thing to bear in mind is that I don’t hugely care how a group of people for whom I have little respect might describe/label me. I don’t have to define myself on the basis of how some people might see me. Similarly, I think that few who regard climate change as presenting a risk particularly care how they are described by those who frequent Bishop-Hill, WUWT, Climate etc,…. You don’t see many complaining about “alarmist”, for example. You do, however, regularly see some complaining about “denier”. So, it does serve one purpose; it seems to annoy some people. Strangely, it seems to annoy people who then deny being one.

    I guess, though, that your argument is that there might be a term that could be used and that might be more effective at influencing lurkers/undecides (or, not negatively influencing them). Possibly, but I really don’t know what is more effective and so would rather simply say what I think that pretend that I know what terminology might be more effective at influencing some group who are possibly sitting on the fence.

  120. Joshua says:

    ==> “You are still insisting that describing science denial as science denial is pejorative. ”

    “Denier” has a pejorative connotation – particularly in this context.

    There are (relatively) non-pejorative ways to describe someone who rejects mainstream science in favor of a minority of expert opinion. There are (relatively) non-pejorative ways of describing someone who thinks that they can weigh in on a very complex scientific matter even though they lack the requisite skills and background knowledge. There are (relatively) non-pejorative ways to describe the process by which someone formulates beliefs in a manner so as to confirm biases.

    And I would argue that there are other ways to convey that information that is no less substantive or informative. IMO, the selective of a term that has a pejorative connotation serves a purpose. So then, the question is whether that choice has a positive, negative, or neutral effect. My main point here is that I question the assertion that it has a positive effect.

  121. Willard says:

    > Name calling is all about de-humanizing your opponent.

    If we put this idea with the other one about 3rd grader, it implies 3rd graders are de-humanizing their opponents. Which is not true of all name-calling: 3rd graders sometimes don’t do that to de-humanize others. Also, denial does not apply very well to non-humans.

    It might be more accurate to say that namecalling is about social norms:

    There are three main canonical theories of conformity: socialization, social identity and rational choice. Since all these theories make testable statements about conforming behavior, they should be evaluated in light of a large body of experimental evidence on whether and how normative beliefs affect behavior. Such evidence, however, shows that all three theories are deficient; their definitions of what is a norm are too rigid and limited to account for the rich landscape of norm-induced behavior. Alternative views take a different approach, considering norms as clusters of self-fulfilling expectations (Schelling 1966). Such expectations result in behavior that reinforces them, but a crucial element in sustaining the norm is the presence of conditional preferences for conformity. Only the joint presence of a conditional preference for conformity and the belief that other people will conform will produce an agreement between normative beliefs and behavior (Bicchieri 2006)

    Since the norms that are interesting to study are those that emerge without planning or design from individuals’ interactions (Schelling 1978), one important theoretical task is to analyze the conditions under which such norms come into being. Because norms are so often meant to represent a solution to the problem of attaining and maintaining social order, and social order requires cooperation, the main focus of studies trying to model the emergence and dynamics of norms has focused on norms of cooperation. Norms of honesty, loyalty, reciprocity and promise keeping, to name but a few cooperative norms, are crucial to the smooth functioning of social groups. One hypothesis is that they emerge in small, close-knit groups in which people have ongoing interactions with each other (Hardin 1982, Bicchieri 1993). Evolutionary game theory makes possible a more rigorous statement of this hypothesis, since repeated games are a useful if simplistic approximation of life in a close-knit group (Axelrod 1984, 1986; Skyrms 1996; Gintis 2000).

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/social-norms/

    This works for other predicates than the D word. All the shenanigans about being or not a scientist, having or no INTEGRITY ™, being worthy or not of conversation or credibility create, maintain and reinforce social norms about expected behaviors. Humans work like that since language is born. Language may have emerged from the need to preserve the conditions for us to cooperate.

    Anyway. I need to go.

  122. izen says:

    The only time when it is worth considering using the term ‘denier’ is if it is against someone who will climb to the moral high ground and proclaim their victimhood at being compared to a (horrors!) ‘Holocaust denier’. Then its use is of some educational value.

    If you are willing to ignore extensive historical data and a deep understanding of the forces causing the behavior of a system that is the collective consensus of human understanding, then you deserve the comparison and I welcome those who raise the objection for the accurate insight into what they are doing.

    It is best to get an explicit statement of denial on record first of course.
    Just think how foolish one would look if they turned out to accept that CO2 causes AGW.
    And were just arguing about the price!

  123. BBD says:

    My main point here is that I question the assertion that it has a positive effect.

    But you will not acknowledge that allowing the deniers to deny you the right to use language accurately is a negative as it allows them to engage in science denial but forbids anyone from informing the public that it *is* science denial.

    That’s the game they are playing and which you are enabling by your insistence that we all do as you say.

  124. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “One thing to bear in mind is that I don’t hugely care how a group of people for whom I have little respect might describe/label me. I don’t have to define myself on the basis of how some people might see me. Similarly, I think that few who regard climate change as presenting a risk particularly care how they are described by those who frequent Bishop-Hill, WUWT, Climate etc,…. You don’t see many complaining about “alarmist”, for example. You do, however, regularly see some complaining about “denier”. So, it does serve one purpose; it seems to annoy some people. Strangely, it seems to annoy people who then deny being one.”

    I get all of that. I agree with all of it. I take what you wrote that as background points of agreement. What’s frustrating is that it seem that I have to keep repeating that I agree with all of that, because apparently, something that I’ve argued seems to suggest otherwise. That’s what I meant about wheel-spinning.

    ==> “I guess, though, that your argument is that there might be a term that could be used and that might be more effective at influencing lurkers/undecides (or, not negatively influencing them). Possibly, but I really don’t know what is more effective and so would rather simply say what I think that pretend that I know what terminology might be more effective at influencing some group who are possibly sitting on the fence.”

    My disagreement is less with that than with the contention that the choice of the pejorative has some material benefit.

  125. BBD says:

    My disagreement is less with that than with the contention that the choice of the pejorative has some material benefit.

    The problem is that you refuse to acknowledge that you have been played.

  126. Willard says:

    > [Y]ou will not acknowledge that allowing the deniers to deny you the right to use language accurately

    That’s the old “but I’m only accurately describing” excuse, BBD.

    Suppose I tell you that you’re a sociopath, and point out that your speech patterns strongly indicate the dark triad. Do you think I’m only using the language accurately? In the context of ClimateBall ™, I doubt that I would only be describing. The same apply to my usage of “excuse,” of course.

    The excuse falters on the observation that the descriptor functions as an argument.

  127. BBD says:

    Willard

    Suppose I tell you that you’re a sociopath, and point out that your speech patterns strongly indicate the dark triad. Do you think I’m only using the language accurately?

    If you were correct to make this observation then you would be using language accurately. So my argument would stand.

  128. BBD says:

    Willard

    Since you are here, do you agree that most contrarians (which is my generally preferred term, as you know) are engaging in science denial while insisting that they cannot be described as science deniers?

    And that this is a move?

    And that it is sub-optimal to let the other party dictate the very language of the discussion?

  129. sidd says:

    1) There is a nice paper with reconciliation of different methods in Shepherd(2012) doi:10.1126/science.1228102 which shows the laser altimetry data coming in at the high end of estimates (eg Fig 3 and 4)
    2)Cryosat has best to date coverage of the fast flow regions where dynamic thinning is largest, see fig 2. in McMillan(2014)
    3)There is strong agreement on the rapid acceleration of mass waste in PIG-THW-PSK areas driving Antarctic contribution to SLR.
    4)McMillan concludes:”We estimate that, since 2010, the average Antarctic ice sheet contribution to global sea level rise has been 0.45 ± 0.14 mm/yr. This value, which is more than twice as large as the 20 year mean determined from an ensemble of geodetic techniques (0.19 ± 0.15 mm/yr in Shepherd et al. [2012]), … ”

    sidd

  130. sidd,
    Very interesting, thanks.

  131. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP writes ” what terminology might be more effective at influencing some group who are possibly sitting on the fence.”

    IMO: Those who can be pushed into conformity by ridicule have already been pushed but they cannot be relied upon to stay in conformity. Presenting factual and verifiable information is initially much less persuasive but does not suffer the “half-life” problem of misrepresentation or emotional appeals. Emotions change. Youth rebel; they embrace the very thing you ridicule because you have ridiculed it.

  132. izen says:

    @-BBD
    “And that it is sub-optimal to let the other party dictate the very language of the discussion?”

    The language of the discussion is an emergent dynamic product of the conflict between those having the discussion. Words can alter in value from neutral to extremely positive or negative depending on context. Both sides create the language of the discussion as a mutually complicit, if competitive, act.

    But dictating the language of the discussion explicitly is a weak tactic. It is always open to the counter that this is an attack on freedom of speech, and ‘political correctness’ gone mad.

    If the claim is that it exceeds local standards of etiquette to use the D word, it can be amusing to ask what alternative characterization they would personally choose for a position that was in contradiction to the accumulated evidence based scientific knowledge that humanity had acquired on this subject over the last century.

    Part of that body of knowledge is the evidence that since the peak melt of the Holocene ~9000 years ago the ice caps and glaciers have been in positive mass balance. In common with the paleo-record of previous interglacials after the first rapid melt peak the ice-caps regrow. About half of the Greenland ice-cap has accumulated during the Holocene. That could not have happened if it was in negative balance since the Holocene peak. In fact as the tree line and buried vegetation shows it is only recently that glaciers and ice-caps have melted back to the minimum positions they held at the start of the Holocene.

    The overall negative mass balance of land ice, with the possible exception of Antarctica, is a significant reversal of the pattern seen over the last 7000 years of the Holocene and in every past cooling interstadial when sea levels fell and ice cover expanded after the initial warming peak.
    discussions over the decadal accuracy of mass balance measurement methodologies is a distraction, not denial, of the underlying significance in the change in sign of the ice mass balance.

  133. Mal Adapted says:

    Joshua:

    I have a hard time seeing how “denier” could be anything but pejorative. All the definitions have a pejorative connotation.

    Yep, you got it. “Denier” has a purely descriptive denotation in the specialized vocabulary of Psychology. The pejorative connotation arises because, while we may feel refusing to accept unpleasant facts is permissible or even excusable, few would consider it respectable.

    Someone who rejects the consensus case for AGW, on the basis of arguments that have been repeatedly and exhaustively shown to be deficient, is in denial. Whatever their underlying motivation may be for insisting that AGW isn’t true despite the overwhelming evidence for it, it’s still not respectable to do so. Why shouldn’t we use pejorative language when talking about it?

  134. > Since you are here, do you agree that most contrarians (which is my generally preferred term, as you know) are engaging in science denial while insisting that they cannot be described as science deniers?

    That contrarians raise concerns about the D word (“but the D word”) is irrelevant to their stance on scientific matters, BBD. Also, I deny that “insisting that they cannot be described” is the most appropriate characterization of the labeling process.

    I think contrarians deny some scientific tenets, even when they insist on being uncertain about them (“but Mr. T”). When they do, they make a speech act that I would call denial. Think “denial of service” or when a goaltender denies a sniper from an almost certain goal:

    Contrarian concerns about the Holocaust looks bogus to me: it’s just an excuse for ripping off one’s shirt. I don’t think “but it’s pejorative” is enough to prevent people from promoting social norms. Of course it’s pejorative. That’s the whole point. If you want to test if it’s pejorative, imagine your kid telling yourself: “Dad, when I grow up, I want to be a denier.” With the D word comes the prescription “don’t be a science denier.”

    OTOH, one does not simply speculate about online psyches as if one could pretend one’s a Mordorian psychologist. Even if denial is a valid construct, I believe “but it’s scientific” is just an excuse to promote a social norm. I don’t think much of labeling, but I don’t think we can escape it.

    ***

    The only context in which “you’re in denial” can be positive would be an intervention:

    An intervention is an objective, caring, nonjudgmental process. You’re confronted with the reality of your actions by those adversely affected. The objective is to motivate you to accept help. Although your family is definitely involved, a professional interventionist guides the process.

    http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/interventions-breaking-through-denial-and-fear.html

    As you can see, this is first and foremost a personal journey. To confront someone in denial is far from being easy. Telling him that he’s in denial may not help. Think about it.

  135. BBD says:

    Willard

    That contrarians raise concerns about the D word (“but the D word”) is irrelevant to their stance on scientific matters, BBD.

    Is it? Why?

  136. > Why?

    Because denying science only implies one disputes mainstream scientific claims. The topic of science denial is the denial of the science, not extra-curricular activities like shirt-ripping.

    When you follow the shirt-ripper into his victim playing and make the discussion about him, you lose sight on your own ball, which is supposed to be the scientific claims under question. You also make the victimization succeed in going “reverse ad hom” on you: if the shirt ripper is a poor victim, then you’re the ugly victimizer.

    The main reason why “but the D word” is used is to turn the exchange into a food fight. Contrarians may not have much more left. Even Nic seems to be switching from sensitivity matters to even less justified limits of desingenuousness.

    Why let contrarians dictate that we talk about them?

    ***

    ClimateBall players should follow this strategical guideline. If you think you got a winning position, simplify and win by inertia. If in the long run you’re dead, do everything you can to change the pace of the game. In a position with an equilibrium, improve your position until your opponent’s position deteriorates.

    If we assume that mainstream climate science wins, there’s absolutely no reason to go on wild-goose chases like “but the D word.”

  137. Ethan Allen says:

    Willard,

    So, you would sat that Carey Price is “The Denier” …

  138. FLwolverine says:

    Bravo.

  139. BBD says:

    Willard

    When you follow the shirt-ripper into his victim playing and make the discussion about him, you lose sight on your own ball, which is supposed to be the scientific claims under question.

    If the discussion exposes the science denier as a shirt-ripper without any scientific long johns then surely this is a double own-goal for contrarians?

  140. Contrarians don’t need anyone’s help for their self-promotion, BBD. As long as you can keep to your own communication objective, all is well.

    Here are instructions that befit the contrarian game plan:

    General Interference with Organizations and Production

    (a) Organizations and Conferences

    (1) Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.

    (2) Make “speeches,” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length., Illustrate your points by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic”-comments,

    (3) When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible – never less than five.

    (4) Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.

    (5) Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.

    (6) Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision,

    (7) Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reasonable” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.

    (8) Be worried about the propriety of any decision – raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

    https://www.cia.gov/news-information/featured-story-archive/2012-featured-story-archive/CleanedUOSSSimpleSabotage_sm.pdf

    Compare and contrast with just about anything the GWPF publishes.

    ***

    As far as I’m concerned, the D word has become vernacular. It’s here to stay, and its true meaning is of little importance.

  141. > you would sat that Carey Price is “The Denier” …

    I would never sit Carey Price. He’s the best player in the world. His nickname could very well become The Denier. Your counterfactual intuitions are as good as mine.

    I don’t use the D word. I prefer “contrarian” and I’m fine with it. It alliterates well with “concern.”

    The D word has been used to sell a book:

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Deniers-Scientists-Political-Persecution/dp/0980076315

    Notice the “persecution” trope.

    Those who use the D word could borrow the justification of those who use the “Team” nickname.

  142. BBD says:

    Willard

    Great link – thanks for that. And yes, instructive 😉

  143. Ethan Allen says:

    Danny Gallivan here for HNIC to give you the play-by-play (since, well, I did grow up watching and playing the game) …

    Its Team Climate versus Team Denial in the World ClimatePuck™ Championship.

    IMHO, Ice Hockey is such the better ‘game’ to go metaphorical with. Thanks for bring that one up.

    Now, if Hansen only knew which end of the stick to hold in his hands (wrt SLR). Metaphorically speaking.

  144. RickA says:

    The climate science tribe is reduced to name calling and demonizing their opponents because that is all they can do, given the current state of the data.

    They know they cannot prove it will warm to a catastrophic level.

    All we can do is wait and see who is correct.

    Yes – it will warm. Most accept that CO2 causes warming – but a large number of people do not accept the amount of warming projected from a doubling of CO2.

    As Izen said – both sides are haggling over the price.

    The person using the label “denier” is really demanding the labeled person accept a catastrophic level of warming on faith – just because that is what the 97% say.

    Calling someone a denier is really an appeal to authority – it says “I am right and you should agree I am right because my climate scientists (97%) say so. If you refuse to agree with me – you are a denier.”

    But the data are ambiguous.

    Hence the range of 1.5C to 4.5C.

    The climate science tribe – especially the advocate climate scientists – demand we assume the high end of the range and refuse to allow that the low end of the range is even possible.

    So the name calling naturally follows – due to an inability to actually prove the other side wrong.

    Look at the rebuttal to the David piece that ATTP et al recently posted here.

    The very first thing they did was label David a denier.

    That was step one in rebutting his 10 points.

    Might the climate science tribe turn out to be correct?

    Yes.

    Might the climate science tribe turn out to be overestimating the warming?

    Yes.

    It is the possibility of having overestimated the warming which makes the climate science tribe so mad they are reduced to name calling.

    The pause or hiatus, which some of the climate science tribe refuse to even admit exists, have made the possibility of having overestimated the warming look even more likely than before.

    That is why some are so happy we are having an el nino, to finally end the pause, even though the greater the internal variability of the climate the smaller the human caused portion.

  145. Phillip Williams says:

    I have been a skeptic but would now describe myself as a lukewarmer. The use of the term “denier” is irritating and probably mitigates against my full engagement with the science.

  146. izen says:

    I guess self-denial is no longer regarded as a virtue….

  147. izen says:

    @-Willard
    “Notice the “persecution” trope.”

    Activism against denial gets persecuted, and possibly faces prosecution.

    http://dailycaller.com/2015/10/02/congress-investigates-scientists-wanting-to-prosecute-global-warming-skeptics/

  148. Philip,

    The use of the term “denier” is irritating and probably mitigates against my full engagement with the science.

    It may well do, but it’s still your decision. You can’t blame other people because you decided to be offended and to, consequently, not engage fully with the science.

    RickA,

    The person using the label “denier” is really demanding the labeled person accept a catastrophic level of warming on faith – just because that is what the 97% say.

    No, this is nonsense. Noone should have to accept a catastrophic level of warming. This is kind of the whole point of the discussion. And “climate science denier” refers to those who dispute/deny anthropogenic global warming, not those who simply think that it might not really be a problem. If we carry on as we are, the latter are more likely to be wrong, than right, but it still doesn’t qualify as science denial.

  149. izen says:

    @-RickA
    “That is why some are so happy we are having an el nino, to finally end the pause, even though the greater the internal variability of the climate the smaller the human caused portion.”

    I suspect your reasoning here is that IF the climate is very variable the warming trend we have measured might be part of the variations. This betrays a rather fundamental error in understanding the system.
    Climate variability is a zero-sum process, large positive excursions are matched by negative excursions, because of the 2ndLoT the variations have to balance, they cannot impose a trend on the average temperatures.

    What does happen is that as the increased CO2 retains extra energy in the system the variability gets larger. So this present ENSO variation is shaping up to be the largest ever recorded because of the extra warming trend.

    This is one of the things that makes the precise climate sensitivity somewhat irrelevant. Whether it is 1.4degC or 4.1degC is of less significance that the total extra energy added to the system. If it raises average temperatures less, then the variability will be MUCH greater and the arguments over 1000-year floods will vanish in the face of frequent 10,000 year extremes.
    Climate sensitivity is also independent of sea level rise and acidification. Both of which will cause catastrophic disruption whatever the precise decimal expansion of climate sensitivity.

  150. Psychologist Derald Wing Sue defines microaggressions as “brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership.”[6] Sue describes microaggressions as generally happening below the level of awareness of well-intentioned members of the dominant culture. Microaggressions, according to Sue, are different from overt, deliberate acts of bigotry, such as the use of racist epithets, because the people perpetrating microaggressions often intend no offense and are unaware they are causing harm.[7] Sue describes microaggressions as including statements that repeat or affirm stereotypes about the minority group or subtly demean it, that position the dominant culture as normal and the minority one as aberrant or pathological, that express disapproval of or discomfort with the minority group, that assume all minority group members are the same, that minimize the existence of discrimination against the minority group, seek to deny the perpetrator’s own bias, or minimize real conflict between the minority group and the dominant culture.[7]

  151. wow

    “This is kind of the whole point of the discussion. And “climate science denier” refers to those who dispute/deny anthropogenic global warming, not those who simply think that it might not really be a problem. If we carry on as we are, the latter are more likely to be wrong, than right, but it still doesn’t qualify as science denial.”

    you ought to pass that definition around..

  152. Steven,
    That’s all I’ve ever taken it to mean. Of course, there are some who seem to play the “plausible deniability” game, but claiming to not dispute AGW while – at the same time – promoting anything that brings it into question (Salby being one example).

  153. izen says:

    Wow

    The Psychologist Derald Wing Sue definition of microaggressions would seem to result in any and all brief everyday exchanges being capable of interpretation as denigrating.

    All you have to do is select the minority group to which you can claim membership and adopt the victim role on the basis that the dominant culture is oppressing you by UNINTENTIONALLY “including statements that repeat or affirm stereotypes about the minority group or subtly demean it, that position the dominant culture as normal and the minority one as aberrant or pathological, that express disapproval of or discomfort with the minority group, that assume all minority group members are the same, that minimize the existence of discrimination against the minority group, seek to deny the perpetrator’s own bias, or minimize real conflict between the minority group and the dominant culture.”

    Luckily if you can identify as a minority group you can then denigrate, demean, disapprove and discriminate against any more dominant group, intentionally or otherwise, without any fear of being accused of bias or micro-aggression.
    So as soon as Creationist were in a minority their denial of evolutionary scientific knowledge becomes ethically acceptable whereas when it was the dominant culture it was committing microaggressions at least against the scientific minority. And vice versa!
    (sarc/off)

  154. Willard says:

    > They know [1] they cannot prove it will warm [2] to a catastrophic level [3].

    [1] Mindreading.

    [2] Demanding an impossible proof.

    [3] Peddling the CAGW meme.

    One micro-aggression every four words.

  155. Willard says:

    > The climate science tribe […]

    “Tribe” is a contested term due to its roots in colonialism. The word has no shared referent, whether in political form, kinship relations or shared culture. Some argue that it conveys a negative connotation of a timeless unchanging past

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribe

  156. lerpo says:

    “Many of us like to laugh at conspiracy theorists…” – https://youtu.be/clUENpsfYLQ

  157. RickA says:

    ATTP:

    Your definition of denier is not in widespread use.

    I get called denier all the time and I fully accept the direct warming effects of CO2 (about 1.2C for doubling to 560 ppm).

    I don’t see any observations to support the large indirect feedback warming of 2 or 3C. The observations only support about .6C (if that).

    Calling someone who agrees that CO2 causes warming – but disputes the amount of warming is name calling, in my opinion.

  158. verytallguy says:

    Rick,

    I fully accept the direct warming effects of CO2 (about 1.2C for doubling to 560 ppm).

    …is an oxymoron.

    I don’t see any observations to support the large indirect feedback warming of 2 or 3C. The observations only support about .6C (if that).

    … is almost an exact fit to the dictionary definiton of denial (my bold).

  159. RickA says:

    See ATTP. Very common.

  160. RickA.,
    Stating that you don’t see any observations that support the feedback warming of 2 or 3C is wrong, though. Even observationally-based estimates do not rule out more than 3C. Paleo estimates suggest an ECS of 2.5 – 3C. Stating that the observations only support a further 0.6C is simply wrong.

  161. verytallguy says:

    ATTP,

    Stating that you don’t see any observations that support the feedback warming of 2 or 3C is wrong, though.

    Or you could say

    Stating that you don’t see any observations that support the feedback warming of 2 or 3C is consistent with a psychological defense mechanism postulated by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.

    The bolded text is from the Wiki definiton of ….denial

  162. christian says:

    RickA,

    Here is the Problem, ECS is more just a Value of Warming to Co2 increase, its also the reaction of the climate to a Forcing in Watts/square meter. Its very unlikly, that ECS is just below 2K, then you get some Problems like Ice-Ages, that needs strong feedbacks (e.g Snow-Albedo) because without the climate system wont get into a Ice-Age.

    Observations only are not the solution, because they have also much uncertainy.

  163. Willard says:

    > Calling someone who agrees that CO2 causes warming – but disputes the amount of warming is name calling, in my opinion.

    Name calling is independent from the position for which one gets called names.

    ***

    > The observations only support about .6C (if that).

    But observations. A lukewarm meme that has lost his newness.

    God exists (if he exists).

  164. RickA says:

    As I indicated earlier – the official range is 1.5 to 4.5C.

    Yes – it could come in at the high end – but the latest observationally constrained studies are narrowing to a value just below 2C.

    Yes – the uncertainly is high.

    That is why it is especially damaging to name call someone who opines with a value anywhere within the range of 1.5 to 4.5.

    Someone who indicates they see 1.8C as the ECS should not be called a denier.

    But they routinely are.

    Verytallguy is calling all the people who wrote the IPCC reports deniers, because the range of 1.5 – 4.5 has been the official range for quite some time. Yet Verytallguy says 1.8C is evidence of denial.

    I find that amusing.

    Yet the more evidence that ECS is coming in at the low end of the range – the more irrational and angry the climate consensus scientists get.

    You know why?

    Because this debate isn’t about what ECS is going to turn out to be.

    For people like Verytallguy and the other angry people – this is about having sufficient justification to take action now.

    Every new piece of science which delays the need to take action now must be fought against.

  165. Rick,

    That is why it is especially damaging to name call someone who opines with a value anywhere within the range of 1.5 to 4.5.

    Except, that if you think it is some number within that range, you’re still guessing. The whole point of ranges is to try and assign some kind of probability distribution to whatever it is we’re trying to assess. Simply choosing a value within that range is not really a proper representation of our understanding. If you do so, you are essentially selecting evidence to suit your views, rather than actually trying to produce a reasonable representation of all of the available evidence.

  166. whimcycle says:

    “Yet the more evidence that ECS is coming in at the low end of the range – the more irrational and angry the climate consensus scientists get.”

    Which evidence is this – Lewis and Curry’s lo-ball effort using only satellite data and energy balance models? Peddling such limp efforts to quantifying sensitivity is no less an attempt to deny the scientific reality than dismissing the greenhouse effect altogether.

  167. Willard says:

    > Yes – it could come in at the high end – but the latest observationally constrained studies are narrowing to a value just below 2C.

    Yes, but the latest observations.

    Notice how this lukewarmingly evades your “stating that the observations only support a further 0.6C is simply wrong,” AT.

  168. Joshua says:

    RickA –

    ==> “That is why it is especially damaging to name call someone who opines with a value anywhere within the range of 1.5 to 4.5.”

    How are you measuring “damage?”

    ==> “Yet the more evidence that ECS is coming in at the low end of the range – the more irrational and angry the climate consensus scientists get.”

    (1) Please show the evidence you use to determine causation of a longitudinal cause-and-effect. My guess is that you have nothing other than purely anecdotal evidence, the interpretation of which would rather obviously be vulnerable to your own biases, or “cultural cognition.” .

    ==> “For people like Verytallguy and the other angry people – this is about having sufficient justification to take action now.”

    IMO, those statements of yours that I highlighted undermine your expressed concerns about name-calling. In effect, those comments of yours that I highlighted are the equivalent of name-calling. Sameosameo.

  169. Willard says:

    > Every new piece of science which delays the need to take action now must be fought against.

    There’s a lukewarm distanciation in that wording. It’s not RickA who denies the need to take action. It’s the new piece of science. I don’t recall Nic ever saying anything about the need to take action. Because, science, presumably.

    Does it not mean that Nic, Judy, the GWPF and other contrarian outlets are publishing new pieces of science to delay?

    ***

    Also notice how both the agent and the object in must be fought against are implicit. The tribe that thinks in CAGW terms is now being dogwhistled.

    One might consider this an implicit acknowledgment.

  170. Joshua says:

    RickA –

    Recognizing that I have limited technical and intellectual skills need for understanding the science, it seemed to me that there was an interesting aspect of the science that you have failed to respond to.

    You indicated above that the recent El Nino is evidence to support a conclusion that natural variability explains recent climate change more than is theorized by the “mainstream” climate science community.

    Among other comments, it seemed to me that Izen made an important point w/r/t your argument (I noted it, because the Izen’s critique of your argument seemed obvious even to me):

    Climate variability is a zero-sum process, large positive excursions are matched by negative excursions, because of the 2ndLoT the variations have to balance, they cannot impose a trend on the average temperatures.

    In other words, it seems to me, that your argument fails to address the pattern we’ve seen where subsequent short-term trends of increase and decrease in average temps are overwhelmed by a long-term trend of increase.

    I noticed that you didn’t respond to Izen’s critique. Would you do so? I’m interested in understanding whether or not you have a habit of rejecting critiques out of hand, and then moving on to other points without addressing those critiques,, or whether it was simply an oversight on your part.

  171. verytallguy says:

    Rick,

    chill out and try to concentrate

    Verytallguy is calling all the people who wrote the IPCC reports deniers, because the range of 1.5 – 4.5 has been the official range for quite some time. Yet Verytallguy says 1.8C is evidence of denial.

    Is not what I was trying to get across. I apologise for confusing you.

    For clarity, to state “I don’t see any observations…” is simply denying the large body of evidence supporting conclusions which appear to be uncomfortable to you.

    Hope that’s clear.

  172. BBD says:

    RickA

    Someone who indicates they see 1.8C as the ECS should not be called a denier.

    But they routinely are.

    Doubtless because in order to ‘see’ ECS as 1.8C you have to deny a very large amount of evidence that suggests that it is higher. This would certainly qualify as science denial in my book.

  173. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “I noticed that you didn’t respond to Izen’s critique….”

    I have got rather used to that.

    I have come to the conclusion that it must be because my arguments are so intelligently designed that opponents can evolve no effective method of counter-attack!
    (grin)

  174. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP writes “Noone should have to accept a catastrophic level of warming.”

    That’s a bit unclear. Refusing to accept the obvious is “denial”. On the other hand, perhaps you refer to a chain of dependencies; where refusing to accept is a euphemism for taking actions to prevent the thing you refuse to accept.

  175. Michael 2 says:

    Phllip says “is irritating and probably mitigates against my full engagement with the science.”

    Others I think misinterpret the significance of this (or I am). If advocates of a point of view seem to have a political or self-serving motive for their pronouncements, the result may be that these pronouncements are not as important as the advocates seem to believe. In other words, while thousands of scientific reports exist, far more than any human can study them all, the choice of which ones to study can be influenced by advocacy; either focusing more interest on the topic by like-minded (similar advocacy) persons or avoided by persons of different worldview.

  176. Mal Adapted says:

    RickA:

    That is why it is especially damaging to name call someone who opines with a value anywhere within the range of 1.5 to 4.5.

    Yet the more evidence that ECS is coming in at the low end of the range – the more irrational and angry the climate consensus scientists get.

    RickA, your refusal to acknowledge that you lack competence to evaluate the evidence for ECS meets the psychological denotation of denial.

    Fooling ourselves is “natural”, and it can be painful to think we might be doing that. Science evolved as a way of reducing the influence of wishful thinking, and scientists learn early in their training how hard it can be. For many nascent scientists, the initial exposure to unsparing “peer review” hurts, but if it spurs them to try harder not to fool themselves, they’ll have a chance to earn the respect of their peers. That doesn’t mean their peers will let up on them, though, because the accumulation of reliable knowledge is more important than one person’s feelings.

    By adhering to incompetent arguments, you make it clear you’ve had insufficient scientific training, but rather than spare yourself the pain of being told that you’re incompetent to have an opinion about ECS, you complain that telling you that hurts your feelings. Some of your critics (myself included) find that frustrating. Now, are we the ones who are irrational?

  177. Marco says:

    “I get called denier all the time and I fully accept the direct warming effects of CO2”

    That’s because despite that acceptance, you then repeatedly go off and deny loads and loads of science to support your apparent ideologically biased view that the ECS must be low. It doesn’t help that you complain about namecalling and then call Mike Mann’s work fraudulent, because you believe he created the hockeystick to support his advocacy (as you did at Greg Laden’s place). You also kept on saying stuff like “we don’t know”, got explained that we *do* know, and the absolute best you managed was to cite a few papers that didn’t support your claim…because reality was that *you* did not know.

  178. Joshua says:

    I have got rather used to that.
    Izen –

    ==> ” I have come to the conclusion that it must be because my arguments are so intelligently designed that opponents can evolve no effective method of counter-attack!
    (grin)”

    Sorry to break it to you but I fear that you might be wrong about that. We probably just need to wait. One of my observations is that in being a “skeptic” you never have to worry that any of your arguments are vulnerable to error.. If you get my drift.

  179. whimcycle says:

    “[Despite fully accepting the direct warming effects of CO2], you then repeatedly go off and deny loads and loads of science to support your apparent ideologically biased view that the ECS must be low. It doesn’t help that you complain about namecalling and then call Mike Mann’s work fraudulent…”

    Imagine if there were (very occasionally-) publishing climate scientists who exhibited this same behavior yet demanded to be taken seriously…now THAT would be annoying.

  180. Steven,
    That’s all I’ve ever taken it to mean. Of course, there are some who seem to play the “plausible deniability” game, but claiming to not dispute AGW while – at the same time – promoting anything that brings it into question (Salby being one example).

    ############################

    I’m going to suggest that denial is not a POSITION.
    I’m going to suggest that denial is a tactic

    The reason its hard to describe it as a position should be obvious.
    read up thread… watch the contortions…

    But we all know the behavior that annoys us. and yes people who believe in the science
    can be “deniers”.

    If you want a better clue.. understand Willard’s term.

  181. I’m going to suggest that denial is not a POSITION.
    I’m going to suggest that denial is a tactic

    Yes, that’s kind of why I referred to it as a game.

  182. anoilman says:

    But the burning question in my mind is how long till the Denial Crew starts saying, “It Hasn’t Warmed since 2015!”

    The issue at hand is how a bunch of people who’d clearly fail if this was a test are in any way given credence to their wrong headed belief’s, aka Denial. We could give them a name similar to what they’d score on remedial science tests… Fail!

    He’s not a Denier, he’s a Failure!

    I do think the origin of the word is important. Originally the anti science movement denied that global warming was even happening. They then switched (almost in unison) to ‘Luke Warming’… There are still a very few outliers claiming its not happening, but they are few and far between.

    I’ve recently come across an obnoxious argument tactic… it starts with claims that “CO2 does not cause global warming”… some babble, and “we should do something about it”. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll find that your roles in the argument have just been swapped. I’m not sure how Willard would score that one.

  183. Steven Mosher says:

    They switched in unison to Luke warmer?

    Historical revisionism is a form of denial.

  184. anoilman says:

    Steven Mosher… To me and quite a lot of people that’s how it appeared.

    The Mantra from places like Watts Up With That, and Heartland was… “there is no global warming”.. then suddenly… ‘no one’s denying it, its just not that bad’.. and a bit later, we started hearing about ‘Luke Warmers’. Luke Warmer is a very new term by comparison.

    To me… I’d be arguing with clear deniers one day, and literally over weeks/months.. it became, “its real, but its not that bad”. I think the position is a matter of convenience since this would be mid ‘hiatus’. Also, it wasn’t one or two guys and one place, it was the usual quislings at completely different sites in completely different nations, that suddenly changed. It was confusing as heck to see first hand, and at the time I rationalized it that somehow we were getting to them.

    All this should be verifiable since most of those sites are well scanned by the Way Back Machine. I don’t think anyone cares.

  185. anoilman says:

    Steve Mosher… “Luke Warmer” is just a nicer way “Denier”. To my eyes, they are the same people.

  186. BBD says:

    Steven

    If you think denialism is a tactic, then you should at least be open to the idea that lukewarmerism is a tactic too.

  187. anoilman says:

    BBD: I view Luke Warmism as simply the next fall back position. It offers an ability to deny any need to react while simultaneously offering a relatively tangible position to take. It has the added benefit of using peer reviewed science. Its very hard to Joe Public to distinguish between the veracity of Global Warming and Global Luke Warming.

    The devil is in the detail of course. Luke Warmers require extreme outlier data and papers to support their positions. I should also point out that this a very small part of the complete data and understanding of global warming. There’s nothing wrong with looking at outlying data. But I wouldn’t rely on it like they do.

    In engineering we have plenty of examples of why you shouldn’t rely on outlying data. Just because a product worked once, doesn’t mean its good enough to ship to 40,000 customers. You really do need lots of real world data from many sources before you can consider something ready. Outliers should be viewed exactly as that. You should strive to have enough data to identify the outliers.

  188. I will say that there are some self-professed Lukewarmers who seem to have an odd definition of Lukewarm (in that they seem to accept basically the entire mainstream position). If I was asked to guess, it’s because they can’t actually bring themselves to identify with those they’ve regarded – for years – as alarmists.

  189. Joshua says:

    == “There are still a very few outliers claiming its not happening, but they are few and far between.”

    The problem with that is that there are a lot who say that they believe it’s happening yet present arguments that are logically inconsistent with that view (e.g., there are no valid ways to measure the warming, the scientists who produce evidence that show warming are conspiring in a hoax, even though ACO2 is being added to the atmosphere warming has stopped, we’re headed for an ice age, blah, blah, blah).

    Seems to em that it is both a (logically incoherent) position and a tactic.

  190. Magma says:

    anoilman: I’ve recently come across an obnoxious argument tactic… it starts with claims that “CO2 does not cause global warming”… some babble, and “we should do something about it”. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll find that your roles in the argument have just been swapped. I’m not sure how Willard would score that one.

    In American, Australian and Canadian football, hockey and rugby playing the man instead of the ball/puck is an effective way of dealing with that sort of crap. Anyway, isn’t ClimateBall™ a contact sport?

  191. Willard says:

    > In American, Australian and Canadian football, hockey and rugby playing the man instead of the ball/puck is an effective way of dealing with that sort of crap.

    In hockey, playing the man who has not the puck is illegal:

    The same applies to the receivers in football:

    In American and Canadian gridiron football, pass interference (PI) is a foul that occurs when a player interferes with an eligible receiver’s ability to make a fair attempt to catch a forward pass. Pass interference may include tripping, pushing, pulling, or cutting in front of the receiver, covering the receiver’s face, or pulling on the receiver’s hands or arms. It does not include catching or batting the ball before it reaches the receiver. Once the ball touches any defensive player or eligible offensive receiver the above rules no longer apply and the defender may tackle the receiver or attempt to prevent him from gaining control of the ball.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pass_interference

    I think in rugby the same idea applies: you can only tackle the guy who has the ball.

  192. Phil says:

    ATTP:

    Yes, that’s kind of why I referred to it as a game.

    I’m reminded of one of Peter Hadfield’s (highly enjoyable) takedowns of Chris Monckton here. 7.5 -10.3 mins he talks about arctic sea ice decline, showing summer extents for 2007, 08 and 09 and stating “We are not looking at a long term decline in arctic sea ice”
    I can’t help but notice that the expression “We are not looking at a” could mean either “There isn’t a …” or it could mean “I am not showing you the …”

    I’m sure that it couldn’t possibly be that Monckton specifically and knowingly chose this expression because of this ambiguity.

    But I’m only sure for legal reasons …

  193. Magma says:

    @ Willard: Apart from football blocking which nobody outside of the US really understands, strictly speaking that’s correct. But there *is* an indeterminate period between possession/depossession of the scoring unit and a quasilegal hit, as covered by the Heisenberg rule. Outside of game physics there is also the “Keeping him honest” clause, the “If the referee didn’t see it, it didn’t happen” regulation (arguably a sub-clause of the H.R.) and the “Sometimes you have to take a good penalty” exemption.

    The “I honestly mistook his helmet for the ball” defense has been rescinded due to a number of high-profile decapitations. It’s all fun and games until someone loses a head.

  194. RickA says:

    Here is another issue to consider.

    Ask yourself how the future will evaluate who was right or wrong about ECS, and/or TCR.

    I posit more arguing in the future about how was right and how was wrong.

    Say PA is correct (he comments frequently at Climate Etc.) and we never hit 460 ppm.

    I am willing to bet money that climate scientist advocates and environmentalists will take credit for this – and will argue that the world listened to their dire warnings and took action to reduce emissions.

    I am also willing to bet money that skeptics will say – see we were right all along.

    Or say you guys are correct and we hit 700 – but say the temperature doesn’t go up nearly as much as it is supposed to.

    Same issue.

    If CO2 goes up and the temperature goes up 4.5C – then you guys will of course be vindicated and will be able to say you were right all along. – that is the easy case.

    I don’t think we will see the easy case – I am afraid we will see the gray area case in which neither side will be able to evaluate the data and declare victory. It will either be a volcanic eruption causing cooling the sun was more quiet than usual or . . .

    Maybe it doesn’t matter who is right or who is wrong – but 30 more years of arguing like this – with no way to know who is right or wrong.

    That is very discouraging to me.

    Just a thought experiment thinking about 30 years down the road if ECS does turn out to be 1.5C – how ambiguous that will be for both sides.

    But rest assured – I will not call any of you a denier or stupid – or call you a liar.

    I am from Minnesota.

  195. Say PA is correct (he comments frequently at Climate Etc.) and we never hit 460 ppm.

    I am willing to bet money that climate scientist advocates and environmentalists will take credit for this – and will argue that the world listened to their dire warnings and took action to reduce emissions.

    I am also willing to bet money that skeptics will say – see we were right all along.

    Please explain this. We’re emitting about 10GtC/yr and it’s, on average, been increasing at about 2%/yr. This is leading to slightly more than a 2ppm per year increase in atmospheric CO2. To not get to 460ppm would then require that we somehow only emit another 300GtC. This is well below what is regarded as necessary to give ourselves a chance of keeping below 2C. So, how do we never hit 460ppm without mitigating? If we do so, how can those who’ve been arguing against mitigation possibly regard themselves as right all along?

  196. mt says:

    I have come to the conclusion that everyone is a denier of one thing or another to one extent or another, with the possible exception of myself.

    I think encouraging the word to carry quite so much baggage is a way of short-circuiting the conversation. This is an old political trick. (Nowadays in parts of America, not only does “socialism” shut down conversation, but so too does “liberalism”. I wonder how they handle this in Liberal, Kansas sometimes. This “denial” hyperbole is not entirely similar, but it does carry the same crucial feature of preventing reason by surrounding a key term with an overwrought emotional aura and a “No Trespassing” sign.)

    Anyway, “denial” is an important part of the human condition. To wish it away and treat it as a rare historical anomaly is just, well, just something that I wouldn’t call “skepticism”.

  197. anoilman says:

    RickA: The odds against tens of thousands of scientists being wrong as compared to a guy (PA?) who frequents a blog, are low. As in, astoundingly low. If the guy you think may have it right… he should publish and get his work peer reviewed. If he’s right, his ideas will definitely gain traction.

    I’m not sure why you think we can’t hit higher concentrations. We certainly are working hard at doing that. While the Canadian Tar Sands are desperately trying to grow and are being thwarted, no one’s paying too much attention to the American tar sands in Utah. You should also pay attention to the fact that fossil fuel reserves are not a measure of available fossil fuels. They are a measure of fossil fuels we think we can actually extract. If we develop new extraction techniques, then new fuels will become available. If prices get higher… we can extract more.

    I’m not sure what you mean by some sort of ‘grey’ case occurring. All the data shown so far is presented with error margins. I think you are eluding to some confusion over the so called ‘hiatus’, and weather, versus climate. If that is the case, I’d recommend reading Foster\Rahmstorf;
    http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/044022

    When you remove the effects of weather you have a pretty straight line;

  198. Magma says:

    @ RickA: “Maybe it doesn’t matter who is right or who is wrong – but 30 more years of arguing like this – with no way to know who is right or wrong.”

    It matters a great deal, and it is already quite clear where the facts lie on the completely one-sided scientific debate… it might as well be a Möbius strip. The political debate is another thing, since empty words and misinformation can count for as much as facts, at least for the short term.

    As for “denier”, “stupid” or “liar”, a great deal depends on whether someone has argued in good faith on the basis of at least an attempted understanding of the scientific fundamentals. Those who have deliberately dragged out this critical issue for 20+ years because of their political biases, willful ignorance, ego, money or perks deserve no soft words. To me it looks like the genuine good faith skeptics are seriously outnumbered by the rogues and the dimwits and the dimwitted rogues.

  199. “Steven Mosher… To me and quite a lot of people that’s how it appeared.

    That is a typical cop out from actually doing the work of history before commenting
    on history. I never tire of telling contrarians that they should DO SCIENCE or
    shut up about it. That what “Appears to them” as true is NOT VERY INTERESTING
    so.. I’ll say to you, and dont be offended and whine,, but do some history.

    “The Mantra from places like Watts Up With That, and Heartland was… “there is no global warming”.. then suddenly… ‘no one’s denying it, its just not that bad’.. and a bit later, we started hearing about ‘Luke Warmers’. Luke Warmer is a very new term by comparison.”

    1. Wrong. It was coined in about 2008 to describe the folks at climate audit who thought
    A) warming was real
    B) Humans caused warming
    C) natural variation played a larger role than the IPCC thought.
    2. Around 2009-2010 Lucia picked it up as did Tom Fuller
    and we wrote about it in our book.

    3. Now the MSM has picked it up and it’s been twisted into something different.
    You cant control meaning, but at least if you are not an moron ( dont be offended)
    You can at least chronicle the change in meaning and see that it wasnt something
    that happened “all of a sudden”

    “To me… I’d be arguing with clear deniers one day, and literally over weeks/months.. it became, “its real, but its not that bad”. I think the position is a matter of convenience since this would be mid ‘hiatus’. Also, it wasn’t one or two guys and one place, it was the usual quislings at completely different sites in completely different nations, that suddenly changed. It was confusing as heck to see first hand, and at the time I rationalized it that somehow we were getting to them.”

    your ancedotes as history are as interesting as contrarians talking about the vikings in
    greenland. they are as VAPID as the WUWT crowd who say its cold in boston, therefore no
    global warming.. please dont whine and be all offended

    “All this should be verifiable since most of those sites are well scanned by the Way Back Machine. I don’t think anyone cares.”

    NICE: Typical contrarian tactic of giving someone else the obligation of proving their point.

    The birth and evolution and bastardization of the term has been documented in posts
    of mine. Google yourself.

  200. “Steven

    If you think denialism is a tactic, then you should at least be open to the idea that lukewarmerism is a tactic too.”

    As in DUH. DUH DUH..

    the same way people think AGW is a socialist tactic.

    dont be offended.

    But yes, some people say lukewarmer to avoid the charge of being a denier.

  201. wheelism says:

    “[Natural] variation played a greater role than the IPCC thought…”

    Exactly. As the IPCC’s ‘thoughts’ are a reflection of the scientifuc literature, Lukewarmism was, is, and shall always be magical thinking.

  202. wheelism says:

    (Don’t be offended.)

  203. Sadly, I tend to agree with Magma regarding recent GRACE data. GRACE was launched in 2002 and was only designed to last 5 years. The satellites’ failing batteries can’t keep them working all the time any more, so aliasing problems (etc.) are getting worse.

    It’s not surprising that Dr. Zwally keeps saying what he’s been saying for years. At least one ice sheet modeler I’ve met decided not to waste any more time trying to change that.

  204. anoilman says:

    Steven Mosher says: I never claimed to have done any history work on this. But it certainly did happen, at least to my eyes it did. I noticed it across multiple sites in multiple countries as well. At the time it was still fashionable to reference sources like Heartland, and WattsUpWithThat, and the deniers were still attempting to reference materials. These days, not so much references (I suppose they’ve been laughed at so much), and mostly it goes to name calling right off the bat.

    I decided to skim the sites in question as you suggested. A quick skim of wattsupwiththat shows “There Is No Global Warming” all through the comment threads. I wonder if anyone might have read that. Hmm… I wonder.

    Speaking of being WRONG, have you bothered to find any proof that natural gas has a lower carbon footprint than coal? Or were you planning to stick with your unreviewed junk that backed my position that natural gas has a low carbon footprint ONLY when used in power plants?

    I freely admit that I may have picked up a few bad argument techniques from deniers over the years. How did Mark Twain put it? “Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

  205. BBD says:

    Steven

    You should take more credit for the success of the nonsense you and Tom peddled so vigorously and so successfully over the last few years.

    And stop denying your role in spreading the meme.

  206. BBD says:

    DumbSci

    I don’t think GRACE data are used in either paper (Zwally or McMillan).

  207. BBD says:

    For the thread, here are the summary results for Sheperd (2012) / IMBIE showing combined sources of ice mass data including GRACE with updated GIA estimates:

  208. BBD, yes those two paragraphs in my comment link to separate issues. I was belatedly responding to Magma’s comment on October 31, 2015 at 6:31 pm, and separately commenting on the “news” circulating the WUWT-sphere about Dr. Zwally’s supposedly “surprising” position. Your graphs are informative; IMBIE happened before the batteries became a serious issue.

  209. BBD says:

    DumbSci

    Ah, oh, I see. Sorry. Another example of how those funny people at WUWT make it difficult to have a conversation about science…

  210. RickA says:

    ATTP:

    You said “Please explain this. We’re emitting about 10GtC/yr and it’s, on average, been increasing at about 2%/yr.”

    It is my understanding that as the CO2 emissions have risen, so to has the amount of CO2 which is absorbed by various sinks. I believe that 6GT was absorbed, leaving only a net of 4GT in the atmosphere.

    The more CO2 emissions, the more is sunk.

    That is what I understand the explanation to be from what I have read.

    So you cannot just look at emissions, but also have to look at what is net extra left in the atmosphere when you look at the cumulative emissions.

  211. RickA,
    It’s true that the amount that has been sequestered in the natural sinks has increased as we’ve increased our emissions, but the fraction has not. Currently, about 45% of our emissions are still in the atmosphere. If we emit a further 300GtC by 2050 (for example) we’d expect about 45% of that to remain in the atmosphere. That would be around 135GtC. The conversion from GtC to ppm is to divide by 2.13. So, that would be an increase of about 60ppm, and we would have about 460ppm.

    Essentially, if we contine to emit, the atmospheric concentration will continue to rise. In fact, my calculation is a little simplistic since I think the current understanding is that the airborne fraction will actually increase slightly if we continue to emit as we are. If you consider the figure below, to get to 460ppm would require another 1000GtCO2. To convert from GtCO2 to GtC, divide by 3.7, so maybe 270GtC.

  212. RickA says:

    Joshua:

    You asked “I noticed that you didn’t respond to Izen’s critique. Would you do so?”

    Sorry for the delay – just noticed this question this morning.

    Yes – I agree that internal variability well ultimately cancel out.

    But there may be postiive and negative excursions on many time scales.

    I am not a climate scientist so I can only give you a laypersons perspective on this.

    But it seems to me that it is not clear that internal variability must necessarily cancel out on a decadal basis. Some seem to expect internal variability to be + .1C in a decade, necessarily followed by – .1C.

    It may be that there is a century level internal variability, or a millennial level internal variability, and that these may all add and subtract with each other in a complicated fashion.

    What caused the warming out of the LIA?

    Was it external? or Internal?

    Was it just a warmer sun and less eruptions?

    I personally don’t know – but it did warm, starting in about 1730 and continuing to the present.

    Climate scientists seem to agree that all warming before 1950 was less than 50% caused by humans, because of the level of CO2 emissions before that time.

    How do we know that the warming which continues today is not partly internal variability?

    How do we know we cannot have 3 decades of positive excursion followed by 3 decades of negative? Or 10?

    My biggest question has (since 2009) been how much of the warming since 1880 is caused by humans and how much is natural?

    I don’t feel like I know the answer to that question yet and without clarity on that simple issue I don’t know how we can say we understand the climate enough to predict where the climate will be at 2100.

    It seems to me that teasing out the human signal (which seems to be small relative to the noise) will take quite a bit more data and time.

    Once we can accurately attribute the warming into the two buckets of human caused and not human caused – I would like to further parcel the human caused into CO2, methane, black carbon, land use changes (like asphalt and concrete) or deforestation, etc.

    The humans are not just causing warming from CO2 emissions, after all.

    If 25% of the human portion of warming is carbon black I would like to know that.
    If CO2 emissions is 99% of the human portion of warming I would like to know that to.

    Once we know attribution better, then we can do a better job on a cost/benefit analysis once we have a plan.

    I would like to see some plans, and I would like to see some cost/benefit analysis done on those plans.

    Anyway – I hope this answers your question.

  213. oneuniverse says:

    izen:

    Climate variability is a zero-sum process, large positive excursions are matched by negative excursions, because of the 2ndLoT the variations have to balance, they cannot impose a trend on the average temperatures.

    Hi izen, thanks for your numerous comments here, which I generally find informative. Would you mind expanding on the above though, because I’m not sure it’s actually correct (although I may well have misunderstood), and I’ve seen the same concept repeated elsewhere eg. by Joshua on this thread. I’m assuming you’re referring to natural internal climate variability, with a definition similar to : “Variations in climate that are due to internal interactions between the atmosphere, ocean, land surface and sea ice.” (from here)

    Processes such as snow-albedo feedback, changing ecosystems, variations in atmospheric dust and shorter-term cloud-temperature feedbacks alter regional albedo , while the changing atmospheric composition of greenhouse gases and cloud-cover from natural processes alters the opacity of the atmosphere to escaping IR.

    Your thermodynamical deduction would only be valid, AFAIK, if climate variability didn’t affect the radiative balance, but it does, on short and long time scales. Neither am I aware of any argument from physics that says these various alterations to the radiative balance must sum to zero (if there is, please let me know).

    Perhaps the evidence is that such natural variations to the radiative balance, for the 20th-21st century, are so small to be negligible, but that would involve a different statement to the one you’ve made. Climate variability is not from thermodynamic necessity (I don’t think) a zero-sum process.

  214. BBD says:

    Bit puzzled, oneuniverse:

    Processes such as snow-albedo feedback, changing ecosystems [feedback, typically surface albedo], variations in atmospheric dust [feedback if loess etc or forcing if volcanic aerosol] and shorter-term cloud-temperature feedbacks alter regional albedo , while the changing atmospheric composition of greenhouse gases and cloud-cover from natural processes alters the opacity of the atmosphere to escaping IR.

    All feedbacks and forcings. So the concept of natural variability as somehow distinct from feedbacks and forcings becomes elusive.

    So we go back to eg. C20th climate history as one of responses to forcing change where the net change is increasingly dominated by anthropogenic forcing.

    As far as I can see, short-term natural variability is noise and long term change isn’t self-propelled but must be driven by a long term change in net forcing.

  215. oneuniverse,
    If you want some info about internal variability, try here, and here.

  216. Willard says:

    > The “I honestly mistook his helmet for the ball” defense has been rescinded due to a number of high-profile decapitations. It’s all fun and games until someone loses a head.

    Words of wisdom, Magma. Words of wisdom.

  217. verytallguy says:

    Rick,

    happily, the answers to all your questions are in AR5.

    My biggest question has (since 2009) been how much of the warming since 1880 is caused by humans and how much is natural?

    I’m not sure why you choose 1880, but our best estimate is that it’s *all* caused by humans since 1950. Our lower bound (95% likelihood) is that at least 50% of it is caused by humans.

    You can find the answers to all your other questions in there too.

    You’re welcome

    ref: AR5 WG1 SPM D.3

    It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.

  218. oneuniverse says:

    Hi ATTP, thank you, although I didn’t find anything in those articles to support the claim that natural internal climate variations must be zero-sum due to the laws of thermodynamics.

    My hunch is that izen meant to say something more like “we predict radiative budget changes due to internal natural variability will be small compared to that caused by anthropogenic forcing”.

    (izen didn’t say if he was speaking of a particular time-scale. If he did, given that we’re discussing this in the context of AGW, I’m guessing he was referring to a scale spanning decades to millenia).

  219. pbjamm says:

    RickA seems to be taking the classic “I do not understand what is happening therefor no one understands what is happening” position combined with a bit of person incredulity for spice. How can you admit to arguing from a position of ignorance and still make bold claims about how you think it all works? If you are looking to fill in the gaps of your knowledge then follow the advice of VTG and start by reading the AR5. If you have not done so already then frankly you have no business critiquing climate science.

  220. Willard says:

    > How can you admit to arguing from a position of ignorance and still make bold claims about how you think it all works?

    More importantly, how can you appeal to uncertainty and at the same time argue that CS is more constrained than the mainstream estimates?

  221. oneuniverse,

    although I didn’t find anything in those articles to support the claim that natural internal climate variations must be zero-sum due to the laws of thermodynamics.

    Well, this is largely because if it’s internally driven, the energy must come from – or go to – some part of the system that would then take it out of energy balance. For example, an ENSO event can bring energy from the oceans and heat the surface. That surface warming can produce feedback responses (water vapour, clouds, …) that could then sustain that warming for a while. However, we know that the feedbacks – on average – are smaller than the Planck response, and so – on average – this excess energy at the surface must radiate away, and everything returns back to it’s pre-warming equilibrium. That’s why we typically expect internally driven warming to average out on decadal timescales. It’s difficult to sustain it, because where does the energy come from, and if you want it to be because of radiative feedback responses then you’re essentially arguing for an incredibly sensitive climate.

  222. Mal Adapted says:

    RickA:

    My biggest question has (since 2009) been how much of the warming since 1880 is caused by humans and how much is natural?

    Assuming you’re actually interested in the answer, the 2011 paper by Huber and Knutti in Nature GeoScience, is the best effort I’ve seen. If you don’t have easy access to the original, the figures in the SkepticalScience post about the article tell the story at a glance.

    Please let us know if that article answers your question, and if so, what you think the relative contributions are since 1880 and since 1950.

  223. Joshua says:

    RickA:

    Thanks for the response…

    The questions you raised certainly seems interesting, and I would guess that the answers are important….

    I would imagine that you might find some of the responses from others to be (fallacious) appeals to authority, but given my technical and intellectual limitations, I can’t offer much in the way of a technical response. But here’s what I got.

    The questions that you ask relative to “excursions” on different times scales seem somewhat basic and obvious to me. Given that I can’t understand the science in detail, it seems very improbable to me that experts on the topic would conclude that the recent trend of temperature increase associated with increased AtmosphericCO2 (due to anthropogenic emissions) would be anomalous against a background of such excursions as you describe, unless the theory has a great deal of merit.

    Probably not a very satisfying answer for you, and indeed, it isn’t terribly satisfying for me either, but there’s nothing I can do about that.

    ==> “But it seems to me that it is not clear that internal variability must necessarily cancel out on a decadal basis. Some seem to expect internal variability to be + .1C in a decade, necessarily followed by – .1C.”

    Well, for one thing we’re talking about a trend over what, 8 decades? So the one up, one down that “some seem to expect” isn’t really applicable.

    ==> “It may be that there is a century level internal variability, or a millennial level internal variability, and that these may all add and subtract with each other in a complicated fashion.”

    Yes, that does seem theoretically possible. And IMO, such a theoretical possibility should be included in risk assessment and related policy development. But the problem there is that unless you have a plausible theory of mechanism behind some theoretical possibility, it seems to me to be difficult to integrate such thinking into risk assessment and policy development. It should be done, IMO, but it should be done in the context of no plausible mechanistic explanation provided along with a lack of solid evidence in support of such a possibility even without a plausible mechanism. Meanwhile, as near as I can tell, there is a strong mechanistic explanation for why recent warming is anomalous, and a strong body of evidence in support of that explanation. That, also, should be part of the context for risk assessment and policy development.

    ==> “What caused the warming out of the LIA?

    Was it external? or Internal?

    Was it just a warmer sun and less eruptions?

    I personally don’t know – but it did warm, starting in about 1730 and continuing to the present.”

    So, I assume that you dismiss the theories that evidence for warming has been fraudulently and/or competently derived…

    ==> “How do we know that the warming which continues today is not partly internal variability?”

    What do you mean by “today?” What time scale are you using there? But regardless of the answer to that, isn’t it true that even if some part of the warming over the last 8 decades (is that “today?”) reflects internal variability, the extent to which we integrate such a possibility into risk and policy discussions should be mitigated by a lack of evidence of a mechanism? Meanwhile, we have (at least I think) a plausible mechanism for explaining an external forcing for that warming.

    ==> “I don’t feel like I know the answer to that question yet and without clarity on that simple issue I don’t know how we can say we understand the climate enough to predict where the climate will be at 2100.”

    That seems like a rhetorical binary configuration. As I understand it, it isn’t that climate scientists know enough to predict where the climate will be at 2100, but that they have mathematically derived a projection , with an associated range of probabilities, for where (at least some components of) the climate will be in 2100. I would say that neither can we conduct risk assessment and policy development with the belief that we can predict the climate in 2100, nor can we conduct risk assessment and policy development by waiting around for a fully confirmed prediction. Instead, it seems to me, that we should be conducting risk assessment and policy development based on a range of projections, and that sure, there might be a range of ranges, depending on methodology.

    ==> “It seems to me that teasing out the human signal (which seems to be small relative to the noise) will take quite a bit more data and time.”

    I agree. But in the meantime, we have a range of projections along with associated error ranges.

    ==> “Once we can accurately attribute the warming into the two buckets of human caused and not human caused – I would like to further parcel the human caused into CO2, methane, black carbon, land use changes (like asphalt and concrete) or deforestation, etc.

    Indeed.

    ==> “Once we know attribution better, then we can do a better job on a cost/benefit analysis once we have a plan.”

    No doubt.

    So now, if I might, I’d like to ask you another question – related to izen’s comment:

    What does happen is that as the increased CO2 retains extra energy in the system the variability gets larger. So this present ENSO variation is shaping up to be the largest ever recorded because of the extra warming trend.

    I thought that comment was rather interesting, in response to your earlier comment. Thoughts?

    That comment of Izen’s seems to target an aspect of your earlier comment that I tried to ask about and that I’m not sure you answered. I was curious how you’d respond to Izen’s comments in response to this comment of yours:

    That is why some are so happy we are having an el nino, to finally end the pause, even though the greater the internal variability of the climate the smaller the human caused portion.

    As far as I can understand Izen’s critique, it seems to call into question where you look at greater variability, as seen in the “pause,” as necessarily indicating a higher % of “internal” contribution to warming. But he seems to suggest that there certainly is no reason to make that assumption, let alone assume the opposite of what you seem to be assuming.

    Finally, I’m not trying to press my luck here, but I was hoping you’d respond to this also:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/greenland-and-climate-science-denial/#comment-65914

  224. oneuniverse says:

    Hi ATTP,

    Thank you for the explanation.

    [..] this excess energy at the surface must radiate away, and everything returns back to it’s pre-warming equilibrium.

    What makes it certain that the energy budget will be the same before and after (if that’s what you mean)? Is there anything in the literature to support what izen said – an argument on thermodynamical grounds?

    It’s difficult to sustain it, because where does the energy come

    Consider the case of land albedo change – say a region changes from forest to savanna (or vice-versa). Savanna reflects about twice as much diffuse sunlight as forest. This will cause a change in albedo, sustained for as long as the new ecosystem persists – it doesn’t require a source of energy to sustain it.

    I’m not making an argument that natural internal variability contributed significantly to 20th C surface temperature trends – I just don’t agree that it’s zero-sum by thermodynamical law.

  225. RickA says:

    Joshua:

    You asked:

    “So now, if I might, I’d like to ask you another question – related to izen’s comment:

    What does happen is that as the increased CO2 retains extra energy in the system the variability gets larger. So this present ENSO variation is shaping up to be the largest ever recorded because of the extra warming trend.

    I thought that comment was rather interesting, in response to your earlier comment. Thoughts?”

    I lost the italics when I block copied – so I put quotes around the entire thing.

    I think that question is mixing a forcing with internal variability. As I understand it – extra energy from CO2 is a forcing and therefore NOT internal variability. Internal variability is moving existing energy around – from water to air or visa versa (as I understand it).

    So to me it doesn’t make a great deal of sense to talk about extra warming in the context of internal variability. His point makes sense only when discussing the entire system – both external forcings, feedbacks AND internal variability (in my opinion).

    On the other hand – I do see his point about extra energy in the sense that once it is added to the system – when it sloshes around between air and water and visa versa, I can see that since there is more to slosh around the excursion might be greater.

    If the timing of the el nino was just right – you could have internal variability adding and reinforcing a warming trend to get the highest high – rather than bad timing of a cooling internal variability which subtracts from the warming trend to mute it. It could be that this is what is happening now.

    But if internal variability is large enough to cancel out the warming trend (or almost cancel) for 18 years – then either internal variability is larger than .1C per decade or the warming trend (I assume it is 100% human caused here) is about equal to .1C per decade.

    So lets assume a human trend of .15C per decade and internal variability of .15C per decade. When the reinforce each other you would have .3C trend and when they oppose each other you would have 0 trend.

    When you average that out over time, you get about .15C per decade, which is about what we are seeing.

    So maybe internal variability can be larger than .1C per decade, and maybe it is due to the extra warming adding energy to the system since 1750ish. So maybe internal variability could be .15C per decade (on average).

    Like you – I am not a climate scientist – but just trying to make sense of the observations.

  226. RickA says:

    Joshua:

    You also asked me to comment on “How are you measuring “damage?””

    Purely in the ability to persuade people like me.

    When people call me names, I am more likely to have an emotional response and not a rational response to an argument. The argument might be a good argument, but if laced with insults and name calling I might reject it on an emotional level.

    I don’t think I am alone in that department.

    So if your goal (and I am not referring to you since you do not approve of using denier) is to persuade – the name calling distracts from that goal.

  227. RickA says:

    Joshua:

    I forgot to answer the “purely anecdotal” part of the question.

    Yes – my evidence is my own observations from blogging from about 2009 to the present.

    Over the evolution of the evidence of a pause, the disagreement if it even exists, the many many papers which do agree there is a pause, the various attempts to reason it away and the cheerleading around its end (at least hoped for end) – I have seen the anger grow.

    But it is my own opinion based on my interactions with others in the blogosphere.

  228. Kevin O'Neill says:

    RickA: “…the many many papers which do agree there is a pause…”

    Citations please. I remember a couple – though even they never said it was significant – but “many many”??

    1) Do you agree 10 or 15 years is too short a period to make statements about climate?
    2) Is this also too short a period to make claims of significance?
    3) Was ‘cherry-picking’ necessary to make claims of a pause/hiatus?
    4)
    5) How many climate scientists ever bought in to the global warming has paused meme?
    6) Was the decade of the 90s warmer than the 80s; were the 00s warmer than the 90s; is this decade on track to be warmer than the 00s? If the preceding is true, on what level then would a pause have occurred?
    7) Does one/did one have to stand on his head and look at trends with the *intent* of seeing a pause to find one? I.e., didn’t virtually every claim of a pause rely upon a start point of the 1998 El Nino?

    Science denial. The whole episode of the pause/hiatus brings science denial front and center.

    Climate. Significance. Forcings.

    Climate refers to periods of 30 years or more, and global warming is a climatic phenomenon. How can a period of warming/cooling of less than 30 years be used to make judgements on climate or global warming?

    Science also takes significance into account when judging results.

    Science also seeks explanations; global temperatures are the result of forcings and feedbacks. When viewed in this light, taking known forcings into account there was never any indication of a pause. (as anoilman pointed out upthread)

    So to predicate a pause over a 10, 15 or 18 year period one had to ignore (deny?) that climate applies to longer periods of time.

    To predicate a pause over this period one had to ignore (deny?) significance.

    To predicate a pause over this period one had to ignore (deny?) the effect of known forcings.

    Scientifically ignorant or science deniers? You tell me.

  229. Magma says:

    Some numbers to consider for a blog post that discussed Greenland snow & ice mass balance.

    Total of 232 comments, 23,400 words
    Number of comments by or replying to RickA: 45
    Number of words in those comments: 7000

    People can judge the value of those side discussions involving RickA themselves; I found them very low and likely not raised in good faith. Note also that RickA used similar tactics at Greg Laden’s blog.

    Just because someone dangles the bait in front of you doesn’t mean you have to bite.

  230. Willard says:

    > People can judge the value of those side discussions […]

    I hope you do not count my replies, Magma, for I deny having had any discussion with RickA.

    For a discussion, it’s next door.

  231. Magma says:

    I answered RickA myself, but I can’t take it back. (I am NOT a denier, you see.) I also politely left out mention of Joshua’s, er, philosophical posts since he isn’t t‍ro‍lling by any fair definition of the term.

  232. oneuniverse,

    What makes it certain that the energy budget will be the same before and after (if that’s what you mean)? Is there anything in the literature to support what izen said – an argument on thermodynamical grounds?

    Well, because if the feedback response – on average – is smaller than the Planck response (which, given we haven’t had a runaway, is self-evidently true) then the excess energy should radiate away and we should return to a state set by the external forcings (Sun, albedo, GHGs). I don’t know of a specific reference, but I think this is possibly sufficiently well accepted that it’s not something that is discussed explicitly in papers very often.

    However, if some natural process could change the albedo, then I think we could see prolonged natural warming. Dansgaard-Oeschger events may be examples of this. However, these occur during glacials when the ice sheets are large, and so it seems less likely to happen now. These also occur (people think) when a major ocean current changes. Essentially, you’d probably have to have some major change that substantially melted polar ice. Given that the ice sheets are currently small today (relative to during glacials) the impact might be smaller than during a glacial. Also, the energy still has to come from somewhere.

  233. verytallguy says:

    To be fair Magma, Rick is an amateur de-railer compared to Richard on the other thread.

  234. Joshua says:

    Magma –

    ==> “I also politely left out mention of Joshua’s, er, philosophical posts since he isn’t t‍ro‍lling by any fair definition of the term.”

    I always love it when people mention what they haven’t mentioned.

    I got your allusion the first time. I’ll just respond by telling you that my reaction to reading your 4:08 was how often such a comment appears (or used to, before I was put into permanent moderation) at Climate Etc., where one of the “denizens” take others to task for (paraphrasing) “wasting everyone’s time” by responding to me (i.e., a troll). Often, those comments contained statistics on how many comments I made, and how many people responded, etc.

    My response to you will be the same as that which I often make at Climate Etc. Thanks for reading. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.

    By which I mean, basically, if you don’t want to read my comments (or those of anyone else), I suggest that you don’t fucking read them. I’m sure that you know how to use your mouse or arrow buttons to scroll past comments you don’t want to read, I really don’t give a flying fuck* whether you approve of my exchanges with RickA . Personally, I find the whole “he’s a troll, don’t respond to him” to be juvenile, and only an extension an identity-protective manner; the determination of who is or isn’t a “troll” is one of the more amusing extensions of the whole identity defense/identity-protective paradigm that characterizes the climate wars.

    *what a great expression. I wonder where it comes from?

  235. Michael 2 says:

    Magma “People can judge the value of those side discussions involving RickA themselves”

    That would be the usual way 😉

  236. Michael 2 says:

    Magma “Some numbers to consider for a blog post that discussed Greenland snow & ice mass balance.”

    Another analysis that can be interesting is a scatter-plot by day (x axis) and hour (y axis), either for all comments or for a particular writer.

    “Note also that RickA used similar tactics at Greg Laden’s blog.”

    Such a thing would be useful if one doubted that this RickA is that RickA.

  237. oneuniverse says:

    ATTP, w.r.t. albedo changes, it sounds like we agree (?) that internal variability doesn’t have to be zero-sum.

    The Planck response plays an important role in bounding temperature for a given energy input, and natural variability will tend to range within those bounds. Is that what izen meant? Or did he mean that the average of the variability is constant (a stronger statement)? The Planck response is also dependent on the emissivity, which can naturally vary.

    ATTP:

    I don’t know of a specific reference, but I think this is possibly sufficiently well accepted that it’s not something that is discussed explicitly in papers very often.

    If it’s well-accepted, I’m guessing it’ll be mentioned somewhere, maybe in a text book. I haven’t found anything in my very brief online search, but that doesn’t mean much. I have to admit that the claim is not intuitive to me. It’s probably worth dropping an email to someone like Prof.Pierrehumbert or Isaac Held, or Science of Doom about this.

    The following paper, discussed by SoD in a post titled “Natural Variability and Chaos – Eight – Abrupt Change” (no link for fear of exceeding the limit, apologies), suggests that the lower bound of the magnitude of unforced internal climate variability is still unknown, to the extent that one accepts the results of their climate model :

    Spontaneous abrupt climate change due to an atmospheric blocking–sea-ice–ocean feedback in an unforced climate model simulation

    The processes leading to the century-long cooling event (a 0.8 C drop in the AMO) are described as follows:

    Initial cooling started with a period of enhanced atmospheric blocking over the eastern subpolar gyre.

    In response, a southward progression of the sea-ice margin occurred, and the sea-level pressure anomaly was locked to the sea-ice margin through thermal forcing. The cold-core high steered more cold air to the area, reinforcing the sea-ice concentration anomaly east of Greenland.

    The sea-ice surplus was carried southward by ocean currents around the tip of Greenland. South of 70°N, sea ice already started melting and the associated freshwater anomaly was carried to the Labrador Sea, shutting off deep convection. There, surface waters were exposed longer to atmospheric cooling and sea surface temperature dropped, causing an even larger thermally forced high above the Labrador Sea.

    The paper doesn’t specify whether the global energy content is unchanged at the end of the excursion. Given that it involves some ice-albedo feedback, it’s not clear that it would be. The model output would be able to answer that.

  238. oneuniverse,
    I think what izen means is that unless you change something that could be an external forcing (and ice albedo is sometimes treated as such) it’s very difficult for internal variability to drive the system far from the quasi-equilibrium set by the Planck response and the external forcings. You’ll tend to oscillate about that equilibrium and the magnitude will somewhat depend on the timescale. The internally-driven trend in a single decade can be bigger than it would be over a time interval of many decades.

    That paper that SoD discusses seems consistent with what I was suggesting. A genuinely long-term change would typically require something like a change in a major ocean current, that can drive some kind of ice-albedo feedback. It’s possible, but is more likely during (I think) glacials than inter-glacials and is certainly not (I think) regarded as a plausible explanation for what we’ve epxerience in the last 100 years or so. Something like that could happen in the future if we push the system hard enough, but then that may be an internal event driven as a response to an external forcing.

  239. Magma says:

    @Joshua: I read some of your posts. Others that I find tangential to my interests I skip over. They are not t‍rolling—and perhaps I could have made that clearer—but to imply that a thread filled with tediously repetitive nonsense (and rebuttals to the same) doesn’t drive away readers and drown out debate stretches an argument to the breaking point.

    As for your question, Kurt Vonnegut’s 1969 novel Slaughterhouse-Five may be the earliest use of the phrase.
    ‘Go take a flying f‍uc‍k at a rolling doughnut,’ murmured Paul Lazzaro in his azure nest.
    ‘Go take a flying f‍uc‍k at the moon.’

  240. oneuniverse says:

    ATTP:

    I think what izen means is that unless you change something that could be an external forcing (and ice albedo is sometimes treated as such) it’s very difficult for internal variability to drive the system far from the quasi-equilibrium set by the Planck response and the external forcings.

    Ok, but that is quite different, and in contradiction, to what he said (“Climate variability is a zero-sum process, large positive excursions are matched by negative excursions, because of the 2ndLoT [..]”). Internal climate variability can lead to natural changes in the external forcing.

    That said, I’m in agreement with what you wrote.

  241. BBD says:

    Internal climate variability can lead to natural changes in the external forcing.

    Have you an example in mind?

    I understand that there is a suggestion that the patchy N Hemisphere cooling misnomered the ‘LIA’ may have been caused by increased volcanic aerosol negative forcing which triggered increased ice albedo feedback(Miller et al. 2012).

    But that is an initial forcing change and subsequent feedbacks, not internal *unforced* variability and subsequent feedbacks.

    Is this a definition thing?

    Are you suggesting that *unforced* internal variability can cause long-term shifts in climate behaviour?

  242. RickA says:

    Kevin:

    Yes – climate is defined as a 30 year period.

    However, it was Trenberth who said that it would take at least 17 years to make a pause.

    You can hardly blame people for pointing out when the pause exceeded 17 years.

  243. Joshua says:

    RickA –

    ==> “However, it was Trenberth who said that it would take at least 17 years to make a pause.”

    Can you provide a link?

    Or, are you referring to what Santer said? If so, I think you’ve mischaracterized what he said.

  244. verytallguy says:

    Rick

    it was Trenberth who said that it would take at least 17 years to make a pause.

    You can hardly blame people for pointing out when the pause exceeded 17 years.

    I’m sceptical. Please quantify and provide references for these two claims.

    What did Trenberth define as a “pause”?
    What length of “pause” does the data show?

    Specifically, please be clear as to whether Trenberth’s definiton of a pause is:
    (1) “Peak to trough temperature rise <0" (momentary pause)
    (2) "Least squares best fit trend line <0" (average pause)
    (3) "Least squares best fit trend line 95%upper limit limit <0" (statistically significant pause)
    Or some other definiton – but be precise.

  245. Joshua says:

    Magma –

    Thanks for the info on “flying fuck.” The original usage (including the rolling doughnut) only makes it that much better of an expression.

  246. verytallguy says:

    Rick won’t answer, of course.

    These questions are actually interesting though.

    For instance, it’s instructive to consider, even if a pause is significant at 95% level, how often would we *expect* such a pause to turn up in a 50 year dataset – with over 30 separate 17 year trends within it?

    It’s not an easy question to answer as the 30 different trends aren’t independent – but it’s probably more likely than not that such a pause would turn up randomly.

  247. oneuniverse says:

    BBD,

    I think to a large extent it is a definition thing. For example, it’s not clear to me whether the effects of biological processes are counted as internal or external variability. The IPCC reports, as SoD notes in his series on natural variability, don’t really properly define the term. The Wiki page on climate change counts biology as part of natural internal variability FWIW, and lists 5 possible examples of major long-term alteration of the climate caused by changes in the biosphere, such as the Azolla event and the global cooling from the Cenozoic expansion of grasslands.

    re: LIA
    Miller et al. used a climate model with approx. 2.8º x 2.8º resolution (T42) to plausibly explain the LIA by volcanism and ice-albedo / oceanic feedback. Drijfhout et al. 2013 used a more recent, higher-resolution (just over 1º x 1º) model and find that unforced interaction between the atmosphere, ice and ocean can also cause ice-albedo feedbacks, and temperature excursions of similar magnitude and duration to the LIA. A similar event occuring at a time of lower insolation may have led to more extensive cooling.

    I don’t think it’s possible to get significant climate change without changes to the TOA radiative balance, resulting in a climate forcing. However, it seems entirely plausible that internal variability can lead to such forcing, particularly if biological processes are included. (I’m not sure what purpose is served by placing them in one category or other, as they’re present in either case).

  248. RickA says:

    Verytallguy:

    See here:

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-012-0441-5

    Here is an excerpt:

    . So one way of detecting such an influence is through long-term
    changes in mean conditions, preferably guided by climate model studies as to which
    variables and how they should change. This requires long averages to overcome the effects
    of natural variability (climate noise), and for quantities such as global temperatures, about
    17 years is needed (Santer et al. 2011)

    The Santer paper can be seen here:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2011JD016263/abstract

    Here is an excerpt from the abstract:

    Because of the pronounced effect of interannual noise on decadal trends, a multi-model ensemble of anthropogenically-forced simulations displays many 10-year periods with little warming. A single decade of observational TLT data is therefore inadequate for identifying a slowly evolving anthropogenic warming signal. Our results show that temperature records of at least 17 years in length are required for identifying human effects on global-mean tropospheric temperature.

  249. However, it seems entirely plausible that internal variability can lead to such forcing, particularly if biological processes are included. (I’m not sure what purpose is served by placing them in one category or other, as they’re present in either case).

    I think you have to be careful here. I agree that if some internal process can change the albedo, that you could have some kind of long-term effect. However, there is little evidence that this is common or likely. Also, we’re a biological, but any impact we have is external. So, are biological processes internal, or external?

  250. oneuniverse says:

    So, are biological processes internal, or external?

    I think they’re generally considered to be internal, although as I said, the IPCC reports don’t clearly define this.

    The logic behind counting biological processes as internal has to do with the flow of causality, I think : climate change due to orbital variations, solar output, volcanism, or plate tectonics is considered to be external natural variation. This makes sense in that these processes can affect the climate , but the climate cannot affect any of them – they are, in that sense, external to the climate system (even though volcanoes & plate tectonics involve the lithosphere).

    On the other hand, the atmosphere, ocean, ice and biosphere all affect each other. The climate variations arising from their dynamic interaction is what’s termed as internal natural variability, AFAICT.

  251. oneuniverse,
    Okay, but you still need – as I see it – some kind of trigger. Internal variability typically refers to some kind of internal process driven by complexity, not some kind of internal process that happens as a consequence of some kind of external trigger. So, if some kind of biological process could change albedo and lead to long-term warming/cooling, one would need to understand what caused the biological process to change. Can it simply happen by chance, or do we typically expect some kind of trigger than gets the process started?

  252. RickA says:

    verytallguy:

    I did post a response – with links and everything.

    But it is stuck in moderation – maybe to many links?

    It was a paper from Trenberth and he was quoting Santer.

    But both papers were attempts to explain away the pause (in my opinion).

  253. verytallguy says:

    Rick,

    I look forward to seeing it. Perhaps resubmit in parts.

    Quantification is everything. In my experience, people who claim a pause fail to define what it is, then compare with something entirely different to claim significance.

    Typically a period when the rate of temperature rise lower confidence interval falls below zero is claimed as a pause, then compared to an expectation of the likelihood of the best fit being less than zero.

    So, numbers please.

  254. dikranmarsupial says:

    RickA says: “However, it was Trenberth who said that it would take at least 17 years to make a pause.”

    Note that it says “at least”, in other words you need longer than 17 years to be confident of detecting the trend (i.e. the test has acceptable statistical power). IIRC the 17 year period also assumes that you are talking about a randomly selected period of 17 years, rather than one with a cherry picked end point.

    “You can hardly blame people for pointing out when the pause exceeded 17 years.”

    We can blame people for not taking the trouble to understand statistical hypothesis testing before jumping to conclusions, its actual meaning is quite subtle and widely misinterpreted in on-liner discussion of the apparent “hiatus”.

  255. Found it.

    Our results show that temperature records of at least 17 years in length are required for identifying human effects on global-mean tropospheric temperature.

    Sounds about right. The words at least are pretty crucial. In fact, there’s a good figure (that I can’t find at the moment) that shows for each start year, how many years you need to consider for a trend to be statistically different from zero. It basically illustrates this point: it is typically 15-20.

  256. dikranmarsupial says:

    RcikA wrote “But both papers were attempts to explain away the pause (in my opinion).”

    Perhaps this is because you don’t understand how statistical hypothesis test work and don’t understand that a lack of statistically significant warming does not imply that there has been a change in the underlying rate of warming (yes, I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but that is because the meaning of statistical hypothesis testing is pretty counter-intuitive). If you understood the Santer paper, you might realize why this is the case.

  257. Dikran,
    I don’t know if you’ve seen the latest claim, which is basically that it’s not a cherry-pick because we always start “now” and work backwards. That is simply a recipe for a hiatus.

  258. dikranmarsupial says:

    Indeed, very silly. The problem is that it still involves implicit multiple hypothesis testing, which invalidates the basic assumptions of the test.

    To see why this is the case, consider the usual test to see if a coin is biased. The basic idea is to flip the coin a fixed number of times (say five) and count the number of heads. Then compute the probability of observing that number of heads (or greater), assuming the paper is fair (p = 1/2), which is known as the p-value. If the p-value is less than some threshold, typically 5%, then we say that we are able to reject the null hypothesis and that there is significant evidence that the coin is biased.

    Now this applies to a single set of five flips. If we flip the coin five times and get five heads, then the p-value is 1/2^5 = 0.03125, which is less than the threshold, so we conclude the coin is biased. However, what if we repeatedly flip the coin until we get five heads in a row. At that point are we able to say the coin is biased? No, as the calculation of the p-value assumes that this was a random selection of coin flips, rather than waiting to see five consecutive flips that give you the desired result.

    That people would claim that this is not a cherry pick is just demonstrating their lack of self-skepticism and their lack of understanding of frequentist statistics.

  259. Okay, this is the figure I was thinking of. A bit old, and I don’t know which dataset it is, and I don’t know why the first data point is about 50. It shows, however, for a given end year, how many years back you need to go before the trend is statistically different from 0. In other words, it’s almost always around 20 years. Hence if you work back from now, the previous 15 – 20 years will always qualify as a ‘pause’ (via this definition) even if we are warming. That’s just silly.

  260. dikranmarsupial says:

    A point that many non-statisticians don’t understand is that hypothesis tests are not symmetric, a lack of a statistically significant trend does not mean that there has been a change in the underlying rate of warming and that there is now a “hiatus”. If one were to perform an *appropriate* statistical hypothesis test (i.e. at least one that took auto-correlation into account) for a a change in the rate of warming in 1998, you would probably find there isn’t statistically significant evidence for that either. In other words, over such a short period of time, we can’t be sure either way, we can’t say there has been a hiatus, nor can we say there definitely hasn’t been one (on the evidence provided by this one set of data).

    The principle of parsimony would suggest that there is no genuine hiatus in the underlying rate of warming, and also physics and other observations suggest that the earth continues to warm. So I would go with that the apparent hiatus is just an artefact of internal climate variability (largely ENSO) and there has been little or no change in the rate at which the planet as a whole has warmed.

  261. verytallguy says:

    Rick,

    Thanks for the post. That’s only half the story of course.

    Now we have the source of your 17 year claim, please show us the data which gives the >17 year pause on the same basis as the Santer paper.

    Thanks in anticipation.

  262. Kevin O'Neill says:

    RickA – you failed to answer most of the questions I asked upthread – choosing to just answer one. That one answer you provided: “However, it was Trenberth who said that it would take at least 17 years to make a pause. You can hardly blame people for pointing out when the pause exceeded 17 years.” has been shown (by dikran and ATTP) to be exactly what I suggested – based on ignorance (denial?) of the science.

    But let’s take that ignorance (denial?) one step further: you say we can hardly blame people when it exceeded 17 years – but weren’t these same people claiming global warming had ‘paused’ long before 17 years? The Santer paper was written in 2011, how long was the ‘pause’ then? When these same people were claiming a ‘pause’ in global warming at 5 or 8 or 10 years what was their excuse? Were they just ignorant of (denying?) the science?

  263. BBD says:

    Alternatively, who cares? The troposphere ≠ the climate system.

    The climate system is mostly ocean, and OHC keeps on increasing.

    Variability in the rate of ocean heat uptake appears to be modulating the rate of increase in surface temperatures (England et al. 2014).

    Transient natural variability does not affect the long-term forced trend. It is essentially irrelevant when discussing anthropogenic warming.

  264. BBD says:

    Sorry – that was supposed to be addressed to RickA, to whom it has been said before.

  265. Johnl says:

    Tamino did an analysis of how long a time period do we need to establish a statistically significant trend. His results are here.
    https://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/how-long/

    His summation:

    “So, 15 years of global temperature data from NASA GISS has about a 50/50 chance to show the trend with statistical significance. But for a 95% chance to achieve that threshold, you need about 24 years. All of this is approximate, but it does give a good perspective on the quantity of data needed. It also shows how easy it is for fake skeptics to crow about the lack of statistical significance, even when the trend is present and is real. Would they have the audacity to be so misleading? I’d say that’s something we can expect with 100% confidence.”

  266. Eli Rabett says:

    The surge, the surge.

  267. verytallguy says:

    Amusingly, Judith Curry has done exactly what I predicted rick would.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/11/06/hiatus-controversy-show-me-the-data/

    Note the difference between what Santer defines as necessary at 17 years and what JC does

  268. dikranmarsupial says:

    All three criteria Prof. Curry presents are fundamentally flawed. WHen I pointed this out, she just referred me to a previous blog post on the topic, in which I (and others) explained the same flaws. Plus ca change…

  269. verytallguy says:

    Dikran,

    You may recall the surreal experience here:

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/05/06/quantifying-the-anthropogenic-contribution-to-atmospheric-co2/#comment-703613

    Which convinced me prof Curry has put herself firmly beyond reasoned arguments in her contrarian mission. I admire your fortitude in even attempting further rationality.

  270. dikranmarsupial says:

    VTG yes, she could have tried asking the IPCC, which is what I did, and found out what they meant by “dominant” (fossil fuels and land use change are only part of anthropogenic emissions, and also to allow the possibility of some long term effect from ENSO), i.e. by “dominant” they meant “essentially all”.

  271. Mal Adapted says:

    WRT any hypothetical hiatus, the null hypothesis isn’t that there was no significant trend in GMST between 1998 and 2014, but that there was no change in the long-term trend (1970s to present). Change point analysis shows there was no change, thus no significant hiatus can be identified. As Stefan Rahmstorf said on RealClimate:

    In summary: that the warming since 1998 “is not significant” is completely irrelevant. This warming is real (in all global surface temperature data sets), and it is factually wrong to claim there has been no warming since 1998. There has been further warming despite the extreme cherry pick of 1998.

    What is relevant, in contrast, is that the warming since 1998 is not significantly less than the long-term warming. So while there has been a slowdown, this slowdown is not significant in the sense that it is not outside of what you expect from time to time due to year-to-year natural variability, which is always present in this time series.

  272. oneuniverse says:

    ATTP:

    Can it simply happen by chance, or do we typically expect some kind of trigger than gets the process started?

    The answer to both those questions might be be yes, but I don’t know the answer. The large-scale examples I linked to seem to generally involve some external circumstance. I’m not sure trigger is always the apposite word though. For example, the Azolla event involved the colonisation of the Arctic sea by the that plant, and the anoxic nature of the sea floor allowed for extensive CO2 sequestration. The configuration of the seas at that time contributed to the formation of the anoxic state – however I’m not sure it can be correctly described as a trigger – more like a requisite factor, along with the nature of the Azolla plant and the location of the Arctic sea, providing long periods of sunlight.

    Just to come back to izen’s claim, which is why I originally commented – he wrote : “Climate variability is a zero-sum process, large positive excursions are matched by negative excursions, because of the 2ndLoT the variations have to balance, they cannot impose a trend on the average temperatures.”

    izen – can you quantify what limits you think the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics places on climate variability? How do you go about calculating this ?

  273. BBD says:

    oneuniverse

    I’m not sure that anyone has shown that the so-called ‘Azolla event’ had *any* climatological impact. Cenozoic cooling is generally attributed to a gradual decline in CO2 from peak Eocene levels driven by weathering and sedimentary sequestration.

    Also, there is real uncertainty about CO2 levels ~50Ma, and my impression is that this precludes strong statements concerning (geologically) abrupt draw-down.

  274. can you quantify what limits you think the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics places on climate variability? How do you go about calculating this ?

    Izen should comment himself, but I think his point is that, given the external forcings, the equilibirium state of the system is probably quite well defined. Hence, if any internally-driven process moves the state away from this equilibrium, the tendency will then be for the system to return back to this equilibrium state, set by the external factors. Of course, we will never strictly settle in this state, but will rather oscillate around this state, these oscillations being driven by internal variability.

  275. oneuniverse says:

    ATTP, perhaps so (if you assume internal variability cannot alter the external forcings) but that doesn’t answer my question at all.

  276. I think we’ve agreed that it is possible that internal forcing could change external forcings (albedo). However, it’s my understanding that this is regarded as unlikely (or, rare – Dansgaard-Oeschger events being the only example I can think of).

    that doesn’t answer my question at all.

    I don’t know how to do any better. I’ll leave it and see if izen wants to have a go.

    Maybe I can ask what’s motivating this question. I do not think there is a particularly high chance that any of our recent, long-term warming can be ascribed to internal variability. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible, just that most of our recent warming is likely a consequence of changes in anthropogenic forcings. Are you trying to suggest otherwise?

  277. oneuniverse says:

    BBD, yes the CO2 data looks very erratic around that period. However, evidence from the ACEX core allows for an estimate of how much CO2 was removed, for a given atmospheric CO2 concentration (800ppm for the lower figure, 2000 ppm for the higher) :

    Flux calculations were used to quantitatively reconstruct the potential storage of carbon (0.9–3.5 x 10^18 gC) in the Arctic during the Azolla interval. It is estimated that storing 0.9 x 10^18 to 3.5 x 10^18 g carbon would result in a 55 to 470 ppm drawdown of pCO2 under Eocene conditions, indicating that the Arctic Azolla blooms may have had a significant effect on global atmospheric pCO2 levels through enhanced burial of organic matter.

    “The Eocene Arctic Azolla bloom: environmental conditions, productivity and carbon drawdown” (Speelman et al. 2009)

  278. oneuniverse says:

    ATTP:

    Maybe I can ask what’s motivating this question.

    I think izen’s statement is incorrect (perhaps I’m wrong, or have misunderstood him). He’s repeated it elsewhere, and Steve Mosher has now made the same claim on the Koonin thread. I’d like to know the basis of the claim. FWIW I’ve seen no mention, in the articles I’ve recently scanned on internal variability, of it being zero-sum due to thermodynamic constraints. If izen’s claim is based on an actual quantified analysis, I’m also curious to know what the model is and what it says about the magnitudes and periods of the oscillations around the equilibrium.

    [..] most of our recent warming is likely a consequence of changes in anthropogenic forcings. Are you trying to suggest otherwise?

    No, I’m not.

  279. oneuniverse says:

    Sorry, here is the corrected link to Speelman et al. 2009

  280. BBD says:

    oneuniverse

    My problem with the Azolla hypothesis is simple: in geological terms it was a point event: <1Ma. But Cenozoic cooling proceeded from the peak of the Eocene hothouse ~50Ma all the way to the Eocene / Oligocene transition at ~34Ma. How does ~1Ma of azolla blooms around ~49Ma drive a cooling trend lasting 15Ma?

    Colour me sceptical on this one. The continual removal of CO2 over the full 15Ma period by orogenesis / weathering and sedimentary sequestration in the global ocean seems more physically plausible.

  281. oneuniverse says:

    BBD, I agree, I don’t think it could have driven the cooling, being such a brief event, as you say. It did happen pretty much at the start of the cooling trend, so perhaps it helped trigger it in some way, perhaps not.

    In either case, if it sequestered as much CO2 as it seems it may have done, it would have contributed to the cooling, alongside weathering & other processes.

  282. BBD says:

    Actually, now I think about it, the azolla blooms were a biological climate feedback.

    You have the CO2-forced Eocene hothouse with its accelerated hydrological cycle which, crucially, freshened the surface layer of the Arctic ocean allowing the saline intolerant azolla to colonise and bloom.

  283. Phil says:

    oneuniverse:
    izen is, I think, certainly wrong about one thing; if internal variability really is zero-sum, then it would be down to the 1st Law – conservation of energy, and not the 2nd – entropy and spontaneous heat flow.
    In the modern era, ENSO and other atmosphere-ocean interactions have been the most significant source of natural variability, and since we understand the oceans and atmosphere to be in quasi-equilibrium then that particular source of natural variability is zero-sum (by the first law). The other major modern source of natural variability – cooling by volcanic ejection of reflective particles – is though to be trendless too – due to unchanging nature of ‘g’ perhaps ?

    So I think izen is therefore presenting a somewhat simplified view of things; correct in his conclusions in the context of the original argument (which was, IIRC, about the source of modern-day warming), but wrong in the general case. Such is science …

    Biological evolution is, of course, spontaneous and it would seem possible that it could cause a permanent change in forcing – indeed one could argue that that is what is causing the warming today (i.e. evolution of human brain size)

  284. oneuniverse says:

    Hi Phil, thanks for the comment, I agree about biology. I did notice the issue re: relevance of 1st law vs 2nd, but wasn’t sure exactly what izen had in mind.

    In case it’s of interest, I came across another study, further to Drijfhout ea linked earlier, which suggests unforced variations, even without consideration of the biosphere, might cause significant multi-century climate change. The scale of the events are similar to that in the Drijfhout paper, although the mechanisms are slightly different :

    The initial trigger of the transitions occurring herein and in Drijfhout et al. (2013) are in both cases stochastic atmospheric circulation anomalies, additionally the anomalous state of the atmosphere during the cold event are alike. However the mechanisms sustaining this persistent anomaly are different. While Drijfhout et al. (2013) attributes the persistent anomaly to sea ice-atmosphere interactions later on amplified by ocean circulation feedbacks (mostly AMOC), we find that the changed oceanic gyre circulation plays a key role.

    “Stochastic atmospheric forcing as trigger for sudden Greenland warmings” (Kleppin et al 2015)

    Like Drijfhout, it’s a GCM result so the usual caveats apply.

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