An unchallengeable strategy?

I was thinking a little more about the various GWPF pronouncements, in particular some of the more more recent ones. The problem is that those making the pronouncements are quite well-qualified, have been involved in this topic for quite some time, are clearly not stupid, and yet seem to be promoting what is obvious nonsense. How does one address this?

Given the above, any kind of constructive engagement is pointless; they either know that what they’re promoting is nonsense or – given how long they’ve been involved – are incapable of realising that it’s nonsense. Additionally, anything constructive will probably just appear to be a simple disagreement to those who are insufficiently expert to judge the credibility of the various claims. One could accuse them of being dishonest (as this does appear to be the obvious conclusion) but then you get accused of either making unfounded accussations or not being willing to engage constructively (which – as I’ve already said – seems clearly not possible). You also can’t actually rule out that they do believe what they’re promoting (despite how obviously nonsensical it is). The next best thing is to simply mock them, which is my preferred option, but even this doesn’t really achieve much. It probably only appeals to those who agree that it’s nonsense anyway, and then lead to accusations that [non-“skeptical”] bloggers are almost universally wearily condescending.

Essentially, it someone has the ability to promote an agenda at all costs, irrespective if what they say is credible or not, it’s very hard to do anything to address what they’ve chosen to say. Anything constructive can be ignored by those making the claims, and will appear to simply be a disagreement amongst experts to those on the outside. Anything more destructive can be labelled as mean-spirited and unprofessional by those being attacked. It almost feels like an unchallengeable strategy. It’s probably why I think consensus messaging has value, despite what people like Dan Kahan, and others, might suggest. As Eli points out, it can move the Overton window to the point where it becomes very difficult to hold a contrary position without seeming like a clueless buffoon.

Okay, what was intended to be a quick post, has ended up longer than intended, but I thought I’d end by highlighting this article about Joanna Haigh, Professor of Atmospheric Physics at Imperial College. It’s a very nice article, but I just wanted to comment on one section which starts with

What makes her angry? …… Then there are the deniers: “God, I get angry with some of them.”

Well, yes, me too and it’s good to see that others also get frustrated and angry.

She is not worried about the handful of sceptical climate researchers — “that’s great, it’s how science should work”.

I actually think this an important point and one that isn’t highlighted enough. Clearly we should base our understanding of a scientific topic on the available evidence, but it is still very useful to have some who challenge the standard position. Partly because they may indeed present a credible challenge, but partly because the strength of their challenge can tell us something of the strength of the current scientific position. If the best they can do is extremely weak, then it tells us that presenting credible challenges to the current position is difficult.

Instead, she reserves her ire for ignorant people in positions of power. “If they’re making government policy, they should understand the scientific issues.”

Agreed. Ultimately those in power should be aiming to either understand the scientific issues, or get advice from those who do. In a sense, this is why I find claims that the deficit model has failed irritating. It may be true that trying to reduce someone’s knowledge deficit doesn’t necessarily influence their policy preference, but this does not seem like a good argument for not doing so. Partly, there is intrinsic value in improving people’s understanding of a complex scientific topic, and partly it can move the Overton window to the point where those holding highly contrary positions are no longer regarded as credible.

Anyway, this is now much longer than I intended, so I’ll stop here.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Climate change, ClimateBall, Global warming, Science and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

192 Responses to An unchallengeable strategy?

  1. snarkrates says:

    As to dissenting scientists, I agree that they fulfill a valuable role in the science. However, when you have folks like Richard Lindzen writing op eds for the general public full of arguments that the know to be disingenuous and folks like Judy Curry taking on positions so anti-scientific that they border on solipsism, then these folks have ceased to play a constructive role. One could argue–especially given their recent publication record–that they’ve even ceased to be scientists at all.

  2. snarkrates,
    Indeed, but I think that tells us something too. For example, how many published dissenting scientists are not – for example – associated in some way with a policy think tank? I don’t know the answer, but my guess is that a non-negligible fraction do have an association with a policy think tank.

  3. As long as high ranked politicians are wiling to support the nonsense, the press can act like it is a credible position. We have to get money out of US politics (and more difficultly the press).

    Without being able to buy political credibility, this climate “debate” would be as interesting for the public and as inconsequential as the debates with creationists and chemtrailers.

  4. Victor,
    Indeed, but what is your view of things like consensus messaging moving the Overton window? Certainly seems to me that since engaging directly with some of the flawed arguments doesn’t really work (they simply get repeated and those criticised whine about being mocked or attacked) moving the Overton window so that these arguments start to be viewed as silly seems to be the only effective way to actually address this. Slow, though.

  5. It is clear that a much higher fraction of mitigation sceptical scientists search public attention than mainstream scientists.

    But there are still more mitigation sceptical scientists that do not stand on a soap box than those that do. You can have normal discussions with those scientists. The discussions within science are not comparable to the dysfunctional public climate “debate”.

    My boss until she retired was a mitigation sceptic. A Serbian colleague thinks climate change is a NATO conspiracy (you always need to adapt the conspiracy to the local culture). Last EGU I had a nice long lunch with a Dutch mitigation sceptic. They do good work in their fields.

    There were also some mitigation sceptical scientists who promoted long-range dependence as alternative theory. (They have now conceded that this effect is too small.) One of them did not allow their PhD students to talk to mainstream scientists, which is pretty damning. But normally you can have productive and civil discussions within science.

  6. Victor,
    Interesting, thanks.

    But normally you can have productive and civil discussions within science.

    Indeed, which is why it’s taken me so long to get partly used to the online climate debate. Still not entirely comfortable with it.

  7. snarkrates says:

    For me, science ultimately comes down to curiosity about the subject under investigation for the simple reason that curiosity is hard to corrupt. If your ultimate motivation is to understand what you are studying, lying about it will merely put off the time when you finally understand it.

    However, the second that something else becomes more important than understanding your object of study–be in profit, ideology or even “the good of mankind”–then your science becomes suspect. And the thing is that these secondary motivations are always an illusion.

    Big Pharma may distort research to push approval of a drug, but if they do, they may ultimately face lawsuits from those harmed by the drug.

    Ideologues may distort research to affect policy, but nature bats last. And no ideology predicated on falsehood is worth holding.

    And the luckwarmers claim their opposition to the consensus science arises from the affect that the solutions will have on the poor–ignoring the fact that the science shows that it is the poor who will bear the brunt of the consequences of climate change.

    To a scientist the truth matters, and it can’t be sacrificed even for a “higher truth”. There is no higher truth than the truth.

  8. L Hamilton says:

    “It’s probably why I think consensus messaging has value, despite what people like Dan Kahan, and others, might suggest.”

    Supporters of consensus messaging might be heartened by the latest results from our New Hampshire survey, completed two weeks ago. Integrating with earlier data, about 4800 interviews since 2010, it appears public acceptance that “most scientists agree” has gradually risen among all political groups. There is no evidence of widening polarization about either scientific agreement or basic climate-change beliefs. Views on both questions do remain farthest apart among the best-educated partisans.

  9. No idea whether consensus messaging moves the Overton window, I thought that was the task of crazy ideas.

    But just putting myself in the seat of the normal public, which I am for most other topics, it seems clear to me that a clear consensus is a strong argument. For most topics you do not have the time and expertise to check the arguments and thus naturally look at what the scientists say is how we currently understand the problem.

    (I would also think that there is limited experimental evidence that consensus messaging works. Which is rather amazing that a single consensus message can produce a measureable response. I am not convinced by the correlations of Dan Kahan; there can always be confounding factors that produce such a correction. Thus the limited weight of the evidence for me also suggests that my gut feeling is right and it works.)

    On the other hand there are also people who are interested in the details. These people are likely multiplicators and influence many more peers on the topic. These people need to be able to find the information that explains why the Global Warming Propaganda Foundation is wrong.

    I agree with the above post that both options are not ideal. Maybe a third route would be to give the refuting information, but not to frame it as a debate. That is a hard third route because in the modern attention economy you will not get much readers if you do not present your contribution as part of a controversy.

    I do not know how it is for you, but in the past posts that introduced the topic as part of the climate debate used to get a lot more readers than posts that were introduced as scientifically interesting. For Variable Variability this now seems to have reversed, it is at last even and some of my purely science posts are read a lot more than cheap climate “debate” posts. (That is another reason why the third route is hard in an attention economy; refuting nonsense is easy and hardly needs any expertise/research, while writing a good science post takes time.)

  10. Larry,

    Integrating with earlier data, about 4800 interviews since 2010, it appears public acceptance that “most scientists agree” has gradually risen among all political groups.

    Interesting, thanks. If you have another guest post in you, you’d be most welcome.

    Victor,

    No idea whether consensus messaging moves the Overton window, I thought that was the task of crazy ideas.

    Indeed, but you need some way of illustrating that they’re crazy.

    I do not know how it is for you, but in the past posts that introduced the topic as part of the climate debate used to get a lot more readers than posts that were introduced as scientifically interesting.

    I think that is true here. I think I now roughly know how to write something in a way that provokes controversy and – typically – framing it in terms of the climate debate is one way of doing so.

  11. matt says:

    L Hamilton,

    Is New Hampshire a reasonable representation of the US (if not, which way do they tend to vote)? Can you post some graphs?

  12. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: GWPF is a propaganda machine — nothing more, nothing less. You therefore cannot critique its modus operandi through the prism of physical science. Rather, you need to use the prism of psychology.

  13. Joshua says:

    ==>,…it appears public acceptance that “most scientists agree” has gradually risen among all political groups.There is no evidence of widening polarization about either scientific agreement or basic climate-change beliefs.

    The question, then, is whether/why polarization hasn’t decreased despite an increase in acceptance that scientists agree (how specific was the questioning as to what scientists are in agreement about, btw?)

    It’s one thing to think that “consensus-messaging” might result in increased perception that scientists agree, but materially lessening the political polarization is another, and increasing support for various policy options is yet another. I remain dubious about the impact of “consensus-messaging” in that regard.

    As just one example, even if “consensus-messaging” increased the likelihood that someone might feel foolish about publicly doubting that there is a consensus, they might still go home and blog about how Anders is an unscientific fuc*wit. As such, I’m not particularly impressed with the argument that there’s likely to be a meaningful impact from “shifting Overton Window.”

  14. Joshua,

    As such, I’m not particularly impressed with the argument that there’s likely to be a meaningful impact from “shifting Overton Window.”

    Except we’re probably not talking about someone who might go home and blog about it, but someone who has a public profile and would – presumably – like to appear credible. On the other hand, it may be that shifting the Overton Window may be slow enough to be essentially non-existent on relevant timescales (by which I mean that we may still be in the position where anything meaningful will happen when it becomes obvious that we need to do something and that we should probably have started quite some time ago).

    As an aside, I’m guessing Dan Kahan is unlikely to respond to any of my more recent comments on his site 🙂

  15. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: You should recruit some reputable psychologists* to particpate in this discussion. The issue is, “How do people respond to propaganda in the digital age?” If Donald Trump’s campaign for the Replican nomination for US President demonstrates that propaganda can move a significant slice of the target population. In other words, PT Barnum,’s dictum, “There’s a sucker born every minute!” still holds true.

    *Richard Tol does not meet the standard.

  16. L Hamilton says:

    ATTP:
    “If you have another guest post in you, you’d be most welcome.”

    Thanks, my current theory is that this needs to be a paper, and you know how glacially fast that process goes. It’s frustrating though because I could write a blog post tonight, but in the long run than would not be citable.

    Matt:
    “Is New Hampshire a reasonable representation of the US (if not, which way do they tend to vote)? Can you post some graphs?”

    Demographically the state is less diverse and somewhat better educated than average; politically it’s centrist. Conservativism here is strong but tends to be less evangelical or social-issue oriented than some other parts of the country.

    But regarding climate change topics, New Hampshire appears to be not a bad proxy — maybe a couple of points “warmer” than the US. Here is a time series comparing many NH surveys with 3 nationwide, all asking the same question. Shows the percentage (with 95% c.i.) who think that climate change is happening now, caused mainly by human activities. If I updated through Feb 2016, you’d see a slight upward drift continuing.

    Citable source:
    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0138208

  17. Thanks, my current theory is that this needs to be a paper, and you know how glacially fast that process goes.

    Ahh, yes, I understand.

  18. Joshua says:

    ==> If Donald Trump’s campaign for the Replican nomination for US President demonstrates that propaganda can move a significant slice of the target population.

    Indeed. Think of this part of what Anders wrote above:

    Essentially, it someone has the ability to promote an agenda at all costs, irrespective if what they say is credible or not, it’s very hard to do anything to address what they’ve chosen to say.

    I immediately thought of Trump.The details of what he says (and thus whether it contradicts what he said earlier) doesn’t matter because he captures the ethos of anger and hatred. There is no cost to him for being wrong, abusive, juvenile, untruthful, hypocritical, or vulgar.

  19. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> Except we’re probably not talking about someone who might go home and blog about it, but someone who has a public profile and would – presumably – like to appear credible. On the other hand, it may be that shifting the Overton Window may be slow enough to be essentially non-existent on relevant timescales (by which I mean that we may still be in the position where anything meaningful will happen when it becomes obvious that we need to do something and that we should probably have started quite some time ago).

    Yeah, the going home and blogging point isn’t really very generalizable. But the question of scale, time scale or scale of magnitude of effect, is more what I was going for. IMO, Eli’s shift of the Overton Window won’t amount to anything meaningful, certainly if we’re looking at movement in policy.

  20. Joshua says:

    As for your exchange with Kahan – yeah, it was weird. I think that I first saw Andy Skuce use the word “gratuitous” for Dan’s rhetoric, and I think that is a good characterization at times – in particular with reference to “consensus-messaging.” On the other hand, I’ve seen him engage in good faith a whole lot with criticism on his blog. It seemed that he immediately put you into the “campaigner” category and the die was cast.

    It’s all just weird, especially considering his writing about the impact of “toxic” engagement.

  21. It seemed that he immediately put you into the “campaigner” category and the die was cast.

    Yes, that may well be the case. Odd given that he campaigns pretty hard himself.

    It’s all just weird, especially considering his writing about the impact of “toxic” engagement.

    I did find that a little strange. On the other hand, that there are people who don’t practice what they preach should really be no big surprise. As far as I can tell, invariably those who explicitly campaign for honesty, integrity, … seem to be the ones who lack it most.

  22. L Hamilton says:

    Joshua:
    “I immediately thought of Trump.The details of what he says (and thus whether it contradicts what he said earlier) doesn’t matter because he captures the ethos of anger and hatred.”

    OT — We have some new survey material on Trump supporters as well, with findings that look not paper-weight but possibly blogworthy. (That Feb 2016 poll turns out to be rich.)

    You may have seen US “horse race” polls that ask respondents who they’d vote for in hypothetical head-to-head matches. Several of these (ours included) have found Clinton leading Trump by a narrower margin than Sanders leads Trump. If you think about it, that means there exists a subgroup prepared to switch their support from Trump to Sanders, contrary to what anyone might guess from substantive issues. Who *are* those folks? It looks like an interesting story.

    Back to sort-of on topic — one part of the story is that the potential switchers tend to be Trump supporters who do not reject ACC, or the existence of a scientific consensus.

  23. I went to a debate between Kahan and Lewandorsky last June in Bristol “Cultural cognition vs. consensus messaging: Challenges of climate communication in a polarized world”, which was entertaining. Kahan is a very animated debater, who must jog a few kilometres during his talks. I think is promoting a “have you stopped beating the wife?” type argument: “why do you think consensus messaging will convince everyone?”.

    Did anyone say that consensus message would convince anyone, especially those with entrenched views. But I am more interested in those with an interest in the subject. When I give talks I get loads of interesting questions and I never answer “It’s because 97% say so”, that would be a short and boring talk. If you turn up to a lecture on the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and the lecturer says “99.999% of physicists in Universities around the world agree this law is unlikely ever to be superseded”, and then ends the lecture, the students might be pretty annoyed. Aren’t you going to explain what it is? Oh, ok, lets do that.

    Yet consensus is important, but no substitute for explaining the basis for that consensus..

    Dear Physician, “That treatment protocol you are recommending for my daughter … how much experience is there with it? What are the results? Are there side effects? …”. Most people are interested in both understanding the subject, and understanding whether those who have spent a life-time studying the subject – those “skilled in the art” – have reached a consensus, or not.

    When I meet someone who is knowledgeable in a field I am ignorant about, I like to understand “what do we know for sure?” and “what are the interesting questions that are provisional or uncertain, where researchers are exploring the frontiers?”. The “97%” is actually a composite number for the principal question surrounding AGW.

    There are many questions where I would say the answer is effectively 100% (e.g. the GHE) and others that are well below 97% (e.g. “Is Greenland disintegrating at a rate that will confound current 2100 sea level rise IPCC projections?” … does not command a consensus, yet).

    Kahan wants us to reach a consensus that consensus messaging is worthless. He is of course wrong. We are not beating the wife. We are smart enough to know that consensus messaging along in insufficient; but it is necessary.

  24. Mal Adapted says:

    When contending with AGW-deniers in comment threads on the New York Times, for example, my strategy (when I’m not just reacting reflexively) is to challenge their denialist memes forthrightly but not mean-spiritedly: “Yes, climate has changed due to natural causes in the past, but that doesn’t mean our greenhouse gas emissions can’t be changing it now.”

    Then, in addition to mentioning the “lopsided” consensus of working climate scientists, I like to cite the 34-page booklet for educated laypeople published jointly by the US National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of the UK, titled Climate Change: Evidence and Causes, which is free to download at the link, and begins thus (ALL-CAPS in the original):

    CLIMATE CHANGE IS ONE OF THE DEFINING ISSUES OF OUR TIME. It is now more certain than ever, based on many lines of evidence, that humans are changing Earth’s climate.

    I describe how the booklet addresses 20 common questions about AGW, including (if I’m lucky) the one the denier has just raised as if it hadn’t occurred to climate scientists; and that it includes a short tutorial on the basics of climate change, with references to the primary scientific sources.

    I then point out that the NAS and the RS are two of the world’s oldest and most respected scientific societies, and that the NAS was created by Congress in 1863 specifically to advise the United States on scientific and technical issues. I’ve had some positive responses along with the usual wrong-headed “argument from authority” objections from deniers, and I’ve started seeing the booklet cited by other commenters in later threads. I may be kidding myself, but I’m convinced it’s a valuable tool for engaging deniers publicly.

  25. Willard says:

    > [T]he second that something else becomes more important than understanding your object of study–be in profit, ideology or even “the good of mankind”–then your science becomes suspect. And the thing is that these secondary motivations are always an illusion.

    This looks self-sealing to me, which may be evidenced by the fact that contrarians use that argument all the time, be it under the “but Feynman” form, “but Lysenko” as Matt King Coal used in his latest victim blaming cited above, or under the INTEGRITY ™ brand.

  26. Magma says:

    In my view the problem is that this isn’t really a scientific debate at all (and hasn’t been for many years) but a political and ideological one waged over a scientific issue with far-ranging economic, social and environmental consequences.

    When scientists are baffled by the repeated failure of AGW deniers to correct glaring errors of fact, understanding or interpretation in their arguments or to learn from the scientific literature, it’s because they haven’t fully grasped that their opponents aren’t just using a different playbook, they’re playing a completely different game.

  27. John Hartz says:

    Magma: It is indeed a propaganda war.

  28. If only people knew that I know, then they would agree with me.

  29. You haven’t answered the question I posed at the end of my last post.

  30. Richard Tol, I suspect Will Self would not agree with you, having an aversion to economists:
    “… like all priesthoods the economics one depends for its hold over the credulous on a form of arcane knowledge. In the case of the economists their vulgate is mathematics and in particular its baffling econometric form. And yet the basis of our economic existence is readily and intuitively understood by just about everyone.”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01pcwrc
    Too harsh on economists? Maybe, but whereas in science a key goal is to make difficult things easier to understand, it does often seem that in economics the mission is quite the reverse.

  31. Greg Robie says:

    I have found it helpful to factor in the role motivated reasoning plays in the human condition when trying to understand apparent irrationality. It also doesn’t hurt to consider what the field of moral psychology can contribute to such analysis.

    Concerning the former, this field of study within psychology and sociology strongly suggests that we are not a rational species more often than is sapient. To the degree this is so, the subset of humanity with a slightly greater proclivity to be rational would be wise to accept that their predilection toward reason is a minority orientation. However astutely an argument may be framed, to the degree what is being argued threatens a trusted status quo, it is mostly irrelevant…at least for a generation or three.

    Which brings me to the latter field of psychological and sociological study. Ironically, liberals tend to have a more simplistic moral framework and can experience homeostasis if they know there is a problem. Doing something about the problem tends to be a secondary issue for feeling moral. This is not true for the conservative. Doing something about a problem is integral to a problem being perceived.

    At least here in the US, this difference in moral psychology has fed into the social blue/red divide. Conservatives assume that if there is as significant a problem as abrupt climate change, those that are sure of this would be doing life differently. Since this isn’t the case, another agenda must be in play (e.g. A ruse to institute a one world government). In general I find that conservatives have done their homework and understand that redressing the threat of climate change, to say nothing about abrupt climate change, is incompatible with CapitalismFail. Since liberals are generally not owning up to this, and are basically living life as they always have, what is done speaks so loudly that what is said can not be heard.

    To what degree this dynamic applies to GWPF, I am not sure. A quick look at the website last night suggested to me an inherent duplicity that is integral to employment and a business plan. But since you have now posted a second time and are giving GWPF the benefit of the doubt, I’ll share this possibly helpful insight about motivated reasoning. We all do it, even need to do it. The best we can do is become conscious of it when we’re doing it.

    =) Greg

    sNAILmALEnotHAIL …but pace’n myself

    https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCeDkezgoyyZAlN7nW1tlfeA

    >

  32. Joshua says:

    Larry –

    ==> If you think about it, that means there exists a subgroup prepared to switch their support from Trump to Sanders, contrary to what anyone might guess from substantive issues. Who *are* those folks? It looks like an interesting story.

    Yeah, it would be interesting to know more about that. It’s a bit hard to imagine. I can imagine saying that it’s Bernie or bust (i.e., refusing to vote for a lesser of two evils) but it’s a bit hard to imagine finding Sanders as a first choice and Trump as a second. What kind of ideological framework would explain that dynamic?

    And there could even be a hidden faction. I would imagine that there are some folks who just find Clinton odious and just won’t vote for her (on the days that I dip into ideological rigidness I’m tempted to put myself in that group), but I would think that there are some folks who would say that they favor Clinton but would switch to Trump if it were Trump against Sanders. That at least makes more sense to me from an ideological standpoint than switching from Sanders to Trump if Sanders doesn’t make the nomination.

    But if there are some folks who fall into that category, then the actual number who would switch from Sanders to Trump is even larger than what you see when you look at Sanders’ relative advantage against Trump as compared to Clinton’s – since it you would have to account for those who would likely switch to Trump if Clinton weren’t running.

    Make sense?

  33. Joshua says:

    Greg –

    ==> I find that conservatives have done their homework and understand that redressing the threat of climate change, to say nothing about abrupt climate change, is incompatible with CapitalismFail.

    How have you found that?

    What homework have they done to evaluate the outcomes of redressing the threat of climate change?

    What is the average conservative’s understanding of the economics of redressing climate change? How has that average conservative evaluate the dynamics involved?

    Given that understanding the economic outcomes of redressing climate change is incredibly complex (for example, how does one go about evaluating the ratio of positive and negative externalities of continued aCO2 emissions?), I’m dubious about your assertion.

  34. John Mashey says:

    “would be doing life differently. Since this isn’t the case, another agenda must be in play”

    Please provide evidence for the general assertion “isn’t the case”.

    For example, consider:
    1) SF Bay Area, generally.
    2)CA rules that require new homes to be zero-net-energy by 2020.
    CA rules on emissions.
    3) The recent total rework of the energy system at Stanford:
    https://sustainable.stanford.edu/campus-action/stanford-energy-system-innovations-sesi
    By the way, Steve Chu rides a bicycle to work there, as do many others.
    4) Relatively high density of BEVs and PHEVs, and widespread provision of charging stations.
    5) Fairly widespread efforts at local town level to improve home energy efficiency, including tweaks to permitting, combined with long-time rate decoupling, and of course, elimination of instate coal plants.

    Whether or not any specific person jumps on a plane or not is far less relevant than actions by larger aggregates, especially those dealing with longterm infrastructure investments. For instance (having worked on such) one cannot suddenly mandate immediate upgrades of buildings to high-efficiency standards… but improvements can be worked inyo renovation rules, and into new construction rules.

  35. Greg Robie says:

    Joshua, in part my experience is shaped by my interactions with family members, neighbors, and social “networking” contacts (primarily Twitter ~ ’09-12). But Magma has made an astute observation. To participate in a debate about climate science with those who seem to be incapable of getting it is to miss the point concerning how such a debate is framed within red motivated reasoning and moral psychology…it is generally not about the climate science. It is to make blue-types who engaged in the interaction to prove the science be the butt of a joke that only red-types seem to get.

    And am I correct that you trust that CapitalismFail can be greened; that it can, within the framework defined by the Paris Agreement, significantly redress the abrupt climate change that the current .5 w/sqm energy imbalance has set in motion; that a .3w/sqm/decade rate of increase amplifies? If so, I’m not surprised my assertion has you feeling dubious. Such is the role of motivated reasoning.

    Though you’ve asked about the conservatives’ economic knowledge, are you able to ask and answer the same questions about the knowledge you seem to embrace and trust? Is “it’s too complex to know…but I’ll trust it will work out” a significantly different answer than “its simple, it doesn’t work…& it ain’t gonna happen”?

    I find it sobering to consider that systemically, peak oil is peak credit. CapitalismFail cannot survive peak credit…no matter if that peak oil is conventional oil and Hubbert’s Peak dictates it or it is a consequence of INDCs. The credit that the energy equivalent slaves the oil era has afforded the ‘developed’ world is an economic aberration.

    John, your pragmatism concerning gradualism is, well, practical. I’m pretty sure the laws of thermodynamics will reward us for being so practical (relative to the constrains of CapitalismFail) NOT! We will not like what is in store for us…but we should not be surprised. Brad Werner’s modeling of our economic meme is a work in progress and leaves out climate change. Even so his modeling runs show it failing in a few hundred years…& now the pragmatism of the Paris Agreement and abrupt climate changes needs to be factored into the modeling (& don’t forget the role BECCS is required to play, and at what scale, for 2°C to be other than the bad joke it is).

    But these responses aside, my contribution was intended to encourage including motivated reasoning and moral psychology into the thinking that the query of this post. If, when the chips are down, we are not a rational species, what does that imply concerning strategic thinking…& what is right?

  36. Brandon Gates says:

    Anders,

    Additionally, anything constructive will probably just appear to be a simple disagreement to those who are insufficiently expert to judge the credibility of the various claims.

    Could very well be true. Speaking strictly for myself; on topics that I don’t already have strong opinions either way, I tend to trust the side that isn’t using loaded terminology, imputing motive or otherwise making personal attacks.

    On the other hand, there is a time and place to call bullcrap for what it is. And no small amount of emotional satisfaction in calling out venal, greedy, corrupt, pathologically dishonest, morally bankrupt, homicidal f*$#kwits for who they are and what they represent.

    I don’t think it’s ever an error to be candid and sincere even if the message is a negative one. I believe that genuine honesty comes across in ways that the egregiously dishonest are all to aware of, and greatly fear.

  37. @Richard
    Indeed. Many of the success stories of economic research are now part of common sense and general intuition, whereas economists’ failures are firmly stuck to the discipline. Physics is much better at public relations. No one ever blamed physics that it took decades to find the Higgs’ Boson and longer to detect gravitational waves. People do blame economics for not having a good explanation of the Credit Crunch of 2008.

  38. No one ever blamed physics that it took decades to find the Higgs’ Boson and longer to detect gravitational waves. People do blame economics for not having a good explanation of the Credit Crunch of 2008.

    Hmmm, I think it is somewhat more complicated than that. From what I’ve seen, it’s not simply that economics hasn’t provided a good explanation for the Credit Crunch, it may even be that it is not actually capable of doing so (well, maybe not in advance, at least). Additionally, a physicist cannot influence whether or not the Higgs Boson exists, or whether or not a gravitational wave will pass a detector. Economics, however, can influence how our economies evolve and, hence, could influence whether or not we will have a credit crunch.

  39. Indeed, Wotts, physics only has to contend with Heisenberg, whereas economics has to contend with both Heisenberg and Lucas.

    And indeed, economic theory was clear: A credit crunch cannot happen. Yet it did. That’s how progress is made.

  40. franktoo says:

    [Mod: Unfortunately, there are many sites where you can misrepresent Stephen Schneider. I’d rather you didn’t do it here.]

    As acknowledged above, we needed a “red team” of skeptics to challenge, sharpen and properly qualify the arguments of those who feared CAGW. We didn’t get an IPCC designed to represent a range of scientific opinion; instead we got a self-selected and self-perpetuating elite that controls the scientific message that reaches the public. Those rightly fearing the RISK (not the certainty) of catastrophic climate change CHOSE to play by the rules of politics, not science. Don’t complain when their opponents play the same political game, especially when they are motivated by what they view as the misbehavior of their opponents – hiding uncertainty. Our political leaders do need to hear from that “red team”. A lot of what is said by both sides doesn’t come close to ethical science – “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts”. How many caveats appear in the IPCC’s SPMs? How about the phrase: “If our climate models are correct, we project ….”

    One recent example of an attempt to synthesize the input from a consensus team and a red team occurred when an American Physics Society committee heard input from both sides. That process imploded before that committee could use revise the society’s statement on climate change.

  41. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard Tol wrote “If only people knew that I know, then they would agree with me.”

    Perhaps if you want people to understand your position and know what you know, then perhaps giving straight answers to direct questions might be worth a try, rather than the silly transparent evasion you seem to adopt in blog discussions.

    Call me old fashioned, but it seems to me that asking questions is a good way of find out someones views, and answering questions is a rather good way of explaining them.

  42. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard wrote “No one ever blamed physics that it took decades to find the Higgs’ Boson and longer to detect gravitational waves. People do blame economics for not having a good explanation of the Credit Crunch of 2008. “

    Physicists didn’t cause the Higgs boson or gravitational waves, but economists did have a hand in causing the credit crunch (unless you believe that economists have no influence on the economy). I would suggest that makes the cause of the credit crunch easier to study than the Higgs boson. ;o)

  43. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard wrote “And indeed, economic theory was clear: A credit crunch cannot happen. Yet it did. That’s how progress is made.”

    Has the climate done anything substantial that climatologists claim cannot happen? It is interesting that there seems less of an uncertainty monster in the discussion where it comes to economics than there is on climate physics.

  44. @dikran
    If we believe Fyfe, then the pause was a 2% event. Not quite as implausible as the credit crunch.

  45. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard, that is not “cannot happen”. IIRC Fyfe didn’t correct the projections for the difference in forcing between the scenario and reality (although they did discuss it), and if you do so, then the observations are deeper in the spread of the models. There is also the point that the CMIP5 model ensemble doesn’t cover the whole range of parameterisations that are plausible (i.e. I don;t think it is a perturbed physics ensemble). I suspect the 2% event figure is just the physics free statistical result, and it would be unwise to fixate on statistics and ignore the physics.

    BTW, I think it is more likely that people blame the economists for causing the credit crunch, rather than for not being able to explain it.

  46. @dikran
    People who claim to know the cause of the credit crunch are (a) fools, (b) liars, or (c) on their way to Stockholm. History shows that only a few fall in category (c).

  47. Nick says:

    franktoo, the climate models are performing extremely well. Not a lot of pseudo-skeptics know this. Possibly because of what their treatment of Schneider tells you about their capacity to handle information.

  48. Lars Karlsson says:

    Disgusting!
    Franktoo misrepresents Schneider, like so many other unscrupulous individuals have done before him. Schneider himself set the record straight two decades ago.

    Excerpt:
    “What I was telling the Discover interviewer, of course, was my disdain for a soundbite-communications process that imposes the double ethical bind on all who venture into the popular media. To twist my openly stated and serious objections to the soundbite process into some kind of advocacy of exaggeration is a clear distortion. Moreover, not only do I disapprove of the “ends justify the means” philosophy of which I am accused, but, in fact have actively campaigned against it in myriad speeches and writings. “

  49. I missed that. I’ll moderate it when I get to a computer.

  50. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard I note that yet again you fail to address the substantive point, which is that Fyfe did not show that the climate had done something that climatologists said could not happen.

  51. John Mashey says:

    Speaking as an APS member who has closely followed the shenanigans by Happer, Koonin et al, franktoo misrepresented the APS process. Happer’s petition failed, as did Koonin’s attempt to skew the POPA effort, and he quit.

  52. Brandon, because of motivated reasoning, and the degree to which TV’s dualistic approach to news now delimits the box we think and feel in, determining when its “a time and place to call bullcrap for what it is. And [a time to feel] no small amount of emotional satisfaction in calling out venal, greedy, corrupt, pathologically dishonest, morally bankrupt, homicidal f*$#kwits for who they are and what they represent” is likely _after_ one has done so to themselves./?

    To the degree @RichardTol is correct about this:

    “People who claim to know the cause of the credit crunch are (a) fools, (b) liars, or (c) on their way to Stockholm. History shows that only a few fall in category (c.)”

    Such indicates a great deal of motivated reasoning is in play among those experiencing their homeostasis by hiding behind the cover of complexity. To state that economic injustice is systemic will likely invoke incredulity/resistance among blue-types, &, “right, do you have a problem with that” on the part of red-types. For me theses highly probable response clusters both point to trusted irrationality. To the degree blue- types need justice for all to experience homeostasis, putting-lipstick-on-the-pig of CapitalismFail is a religious- like duty. To those who labor for justice for “our” tribe, whatever the means necessary to keep fattening the pig is justified./?

    Physics defines justice, relative to a conscious species continued existence as behavior that is sustainable; that does not result in a self-directed extinction event. Since all civilizations collapse, this kind of justice, either for all or just ourselves seems to elude our sapience. And I would suggest this is thanks to motivated reasoning. This time around we are collapsing not only “civilization”, as dictated by CapitalismFail, but the planet as a habitable home…& this extinction is just.

    A metaphor for these differently irrational morays might be asserting that there is no G_d to those who feel/know there is. The need to protect a meme’s homeostasis trumps any effort to the contrary that is limited to talk, not a significant walk. And drawing on the wisdom of a Nes Perce story, the pig is actually a heron, and we are the frogs in our pond who have made this predictor our king./?

    (My use of ./? is a shorthand I adopted on Twitter for making both a statement and asking a question.)

  53. verytallguy says:

    If we believe Fyfe, then the pause was a 2% event.

    If we believe Tol’s interpretation of Fyfe, then we should expect one “pause” to show up every 50 years.

    In other words, that it was an expected event.

  54. John,

    Speaking as an APS member who has closely followed the shenanigans by Happer, Koonin et al, franktoo misrepresented the APS process. Happer’s petition failed, as did Koonin’s attempt to skew the POPA effort, and he quit.

    Indeed. And remember that Koonin is someone who thought this was a good argument. Let’s also not forget Andy Lacis’s response.

  55. John Hartz says:

    ATTP,
    Aren’t we falling into trap with Richard Tol and his ilk when we debate about how well global climate models perform in the short-run? I pose this question becase the models are designed to make reasoanable long-range forecasts (multi-decadal) not accurate short-range (annual) forecasts. The only way for us to know how well a particular model performs is to get in a time-machine and transport oursleves to the year 2100.

  56. lerpo says:

    franktoo says: “We didn’t get an IPCC designed to represent a range of scientific opinion; instead we got a self-selected and self-perpetuating elite that controls the scientific message that reaches the public.”

    Are you suggesting that Richard Tol (lead author), Roger Pielke Jnr.(reviewer), John R. Christy (lead author), Nils-Axel Mörner (expert reviewer), Richard Lindzen (lead author), Ross McKitrick (expert reviewer), Roy Spencer (contributing author), and Judith Curry (contributing author) – you think those folks are the self elected elite who control the scientific message that reaches the public?

  57. Joseph says:

    Those rightly fearing the RISK (not the certainty) of catastrophic climate change

    Frank, I don’t see any mention of “catastrophic climate change” in the IPCC reports and I don’t see any indication of absolute certainty of catastrophes or the impacts in the future..

  58. izen says:

    @-franktoo
    “As acknowledged above, we needed a “red team” of skeptics to challenge, sharpen and properly qualify the arguments of those who feared CAGW. We didn’t get an IPCC designed to represent a range of scientific opinion; instead we got a self-selected and self-perpetuating elite that controls the scientific message that reaches the public. ”

    The IPCC reports have consistently underplayed the magnitude, rate and impacts of climate science, at least in the SPM sections because of the input from politics. It has been resolutely ANTI-catastrophic in its projections. Sea level rise being a key example.

    The ‘red team’ of skeptics is needed to challenge, sharpen and properly qualify the arguments of those who minimise and are over-cautious about climate change and its impacts. The problem is NOT the lack of a constituency that says the danger is exaggerated, its the lack of a group that argues it is grossly understated.

  59. Hal Morris says:

    GENERAL COMMENT:
    A major success of AGW “doubters” (let’s try this on for size, a gentle reminder of “Our product is doubt”) has been to make their followers believe in catastrophic(!!) consequences of limiting CO2 emissions – mostly in economic terms, but also in “power grab” (a favorite phrase – straight out of Newt Gingrich’s “How to talk like Newt” memo*) terms, linking it to the UN becoming a tyrannical world government, bird holocausts (implying, or course that we are bird holocaust deniers), etc.

    We, the so-called “Alarmists”, have said too little about the less direct consequences of going on in the same direction (this is different from “maintaining the status quo”) include much more widespread fracking, more blowing tops off mountains, continuing to enrich and give inordinate power to nations such as USSR, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela that happen to be sitting on major oil deposits, and a very uncomfortable tying together of the affairs of such nations with ours and the West’s generally.

    In all “our” negative messaging, far too little is being said about actual progress nations are making towards low CO2 production, the potential of solar energy (for decades it was promoted by dreamers while remaining inefficient; whereas at present the revolution in smart materials is bringing about breakthroughs that might surpass all predictions. Also, due to euphoria-fatigue, we got tired of the simple message that total solar energy hitting the earth dwarfs the potential of fossil fuels … but it is becoming less euphoric and closer to a foreseeable potential).

    Also, “power grabbing” and “one-worlding” memes can be directly countered with the very foreseeable likelihood of renewable energy meaning most nations find their energy within their own borders which should mean, in fact, less dependency between nations, and even devolution of power from central, often bad actors (esp. in Africa – a clear huge beneficiary if solar energy can be realized) to the village level where normal economic life is more likely to prevail and become a counterweight to the old power structures.

    * Seriously, google “how to talk like newt”, but skip the “daily caller” item by Matt Lewis which is a literal red-herring — there to throw you off track.

  60. Hal Morris says:

    RE:

    snarkrates … folks like Judy Curry taking on positions so anti-scientific that they border on solipsism, then these folks have ceased to play a constructive role. One could argue–especially given their recent publication record–that they’ve even ceased to be scientists at all.

    and aTTP: How many published dissenting scientists are not ..– associated… with a policy think tank?

    “What to Make of Judith Curry?”

  61. @vtg
    2% is not, of course, an annual probability.

  62. entropicman says:

    these folks have ceased to play a constructive role.

    Then perhaps we should leave them to wither in their echo chambers. The only politically significant contrarians left are the US Republican Party, and they are working assiduously to make themselves unelectable.

  63. guthrie says:

    Richard neglects to mention the multiplicity of economic theories that exist, focusing only on some or one that failed to predict the credit crunch. I wonder why that is?

  64. verytallguy says:

    @Richard Tol

    2% is not, of course, an annual probability.

    Perhaps rather than quote a number of your interpretation of the paper without definition, you should provide that definition? Otherwise the number is meaningless.

  65. John Hartz says:

    entropicman:

    The only politically significant contrarians left are the US Republican Party, and they are working assiduously to make themselves unelectable.

    While I would love to see the Republican Party implode, I seriously doubt it will happen. To understand why I say this, read the following analyis about the rise of authoritarianism in the US. What is happening is truly scary.

    The rise of American authoritarianism by Amanda Taub. Vox, Mar 1, 2016

  66. Ken Fabian says:

    Those who hold positions of authority and involved in developing policy are one thing – there should be an expectation that they make the effort to be well informed – but when it comes to the public at large if it isn’t on television they aren’t likely to get exposed to it. Consensus messaging makes sense to me but it needs to come from sources that aren’t easily dismissed. When it comes to appeals to authority just who are the authorities can be unclear, but it seems to me organisations like The Royal Society and Academies of Sciences fit the bill best.

    I don’t think a full review of what is known and why there is confidence in it is necessary for the sake of the quality of climate science but for the public perceptions in the face of concerted efforts to undermine their credibility it doing so makes sense. I would love to see RS or US NAS do a TV documentary style presentation and not just cover the essential science but provide background to it, such as make clear what such organisations are, an outline of the value for nations and economies they provide. Crucially a look at how they select appropriate reviewers to get the right mixture of involved expertise and appropriately skilled, dispassionate ‘outsiders’ would be valuable.

    A classy doco with the authority of our leading science advisory bodies stamped on it, using animated graphics to illustrate what is going on could undo a lot of the misunderstandings give the public – and decision makers – a better grasp.

  67. entropicman says:

    John Hartz

    Scary, indeed. If The US is going to start waving it’s arms around again to placate the fears of an authoritarian minority, the rest of us would need to run for cover.

  68. John Mashey says:

    And one more fine item on APS as just announced in APS GPC newsletter
    as just announced in APS GPC newsletter,, Mike Mann was elected Vice-Chair of GPC.

    I Know at least 3 of the people involved in the GPC leadership, and it looks in good hands … despite fervent attempts to derail it.

  69. Richard Tol writes: “People do blame economics for not having a good explanation of the Credit Crunch of 2008.”
    Who are these ‘people’ to which you refer? I, for instance, do blame certain economists – but not ‘economics.’ The fiscal crisis of 2007-2008 revealed that certain economists lacked the ability to mark their views to market. Paul Krugman often uses this short list:

    1.Robert Barro pointing to the decline in private spending during World War II as evidence that multipliers are small, somehow forgetting rationing and all that.
    2.John Cochrane and Eugene Fama confusing accounting identities with causal relationships, and reinventing the Say’s Law fallacy.
    3.Robert Lucas misunderstanding Ricardian equivalence.
    4.Robert Samuelson and Olli Rehn asserting that Keynes wouldn’t have been a Keynesian given current debt levels, without checking actual British debt in the 1930s (which was much higher than debt now).
    5.John Taylor equating Fed policy to hold down interest rates with a price ceiling on, say, apartment rents.

    These economists stopped all semblance of critical thinking. An entire cadre of economists, generally aligned with the GOP here in the USA, were warning that stimulus packages would lead to skyrocketing inflation, exorbitant interest rates, and increased unemployment — and the ‘debasement’ of the dollar. Meanwhile the Krugmans, Dean Bakers, Brad DeLongs et al were saying, ‘No, not likely. That’s not what happens in a liquidity trap.”

    It’s fairly obvious now that one group was hilariously wrong. How many have even admitted they were wrong?

  70. anoilman says:

    John Mashey: Always pick the guy who knows what he’s doing.

  71. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard wrote “2% is not, of course, an annual probability.”

    Note Richard didn’t respond to my more substantive criticisms of his use of Fyfe (which suggests he doesn’t know the difference between a prediction and a projection, or the nature of the CMIP5 ensemble). More evasion.

  72. JohnMashey says:

    “Always pick”…
    Of course. Back in the 1970s, Bell Labs had 25,000 people in R&D.
    New hires who would be successful quickly learned:
    1) No matter how smart they were, and how expert on some topic, there was somebody around at least as smart with a lot more experience.
    2)Figure out who the real experts were and talk to them, do not reinvent wherls, especially not square ones others had discarded years before.

    Of course, good managers explicitly trained people this way.

  73. Joshua says:

    ==> Note Richard didn’t respond to my more substantive criticisms…

    =

    Note, Richard posted a comment.

  74. Michael 2 says:

    oneillsinwisconsin “How many have even admitted they were wrong?”

    Economic questions might get better answers elsewhere.
    http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-02-18/econ-bloggers-take-to-internet-to-hash-out-big-ideas-of-our-age

    But I will guess 23.

  75. austrartsua says:

    @ATTP if something is nonsense just ignore it. Isn’t it that simple? If it is so obviously, demonstrably idiotic, then why even bother responding?

    You are quite mistaken about how the scientific process works. It is funny listening to you try to work it out. You say ” Clearly we should base our understanding of a scientific topic on the available evidence, but it is still very useful to have some who challenge the standard position.” Which is a huge mistake. You assume that the evidence leads to ONE irrefutable conclusion. But evidence doesn’t work that way. Evidence has to be interpreted. It has to be used to mount a scientific argument. That’s why different scientists can look at the same evidence and draw different conclusions. That’s why in science there is no standard position. There is a community of scientists independently assessing the evidence, talking to each other, and reaching consensus.

    So those skeptical scientists are surely grateful for your approval of their existence. However they are merely doing their job. And who exactly made you the boss?

    I’ve been away for a while. Good to see nothing has changed.

  76. Which is a huge mistake. You assume that the evidence leads to ONE irrefutable conclusion.

    No, I don’t. Where did I say that? I simply said “we should base our understanding on the available evidence.” It is true that I said “standard position” but I certainly didn’t take that to mean that there is one, and only one, viable interpretation.

    However they are merely doing their job. And who exactly made you the boss?

    My goodness, you do have problems with reading interpretation.

    I’ve been away for a while. Good to see nothing has changed.

    Yup, you’re still the champion stawmanner.

  77. snarkrates says:

    Austraartsua: “You assume that the evidence leads to ONE irrefutable conclusion.”

    Because gravity is such a controversial idea.

    Austraartsua: “That’s why different scientists can look at the same evidence and draw different conclusions.”

    Note how much this sounds like a Discovery Institute press release: “Creationists aren’t wrong; they just interpret the evidence differently.”

    Austraartsua: “That’s why in science there is no standard position. There is a community of scientists independently assessing the evidence, talking to each other, and reaching consensus.”

    And the consensus becomes the standard position, until new data and insight come along and change the consensus.

    Austraartsua: “So those skeptical scientists are surely grateful for your approval of their existence. However they are merely doing their job.”

    You mean “their job” in the sense that this is what the Heartland and the Exx Mob are paying them to do?

  78. dikranmarsupial says:

    “That’s why in science there is no standard position. There is a community of scientists independently assessing the evidence, talking to each other, and reaching consensus. ”

    One wonders what the difference between the “standard position” and the “consensus” position might be?

  79. John Hartz says:

    ATTP:

    austrartsua says:
    @ATTP if something is nonsense just ignore it. Isn’t it that simple? If it is so obviously, demonstrably idiotic, then why even bother responding?

    Perhaps you should have walked through the door that austrartsua opened. 🙂

  80. Michael 2 says:

    snarkrates commented: “Because gravity is such a controversial idea.”

    Yes. Recent news includes discovering gravitational waves. Or not. There’s some controversy.

    “Creationists aren’t wrong; they just interpret the evidence differently.”

    Yes to that, too. they do indeed interpret the evidence differently. So do astrologers. To them, planets really can suddenly back up in their paths (retrograde motion).

    This is why it can be really difficult to change the mind of an astrologer or creationist. They do actually see the evidence, there’s not much (if anything) you can show them to compel a different outlook.

    “And the consensus becomes the standard position, until new data and insight come along and change the consensus.”

    Standards do not change. That is the meaning of “standard”.

    “You mean their job in the sense that this is what the Heartland and the Exx Mob are paying them to do?”

    Yes. Same as Tom Steyer or the piece of green pays for science. It makes no difference who pays for SCIENCE. Or might you be suggesting that science isn’t settled and can be whatever you want it to be? A kilogram is different for a Republican versus a Democrat?

  81. Yes. Recent news includes discovering gravitational waves. Or not. There’s some controversy.

    I don’t know what you think is controversial. The detection is pretty robust and what was detected is pretty much what was expected.

  82. BBD says:

    M2

    It makes no difference who pays for SCIENCE.

    It does make a difference who pays for misinformation. The junk produced on the FF industry’s dollar isn’t robust. It’s misleading.

  83. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Standards do not change.”

    no, but the do get superseded by new (versions of the) standards as the consensus view of what should be standard evolves and stabilised, e.g. ANSI X3.159-1989, ISO/IEC 9899:1999 and ISO/IEC 9899:2011.

    “It makes no difference who pays for SCIENCE.”

    so studies on the effects of smoking paid for by tobacco companies are fine and research on drug development/safety conducted by the drug companies is no different to independent research on those drugs conducted by academia? I think many would evaluate the evidence differently on that one!

  84. Willard says:

    > Standards do not change. That is the meaning of “standard”.

    Of course they do. “Standard” neither means “absolute” nor “universal,” both in adjectival and in nominal form.

    Contrarian-proof is a very recent auditing standard.

  85. Michael 2 says:

    dikranmarsupial “no, but they do get superseded by new”

    Agreed. A new standard. In my world which includes things like TCP/IP, essentially every bit of it is simply a decision; almost arbitrary but there’s some science in there; quite a bit of math. Everyone works to the standard and the internet happens. If people didn’t adhere to the Standard then things work less well or not at all.

    As it happens, the internet protocols are also a consensus. Several network standards exist; the consensus is which is best. They evolve and are in competition, very much like different species of animals.

    “so studies on the effects of smoking paid for by tobacco companies are fine and research on drug development/safety conducted by the drug companies is no different to independent research on those drugs conducted by academia?”

    Science is truth. It makes no difference who uncovers it. Perhaps you are referring to preconceived assumptions supported by anecdote and polished by statistics, a thing called “studies”. Studies are not by themselves science; studies are exercises in statistics.

    “I think many would evaluate the evidence differently on that one!”

    Studies are great when they support your own assumptions.

    The science of smoking, such as it may be, would not be statistical but chemical — exactly how does this or that substance react with the chemicals in a human body to damage DNA? Observe the process, repeat the process, establish cause and effect. Conduct controlled experiments. Smoking inserts dozens of chemicals into a body; it might not be nicotine per se that is dangerous (nicotinic acid is actually a vitamin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niacin) although it appears to be addictive.

    Where it matters who pays for something is ordinary honesty. The entire experiment, observations and so forth could be 100 percent non-existent except on paper. No one seems exempt from falsifying evidence. Thus is is as improper for only tobacco companies to do their own research as it is for only universities to do so. Can there be such a thing as an institution that exists solely to uncover truth? Maybe, but it will exist amid counterfeits claiming to be the same thing.

  86. snarkrates says:

    Michael2,
    What seems to be missing from your little version of science is physical reality.

    So, no. Planets do not reverse their motions. Not in the real world.

    And no. Earth is not 6000 years old, and humans did not cohabit the planet with dinosaurs.

    Michael2: “This is why it can be really difficult to change the mind of an astrologer or creationist.”

    Except that we are not talking about astrologers or creationists. We are talking about scientists who have agreed to be bound by evidence and not actively mislead laymen with arguments they know not to be true.

    Michael2: “Standards do not change. That is the meaning of “standard”.”

    {cough, cough, cough} The meter has been defined as:
    1) The length of a pendulum having a 0.5 second frequency (never official)
    2) 1/10000000 the distance from Earth’s pole to the equator along Earth’s meridional line
    3) the length of a Pt/Ir bar kept in Sevres, France measured at the melting point of ice
    4) 1 650 763.73 wavelengths of the red-orange line of Kr-86
    5) the distance traveled by light in (1/299,792,458) of a second (current definition)

    Dude, do you even think before you post.

  87. Michael 2 says:

    “I don’t know what you think is controversial. The detection is pretty robust and what was detected is pretty much what was expected.”

    It’s a Game Of Assumptions. Derail the script; compel original thinking and argumentation. This is usually accomplished (IMO) by challenging the assumption on which the remaining logic depends.

    In this case, the Game is False Equivalence. Gravity is uncontroversial therefore “X” is also uncontroversial; while neglecting to explain why X has anything to do with gravity. It’s just bad logic but seems to be effective.

    The tedious, scripted approach is to demand through several cycles of comment why X has anything to do with gravity. But the original point, having been made first, still stands — “because gravity”.

    So challenge gravity! Pop that ball back onto snarkrate’s court; first prove that gravity is settled science, then we can work on the link between gravity and climate science and why proving gravity proves global warming or where ever snarkrates was eventually going to go with this.

    My understanding is that gravity is one of the least understood of the forces. How does a particle know there’s another particle nearby?

    I love it when the simple minded invoke gravity to suggest all science is settled because gravity is understood. If instead they merely assert the existence of gravity, well, I am willing to stipulate to the existence of climate 🙂

  88. Willard says:

    > Dude, do you even think before you post.

    What about you, Snarky: you’re conflating a unit of measurement and a scientific standard.

    Unless you can prove that AGW amounts to something like an operational definition, I suggest you leave this kind of comment at Eli’s.

  89. dikranmarsupial says:

    Willard, no there have been a series of standards for the metre snarkrates usage seems reasonable to me.

  90. Michael 2 says:

    Willard wrote: “Standard neither means absolute nor universal, both in adjectival and in nominal form.”

    My understanding relates to a possibly less-known usage, that of a banner or flag; from which comes the phrase “standard bearer”. It is a symbol or token for a set of principles and practices, more or less.

    I love the etymology: From Middle English, from the Old French estandart ‎(“gathering place, battle flag”), from Old Frankish *standhard ‎(literally “stand firm, stand hard”)

    “A principle or example or measure used for comparison.” (among many definitions).

    As such, ATTP’s usage of “standard” synonymous with consensus seems correct. The consensus has become a standard by which new scientific papers are judged. They might challenge the standard, but in doing so implicitly accept the existence of a standard, given voice by the IPCC and in particular the summaries for policymakers.

  91. dikranmarsupial says:

    Metrology is the science of measurement, and these standards for the metre are part of metrology, so they are scientific standards.

  92. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    Michael 2 says:
    March 9, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    They do actually see the evidence, there’s not much (if anything) you can show them [astrologers / creationists] to compel a different outlook.

    Depends on what you mean by “the evidence” and “anything”.

    If you presume that the Earth is stationary, the planets do appear to go backwards WRT the background stars. But that is “the evidence” of kinematics alone. Problems arise when one attempts to frame laws of physics around the geocentric assumption.

    It is logically possible to create physical laws that are consistent with the supposition that, say, the top of the Washington Monument is the centre of the universe. But such physical laws would be so stupefyingly complex and contain so many obviously ad-hoc parameters that they would be useless in practice.

    The history of science is a story of increasingly coherent and consilient explanations. The “evidence” that astrophysicists ‘see’ and that astrologers and creationists are blind to, is the parsimony of their respective theories. That’s why heliocentrism is commonly accepted by scientists – it explains why the ‘planets sometimes go backwards’ – as an perspective effect of our moving view-point (Earth) – whereas a geocentric theory that pretends to physics must explain these motions as real, physical changes in the planets’ directions of motion. It’s possible to frame physical laws around the geocentric hypothesis, but those laws could not possibly contain anything like coherent definitions of the terms ‘mass’, ‘momentum’, or ‘energy’ that are found in heliocentric theories.

    In that sense, some people do not see, or in fact actively reject, “the evidence”.

    In other words – There are different standards of evidence. Caveat emptor.

  93. Willard says:

    > Metrology is the science of measurement, and these standards for the metre are part of metrology, so they are scientific standards.

    First, it’s not metrology that establishes standards for the measurement units, Dikran, but metrological institutions like the BIPM. Only institutions have the power to create treaties like the Convention du Mètre:

    http://www.bipm.org/en/worldwide-metrology/metre-convention/

    Second, there’s an equivocation in your argument. To see it, track back to the original claim under dispute:

    And the consensus becomes the standard position, until new data and insight come along and change the consensus.

    It is the concept of standard comprised in the expression “standard position” that has been challenged (unsuccessfully) by M2. This concept has very little to do with metrology.

    That scientific units are standardized by metrological institutions doesn’t imply that all conceptions of scientific standard belong to metrology.

  94. snarkrates says:

    Willard, the unit of measure is NOT the standard. The standard defines (for the time it is the standard) the unit. There is science–even modeling–that goes into defining the standard and specifying the uncertainties it introduces into the definition of the unit. So, no, I don’t see a conflation.

    ASTM defines standards for test methods. DOD does likewise. You are looking at this the wrong way. It is not that AGW is like an operational definition. Rather it is that standards presume a consensus model. The model is required to interpret the standard. The consensus is essential for it to be a standard. Metrology is not as simple as you seem to think.

  95. Michael 2 says:

    The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse commented…

    I see that you see the problem as I have described it. The people likely to think of Earth as the center of the universe are not physicists. It is nearly certain that more astrologers exist than physicists. Many newspapers offer a daily horoscope; I can think of none that offer daily physics.

    How is that possible? I propose that complexity is attractive to many people. Catholicism is intended not to be understood or understandable by the masses, and from that mystery comes awe and obedience (especially when combined with guilt).

    “For example, when Mars is in Taurus, it is heavily affected by Venus, which rules Taurus. That makes the sign Venus occupies important in showing us the backdrop to how Mars in Taurus energies express themselves. Pay attention to Venus the next few weeks, since she’ll be behind all Mars activities as long as Mars is in Taurus.”
    http://www.aquariuspapers.com/astrology/2011/05/astrology-class-what-is-a-dispositor-and-what-is-mutual-reception-between-two-planets.html

    Astrology is incomprehensible and consequently difficult to challenge. It does not need to prove itself; it has believers. It is a booby-trap: If you challenge a claim, you implicitly endorse the validity of astrology as surely as merely mentioning climate change was an endorsement of AGW in John Cook’s survey. But you cannot challenge astrology per se, in sum and total, all at once; for it exists only in its parts.

    How can I be sure that Mars is not affected by Venus when Mars is in Taurus? How do I know this particular astrologer is any more correct or less obfuscated than any other? How do I know which climate scientist is telling the truth?

    The answer is consensus. In astrology, a person that tries to invent different consequences for Mars being in Taurus will be seen as inventing astrology, a fiction; but if he restates what others have been stating for thousands of years, well then it is Astrology with a capital A and part of the consensus.

    Everyone would be an astrologer if the only requirement to compel belief was consensus.

    But there’s more than one consensus competing for believers. A larger consensus is that astrology is worse than fiction.

  96. The meter is defined as the distance travelled by light in 1/299 792 458 of a second. While it is a metrological intrinsic standard it is also arbitrary. I think it stretching the idea of ‘standard position’ to include these types of metrological standards. It’s really just a definition.

    When we move to the actual calibration procedures used in metrology, the ‘standard position’ has much more relevance. The actual measurements, especially indirect measurements, are based on a consensus opinion – a true ‘standard position’ based on science. There is nothing arbitrary about V= I * R. There is nothing arbitrary about the way a Rogowski coil measures current. One would have to believe that theory is incorrect to doubt the results. And these methods do change; mainly because of technological change.

    It’s much clearer to think of a standard position, or scientific consensus, as the *current* position. As everyone here (excepting maybe Michael 2) knows, science is not static. Standards do change. Take particle physics, is the ‘standard model’ going to be around in 100 years? Undoubtedly yes. The question is, will it be one *we* recognize 🙂

  97. Tom Curtis says:

    Willard, I thought you were a better philosopher than that.

    M2 made a claim about the meaning of the word ‘standard’. snarkrates provides a counter-example which demonstrates that M2’s semantic claim is false. It follows that M2’s argument that standard positions in science do not change because the semantics of the term ‘standard’ do not allow for changes is unsound. That is, snarkrates’ implicit rebutal of M2’s argument by means of an explicit counter example to a semantic claim is sound.

  98. Tom Curtis says:

    Sorry, I should have written, “you are a better philosopher than that”. Your penchant for nitpicking has resulted in your dropping below your usual standards.

  99. Michael 2 says:

    dikranmarsupial “there have been a series of standards for the metre snarkrates usage seems reasonable to me.”

    It may be a subtle nit, but you seem to acknowledge that a series of standards has existed for defining the meter/metre, whereas snarkrates seems to propose that there has always been only one standard and that it *changes*.

    As you earlier revealed, when the C standard is updated, it gets a new name, for it is a new standard.

    Descriptive versus Prescriptive:

    The “standard model” of physics is merely descriptive of a consensus and a relatively poor shortcut since what exactly it means at any given moment is probably not fixed.

    The standard for a meter, or for the C language, is prescriptive — filled with “will” and “shall”. Units and measures must necessarily be prescriptive; reliable in meaning and application, the same for everyone everywhere (but not perhaps every-when).

  100. Michael 2 says:

    Tom Curtis “snarkrates’ implicit rebutal of M2’s argument by means of an explicit counter example to a semantic claim is sound.”

    From his point of view. From mine he provided a list of five standards, each of which is prescriptive and to be used by all subscribers of the authority issuing the standard.

    If standards can change then they are not standing very hard (stand hard; standard).

    But some uses of the word “standard” ought perhaps to be instead “common”; instead of the standard model of physics, the “common” model of physics. Being common implies no rigidity or prescription; merely that it is common or the consensus view (and thus more likely to be correct, but not defined as being correct, for which purpose you need an Authority).

  101. John Hartz says:

    You know when particpants start debating how many angels fit on the head of a pin that a comment thread has reached its useful life. 🙂

  102. Willard says:

    > [T]he unit of measure is NOT the standard. The standard defines (for the time it is the standard) the unit. There is science–even modeling–that goes into defining the standard and specifying the uncertainties it introduces into the definition of the unit. So, no, I don’t see a conflation.

    The conflation is between the standardization involved in the creation of scientific units of measurement and our norms for scientificity, i.e. the kind of scientific principles that (say) make AGW a thing.

    ***

    > [Snarky’s] implicit rebutal of M2’s argument by means of an explicit counter example to a semantic claim is sound.

    Unless metrological disputes imply a change in our conception of scientificity, Snarky did nothing of the sort. Reconstructing M2’s claim as an argument, I’d say it appeals to something like a platonist conception of science. Under that conception, standards ain’t just definiendum games. One does not simply refute an appeal to realism by operationalizing all the things.

    M2’s claim should be false even if we accept that science is objective, i.e. neutral, observer-independent, etc. A more fruitful counter-example would be the advent of the auditing sciences, which bring new sets of requirements, and possibly new standards for scientificity too.

  103. dikranmarsupial says:

    Willard wrote “First, it’s not metrology that establishes standards for the measurement units, Dikran, but metrological institutions like the BIPM. ”

    Sad that some people just can’t stand to be corrected. So how do metrological institutions decide on the standard? By applying metrology and coming to a consensus view on how best to define the standard.

    “That scientific units are standardized by metrological institutions doesn’t imply that all conceptions of scientific standard belong to metrology”

    No and I didn’t say they did. However if the argument is “Standards do not change. That is the meaning of “standard””. then I don’t need to prove that it is wrong in every case to show that it is wrong, I just need to show that it is wrong in a particular case (e.g. metrology). Perhaps you should pay more attention to the consistency of your own arguments.

    Having said which, I don’t think permanence is part of the definition of standard anyway, the standard view of gravity was Newtonian for a very long time, but that also has been superseded.

  104. dikranmarsupial says:

    Michael2 Perhaps you can suggest a “standard” in science that hasn’t changed to illustrate your point? AFAICS there is nothing in science that is fundamentally immutable, even the idea of what science actually is is still evolving.

  105. dikranmarsupial says:

    Incidentally, I’d say that metrology was definitely a fundamental element of scientificy (“The quality of being scientific; scientific character.”).

  106. John Hartz says:

    While we wax eloquently about the meaning and use of the word “standard”, the world continues to warm at an alarming and accelerating rate…

    The world is on track to reach dangerous levels of global warming much sooner than expected, according to new Australian research that highlights the alarming implications of rising energy demand.

    University of Queensland and Griffith University researchers have developed a “global energy tracker” which predicts average world temperatures could climb 1.5C above pre-industrial levels by 2020.

    That forecast, based on new modelling using long-term average projections on economic growth, population growth and energy use per person, points to a 2C rise by 2030.

    Dangerous global warming will happen sooner than thought – study by Joshua Robertson, Guardian, Mar 9, 2016

    PS – Those of us alive in 2020 and 2030 will be able to see for ourselves how well these new forecasts have performed.

  107. Willard says:

    > So how do metrological institutions decide on the standard? By applying metrology and coming to a consensus view on how best to define the standard.

    “Applying” metrology, whatever that means, ain’t the same as “defining” a standard. On the one hand, you have a scientific practice that (more or less) follows a set of social norms, most of which are (at best) implicit. On the other, you have explicit definitions which create their objects. The “standard” equivocation therefore strikes again: since metrological standards ain’t a subset of the standards under consideration, the “I just need to show that it is wrong in a particular case” doesn’t cut it.

    A distinction needs to be made between what metrologists follow and what they produce. The first standards are regulative, while the second are constitutive. For more on the distinction between constitutive and regulative rules, here’s a pre-print:

    http://www.rug.nl/staff/f.a.hindriks/constitutive_rules_language_ontology.pdf

    Think of the game of Chess. Snarky’s argument amounts to say that because the rules changed over the years, the principles behind Chess strategy changed. This might be factually true, but it doesn’t follow logically. In fact, it’s far from being obvious if we conceive strategies in terms of game theory, for then the same strategies can apply many generalizations of the game rules. Zermelo’s theorem applies to infinite chessboards, for instance.

    I don’t understand why commenters would preface their comments on stuff they haven’t studied with cheap ad homs, but please do continue.

  108. Willard says:

    > The standard for a meter, or for the C language, is prescriptive — filled with “will” and “shall”. Units and measures must necessarily be prescriptive […]

    The standard for a meter is more than a prescription: it’s a constitutive rule that states what “is” a meter. Its main role is therefore descriptive, or rather performative. The scientific standards that follow practicing metrologists are looser than that, and most probably elude us. Merton tried to codify some, but did not succeed very well. I would advise against doing so, as it may lead to self-referential problems and also beg INTEGRITY ™ moralism.

    The main reason why one does not simply score goals in ClimateBall ™ is that there are no constitutive rules for everyone to follow.

  109. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    John Hartz says:
    March 10, 2016 at 1:52 am

    You know when particpants start debating how many angels fit on the head of a pin that a comment thread has reached its useful life.

    The original formulation of the question did not refer to the head of a pin, but to the point of the pin…

    Answer – About 8.6766*10 exp 49 angles, depending on the mass of the angels.

    http://www.improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume7/v7i3/angels-7-3.htm

  110. dikranmarsupial says:

    ““Applying” metrology, whatever that means, ain’t the same as “defining” a standard. ” nobody says it was Willard. If you don’t know what something means, perhaps you ought to ask for clarification.

  111. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    The standard for a meter is more than a prescription: it describes a constitutive rule it states what “is” a meter. Its main role is therefore descriptive, or rather performative.

    Applying vs defining…

    I would say that in modern physical theory, the main role for the standard unit is operational.

    The standard tells you what you need to know to empirically determine the magnitude of the unit.

    The standards are related to each other by physical laws, and as a result we establish a standard unit of measurement by reference to other units – e.g. length defined in terms of, say, the product of speed and time.

    The standard units and the physical laws that are deployed to define the units have no precise meaning without reference to each other.

  112. Michael 2 says:

    dikranmarsupial wrote: “Michael2 Perhaps you can suggest a standard in science that hasn’t changed to illustrate your point?”

    Many have been suggested, some by snarkrates. A Standard Kilogram for instance. New standards have replaced old standards but the old standards did not change.

    Kilograms do not exist in nature. That is why standard kilograms must be defined. Things that exist in nature form their own definitions and need only to be measured. Such measures are descriptive, not prescriptive.

    England uses a unit of measure called a “stone”. I have only scant idea what is a stone, about 20 pounds I think. But what is a pound? I have even less of an idea. But long ago in a galaxy far away someone went to the beach and found a large stone and all subsequent stones were calibrated to be similar in weight to the Standard Stone. Needless to say the first such stone was entirely arbitrary, but once chosen it was necessary to NOT change since that would disrupt commerce (among other consequences).

    Since atoms exist in nature, and are of predictable and presumably unchanging weight, the newest proposed standard for a kilogram is a very large number of silicon atoms. I don’t know how they propose to count them but it is surely going to be a very unchanging weight. It is also intended to NOT be noticeably different than its predecessor; the intention is clear, the weight of a kilogram is supposed to be “stand hard”.

  113. dikranmarsupial says:

    OK so it appears that Micheal2 cannot give examples of standards in science that do not change other than the trivial sense in which previous standards for measurement are still usable, but that makes his original comment essentially meaningless. Michael2 responded to the comment

    “And the consensus becomes the standard position, until new data and insight come along and change the consensus.”

    by writing

    Standards do not change. That is the meaning of “standard”.”

    However nobody was saying that an existing standard had changed, but that an old standard view (paradigm as Kuhn would have it) had been superseded by a better one as a consensus formed.

    I think this is what comes of focusing too much on the structure of an argument rather than its substance. There comes a point where pedantry becomes something a technique similar to that of a Gish Gallop, where the idea is to increase the effort required for your “opponent” to respond to the extent where they can no longer be bothered.

  114. Willard says:

    > If you don’t know what something means, perhaps you ought to ask for clarification.

    The concept of “applying metrology” makes little straightforward sense in our context. It can only be a figure of speech that instrumentalizes scientific practices. There was no need to ask, and when Richie plays squirrels like that, the word “diversion” usually appears in a follow-up comment by Dikran.

    A similar courtesy could have been extended to M2, BTW.

  115. Willard says:

    > the weight of a kilogram is supposed to be “stand hard”.

    Yet it moves:

    The kilogram (kg) is the only SI unit defined in terms of a manufactured object. So to ensure the accuracy of mass and weight measurements, all the masses used in all the measurements around the globe should, in theory, be directly compared to the IPK – which is kept by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in Sevres, France.

    That is, of course, impossible. As a practical matter, the national metrology institutes of various countries keep one or more primary 1 kg standards, and it is those masses which are periodically re-calibrated against the IPK.

    The primary national standards are then used to calibrate national “working standards” that are used for further calibrations of still other standards. In this fashion, the kilogram is ultimately disseminated across the nation in a carefully recorded chain of comparisons that provides traceability back to the original national standard and thus ultimately to the IPK.

    http://www.nist.gov/pml/si-redef/kg_intro.cfm

    It has moved even more than that recently:

    Many units of measure have been defined in terms of artifacts. For example, until 1960 the international definition of the meter was based on a platinum-iridium prototype rod made in 1889. The volt was once defined in terms of the output of a specific kind of wet-cell battery. The gram itself was originally the mass of a cubic centimeter of water at 4 ͦ C. But modern metrology has moved away from using physical objects as standards. The kilogram is the lone remaining unit defined that way.

    There is widespread agreement that the current situation has to change. Aside from the considerable practical difficulties involved in calibrating individual kilogram prototypes and standards from numerous national metrology institutes against the International Prototype Kilogram (actually, against one of its working copies), there are inherent problems with the mass stability of kg artifacts.

    http://www.nist.gov/pml/si-redef/kg_present.cfm

    The “widespread agreement” is never set in stones, literally or not.

  116. Willard says:

    > I think this is what comes of focusing too much on the structure of an argument rather than its substance. There comes a point where pedantry becomes something a technique similar to that of a Gish Gallop, where the idea is to increase the effort required for your “opponent” to respond to the extent where they can no longer be bothered.

    Something has been said earlier about the sadness of people who just can’t stand to be corrected.

  117. dikranmarsupial says:

    Willard, sorry I shall issue a nolle-prosequi (as Jeeves would say) on that as I am interested more in the substance of the argument than pointless bickering (which is why I asked Michael2 a question designed to help him make his point in a way that I could understand, which is usually a more productive approach).

  118. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Suggest that you amend the title of this post by adding:

    “(Mired in Meters)”

  119. snarkrates says:

    Willard,
    Just as there are standards in metrology and testing, there are also standards in any particular field of science. Reviewers would look askance at a paper that didn’t use standard techniques to account for autocorrelation in a dataset. A particle physics paper that discounts the standard model will have a hard time being taken seriously.

    Every field of science at a given point in time has standards. They are what you need to know to understand the body of knowledge in that field and to make progress in research and extend knowledge. That such research changes the standard models, techniques and body of knowledge is part of science. It doesn’t detract from the fact that they are still standards. The point stands: Standards can change.

  120. Frank says:

    Nick says March 7, 2016 at 11:23 am: The climate models are performing extremely well. Not a lot of pseudo-skeptics know this. Possibly because of what their treatment of Schneider tells you about their capacity to handle information.

    Frank replies: I suggest you read Tsushima and Manabe PNAS (2013). http://www.pnas.org/content/110/19/7568.full.pdf

    The asymmetric distribution of land on the planet causes a seasonal 3.5 K rise and fall in absolute GMST (not GMST anomaly) every year that produces about 10 W/m2 of change in outgoing OLR and reflected SWR. This warming is similar to that predicted for 2XCO2. Look at how poorly AOGCMs reproduce the large seasonal changes in OLR observed from space over 10 seasonal cycles. Look how much models disagree with each other!

    Or try: http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0191.1

    Abstract: Uncertainty in equilibrium climate sensitivity impedes accurate climate projections. While the intermodel spread is known to arise primarily from differences in cloud feedback, the exact processes responsible for the spread remain unclear. To help identify some key sources of uncertainty, the authors use a developmental version of the next-generation Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory global climate model (GCM) to construct a tightly controlled set of GCMs where only the formulation of convective precipitation is changed. The different models provide simulation of present-day climatology of comparable quality compared to the model ensemble from phase 5 of CMIP (CMIP5). The authors demonstrate that model estimates of climate sensitivity can be strongly affected by the manner through which cumulus cloud condensate is converted into precipitation in a model’s convection parameterization, processes that are only crudely accounted for in GCMs. In particular, two commonly used methods for converting cumulus condensate into precipitation can lead to DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT CLIMATE SENSITIVITY (my emphasis), as estimated here with an atmosphere–land model by increasing sea surface temperatures uniformly and examining the response in the top-of-atmosphere energy balance. The effect can be quantified through a bulk convective detrainment efficiency, which measures the ability of cumulus convection to generate condensate per unit precipitation. The model differences, dominated by shortwave feedbacks, come from broad regimes ranging from large-scale ascent to subsidence regions. Given current uncertainties in representing convective precipitation microphysics and the CURRENT INABILITY TO FIND A CLEAR OBSERVATIONAL CONSTRAINT that favors one version of the authors’ model over the others, the implications of this ability to engineer climate sensitivity need to be considered when estimating the uncertainty in climate projections.

    The paper is behind a paywall, so I haven’t read it. However, a conference presentation on this subject is publicly available. It shows that the phrase “drastically different climate sensitivity” involves a difference in ECS between 1.8 and 3.0 degC! The author’s reported ECS in terms of K/(W/m2) which I multiplied by 3.7 W/m2/doubling. [Why did the authors chose to put qualitative, rather than quantitative, information about the change in ECS in the abstract?]

    http://pcmdi.github.io/CFMIP/Data/media/2015/Zhao_CFMIP_2015.pdf

    There are also similar reports about how change in the entrainment parameter can produce large changes in climate sensitivity.

    If parameters were re-tuned, the climate sensitivity of at least some AOGCMs probably could agree with that of energy balance models with Otto (2013) and Lewis&Curry (2014). The IPCC has been reasonably candid about uncertainty in climate sensitivity (likely 1.5-4.5K), but I personally can’t justify a 17% likelihood that ECS is greater than 4.5 K based on energy balance models. However, they are grossly misleading about the uncertainty in future warming because they publicize on projections from models with ECS in the vicinity of 3.0 K. If ECS is in the vicinity of 2.0 K, the argument for a crash mitigation program is dramatically weaker.

  121. Willard says:

    > Just as there are standards in metrology and testing, there are also standards in any particular field of science.

    Then show me some “standards in any particular field of science,” Snarky. Pick any one you like, including metrology. No, pointing at measurement units doesn’t count, as measurement units ain’t “standard in any particular field of science.” That would be an equivocation, just like the concept of sameness you used to pull that trick, come to think of it.

    Language is a social art.

  122. Willard says:

    > I shall issue a nolle-prosequi […]

    Carry on with any double standard you please, Dikran. As if pointing out that definitions of measurement units changed over time had any importance for ze “substance” of M2’s claim, which was not even an argument incidentally.

    Please, do carry on – I’m collecting examples for a presentation.

  123. Willard says:

    > The paper is behind a paywall, so I haven’t read it. […] If parameters were re-tuned, […]

    There ends the leeway for your counterfactual thinking, Frank.

    Thank you for your concerns.

  124. snarkrates says:

    Willard, ever hear of the standard model of particle physics? Ever hear of the Preliminary Reference Earth Model (PREM) in seismology? Ever hear of MIL-STD 883? Ever hear of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where (yes!) they do science? Want more?

  125. Michael 2 says:

    “it describes a constitutive rule it states what is a meter”

    Meters do not exist in nature. A meter isn’t anything at all until a human person decides what the word means. It still isn’t a standard until enough other people agree with that particular definition. Then it is a Standard, but not perhaps (shall we say) to the Chinese, who may well have their own measures and standards, just as they have their own calendar.

    In that sense it really is quite a lot like a consensus; but a consensus need not have an authority and consequently could be like a flock of birds, fluid in motion. As you have pointed out, somewhere on Earth is THE Kilogram. Because it is perfectly arbitrary, someone, somewhere, must create an object and call it a kilogram. Then persuade others. The French are pretty good at that sort of persuasion.

    Obviously had they chosen some other weight for a kilogram the measurement systems and constants would be something else and we’d be having the same conversation.

    Coming back to a standard view of climate change, there must be a claim (there is), and an authority (there is, IPCC) and it will be somewhat arbitrary as otherwise you don’t need a “standard”. So if someone clearly intends to mean the IPCC conclusions as to climate change as being the Standard, that would be reasonable. Can it change? Not to me; that is why WG1 isn’t updated — it is replaced! During its draft phase it gets updated frequently I suppose, but in that draft phase it isn’t yet a standard.

  126. Michael 2 says:

    I should read your words more carefully:

    “it describes a constitutive rule it states what “is” a meter”

    Yes, agreed; it constitutes (creates) the “meter”. Being pedantic I would change only “is” to “shall be”. Until constituted it isn’t anything; so there is not yet an “is”.

    (That’s really starting to sound like Bill Clinton!)

  127. Willard says:

    > Want more?

    This presumes that these refer to “standards in any particular field of science,” Snarky, the kind of standards of which we can predicate things like “They are what you need to know to understand the body of knowledge in that field and to make progress in research and extend knowledge” Furthermore, these “standards,” to be relevant, need to be comparable to the ones we use to define measurement units.

    Even if we change the way the meter or the kilogram is now measured, that doesn’t change the fact that we still use the kilogram or the meter changed as a standard.

  128. Tom Curtis says:

    M2:

    1) Understanding of the meaning of words can be informed by etymology, but is never determined by etymology. Otherwise ‘bachelor’ would mean “adult serf without a landholding” rather than “unmarried, marriageable person, typically male”.

    2) Given (1), your etymology of ‘standard’ is irrelevant. Out of interest, however, it is probably also wrong. The etymology of ‘standard’ is uncertain between two possibilities, but by far the most probable is a derivation from ‘estendre’, Old French for “to extend”, ie, that which is actually done with battle standards. On the “folk-etymology” on which you rely, medieval battles would have consisted of groups of men gazing aggressively at each other across the battle field as they both stood hard.

    As it happens, soldiers not only stand hard, but also advance (or charge or march) behind their standards, and parade before them. On the etymology from battle standard to a standard in weights and measures, that implies standards are capable of movement, and are expected to do so. Of course, point (1) still applies.

    3) Meaning is not determined by etymology, but it is determined by usage; and in the current usage of ‘standard’ both for weights and measures, and for scientific theories (where ‘standard’ has a different meaning), standards to change. Even the standard model of particle physics has gone through a few incarnations. Nor do standards “need an authority”. Standards of dress and behaviour have existed, and changed continuously without any such authority. Or perhaps it is better to say that no authority greater than a perceived consensus is required for a standard to exist – on which basis the standard will change with changes in that perceived consensus.

    4) Most fundamentally, you are criticizing the use of the term ‘standard’ by somebody else, claiming that it implies something that they were certainly not implying. The humpty-dumpty defense of word usage (which is pretty much your current position) palls quickly when somebody uses it of their own words. Far more so when the abrogate to themselves the right to define what others meant by a word.

  129. Tom Curtis says:

    Willard, snarkrates criticized an argument, not a position. If the criticism of the argument is sound (as his was), he has no need to go on and further criticize the position.

    Further, M2’s response to me suggests that I have not misrepresented his argument (else he would have drawn attention to that). From that it follows that snarkrates was criticizing an incorrect semantic point by providing relevant counter-examples.

  130. Willard says:

    > snarkrates criticized an argument […]

    Snarky criticized M2’s Standards do not change. That is the meaning of “standard”.. This was in response to AT’s And the consensus becomes the standard position, until new data and insight come along and change the consensus.” The only argument (if you can call that) is semantic, one I don’t recall Snarky criticizing.

    Snarky’s argument appeals to facts of metrology: witness the meter and other units of measurement. This somehow refutes M2’s claim, because metrology should be related to M2’s concept of standard and AT’s expression “standard position.” Standard positions in science are just like meters, kilograms, or else. We can see the word “standard” in many scientific works. We ought to presume that all these ways of referring, alluding, or stating things about scientific standards need to be related, right?

    However plausible this may be, how social norms like the ones behind the standard model of physics are supposed to be connected to the way meters and kilograms get standardized is far from obvious to me. We’re looking at two opposite activities in the spectrum of social norms. Appealing to a “standard position” regarding AGW does not even come with a specific statement of AGW most of the time. Meanwhile, kilograms are now defined in terms of the Planck constant, because precision.

    In any case, pointing out that standards do indeed change contradicts M2’s main claim, not his argument. I don’t see why I shouldn’t call this claim a position. Neither do I see the relevance of the contradiction: we still use meters to measure things, we still run 100 meters too. The change in these units hasn’t changed much the mundane usage of these standards.

  131. Willard says:

    > Being pedantic I would change only “is” to “shall be”.

    We could also add “we thereby declare that, from now on […]” or something along those lines, to mark the performative force of the speech act.

    What you’re looking for, M2, is the distinction between brute facts and institutional facts. Start here:

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/3326788

  132. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Coming back to a standard view of climate change, there must be a claim (there is), and an authority (there is, IPCC) and it will be somewhat arbitrary as otherwise you don’t need a “standard”. ”

    I don’t think it is true that a standard view of a particular scientific issue requires an authority (in the sense of a body such as the IPCC). The example I have earlier was that the standard position on gravity before Einstein was Newtonian and afterwards relativistic. Another example would be the standard model of particle physics. As I suggested earlier the probable meaning in the sentence that sparked this off was what Kuhn would call a “paradigm” or what might be called the “mainstream position”. So it seems to me that the problem is that Michael2 is applying too narrow a definition of “standard”.

    Standards are also not “arbitrary”, as someone pointed out earlier, standard measurements tend to be selected so that they work together to encode something about the physics of the world we live in (which is why science tends to use metric rather than imperial measurements, the reason for the choice is that they are less arbitrary). The standards for the C programming language are not arbitrary, a lot of thought have gone into them and there are reasons for most of the things that are specified. The standard model of particle physics is also not arbitrary as it describes a mixture of what we know from experiment and a best estimate of what theory suggests.

  133. snarkrates says:

    Willard, are you being intentionally obtuse? Did you even bother to look up what the Standard Model of particle physics or the PREM were?

    Perhaps you are suffering from the same misapprehension as M2? M2 seems to be unable to comprehend the idea that a standard can exist independent of any authority’s existence. If an approach consistently yields better results than to alternative approach, it will come into wide acceptance and become a de facto standard. There may be some who still insist on adhering to other standards, but we will look on them the same way we look at someone who eschews the pocket calculator in their breast pocket in favor of an abacus.

    An administrative body may define a “de jure” standard, but usually this will come long after the de facto standard has come into wide acceptance. The scientific consensus is a de facto standard. It, of necessity, must change, precisely because our state of knowledge changes. The consensus exists independent of the IPCC, just as the kilogram exists independent of the BIPM.

  134. Willard says:

    > If an approach consistently yields better results than to alternative approach, it will come into wide acceptance and become a de facto standard.

    That’s not why we accepted kilograms and meters, Snarky. They’re units. They have no empirical content. They don’t say anything about brute facts.

    A consensus about some measurement unit is a convention. The consensus on AGW is not. AGW carries an empirical content.

    It’s not that complicated.

    ***

    > The consensus exists independent of the IPCC, just as the kilogram exists independent of the BIPM.

    Which means a consensus is kinda like a kilogram, no doubt.

    Yet we need an institution like the BIPM to establish a consensus on what’s a kilogram. Yet we need an institution like the IPCC to review the consensus on AGW and issue statements related to that consensus.

    Do you really think that institutional facts are independent of institutions, Snarky?

    Thank you for your rhetorical questions. They mean a lot to me.

  135. dikranmarsupial says:

    Just as an aside, to demonstrate that even the BIPM standard kilogram does change, they say

    “It follows that the mass of the international prototype of the kilogram is always 1 kilogram exactly, m(grand K) = 1 kg. However, due to the inevitable accumulation of contaminants on surfaces, the international prototype is subject to reversible surface contamination that approaches 1 µg per year in mass. For this reason, the CIPM declared that, pending further research, the reference mass of the international prototype is that immediately after cleaning and washing by a specified method (PV, 1989, 57, 104-105 and PV, 1990, 58, 95-97). The reference mass thus defined is used to calibrate national standards of platinum-iridium alloy (Metrologia, 1994, 31, 317-336). “

    Obviously cleaning the standard kilogram won’t have much of an effect on its mass, but its effect is not precisely zero, and hence even the BIPM definition of a kilogram is not absolutely constant. ;o)

  136. Michael 2 says:

    “The reference mass thus defined”

    The actual mass changes slightly, the definition does not. The Standard is in the definition, not the mass. Your mileage may vary.

  137. John Hartz says:

    ATTP:

    I hereby nominate this thread for your annual Most Esoteric Comment Thread of the Year award. 🙂

  138. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    That’s not why we accepted kilograms and meters, Snarky. They’re units. They have no empirical content. They don’t say anything about brute facts.
    A consensus about some measurement unit is a convention. The consensus on AGW is not. AGW carries an empirical content.
    It’s not that complicated.

    Careful, Willard.
    Systems of units do have empirical content. They are not mere abstractions.

    As I attempted to say up-thread, the defining of standard units of measurement is inextricably linked to the laws of physics. No unit is an island unto itself.

    If we define the metre in terms of the product of a speed and a time, we are presuming that certain relations obtain between those quantities. These relations (defined by, say, Euclidean geometry, or Lorenz invariance) have empirical content.

    While a single unit may be silent on brute matters of fact – a system of units does make empirically-testable claims about how standard units of measurement are related to one another.

    A convention isn’t of much relevance to science unless it’s tethered to matters of fact somehow.


    I hereby nominate this thread for your annual Most Esoteric Comment Thread of the Year award. 🙂

    Hell – We’re just getting started.
    Wait ’til the subjects of Foundherentism and the Münchhausen trilemma come up.

  139. Michael 2 says:

    Snarkrates writes: “An administrative body may define a de jure standard, but usually this will come long after the de facto standard has come into wide acceptance”

    I studied the document that Willard offered yesterday. It’s a bit thick in places; reminds me a bit of Thomas Aquinas, but the meaning seems clear. A “brute fact” exists naturally; the Mississippi River for instance, its existence is a brute fact. But it has no name. You have a name for it and so do I; with a bit of luck and education (from an institution!) we will have the same name so that when I say “Mississippi River” you understand, approximately, what I mean.

    The metric system started institutionally. There was no wide acceptance of meters and kilograms prior to the institutionalized creation of these concepts.

    I accept that some standards probably evolve as you suppose. It is likely that the standard gauge of a railroad track is derived from the width of a horse’s ass; but someone must defined exactly what it means for it to be useful. That institution need not be government and frequently is not; the railroad institution has created Standard Gauge and Standard Time. http://www.snopes.com/history/american/gauge.asp (where they say it wasn’t deliberately copied, but the first trams were pulled by horses on rails, then locomotives replaced the horses, etc.).

    “The first practical realisation of the metric system came in 1799, during the French Revolution… The work of reforming the old system of weights and measures had the support of whoever was in power, including Louis XVI. … the basic units were taken from the natural world: the unit of length, the metre, was based on the dimensions of the Earth, and the unit of mass, the kilogram, was based on the mass of water having a volume of one litre or one thousandth of a cubic metre. Reference copies for both units were manufactured and placed in the custody of the French Academy of Sciences.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_metric_system

    In 1799 the French had the clout to impose these definitions on the western world with the exception of England.

  140. dikranmarsupial says:

    No, the kilogram is defined as the mass of the prototype, the object is an integral part of the definition. The other part is the words comprising the standard and those evidently change as well, as illustrated by the problem regarding the accumulation of contaminants, which is obviously a later addition.

  141. snarkrates says:

    Willard, your comments betray a surprising ignorance of metrology–and indeed of the scientific method as well. Do you really think that units are entirely arbitrary? Do you really think it doesn’t matter how we define the units we use for measurements–that it doesn’t matter whether they are defined in terms of reproducible phenomena or in terms of the thumb of a long-dead king?

    Do you really think we wouldn’t have a system of units without the BIPM or a consensus on climate change without the IPCC?

  142. Willard says:

    > Do you really think it doesn’t matter how we define the units we use for measurements–that it doesn’t matter whether they are defined in terms of reproducible phenomena or in terms of the thumb of a long-dead king?

    One problem with rhetorical questions is that they can backfire when they get answered.

    This particular rhetorical question has already be answered earlier:

    [M]odern metrology has moved away from using physical objects as standards. The kilogram is the lone remaining unit defined that way.

    http://www.nist.gov/pml/si-redef/kg_present.cfm

    Things change, sometimes so much they stop being “things.” Definitions that involve things are still definitions, and still carry no empirical content. One source of Snarky’s conflation can be seen with statements such as “this is a kilogram” – under one reading, it’s an empirical claim; under another, it’s merely definitional. To complicate matters, there can be other readings.

    Language is a social art.

    ***

    > [T]he kilogram is defined as the mass of the prototype, the object is an integral part of the definition.

    Not anymore – the kilogram is now (or soon will be) defined as a ratio of the Planck constant. See earlier for more details.

    In any case, what Dikran refers as an “object” is a “standard” in a very peculiar sense, a sense that is without connection with the “standard model” in physics, if only because there is no such thing as a standard model.

    That said, that a physical object is implied by a definition doesn’t change the fact that it’s a definition and that to define is a speech act that introduces a convention.

    One does not simply state true or false propositions about the world by defining things.

    ***

    > We’re just getting started.

    Indeed, since Snarky falters on pretty basic stuff.

    However, this will have to wait until Monday, as I’m out of the pocket until then.

  143. snarkrates says:

    So, Willard, according to you, light is not a “thing”?

  144. Michael 2 says:

    dikranmarsupial: “So it seems to me that the problem is that Michael2 is applying too narrow a definition of standard.”

    If it were only me doing that we would not be having much of a conversation 😉

    It is clear that two very different meanings are in play for the same word: “Common within a community” versus “Defined, Fixed, Immutable”.

    Even that would not be much of a conversation except that social benefits accrue from converting “widely accepted” into “defined, immutable” implying “resistance is futile”.

    That concept works both ways; some benefit exists in converting immutable standards into merely “widely accepted”. The United States Constitution becomes a “living document” rather than a Standard.

    “Standards are also not arbitrary, as someone pointed out earlier, standard measurements tend to be selected so that they work together to encode something about the physics of the world we live in”

    Standards are defined. Suppose you have a flow meter on a river and at the moment of measurement it is 1000 cubic meters per second. It is a snapshot. A moment earlier it was something else and a moment later it could be something else. But your choice of moment to measure is somewhat unpredictable, somewhat arbitrary. It ought to be regular for meaningful trends, but whether you choose your daily snapshot at 0800 or 1600 seems rather arbitrary.

    The choice of a meter’s length was 100 percent pure French Choice du Jour but likely was chosen to provide a decimal overlay on practical measures; in other words the “yard” being common it would be necessary for its replacement to be somewhat similar in length for there to be any hope of public acceptance.

    “which is why science tends to use metric rather than imperial measurements, the reason for the choice is that they are less arbitrary”

    I submit that both systems of measure are arbitrary (*); the metric system is simply easier to manipulate mathematically. With computers that convenience is largely irrelevant but it made a big difference in 1799.

    “The standards for the C programming language are not arbitrary, a lot of thought have gone into them and there are reasons for most of the things that are specified.”

    * “Arbitrary” need not imply random; rather it ought to imply that someone, somewhere, decided on it and that person could have decided something else.

    Consider assignment operators. They vary quite a bit among computer languages because it is not a natural extension of human language.

    IF ( a = 1 ) { do something interesting };

    Did that test to see if “a” is “1”? No. It assigned 1 to a, then tested a for non-zero; and on finding that it is non zero (which it always will be) will then do something interesting.

    IF ( a == 1 ) { do something interesting };

    This is probably what was meant. This compares a to 1, and if it is equal, do something interesting.

    The choice of comparator and assignment operators is “arbitrary” since PASCAL has different assignment and comparison operators and works just fine. Doubtless its inventor had a reason for choosing the way he chose, just as the inventor of PASCAL chose differently but also for a good reason (or so I suppose).

    “The standard model of particle physics is also not arbitrary as it describes a mixture of what we know from experiment and a best estimate of what theory suggests.”

    You use “standard” here as a synonym for “commonly accepted” or “dominant”. Unstated is who is “we” (we know from experiment) but a reasonable assumption is “people involved in particle physics”.

    When ATTP says “standard model” of climate science the assumed community is people involved in climate science and it means “widely accepted” and means “almost certain to be correct”.

    The 97 percent meme exists to identify “commonly accepted by whom” causing it to become standard (little S, adjective) but only an institution can make it a Standard (capital S, noun).

    More or less. I am not an institution that can define the Standard of standard.

  145. Michael 2 says:

    Tom Curtis wrote many good words, a few suggesting my comments.

    “Or perhaps it is better to say that no authority greater than a perceived consensus is required for a standard to exist – on which basis the standard will change with changes in that perceived consensus.”

    Perceptions are created and steered. Where “standard” simply is a synonym for “widely held belief within a population” well then no fixation is implied or specified.

    “4) Most fundamentally, you are criticizing the use of the term ‘standard’ by somebody else”

    Two days ago ATTP was challenged by austrartsua March 9, 2016 at 2:54 am. I had no difficulty understanding ATTP’s meaning. This is his blog; what is standard here is what he wants to be standard for he is the institution that regulates the meaning of words on this blog.

  146. Michael 2 says:

    snarkrates asks “Do you really think it doesn’t matter how we define the units we use for measurements”

    If I wrote it I think it, I think.

    “that it doesn’t matter whether they are defined in terms of reproducible phenomena or in terms of the thumb of a long-dead king?”

    Correct. Let the meter be the length of the thumb of a long dead king. The speed of light will still be expressed in meters per second but the number will be larger than is presently the case and we would still have this conversation wondering why we didn’t just use one ten-millionth the distance from the equator to the pole. After all, the speed of light is currently expressed as a seemingly irrational multiple of meters per second. Would it not be better to express a meter as being the distance light travels in 3/(10^8) seconds?

    There’s absolutely nothing special about a meter. You won’t find one in nature or physics.

    “It is ordained that 3 grains of barley dry and round do make an inch, 12 inches make 1 foot, 3 feet make 1 yard, 5 yards and a half make a perch, and 40 perches in length and 4 in breadth make an acre.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yard

    The key here is that something becomes a Standard (not just standard) when it is ordained by an authority or institution. The French ordained the meter into existence.

    “Do you really think we wouldn’t have a system of units without the BIPM or a consensus on climate change without the IPCC?”

    Yes or no. It depends on what exactly is a system of units. I can make my own right now if I wish. It would be useful to develop some conversion factors to convert to and from Imperial and Metric systems. It is likely we are ignoring China unnecessarily. I introduce this to show that essentially an infinite number of measuring systems can be created without affecting physics in the slightest. The speed of light will simply have a different coefficient and unit in each system.

    Ancient Chinese units: Length: Gilded Bronze Ruler – 1 chi = 231 mm. Western Han (206 BCE–8 CE). Hanzhong City

    Traditional units of length include the chi (尺), bu (步), and li (里). The precise length of these units, and the ratios between these units, has varied over time. 1 bu has consisted of either 5 or 6 chi, while 1 li has consisted of 300 or 360 bu.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_units_of_measurement

  147. Frank says:

    Willard wrote: “> The paper is behind a paywall, so I haven’t read it. […] If parameters were re-tuned, […]. There ends the leeway for your counterfactual thinking, Frank.”

    Your selection of out-of-context phrases says far more about your ethics and honesty than mine. I congratulate you on the clarity of your comment, and what it says about discourse at this blog. (On Steve Mosher’s recommendation, I had come to learn more about the GWPF’s paper on time series analysis. I added my negative comments about their gross mistake.)

    FWIW, I read the presentation I cited above before the paper was published. Preferring to cite a published paper rather than a conference presentation, I took the trouble to see if the work had been published before commenting. It was published in January, but paywalled. (It is an hour round trip to the nearest library without a paywall.) I provided links to the presentation I had read, the full publication I admitted not having read and the full abstract. I have been far more transparent and honest than usual for blog comments. If I have mis-represented the conference presentation or the publication doesn’t agree with what was presented at the conference, you or anyone else are free to correct the record using the link I provided. I welcome correction. Otherwise, my facts stand unchallenged: The climate sensitivity of the GFDL model can be changed by 1.2 K with equal consistency with observations by changing the parameterization of cloud microphysics. My summary of the second paper I linked (Manabe) stands showing how poorly and mutually-inconsistently models represent feedbacks during the seasonal cycle when large (10 W/m2) changes in OLR and reflected SWR occur.

    Ever since Stainforth (2005), ensembles of perturbed parameter models have shown that simplified climate models can be tuned to produce almost any climate sensitivity (1.5-11 K) with little deterioration in their ability to represent current climate. Systematic exploration failed to produce an optimal set of parameters and has destroyed the illusion that ad hoc tuning of parameters one by one produces a model superior to numerous alternatives. Non-paywalled papers on this subject are available at: http://www.climateprediction.net/publications/. Maybe someday we will be told whether any ensemble members show the absence of enhanced warming in the upper tropical troposphere (the putative hot-spot) or Paltridge’s drying of the upper troposphere – phenomena which could be due to imperfect data.

    Now we are beginning to see that changing parameterization produces dramatic change in the output from at least some of the sophisticated AOGCMs used by the IPCC. Here is what section 10.1 of WG1 AR4 said about the uncertainty arising from parameters:

    https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch10s10-1.html

    “Many of the figures in Chapter 10 are based on the mean and spread of the multi-model ensemble of comprehensive AOGCMs. The reason to focus on the multi-model mean is that averages across structurally different models empirically show better large-scale agreement with observations, because individual model biases tend to cancel (see Chapter 8). The expanded use of multi-model ensembles of projections of future climate change therefore provides higher quality and more quantitative climate change information compared to the TAR. Even though the ability to simulate present-day mean climate and variability, as well as observed trends, differs across models, no weighting of individual models is applied in calculating the mean. SINCE THE ENSEMBLE IS STRICTLY AN ‘ENSEMBLE OF OPPORTUNITY’, WITHOUT SAMPLING PROTOCOL, THE SPREAD OF THE MODELS DOES NOT NECESSARILY SPAN THE FULL POSSIBLE RANGE OF UNCERTAINTY, AND STATISTICAL INTERPRETATION OF THE MODEL SPREAD IS THEREFORE PROBLEMATIC. [my emphasis] However, attempts are made to quantify uncertainty throughout the chapter based on various other lines of evidence, including perturbed physics ensembles specifically designed to study uncertainty within one model framework, and Bayesian methods using observational constraints.”

    In other words, when the IPCC says that warming by 2100 will LIKELY be within a certain range in 2100, they are relying on their expert judgment in interpreting the output of climate models, not a statistical analysis of that output. The full range of futures that are compatible with our understanding of the physics of climate could be much wider. However, energy balance models are already inconsistent with the highest predictions of AOGCMs and suggest that the lower end of the IPCC’s range has the greatest likelihood of being correct.

  148. However, energy balance models are already inconsistent with the highest predictions of AOGCMs and suggest that the lower end of the IPCC’s range has the greatest likelihood of being correct.

    No. it doesn’t. You need to consider all the evidence, not just the bits that you find most convenient.

  149. Frank says:

    John Mashey wrote: “Speaking as an APS member who has closely followed the shenanigans by Happer, Koonin et al, franktoo misrepresented the APS process. Happer’s petition failed, as did Koonin’s attempt to skew the POPA effort, and he quit.”

    Koonin was a physics professor with extensive experience in computation and chaos, but not climate. He left his position as provost at CalTech (a position not usually held by radicals or those who can’t get along with others) to have a bigger impact outside academia as chief scientific officer in charge of BP’s investments in alternative energy and then the Obama administration’s alternative energy initiatives funded by the stimulus package. As best I can tell, an ideal outsider to head the APS review. I’ve read the transcript of the workshop he organized – a rare opportunity for supporters and opponents of the consensus to be heard in the same forum. So far, no “shenanigans”. What went wrong? Has he or his critics commented publicly on what terminated his effort and resulted in his unilateral WSJ op-ed and a post at Judith’s blog? So far, two hypotheses seem possible: a) The APS establishment can’t tolerate a fair assessment of the uncertainty about climate change. b) Koonin was badly misled by flawed arguments from skeptics. Links to any additional real information about what went wrong would be appreciated.

  150. Michael 2 says:

    snarkrates asks “So, Willard, according to you, light is not a thing?”

    I think the thread is about to fork…

    I say *maybe*. In one sense light is a stream of things, photons, in the case that we agree to treat photons as particles. In another sense it might not be since light is also wave energy and not instantiated as matter; but all of that presumes that “things” are composed of “matter”. If all it takes for a thing to be a thing is for it to have a name, well then as soon as you have named “light” then it became a thing; even if its only thing-ness is the name itself.

  151. snarkrates says:

    Michael2, OK, so you have 2 photons that interact and form an electron-positron pair. Did the electron-positron pair just appear out of nothing? (literally no-thing?). Can “nothing” have physical properties, such as spin, energy, momentum? The naming doesn’t make anything real.

  152. MartinM says:

    Ever since Stainforth (2005), ensembles of perturbed parameter models have shown that simplified climate models can be tuned to produce almost any climate sensitivity (1.5-11 K) with little deterioration in their ability to represent current climate.

    Representing current climate is hardly the only measure of a good model. Get back to me when you’ve got a model at either extreme of that sensitivity range which can accurately hindcast historical temperatures, and reproduce major paleoclimatological episodes.

  153. Michael 2 says:

    snarkrates asks: “OK, so you have 2 photons that interact and form an electron-positron pair. Did the electron-positron pair just appear out of nothing?”

    Matter is created from energy; energy from matter. It is change from the realm of energy to the realm of matter; which for my own purposes I think of as “contained energy” or tightly bounded. That is why no thing can go faster than the speed of light because things ARE light, simply bounded into tiny containers called atoms, energy going round and round like a tiny microwave cavity resonator.

    Things can be counted. Fluids and fluid-like substances cannot be counted and are not things.

    The fact that “thing” has a plural form indicates countability and existence as discrete units or objects. If you have two photons you are treating them as things. If you have a gazillion photons you probably just call it “light” which doesn’t have a plural form.

    It’s not the only substance composed ultimately of distcrete things or particles. A grain silo filled with wheat is said to be “filled with wheat”, not “wheats”. Wheat is the substance; grains of wheat is the instantiation of discrete units of wheat.

    Wheat is not a thing, it is a substance; but grains of wheat are things.

    (Another forking comment!)

  154. “Otherwise, my facts stand unchallenged: The climate sensitivity of the GFDL model can be changed by 1.2 K with equal consistency with observations by changing the parameterization of cloud microphysics.”

    That’s how I

    understood it.

  155. Frank says:

    Frank wrote: “However, energy balance models are already inconsistent with the highest predictions of AOGCMs and suggest that the lower end of the IPCC’s range has the greatest likelihood of being correct.”

    ATTP wrote: “No. it doesn’t. You need to consider all the evidence, not just the bits that you find most convenient.”

    1) Normally, when you have pdfs for two methods of determining a quantity such as ECS, the answer that takes into account all of the evidence would be the intersection of the two pdf. Mathematically, since the probability of obtaining a given value for ECS from energy balance models and from AOGCMs are independent events, you probably should multiply the two probabilities of each ECS and then normalize to create a pdf that reflects both methods. In regions where either pdf is near zero, the product pdf should also be near zero. (There may be other ways to combine pdfs.)

    2) One can estimate a pdf for ECS from the output from various AOGCMs used by the IPCC with a best estimate of about 3.3 K and a 90% confidence interval of about 2.2-4.4 K. Unfortunately, the paragraph I quoted above from AR4 states that “statistical interpretation of model spread is problematic” – because the optimal values for model parameters aren’t known and parameter space has not been systematically explored. So we don’t have a valid pdf for ECS from AOGCMs. If an energy balance model found that ECS for 2XCO2 were 1.5 K or 10 K, one couldn’t claim that either result is inconsistent with AOGCMs, because we don’t know the full range of ECSs that an AOGCM can produce when its parameters are varied (without significant degradation in their performance at reproducing today’s climate). In fact, when Stainforth et al (2005) did systematically explore more than one thousand combinations of perturbed parameters with simple models, they did find ECSs ranging from 1.5 K to 11 K. So the fact that none of the IPCC’s “ensemble of opportunity” has an ECS less than 2.0 K doesn’t mean that the 1.6 K best estimate of Lewis&Curry (2014) is inconsistent with climate models. Those models didn’t take into account parameter uncertainty. (Above, I provided a link to a paper showing that changing the parameterization for cloud microphysics alone could lower ECS from 3.0 to 1.8 K. But that model didn’t happen to be in the IPCC’s “ensemble of opportunity”.) However, AOGCMs with ECS greater than 4.0 K are inconsistent with LC14’s energy balance model. LC14 did take into account all of the sources of uncertainty in warming and forcing.

    So I have taken into account all of the evidence. The spread of model output from the IPCC’s “ensemble of opportunity” has no useful meaning. The pdf from energy balance models does.

    So how does the IPCC report a likely range (70% ci) for warming under various scenarios when model output spread has no clear interpretation? They “cheat”. AR5 reported the 90% ci from model output, but used their expert judgment to call this is the “likely” range once parameter uncertainty has been included. (:)) This range (or at least the upper end of the range) is then quoted by the press and policymakers without anyone really understanding where it came from. The best estimates from energy balance models for ECS and TCR range from 50-75% of the average for climate models. Taking ALL of the evidence into account – energy balance models as well as AOGCMs, the IPCC really should have reduced their warming projections (that are derived only from AOGCM output) by this amount.

  156. Normally, when you have pdfs for two methods of determining a quantity such as ECS, the answer that takes into account all of the evidence would be the intersection of the two pdf.

    Only if you really think there is some kind of equivalence between the two methods so that they can be weighted equally. Consider the following. The best estimate for TCR from EBMs is between 1.4 and 1.5oC. The best estimate for the ECS is somewhere between 1.6 and 1.7oC; a TCR-to-ECS ratio of between 0.8 and 0.9. Does this make sense? Not really, because we currently have a planetary energy imbalance of more than 0.6W/m^2. Given a Planck response of 3.2W/m^2/K this would require surface warming of at least 0.2oC in the absence of any feedbacks. So a 0.2oC difference between the TCR and ECS doesn’t really make sense given that we have at least 0.2oC of uncommitted warming today.

  157. In interpreting a sentence such as “Clearly we should base our understanding of a scientific topic on the available evidence, but it is still very useful to have some who challenge the standard position. “ it is probably best to try and work out what the author of those words actually meant by them, rather than assuming a particular formal meaning, or imposing the particular meaning of the word that allows us to make some pedantic obfuscation. The word “standard” in English can have several different meanings:

    stan·dard (stăn′dərd)
    adj.
    1. Serving as or conforming to an established or accepted measurement or value: a standard unit of volume.
    2. Widely recognized or employed as a model of authority or excellence: a standard reference work.
    3. Acceptable but of less than top quality: a standard grade of beef.
    4. Normal, familiar, or usual: the standard excuse.
    5. Commonly used or supplied: standard car equipment.
    6. Linguistics Conforming to models or norms of usage admired by educated speakers and writers: standard pronunciation.

    It seems reasonable to assume that ATTP meant something along the lines of senses 2, 4 or 5, none of which require any authority (unlike sense 1, which might well do so), none of which imply immutability.

    There are standard positions/models/views in science, for instance the standard model of the solar system was once geocentric, but later became helocentric (and the standard Copernican model later refined by Kepler). Likewise we have a standard model of the atom (with electrons “orbiting” in shells), or the standard model of particle physics. The “central dogma of molecular biology” is a standard model (although like most standard models, nobody believes it is completely true). In none of these cases was there an authority/institution/body that defined the standard; they are standards simply because they are “normal, familiar or usual”. ATTPs usage of standard is completely consistent with that usage.

    Now as to standard units of measurement, they can be standards in the noun sense, but even that has multiple interpretations:

    1 a. An acknowledged measure of comparison for quantitative or qualitative value; a criterion. See Synonyms at ideal.
    b. An object that under specified conditions defines, represents, or records the magnitude of a unit.

    3.
    a. A degree or level of requirement, excellence, or attainment: Their quality of work exceeds the standards set for the field.
    b. Something, such as a practice or a product, that is widely recognized or employed, especially because of its excellence.
    c. A set of specifications that are adopted within an industry to allow compatibility between products.
    d. A requirement of moral conduct: the standards of polite society.

    Sense 1b is the sense in which the prototype kilogram (the object) defines the unit of a kilogram. But the unit kilogram also is valid under sense 1a that is independent of the prototype kilogram or the formal definition of a kilogram defined by the metrological institutions. So I think snarkrates is completely correct to say that a kilogram exists independently of institutional definitions. Standards can also mean usages 3a. 3b, 3c or 3d. Again all of these are mutable in science and change with time, for instance replicability has become more of an issue in science over the last decade or so, so our view on scientific standards (sense 3) have changed in this respect.

    English is a fairly ambiguous language, and expecting complete clarity and absence of ambiguity is a journal paper is an unrealistic expectation. Expecting it in a blog post or the comments that follow it is a bit silly, so lets just use a bit of common sense in interpreting things, rather than engage in pedantry?

  158. Frank says:

    ATTP: I read your sources on Koonin, most of which were not new to me. I’m hoping someone on the inside will tell us what really happened. Did he come to recognize that he could never – given is lack of expertise in climate science – push through a statement that he believed was accurate after the Workshop? Was someone able to embarrass him about his lack of expertise?

  159. Was someone able to embarrass him about his lack of expertise?

    Did you read Andy Lacis’s response?

  160. “1) Normally, when you have pdfs for two methods of determining a quantity such as ECS, the answer that takes into account all of the evidence would be the intersection of the two pdf. ”

    That would only be true if both methods were known to be correct (and that the pdfs fully included all uncertainties). However in practice most methods make assumptions, which may or may not be valid, so simply taking the intersection is naive and likely to be misleading. At the end of the day you need to consider the physics, rather than merely treating the pdfs from a purely statistical perspective.

  161. snarkrates says:

    Frank, the very fact that you are focusing solely on ECS means that you are not taking into account all of the evidence. Think about it.

  162. It seems reasonable to assume that ATTP meant something along the lines of senses 2, 4 or 5, none of which require any authority (unlike sense 1, which might well do so), none of which imply immutability.

    Yes, that’s about right. I’m amazed that there has been such a lengthy discussion about a single word the usage of which I thought was obvious; I really did just mean something along the lines of “the generally accepted mainstream position”, not some kind of fixed and unmoveable standard.

  163. John Hartz says:

    ATTP:

    Yes, that’s about right. I’m amazed that there has been such a lengthy discussion about a single word the usage of which I thought was obvious; I really did just mean something along the lines of “the generally accepted mainstream position”, not some kind of fixed and unmoveable standard.

    “We have met the enemy and the are us.” – Pogo 🙂

  164. BBD says:

    ATTP

    In your response to Frank:

    Given a Planck response of 3.2W/m^2/K this would require surface warming of at least 0.2oC in the absence of any feedbacks. So a 0.2oC difference between the TCR and ECS doesn’t really make sense given that we have at least 0.2oC of uncommitted warming today.

    Did you mean 0.6 C of uncommitted warming? Or have I misunderstood you?

  165. Michael 2 says:

    dikranmarsupial says “rather than engage in pedantry?”

    Pedantry is pretty much the reason for every comment on this thread after the first dozen or so. English provides enough ambiguity so that it generally is possible to always be right and for others to always be wrong.

    I have become more aware of “standard” as meaning “common”.

  166. I meant that a planetary energy imbalace of 0.6W/m^2 would require – in the absence of feedbacks – surface warming of 0.2oC of surface warming to return the system to equilibrium. Since even EBMs suggest that the non-Planck response feedbacks are positive, we have – today – a committed warming of at least 0.2oC. Hence, how can the difference between the TCR and ECS be only 0.2oC?

  167. BBD says:

    Ah. Finally got it. Thanks. Your response to Frank’s lukewarmering is pleasingly compact. I was going to point out that arguing for a hot MWP (as I think he did, although it could ahve been another Frank, I suppose) sits uneasily with arguing for low sensitivity, but it’s bordering on redundant in the light of what you have said above.

  168. MartinM says:

    Normally, when you have pdfs for two methods of determining a quantity such as ECS…

    EBMs applied to historical observations don’t determine ECS.

  169. Frank says:

    Frank said: “Normally, when you have pdfs for two methods of determining a quantity such as ECS, the answer that takes into account all of the evidence would be the intersection [or product] of the two pdfs.

    ATTP replied: “Only if you really think there is some kind of equivalence between the two methods so that they can be weighted equally. Consider the following. The best estimate for TCR from EBMs is between 1.4 and 1.5oC. The best estimate for the ECS is somewhere between 1.6 and 1.7oC; a TCR-to-ECS ratio of between 0.8 and 0.9. Does this make sense? Not really, because we currently have a planetary energy imbalance of more than 0.6W/m^2.

    Frank replies: I suspect your TCR:ECS ratios don’t make sense because the authors of energy balance models are using different values for the planetary energy imbalance (ocean heat uptake) than you cite here. And Otto (2013) reach modestly different conclusions than Lewis and Curry (2014). I would be surprised if the exact values and ranges used for ocean heat uptake (and all other parameters) by either group escaped close scrutiny during peer review. I suspect if you check the real numbers used your discrepancy will disappear. Nic Lewis posted a spreadsheet with all of the values used by both publications online somewhere.

    Assuming you haven’t uncovered a serious mistake in these two energy balance model papers, you are correct: the two methods (EBMs and AOGCMs) are not equivalent. EBMs have best estimates and confidence intervals for all of the key parameters and therefore produce a pdf for ECS. We don’t have a best estimate and confidence interval for all of the parameters that go into an AOGCM, nor the computational power to use them even if we did. So AOGCMs don’t produce a pdf for ECS. However, if they both did produce valid pdfs from inputs with accepted confidence intervals, then they should be treated equivalently when finding the intersection or product of those pdfs. If one method is inherently more uncertain, it should have a wider pdf than the other and therefore have less power to determine the shape of the combined pdf. From a probability perspective, we are considering two independent events happening at the same time: Method A produces a 10% probability that ECS is 2.95-3.05 and Method B a 3% probability. In that case. probabilities are multiplied. (If you wanted to combine the pdfs of Otto and LC, those are not independent events.)

    Now, I know that a few AOGCMs have been used to show that the cooling from aerosols occurs more rapidly that the warming from GHGs, thus challenge the validity of EBMs. This surprising phenomena hasn’t yet been shown to be present in all AOGCMs. And it is easy to find observations that challenge the validity of AOGCMs (the CERES seasonal changes I cited above). Picking and choosing or weighting involves personal biases – the opposite of using ALL of the information.

    BBD: If I understand your point about the MWP, I agree with you. If the MWP is an example of unforced variability, the warmer the MWP, the greater unforced variability can be (but doesn’t have to be in any particular period). Unforced variability decreases the power of energy balance models – it increases the uncertainty in forced warming. Otto13 and LC14 approached this problem differently. Otto13 looked at four decades, both one at a time and as a whole, and found similar climate sensitivity for four of the five periods (the 1990s with Pinatubo was a modest outlier) and climate sensitivity much lower than AOGCMs for all five. It would be surprising to have unforced variability reduce warming by the same amount in each period. LC14 tried to eliminate what they thought was the biggest source of unforced variability – the AMO – by looking at forcing and warming over 1 and 2 cycles of the AMO – 65 and 130 year periods. If other large sources of unforced variability exist, they are missing from the uncertain that is reflected in both pdfs for climate sensitivity. Elsewhere Judith has challenged the IPCCs claim that anthropogenic warming must be at least 50% of observed warming, implying that unforced variability could be as big as 50% of observed warming. Superficially, this position appears to contradict the uncertainties used by LC14, but LC14 is in phase with the AMO and the OPCC out of phase. Personally, I don’t agree with her position: If 50% of observed warming were due to unforced variability for Otto12 or LC14, then ECS would be half of what they report. That makes zero sense to me given the existence of Planck feedback of about -3.2 W/m2, some positive water vapor feedback that is larger than negative lapse rate feedback (about +1 W/m2 NET according to Manabe13 and AOGCMs) and the unlikelihood that we have missed observing negative cloud feedback.

    On the other hand, most climate models exhibit too high a climate sensitivity or too little unforced variability to be consistent with observed warming. That is precisely why energy balance models exhibit lower climate sensitivity that AOGCMs. AOGCMs don’t produce much unforced variability.

    The possibility that unforced variability could be large (say adding 0.3 degC or more to the MWP) would discredit the confident intervals for EBMs and all output from AOGCMs. If unforced variability were much more than the IPCCs estimate of 0.1 degC, both the consensus and the lukewarmers would have no basis for differentiating their positions – the uncertainty would be too great.

  170. Frank says:

    ATTP: I don’t find anything in Lacis’s reply to be embarrassing. By arguing that variability forced by CO2 is much larger than unforced variability, Lacis is implying that we can have confidence in the low climate sensitivity of EBMs and that climate models are running hot.

    In any case, Koonin quit before writing for the WSJ and Judith. If he were embarrassed and then resigned, he would not repeat in writing the ideas that had caused embarrassment.

  171. Frank,

    I suspect your TCR:ECS ratios don’t make sense because the authors of energy balance models are using different values for the planetary energy imbalance (ocean heat uptake) than you cite here.

    They aren’t mine. My point is extremely simple. Given that we have committed warming today of at least 0.2oC, how can the difference between the TCR and ECS be as low as 0.2oC? Here are the possibilities I can envisage:

    1. Internal variability is producing a much larger planetary energy imbalance than would be the case were the only influence anthropogenic. Seems unlikely since we’ve maintained a substantial planetary energy imbalance for decades.

    2. The difference is bigger than 0.2oC, but the TCR best estimates from EBMs is too high. However, given how much we’ve already warmed and how much we’re warming at the moment, surface warming would need to somehow continue to be slow if the temperature change when we’ve doubled CO2 is to be substantially less than 1.4oC. Seems unlikely.

    3. The difference is bigger than 0.2oC but the ECS best estimates are too low. If we assume a TCR-to-ECS ratio of about 0.7 (close to what is probably expected) that gives an ECS of 2oC for a TCR of 1.4oC. This is what is regarded as a probable minimum if cloud feedbacks are not negative.

    Elsewhere Judith has challenged the IPCCs claim that anthropogenic warming must be at least 50% of observed warming,

    Judith’s arguments for this have been incredibly weak.

    implying that unforced variability could be as big as 50% of observed warming.

    Yes, but the probability of this being the case is low.

    If unforced variability were much more than the IPCCs estimate of 0.1 degC, both the consensus and the lukewarmers would have no basis for differentiating their positions – the uncertainty would be too great.

    If you want unforced variability to play a significant role on multi-decade timescales, then you need some kind of physical process associated with internal variability that produces planetary energy imbalances that can persists for many decades. The problem is that the only really viable processes are essentially the same as those that produce feedback responses to forced warming. How can these processes produce warming when the variability is internal, but not when it is externally forced? There may be ways to construct it so that this is somehow possible, but it seems extremely unlikely.

  172. Frank,

    I don’t find anything in Lacis’s reply to be embarrassing.

    Lacis’s response starts with Physicists should take the time to understand their physics better. Koonin doesn’t have to be embarassed by that, but a physicist being told that they don’t understand physics very well is not intended as a compliment.

    By arguing that variability forced by CO2 is much larger than unforced variability, Lacis is implying that we can have confidence in the low climate sensitivity of EBMs and that climate models are running hot.

    No we can’t, for two reasons. Even if variability is low, it can still have an impact on EBMs given that they consider a time period over which we haven’t yet doubled CO2. For example, the best estimate for the forced warming since 1950 is 110%. This could increase the TCR estimate by 5%. We also have the possibility of coverage bias. Also, there is a suggestion that warming isn’t linear (i.e., we warm slightly faster as we approach a doubling of CO2 than at the beginning). To interpret Lacis’s statement as you have is an incredibly blinkered reading of what he has written.

  173. Willard says:

    So, Snarky, do you believe in kilograms the same way you believe in AGW?

  174. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: My eyes tend to glaze over when you and others get into detailed discussions of climate sensibility such as your current dialogue with Frank.

    My eyes glaze for a couple of reasons. First, I simply do not have the time to become a climate science wonk. By choice, I focus more on policy than I do on physics.

    Second, I am constantly monitoring news articles about the latest developments re climate change be it physics and/or policy. What alarms me is that the Earth’s climate system appears to be changing much more rapidly than the scientific community had envisioned over the past decades. Thus, I pay much more attention to what’s happening on the ground right now and what’s likely to happen in the short-run.

    Having spend my professional career in transportation, I know that elected officals and policymaker have an extremely dificult time dealing with 20 or 25-year projections, to say nothing of 100 + years proections.

    Speaking of scary news…

    February obliterated global heat records, NASA confirms by Andrew Freedman, Mashable, Mar 12, 2916

  175. Willard says:

    > In interpreting a sentence such as […] it is probably best to try and work out what the author of those words actually meant by them […]

    Indeed, and Snarky did no such thing. On the other hand, I have the task to read M2’s comments and approve some of them, which means I have a fairly good idea where M2 comes from. That said, reading Snarky’s comments suffice to see that he conflates two types of standards.

    ***

    > rather than assuming a particular formal meaning, or imposing the particular meaning of the word that allows us to make some pedantic obfuscation.

    An interesting comment to issue on March 12, 2016 at 11:43 am, considering the “nolle-prosequi” stated on March 10, 2016 at 5:27 pm. Another comment that hints an an ad hominem while begging the question at hand.

    ***

    > It seems reasonable to assume that ATTP meant something along the lines of senses 2, 4 or 5, none of which require any authority (unlike sense 1, which might well do so), none of which imply immutability.

    The lines of senses refer to online dictionary definitions and signal parsomatics, a standard ClimateBall ™ subgame:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/tagged/parsomatics

    That a “standard position” doesn’t require institutional authority is obvious when we consider cases where a standard position itself becomes authoritative. In other words, the authority that supports a position may come from the very fact that it is a standard. (Readers might wish to compare and contrast with Jazz players playing standards.)

    In an argumentative setting, “it’s the standard position” can lead to an ad populum, which can be interpreted as a variation on the appeal to an authority.

    ***

    While we may imagine worlds in which the IPCC doesn’t exist, in our world it does. Which means that not only can a position P (e.g. on AGW) can become the de facto standard, it can also become the de jure standard. This distinction should however be taken with a grain of salt: we can imagine a world where all the brains stop entertaining conscious thoughts. In that world, the standard position disappears while AGW (or ZGW) could keep going on, say because zombies still dump CO2 like there’s no tomorrow.

    ***

    Snarky’s reiterated leading question does not show that his kilogram example was relevant for a standard scientific position like AGW, for the simple reason that defining measurement units does not express an empirical position.

  176. Michael 2 wrote: “Pedantry is pretty much the reason for every comment on this thread after the first dozen or so. “

    This is not a good reason for adding to the pedantry.

    “English provides enough ambiguity so that it generally is possible to always be right and for others to always be wrong.”

    Well this is one of the problems with on-line discussion, it is rather easy to derail discussion of the substantive issue by ambiguous analysis of minutiae.

    “I have become more aware of “standard” as meaning “common”.”

    It is commendable that you are able to accept your error, that is unusual in on-line discussion! I think the initial problem was in going from “standard” as an adjective to “standard” as a noun, which seems less often used to mean “common”.

  177. snarkrates says:

    Willard, OK, so you are being deliberately obtuse. Thanks for clearing that up.

  178. Willard says:

    Do you believe in kilograms the same way you believe in AGW, Snarky?

    Do you at least accept that that conventions about measurement units aren’t empirical statements, i.e. about the world?

  179. Willard says:

    > It is commendable that you are able to accept your error, that is unusual in on-line discussion! I think the initial problem was in going from “standard” as an adjective to “standard” as a noun, which seems less often used to mean “common”.

    A few days earlier:

    [M2] Standards do not change.

    [D] No, but the do get superseded by new (versions of the) standards as the consensus view of what should be standard evolves and stabilised, e.g. ANSI X3.159-1989, ISO/IEC 9899:1999 and ISO/IEC 9899:2011.

    [W] Of course they do. “Standard” neither means “absolute” nor “universal,” both in adjectival and in nominal form.

    [M2] Agreed [no, but the do get superseded by new standard]. A new standard.

    [Snarky, not realizing M2 and D’s agreement] {cough, cough, cough} The meter has been defined as […] Dude, do you even think before you post.

    [W] [Y]ou’re conflating a unit of measurement and a scientific standard.

    [D] Metrology is the science of measurement, and these standards for the metre are part of metrology, so they are scientific standards.

    [M2] As such, ATTP’s usage of “standard” synonymous with consensus seems correct. The consensus has become a standard by which new scientific papers are judged. They might challenge the standard, but in doing so implicitly accept the existence of a standard, given voice by the IPCC and in particular the summaries for policymakers.

    [Reverend] There are different standards of evidence. Caveat emptor.

    [W] It is the concept of standard comprised in the expression “standard position” that has been challenged (unsuccessfully) by M2. This concept has very little to do with metrology.

    [Snarky, right after I said it’s not metrology that establishes standards for the measurement units, but metrological institutions like the BIPM] The unit of measure is NOT the standard. […] ASTM defines standards for test methods. DOD does likewise.

    [Oneill] While it is a metrological intrinsic standard it is also arbitrary. I think it stretching the idea of ‘standard position’ to include these types of metrological standards. It’s really just a definition. […] It’s much clearer to think of a standard position, or scientific consensus, as the *current* position.

    Et cetera.

    You just can’t make this up.

  180. snarkrates says:

    Willard, a unit of measurement IS a scientific standard. Measuring a mass means understanding what a mass is and how it behaves in such a manner that it can be determined. It means understanding enough about the errors that creep into the measurement that you can make it adequately repeatable. Do you think it is a coincidence that the first Bose-Einstein Condensate was realized by a physicist working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology? Maybe you should learn something about metrology…or science for that matter.

  181. Willard says:

    > [A] unit of measurement IS a scientific standard.

    A cow IS an animal. A fish too. Yet a cow is NOT a fish.

    Not all scientific standards are of the same types, and using an explicit convention on a definition as a counterexample of an implicit convention about an empirical claim is not valid when it is the very nature of that convention that is under dispute. Unless, of course, we abide by instrumentalism, which IS a form of positivism. Considering one of Snarky’s latest comments on a more recent thread, it means Snarky doesn’t even realize that he’s holding a positivist conception of science.

    This is pretty basic stuff. What complicates matters furthermore is that this analysis presumes that the way a scientific position becomes commonplace is itself scientific. This is far from being obvious, and in fact signals a very naive conception of the scientific method, the Standard Fiction to Rule Them All. The way this ClimateBall ™ exchange evolved shows how scientific even trained scientists behave in an argumentative setting.

    And then people wonder why climate contrarianism is still a thing.

  182. Franktoo says:

    John Harz wrote: “My eyes tend to glaze over when you and others get into detailed discussions of climate sensibility such as your current dialogue with Frank… By choice, I focus more on policy than I do on physics.”

    Frank replies: If you approach policy from a cost/benefit or negative externalities point of view, then you should care deeply about the fine points of climate sensitivity. The social cost of carbon dioxide emissions rises exponentially with warming. Let’s say the damage would $10T if climate sensitive were 2.3 K/doubling and $100T if climate sensitivity were 3.3 K and $1,000T if climate sensitivity were 4.3 K. AOGCMs say that the odds of these three possibilities are about 0.25:0.50:0.25. (These ratios are about right for what AOGCMs predict; the costs are pure speculation and need to be discounted to NPV.) Expected damage from warming is $302.5T and it would make sense to spend this much money on mitigation or raise this much money from a Pigou tax. Now energy balance models come along and eliminate any significant possibility that climate sensitivity is 4.3 K and make expectation for these outcomes 0.45:0.50:0.05 (combining the predictions of AOGCMs and EBMs). Now your expected damage is only $104.5T. If you think EBMs totally invalidate current AOGCMs, your expectations for the future might shift to something like 75:25:0, with some probability that ECS is 1.3 K. Damage drops to perhaps $25T. Now, damage may not rise 10-fold with each change of 1 K in ECS. However, the bulk of the damage comes from the high end of the range for ECS and it is a big deal when the probability of the worst case scenario drops. If you approach climate policy from the perspective of the social cost of emission (not everyone does), then the controversy over climate sensitivity, AOGCMs and EBMs is a big deal – probably the biggest deal in climate change. Both EBMs and AOGCM have their limitations.

    [So basically you accept that the cost rises faster than linear with warming and yet you think it’s okay to cherry-pick a few studies with low CS? Have you considered the implication of doing so and discovering that it actually isn’t low. – AT]

    John added: “Thus, I pay much more attention to what’s happening on the ground right now and what’s likely to happen in the short-run. Having spend my professional career in transportation, I know that elected officals and policymaker have an extremely dificult time dealing with 20 or 25-year projections, to say nothing of 100 + years projections.”

    Frank replies: Yes, based on policymakers difficulties dealing with long-term projections, expecting them to deal rationally and effectively with climate change a half-century from now is pure hubris. That is why there is all this emphasize on current extreme weather, including the record GMST in February. But weather is not climate. Sensational stories linking extreme weather today to future climate change bears some resemblance to using traffic congestion after a bad accident to argue for building new roads. Technological innovation is helping us minimize congestion, accidents, and some of the dangers of extreme weather. (However, don’t place too much value on slippery analogies at blogs.)

  183. John Hartz says:

    Franktoo: To make sure that we’re not taking past each other, do you concur with the following definition of climate sensitivity?

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

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

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

    Definition courtesy of IPCC AR4.

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

  184. Franktoo says:

    ATTP: I don’t understand Koonin’s focus on 1 or 2% change. From my perspective (which may not be his), he is saying the same thing is the IPCC in AR5: There is a 70% likelihood that ECS lies between 1.5 and 4.5 K and some possibility that it may be lower or higher. We are dealing with small effects that very hard to calculate with any degree of certainty. (The IPCC goes on to make all sorts of dubious predictions about warming and how much coal we can burn and still keep warming below 2 K based on output from AOGCMs – which that have a much narrower and pessimistic view of ECS than 1.5-4.5 K.)

    [Nonsense. Koonin is claiming it is small, not suggesting that it might be small. – AT]

    Lacis makes the gross error of creating the impression that the C-C equation applies to humidity in the atmosphere. The C-C eqn applies only to water vapor in equilibrium with liquid water – where relative humidity is 100%. Outside of clouds and air within a mm or so of the surface of liquid water, equilibrium between liquid and water vapor doesn’t exist in the atmosphere. (This kind of embarrassing mistake might have prompted Koonin resign if his understanding of climate science had rested on misapplication of a fundamental law of physics/chemistry.) FWIW, there are reanalyses that suggest the upper troposphere is drying and that the upper troposphere is not showing the enhanced warming rate expect for constant relative humidity. Finally, it is difficult for AOGCMs to produce high climate sensitivity without suppressing evaporation by increasing relative humidity over the oceans. (A 7%/K increase in evaporation creates a 5 W/m2/K surface energy imbalance, which is hard to reconcile with a 1 W/m2/K increase in radiative imbalance expected for an ECS of 3.7 K.

    [Lacis does not make a gross error. Have you looked up the word “hubris”? I also don’t think your final sentence is correct. The net feedback response due to water vapour is about (I think) 1.2 W/m^2/K. -AT]

    By going back to Fourier, Lacis certainly oversimplifies global warming theory. The fundament basis of emission and absorption of radiation was uncertain until quantum mechanics. The existence of local thermodynamic equilibrium and radiative/convective equilibrium were unknown. We weren't sure if CO2 was actually accumulating in the atmosphere until the 1960's. Even today, we don't have a quantitative understanding of recent phenomena like the LIA and MWP or the ability to hindcast the end of ice ages, but Lacis tells us that we know that our ice caps are doomed once CO2 passes 450 ppm – an astonishingly accurate prediction for the CO2 control knob based on what happened 30 million years ago.

    [Again, this is largely nonsense and almost sounds like you’re denying the basic theory behind global warming. Odd since you seem to understand some of this quite well. – AT]

    This kind of gross oversimplification and overconfidence is precisely why some wanted the APS to revise their statement to include a few more of Schneider’s “ifs, ands, buts, and caveats”.

    [Just because you’re not sure and want others to think we’re not sure, doesn’t mean we should do so. Willard’s right, you’re basically just peddling. – AT]

  185. JCH says:

    The skeptical scientists got a fair airing at the APS’s symposium, where the attendees could separate the wheat from the chaff, Rosner said. The attendees were trained physicists, and at the end, they understood that the skeptical scientists’ “critique of science itself was extremely weak,”
    he said.

    Rosner’s takeaway from the meeting was that Curry, Christy and Lindzen were questioning the presentation of the science, he said.
    ————
    For example, human additions to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by the middle of the 21st century are expected to directly shift the atmosphere’s natural greenhouse effect by only 1% to 2%. Since the climate system is highly variable on its own, that smallness sets a very high bar for confidently projecting the consequences of human influences. – Koonin

  186. Frank,
    I’ll left some inline responses in your comments. Unfortunately I think Willard is right. You’re just peddling. Comments that have some element of truth and an understanding, but a definite spin towards selecting a subset of the evidence and promoting uncertainty.

  187. BBD,
    Yup, I think it’s going to get harder and harder to continue promoting the idea that CS is low.

  188. verytallguy says:

    Lacis makes the gross error of creating the impression that the C-C equation applies to humidity in the atmosphere. The C-C eqn applies only to water vapor in equilibrium with liquid water – where relative humidity is 100%. Outside of clouds and air within a mm or so of the surface of liquid water, equilibrium between liquid and water vapor doesn’t exist in the atmosphere. (This kind of embarrassing mistake might have prompted Koonin resign if his understanding of climate science had rested on misapplication of a fundamental law of physics/chemistry.)

    I just love this. The self regarding grandiosity of dismissing a world renowned technical expert. Whilst *simultaneously* displaying one’s own tortured misunderstanding for public display. Wonderful.

    It’s like a charmless obese drunk claiming they’d play football for England if they chose to put themselves forward. But sadly still believing it when sober.

  189. snarkrates says:

    Willard, is English not your first language?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s