97%

Every Friday morning, someone at my Institute gives a short talk, while everyone else drinks coffee and eats doughnuts (well, the doughnuts are actually hidden till the end, so that everyone who wants a doughnut has to stay for the talk). Yesterday, I gave a short talk about our new consensus on consensus paper. It went fairly well; I got to promote some of Richard Tol’s related work, I got a few laughs, and it was the first time I’d ever included anything like 97% of scientists aren’t just f**king with you in a talk. There seemed to be quite a lot of interest and I had a number of people ask questions and make comments.

However, I was rather surprised by a few things. I opened with a slide with simply 97% on it, and asked if anyone could guess what I was going to talk about. One of the PhD students got it straight away, but when I probed further, only a few others were aware of the 97% theme; most had never come across it before. As someone pointed out to me later, this might bring into question Dan Kahan’s suggestion that everyone’s been aware of this for ages, but some – mainly conservatives – don’t accept it (and that it’s divisive). If a group of well-educated, probably well read individuals, have not come across it before, maybe it isn’t as prevalent as it may seem, and maybe the apparent division predates consensus messaging, rather than being exaccerbated by it.

There were a few other surprises, in that I encountered a number of fairly common “skeptic” talking points. Someone suggested that consensuses are often wrong. Well, I’m not even sure this is true; if it were, why have we developed what appears to be an increasibly robust scientific understanding of the world around us? However, even if it is true, it doesn’t change that a consensus can exist at some point in time and that recognising this could be important. One of our Professors also mentioned an MIT Professor who thinks climate models might be wrong – Richard Lindzen, I assume. I tried to briefly point out some of Richard Lindzen’s flawed ideas, but I didn’t really have even time to cover them all.

The most surprising, though, was a retired member of staff who came up afterwards and started with how poorly James Hansen’s 1988 predictions turned out (this suggests otherwise), moved on to the pause, and then said that he thought we could be heading for an ice age. At that stage, I decided that there wasn’t much point in carrying on and suggested we stopped there. He followed me back to my office claiming that I was incapable of rebutting his suggestion; it felt like real life social media.

Overall, though, I think it went pretty well. At least more people are now aware of the work being done to try and assess the consensus with respect to AGW, and I may now get more opportunities to talk with others about their views on the topic. Maybe I’ll even get a chance to convince some that even if they don’t trust the models, an ice age in the near future is extremely unlikely 😉

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139 Responses to 97%

  1. Pingback: 97% | SMIPP Ltd.

  2. Isn’t denying that there is a consensus an American hobby? You have to be pretty confident that you control the media and they will not respond by exposing what an enormous fool you are making of yourself. Or is this idiotic meme also been tested in the UK.

    If no one is denying that a consensus exists, it is also not interesting to read about its existence. I would be surprised if more than a few percent of continental European had ever given this obvious fact any thought one way or the other.

  3. Victor,
    That’s always been my impression. These consensus studies exist because there are claims that there isn’t a strong consensus. If people accepted that there is (which seems pretty self-evidence) or stopped attacking the studies that illustrated its existence, such studies would no longer be necessary and we would probably stop highlighting that there is a strong consensus.

  4. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Someone I know claims that when he was at uni he went to a talk by the Family of Love and came away with a free piano.

    Perhaps you need to offer more than doughnuts.

  5. Joshua says:

    ==> As someone pointed out to me later, this might bring into question Dan Kahan’s suggestion that everyone’s been aware of this for ages, but some – mainly conservatives – don’t accept it (and that it’s divisive).

    One of the head-scratching aspects of the discussion about consensus-messaging is that it would seem to me to relatively easy and informative to compare estimates of whether there is a consensus, and beliefs of what the magnitude of the consensus is, with (real-world) measurements of whether people have heard “consensus messaging” (or “anti-consensus-messaging”).

    Why would people spend so much time arguing, speculatively, about the effect of “consensus-messaging” without those basic data?

  6. Joshua,
    I thought mentioning Dan Kahan might bring a response from you 🙂

    One of the head-scratching aspects of the discussion about consensus-messaging is that it would seem to me to relatively easy and informative to compare estimates of whether there is a consensus, and beliefs of what the magnitude of the consensus is, with (real-world) measurements of whether people have heard “consensus messaging” (or “anti-consensus-messaging”).

    I agree. I was genuinely surprised that so few had come across the 97% consensus with respect to climate science. I don’t know why. My guess is that they simply aren’t really engaging with the topic and simply don’t read much about the topic.

  7. Joshua says:

    ==> I agree. I was genuinely surprised that so few had come across the 97% consensus with respect to climate science.

    It’s hard to stay aware of just how much a bubble the “climate-o-sphere” actually is. That’s why it’s always amusing for me to see “skeptic” generalize about the public based on their observation of what “skeptics” say online. For example, the standard “almost all ‘skeptics’ accept that the climate is warming and that aCO2 contributes to the warming”… even if that were true about online “skeptics” (which I doubt), it isn’t true for the general skeptical public.

  8. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Consensus.

    There was a consensus climates do not change (except for some god-given floods etc.). Evidence established that there were glacials and interglacials. New consensus.

    There was a consensus that mankind cannot change climate (except for being sinfull and God doing some punishment). Evidence established mankind can do so via greenhouse gases. New consensus.

    Both evidence based.

    https://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.htm

  9. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Your experience is in line with my belief that we all live in bubble-worlds of our own making, I’m also pleased to see that you took a break from your seemingly never-ending, cyber-world duel with Tol to talk with real people face to face.

  10. bobcobbblog says:

    Physics,
    It just amazes how close-minded people can be. Fortunately, a majority of people in the US support policies to reduce co2 emissions. If the repugnant could get their heads out of their asses, that would be great.
    Anyway, I saw that you referenced that microbe paper on your Twitter feed. Do you think that has any relevance for anaerobic oxidation by microbes in the Arctic Ocean? My guess is probaby not

  11. bob,
    I just RTd that article because it looked interesting. I was meaning to actually ask someone about it. My understanding is that it’s still not clear why atmospheric CO2 dropped from 280ppm to 180ppm during the Milankovitch cycles and I was meaning to check if what the article was discussing could be an explanation for that.

  12. Steven Mosher says:

    “The most surprising, though, was a retired member of staff who came up afterwards and started with how poorly James Hansen’s 1988 predictions turned out (this suggests otherwise), moved on to the pause, and then said that he thought we could be heading for an ice age. At that stage, I decided that there wasn’t much point in carrying on and suggested we stopped there. He followed me back to my office claiming that I was incapable of rebutting his suggestion; it felt like real life social media.”

    Jeez. IRL?

    Its amazing how many people think that you owe them an argument.

    I started charging them and people stopped asking.

  13. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Consensus 2:

    Species don’t change
    Continents do not move

    Learn how to argue.

  14. bobcobbblog says:

    I don’t think it talked about that in particular, but it did pique my interest regarding methanotrophs.

  15. It didn’t say it specifically, but it was this that made me wonder if it might be relevant

    They discovered that the seabed microbes thrive where water temperatures are cold, but their populations decline significantly as deep ocean waters warm.

  16. bobcobbblog says:

    But do you think that has any relevance to methanotroph uptake of ch4 in the Arctic?

  17. bob,
    I really don’t know.

  18. BBD says:

    One of the PhD students got it straight away, but when I probed further, only a few others were aware of the 97% theme; most had never come across it before.

    See? We’re screwed 🙂

  19. Mighty Drunken says:

    Steven Mosher wrote:

    Its amazing how many people think that you owe them an argument.
    I started charging them and people stopped asking.

    Can you do that online? If so it would save me a lot of time 🙂

  20. bobcobbblog says:

    I don’t think it means anything for deep-sea uptake in the other oceanic regions, because those are mainly dependent on food sources for the microbes, which leaky methane will provide plenty of.
    Considering this paper: https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm15/webprogram/Paper78877.html.
    I would say the methanotrophs are alright.

  21. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Consistent with your recent experience cited in the OP…

    That’s due in part to the fact that Americans still don’t know that much about climate change, even as more and more of them believe it’s happening.

    “It’s an issue that people have heard about, and they’ve heard about it for a long time,” Jack Zhou, a doctoral student in environmental politics at Duke and the study’s author, told HuffPost. “But people don’t really care that much about it or know much about it objectively.”

    As a result, Americans tend to defer to their political party’s position on the issue, according to Zhou. When confronted with information that contradicts that position, conservatives don’t reevaluate their beliefs; they double down on them.

    “They have very little incentive to change their position on the issue,” Zhou said. “As it becomes more polarized, they feel they need to dig in more and more.”

    Even so, there are still ways to convince someone to care about climate change, Zhou said. Research shows that making your case in person — no matter how you frame your evidence — increases the odds that you’ll bring someone to your side.

    “Personal communication is really valuable in getting people to change their minds,” Zhou said.

    Ultimately, though, there’s no easy way to convince someone who doesn’t already care.

    “There’s a thought of the perfect message or silver bullet message to pierce right through the issue,” Zhou said. “Maybe at one point there was. Now I’m not so sure.”

    How To Convince Someone To Care About Climate Change by Casey Williams, Huffington Post, May 6, 2016

  22. bobcobbblog says:

    John, you’re a pretty well-informed guy on climate science, right? Would you mind answering a question I had?

  23. John Hartz says:

    Bob: What’s the question? If I can’t answer it myself, I can probably find someone who can.

  24. Harry Twinotter says:

    I am not surprised not many were aware of the 97%.

    From my experience, most are not even aware of global warming or of any “debate”. They have heard the term, sure. But they are not aware of it in any meaningful sense. Of the small sample of people I know who are aware of the global warming “debate”, half of them are climate change deniers and hostile ones at that. So I am not surprised about the ice age person.

    So from my experience global warming has been a PR disaster.

  25. bobcobbblog says:

    John, have you read that Guardian article about deep sea microbes ATTP linked to on his Twitter?

  26. anoilman says:

    Anders… How did you resolve the ‘glacier’ issue?

    Its come up recently in other forums, and I simply said that I thought current forcings were far stronger than solar variance. So, not happening.

  27. Harry, where are you from? Could it be that people pretend not to know about climate change, not to have to talk about it? I cannot remember any more having ever talked to someone who did not know what climate change is. But I live in Germany and there are large differences between countries.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2016/may/04/scientists-are-figuring-out-the-keys-to-convincing-people-about-global-warming

    What does happen fairly regularly is that when people hear I am a climatologist, that they have a ton of questions because they heard some of the typical myths. Contrary to the internet, people in real live are actually interested in the answer. Contrary to the internet, people are often happy with a simple yes or no from a scientist and do not assume that the job of a scientist is to continually lie to humanity.

    Bob, that is an incredibly detailed question. No idea if science has an answer to that, but I am reasonably sure you will not find it on a blog, if you find it, it would be on “… and Then There’s Biology”. You will probably have to read scientific articles.

  28. Eli Rabett says:

    Wanna bet is Eli’s Mosher response. You talk with anyone for a while, and when they dig in. . .

  29. bobcobbblog says:

    Victor,
    With all due respect, I’ve read plenty of and continue to read articles and talked to several scientists on the question of methanotrophic uptake of methane in the deep sea and in continental shelf areas. I’d like to think I’m at the point of being able to seek out answers to questions on a blog where climate scientists such as yourself tend to frequent. My personal opinion is the uptake of methane in the areas I talked about won’t be significantly affected by the findings in that microbe study. However, I always look for opinions from experts to verify or challenge my opinions. John probably knows someone who’s an expert in the field, so I’m hopeful he can get an answer for me. On that matter, I’d like to know if you have a thought on the question. You know a lot more than me lol

  30. John Hartz says:

    Bob: Yes, I have read Howard Lee’s article. It was reposted on SkepticalScince.com as well. My knowledge of the subject matter is very rudimentary.

    Lee’s Guardian article draws heavily from the findings contained in the recently published, Macroecological drivers of archaea and bacteria in benthic deep-sea ecosystems. [Mod: I’ve removed the email address, but it is available if you follow the link.]

    I suggest that you pose your questions directly to Danavaro.

  31. Steven Mosher says:

    good one Eli

  32. Steven Mosher says:

    “What does happen fairly regularly is that when people hear I am a climatologist, that they have a ton of questions because they heard some of the typical myths. Contrary to the internet, people in real live are actually interested in the answer. Contrary to the internet, people are often happy with a simple yes or no from a scientist and do not assume that the job of a scientist is to continually lie to humanity.”

    Funny story.

    After I wrote climategate I was in the valley at lunch with some executives.

    E: heard you wrote a book
    S: ya.
    E: that email thing
    S: ya
    E: one question, is climate change real?
    S: ya
    E: Ok thanks, I wont buy your book.
    S: get the oysters, they’re good
    E: I will

  33. bobcobbblog says:

    John, thanks for the email address. I did email him. By the way, did you have an opinion on the question I had about the methanotrophs.
    Victor, John, and Steven, I would like to pose this question to all three of you. Seeing as how 2C is probably out of reach, do you think it’s feasible to hold warming to between 2-3C?

  34. You mention 3 opposing voices. Unless there were more than 100 people in the room, you found less than 97% agreement.

  35. Richard,
    Actually, there was really only 1.

  36. Only one person came to listen to your talk, and three opposed what you said?

  37. I’ll leave you to work it out. It’s not that complicated. I’m sure you can do it….???

  38. Harry Twinotter says:

    Victor Venema.

    “Harry, where are you from?”

    Australia.

  39. Harry Twinotter says:

    Does anyone know what “Richard Tol” is talking about? Or is he just seeking attention?

  40. Tim Roberts says:

    @ Richard Toll. If you were trying to be funny, you failed. If you were trying to be serious, you failed.

  41. Seriously. My (admittedly rusty) understanding of climate science is that (a) the next ice age is overdue, (b) no one really knows why, and (c) it is unclear whether anthropogenic greenhouse gas would have a small or a large effect on the coming ice age.

  42. Richard,
    Assuming that you’re being serious (and past evidence would suggest that you’re not) the general view is that we may already have delayed an ice age for 10s 0f thousands, or longer, and that if we continue to emit CO2 into the atmosphere we will delay it even further.

    Essentially, the actual trigger for going from a glacial to an inter-glacial is not completely clear, but it appears to be associated with variations in our orbit around the Sun that produce very small absolute changes in solar insolation, but can produce very large changes at high latitudes. So, if we start in a glacial, some large change high northern latitudes can trigger a shrinking of the ice sheets, this reduces the albedo, which drives warming, this release CO2 from the oceans and biosphere, which drives further warming, cause further reductions in albedo and releasing more CO2, etc.

    Going the other way is then thought to be related to reduced summer insolation in the high Northern latitudes, leading to a growth of ice sheets, increased albedo, reductions in atmospheric CO2 etc. However, we’re clearly no longer cooling and the maximum atmospheric CO2 during the previous few Milankovitch cycles has been around 280ppm; we will now probably not see atmospheric CO2 levels below 320ppm for thousands of years and if we continue to emit CO2, this minimum will continue to increase.

    Essentially, our actions are adding energy to the climate system. For some other small change to then lead to substantial cooling and the growth of ice sheets would be an extremely surprising outcome; it would almost appear to require violating some fairly fundamental laws of physics. Bear in mind that polar regions are expected to warm faster than the global average, so – given this – a sudden growth of high latitude ice sheets seems rather unlikely.

    There’s more here.

  43. So, why did you not explain that to your elderly colleague? Perhaps citing a more credible source than the tree hut boys?

  44. Richard,
    I genuinely don’t think you’re in a position to give me advise as to how to engage in discussions with people who might question some research. Also, I think Skeptical Science is a perfectly credible source. Again, I find it odd that someone who associates with the GWPF would criticise others for lacking credibility.

  45. Reich,

    Consensus 2:

    Species don’t change
    Continents do not move

    Learn how to argue.

    I can’t quite work out if you’re suggesting that consensuses are often over-turned, or not.

  46. @Wotts
    Skeptical Science’ credentials on climate science are consilient to my credentials on astrophysics.

  47. Richard,
    What statistical test did you carry out to show that? I also didn’t realise that you were quite that well informed about astrophysics. Kudos.

  48. I think Reich is trying to show us that, historically, no consensus position is ever correct. Which is peculiar in that every consensus is no more than whatever a significant majority of people believe to be ‘the truth’ at any particular time. This belies the fact that, in the absence of conflicting evidence, ‘the consensus’ is always our best shot at ‘the truth’.

    So given the above, you’d think the ‘skeptics’ would concentrate on trying to come up with alternative evidence that could overturn the current consensus and replace it with another; rather than just trying to shout down the existing evidence.

  49. I am well aware of my shortcomings in astrophysics, which is why I keep my mouth shut in public.

  50. Richard,
    Well, if you were interested – which, obviously, you aren’t – you could do what Skeptical Science does, which is to refer to the scientific literature and talk with experts. You still haven’t said which statistical test you used.

  51. john,

    I think Reich is trying to show us that, historically, no consensus position is ever correct.

    Indeed, and I suspect every consensus position undergoes evolution with time. Being completely over-turned is – I suspect – rare, though.

  52. The credibility of the ‘Skeptical Science’ website is the credibility of the scientific papers which it cites. It acts as no more than a conduit; collating and explaining the published evidence.

    The fact that so many climate scientists contribute to SkS and recommend it to lay people, demonstrates its usefulness. The fact that it is so universally hated by ‘skeptics’ shows it is highly effective. The fact that Richard Tol is so sneering about it, reflects very much on his ignorance.

  53. The fact that Richard Tol is so sneering about it, reflects very much on his ignorance.

    This is possible, but my suspicion is that this does not reflect on Richard’s ignorance.

  54. Here, for example, is Katharine Hahoe talking about one of her favourite websites.

  55. danialcblog says:

    Re Kimmel’s fantastic 97% of scientists aren’t just f**king with you, here’s the original from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, produced in 2011.

  56. Yes, could be. Perhaps I should have put ‘wilful’ before ‘ignorance’. And growing up in Yorkshire, ‘ignorant’ can have other meanings for me—meanings which suit Richard Tol to a tee.

  57. John Hartz says:

    Bob: I do not have an opinion on the question you had about the methanotrophs. As I previously stated, my understanding of the microbian world is very rudimentary.

  58. danialcblog says:

    @Wotts
    Skeptical Science’ credentials on climate science are consilient to my credentials on astrophysics

    Richard you seem to be trying to derive consilience from a single source and I have a feeling that this is not a first.

  59. BBD says:

    Re methanotrophs and glacial CO2 feedback, I was under the impression that the current thinking points to the role of summer Antarctic sea ice extent inhibiting / enabling ventilation of the Southern Ocean.

  60. BBD says:

    Sorry, there should have been a link to Ferrari et al. (2014) in the previous comment.

  61. Mal Adapted says:

    Richard Tol:

    I am well aware of my shortcomings in astrophysics, which is why I keep my mouth shut in public.

    If only you’d keep your hands off the your keyboard, too.

  62. Marco says:

    Can we please not have another thread about Tol and his deliberate trolling? Katherine Hayhoe’s comment should be enough.

  63. Canman says:

    The question I always have about the 97% consensus is what exactly are they agreeing on? Is it that CO2 causes warming? Is it that CO2 caused most of the warming? Is it that CO2 is causing dangerous warming? Sense these questions usually come up when I read about this subject, I would be very surprised if nobody in your audience asked any of them. So if they did, how did you respond? And if they didn’t, did you bring them up and if so, how did you address them? And if you didn’t bring them up, why not?

  64. Canman,

    Cook et al (2013): Humans are causing global warming.

    Doran & Zimmerman (2009): Human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing global mean temperatures.

    Anderegg et al. (2009): Anthropogenic greenhouse gases have been responsible for most of the warming.

    I think I have the latter two the right way round, but it might be the other way around. Anyway, it seems pretty clear that the 97% consensus typically refers to something like “humans are causing global warming”.

  65. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Nah,

    Just that a lot of things are taken for granted, unless someone actually starts looking at it closer. So, we did. We now know climate changes. We now know humans influence it. This is never to be untrue again. You could have argued that. Even Newton’s laws are still true for a lot of practical issues. Relativity and QM did not change that, but only added more to our understanding.

  66. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    Nah,

    Just that a lot of things are taken for granted (God-given), unless someone actually starts looking at it closer. So, we did. We now know climate changes. We now know humans influence it. This is never to be untrue again. You could have argued that. That is where the present consensus comes from. Even Newton’s laws are still true for a lot of practical issues. Relativity and QM did not change that, but only added more to our understanding.

  67. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: I concur with Marco’s request that this thread not evovle into a endless discussion with Tol about Cook 13 and Cook 16.

    Sugget that you consider creating a Tol Bin and move his comments there.

  68. Seconded. We would not want to destroy the Freedom of Speech in the Free World by immediately deleting his comments, but it would be nice to have an adult conversation.

  69. Let’s also not pile on 🙂

  70. bobcobbblog says:

    Hi Victor,
    Did you have a chance to look at the 2-3C range question I posited?

  71. Canman says:

    ATTP,

    Alright, with this 97%, we’ve eliminated Douugh Cottton and the dragon slayers. Are Judith Curry, Matt Ridley, Richard Tol, Richard Lindzen, Pat Michaels and lots of other sciencey critics of the consensus included? How about some less credentialed critics like Anthony Watts, Brad Keyes, Donna Laframboise, me, Brandon Shollenburger, Tom Fuller, the late Michael Crichton and many more?

  72. BBD says:

    bobcobbblog

    I responded to your question about glacial ocean GHG feedbacks upthread. I cannot speak for Victor or anyone else here, but from what I understand, a realistic perspective on the potential rate of decarbonisation suggests it may be difficult to avoid >3C

  73. @canman
    The consensus varies quite a bit between studies.

    Cook: Humans have caused most of the observed warming.

    Bray: Humans have caused most of the observed warming and will continue to warm the world.

    Stenhouse: Humans have caused some of the observed warming.

    Doran: Humans have caused most of the observed temperature change (whether warming or cooling).

    Carlton: The world has warmed and humans have caused most of the observed warming.

    Verheggen: Humans have caused most of the observed warming.

  74. Marco says:

    Canman
    “Are Judith Curry, Matt Ridley, Richard Tol, Richard Lindzen, Pat Michaels and lots of other sciencey critics of the consensus included?”

    Judith Curry these days, no. She doesn’t even know what more than half means…
    Matt Ridley, no idea what *he* thinks. Richard Tol is not a critic of the consensus (he has, in fact, acknowledged that the consensus is in the high nineties), Richard Lindzen no. Pat Michaels is unclear, but I think no.

    “How about some less credentialed critics like Anthony Watts, Brad Keyes, Donna Laframboise, me, Brandon Shollenburger, Tom Fuller, the late Michael Crichton and many more?”

    Of course they are not. They haven’t published any climate science papers. OK, Watts has one, I think.

  75. Willard says:

    > The consensus varies quite a bit between studies.

    Yet the common denominator is AGW. Yet Richie talks as if there were no common denominator. Fancy that, Canman.

    You’re playing the good ol’ Goldilocks gambit with your rhetorical question(s), BTW.

    Thank you for your lukewarm concerns.

  76. bobcobbblog says:

    BBD,
    From what I’ve read, realistically it is very possible to stay under 3C. And your glacier post had nothing to with what I was asking.

  77. Willard says:

    > The consensus varies quite a bit between studies.

    Yet the common denominator is AGW. Yet Richie talks as if there were no common denominator. Fancy that.

    ***

    You’re playing the good ol’ Goldilocks gambit with your rhetorical question(s), Canman.

    Thank you for your lukewarm concerns.

  78. BBD says:

    bobcobbblog

    From what I’ve read, realistically it is very possible to stay under 3C. And your glacier post had nothing to with what I was asking.

    No idea what you’ve read.

    CH4 as a feedback to orbital forcing is generally thought to be a consequence of increased wetland area as ice sheets retreat. There is a literature which you can look up yourself.

    Your tone leaves something to be desired btw, especially if you want people to do your homework for you.

  79. bobcobbblog, I work on the quality of the station record, not on political science.

  80. bobcobbblog says:

    I do all my own homework. I just don’t understand why you would think ice sheets have anything to do with methanotrophic oxidation in coastal and deep ocean waters. If you’d bothered to read what I wrote, you would have realized that. And the current CH4 emissions rise in the atmosphere has more to do with agriculture and tropical wetlands, as Ed Dlugokencky at NOAA has told me.
    And I never said decarbonization wouldn’t be difficult, just that it’s feasible with some ratcheting up of the Paris indcs. Indeed, the current estimate with just the pledges is 2.7-3.5C. No reason to think we can’t hit the lower end of that.

  81. @willard
    This is more that rhetoric. Carlton’s P(warming) x P(humans > 50% | warming) is not the same as Doran’s P(humans > 50% | warming).

  82. Richard,
    Oh, is this going to be your next talking point. I’ll simply repeat what I’ve said before about those two studies.

    Doran & Zimmerman :

    Of these specialists, 96.2% (76 of 79) answered “risen” to question 1 and 97.4% (75 of 77) answered yes to question 2.

    Carlton:

    Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures? (Question displayed only if respondent thinks temperatures have risen).
    1. Yes 96.66%
    2. No 3.34%
    3. Not sure 0%

    I’ll also repeat my 3 questions, that you still haven’t really answered.

    1. Why haven’t you corrected your erroneous earlier paper where you suggested that the consensus in Cook et als. data was 91%?

    2. Why did you publish a claim in your most recent paper that is almost certainly not true and that you probably knew was not true prior to publication?

    3. Are the headers in your Table A1 correct?

  83. BBD says:

    bobcobbblog

    I do all my own homework. I just don’t understand why you would think ice sheets have anything to do with methanotrophic oxidation in coastal and deep ocean waters. If you’d bothered to read what I wrote, you would have realized that.

    Okay, I should have been clearer: CH4 is a relatively minor feedback to orbital forcing compared to CO2. The increase in radiative forcing from CH4 (20ka – 11.5ka) was about 0.2W/m^2. The increase in RF from CO2 over the same interval was about 1.8W/m^2. (eg. IPCC AR4 WG1 Ch 6).

    The Guardian article noted upthread makes specific mention of an ocean CO2 feedback to orbital forcing which *is* fairly significant, hence my shift of emphasis away from methanotropes and towards the ventilation of the Southern Ocean.

    And the current CH4 emissions rise in the atmosphere has more to do with agriculture and tropical wetlands, as Ed Dlugokencky at NOAA has told me.

    Again, I thought you were more interested in the role of CH4 as a feedback to orbital forcing.

    And I never said decarbonization wouldn’t be difficult, just that it’s feasible with some ratcheting up of the Paris indcs. Indeed, the current estimate with just the pledges is 2.7-3.5C. No reason to think we can’t hit the lower end of that.

    Let’s hope so.

  84. BBD says:

    “methanotrophs” Sp!

  85. bobcobbblog says:

    BBD,
    Apologies, Okay, I get what you’re saying with the Southern Ocean. That is pretty important for forcing.
    The thing I was getting at was more of the aerobic oxidation of methane in the continental shelf (aka the Shakhova thing) sediments and if the Guardian article had any relevance to that.

  86. John Hartz says:

    Bob:

    To reiterate what i said above, Howard Lee’s Guardian article draws heavily from the findings contained in the recently published, Macroecological drivers of archaea and bacteria in benthic deep-sea ecosystems.. Your comments imply to me that you have read Lee’s article, but not the paper it is based on. If so, I encourage you to read the paper.

  87. BBD says:

    The thing I was getting at was more of the aerobic oxidation of methane in the continental shelf (aka the Shakhova thing) sediments and if the Guardian article had any relevance to that.

    Well, the article says ‘dunno’ and I would have to go with that at this point.

  88. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ATTP, you also said this about the Doran & Zimmerman survey:

    I don’t care if it asked the wrong question. There is a strong consensus whether consensus studies asked the right questions or not.

    Which was odd, to say the least.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/peter-doran-on-the-97/#comment-40640

  89. Vinny,
    What’s odd about that? And – as should be obvious – wasn’t about Doran & Zimmerman specifically.

    Talk to climate scientists. Read the literature. It’s pretty self-evident that there is a strong consensus. Richard Tol appears to agree. My point was that even if a consensus study asked the wrong question, it’s not going to change that.

  90. Does anyone have an idea to formulate what “dangerous” is in neutral scientific terms? If we could, I am quite confident we’d get about the same consensus for the claim that global warming exists, is caused by humans and dangerous if we do not act.

  91. chrismorph says:

    Please could you describe your input into the “consensus” paper ?

    Thanks.

  92. > This is more that rhetoric.

    It’s also grammar, more generally linguistics, and in particular pragmatics:

    “Implicature” denotes either (i) the act of meaning or implying one thing by saying something else, or (ii) the object of that act.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/implicature/

    Whatever the meaning of the specific consensus statements you wish to probabilize away, dear Richie, there might very well be a common denominator, and that denominator is AGW.

    To show the rhetoric component of your silly squirrel, I could wonder if there’s any common ground between Canman’s “sciencey critics” and other contrarian self-labeling practices. You’ll then have to grant me that his implicture was lukewarmingly loud and clear enough for the linguistic work it purported to accomplish. You’ll then provide me all I need to respond to your whole charade of raising concerns about some kind of linguistic indeterminacy.

    You know that Popper frowned upon science-by-definition parsomatics, right?

  93. chrismorph,
    What do you think being an author of a paper would imply? Unless I’m mistaking who you are, I assume that you’re choosing to ignore my invitations.

  94. The definition of the consensus obviously matters. It matters for its measurement, or perhaps failure at measurement. For instance, Stenhouse finds that 78% agree, rather than 93%, if the definition is comparable to Cook.

    It also matters for the interpretation. No one in their right mind disagrees with the experiments of Fourier or the physics of Tyndall. There is a wide range of projections of future climate change, and a wider range of impact estimates.

  95. Richard,
    Good grief, we’re going to go through this again. If you take Stenhouse’s sample and restrict it to those who say “50% or more” and exclude “don’t knows” the consensus is 93%, as we said in our paper.

  96. > The definition of the consensus obviously matters. It matters for its measurement, or perhaps failure at measurement.

    It’s the other way around, Richie dear, if we’re to take your probabilizing seriously.

  97. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ATTP, if you don’t care about the validity of various consensus studies why have you just put your name to a study defending their validity?

    (Personally, I think it’s safest to assume that most surveys are rubbish. For example, the Grauniad recently had a story about a survey saying that, among citizens of the larger nations, the Chinese are the most concerned about climate change. A few months ago – December? – it had one bemoaning a survey saying that concern about climate change had collapsed in China recent years and that the Chinese had become almost as climate-apathetic as Americans. Which survey is true? Both? Neither? Just ignore them.)

  98. BBD says:

    Richard

    There is a wide range of projections of future climate change, and a wider range of impact estimates.

    A range generally dependent on the rate of emissions reduction, IIRC.

  99. Vinny,

    if you don’t care about the validity of various consensus studies why have you just put your name to a study defending their validity?

    Because that isn’t what I said. I’ve often thought you were above these kind of rhetorical games. I’m often wrong, though.

  100. There is a wide range of projections of future climate change, and a wider range of impact estimates.

    I don’t think that there are many (no more than 5%, probably) that would be consistent with humans having caused less than 50% of the observed warming since 1950.

  101. > For example, the Grauniad […]

    Look, a leftist squirrel!

    ***

    > I’ve often thought you were above these kind of rhetorical games.

    Come on, AT – don’t you see that Vinny’s Just Asking Questions?

  102. Vinny Burgoo says:

    A parenthesised leftist squirrel, Willard. Different species. Don’t get sidetracked.

  103. Come on, AT – don’t you see that Vinny’s Just Asking Questions?

    Well, yes. This did seem obvious.

  104. > A parenthesised leftist squirrel.

    Your parenthetis contains 85 words and 511 characters, while the question you were “just asking” has 25 words and 140 characters.

    Speaking of which, I can’t find the word “valid” in the abstract:

    Cook et al’s highly influential consensus study (2013 Environ. Res. Lett. 8 024024) finds different results than previous studies in the consensus literature. It omits tests for systematic differences between raters. Many abstracts are unaccounted for. The paper does not discuss the procedures used to ensure independence between the raters, to ensure that raters did not use additional information, and to ensure that later ratings were not influenced by earlier results. Clarifying these issues would further strengthen the paper, and establish it as our best estimate of the consensus.

    http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/048001

    Besides, why don’t you miss any opportunity to raise concerns about consensus studies (or even care about AT’s position regarding them) if you assume that all surveys are rubbish?

  105. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Er, because all surveys are (best assumed to be) rubbish?

    Let’s suppose, Willard, that you think that potatoes are rubbish and that there’s a blog somewhere that keeps saying how great they are. How does the fact that you think spuds are rubbish automatically rule out your commenting there? Do you never challenge others who think differently to you?

  106. BBD says:

    Vinny

    Why do you doubt that there is a near-unanimous scientific consensus that AGW is real, is us, and is potentially dangerous?

  107. So you “challenge” what others think by just asking them questions, Vinny?

    Why do you suddenly speak of “ruling out of your commenting”?

    Does it mean that either you JAQ off or you don’t comment?

    When you assume that all surveys are rubbish, are you thinking of those made by Larry Hamilton?

  108. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Before your misrepresentation takes root, I should probably emphasise (again) that I said it’s safest to assume that all surveys are rubbish. Not quite the same as urging people to assume that all surveys are rubbish.

    Safest to assume that Larry Hamilton’s surveys are rubbish? Probably. Unless you have the time to look into how they were done.

    Some surveys probably suggest that he’d agree.

    (BBD: I don’t.)

  109. BBD says:

    Vinny

    (BBD: I don’t.)

    Then what are you concerned about?

    I don’t get it.

  110. There were no misrepresentation, dear Vinny, because I never claimed you urged people to assume that all surveys are rubbish. Not all safer things are better anyway. After all, I bet you’re not a fan of the precautionary principle, which contrarians usually conflate with Pascal’s wager. For instance:

    If you think that it’s safer to assume that all surveys are rubbish, then it must apply to Larry’s too. So I guess your “probably” has little statistical significance.

    You forgot to acknowledge that “valid” is absent from the abstract of the paper written by one of the authors you “challenge” by just asking questions.

  111. Tsk. If ever there were a reason to completely discount anything Lomborg writes, that Tweet would be it.

  112. Joshua says:

    Vinny –

    ==> Personally, I think it’s safest to assume that most surveys are rubbish.

    So what do you do in order to gauge public opinion? Do you have some means for evaluating which surveys are rubbish and which aren’t?

    Or do you just assume that you have no idea about public opinion, none whatsoever, about anything, and live your live accordingly? So for example, you have no idea whatsoever what % of the public thinks that humans didn’t evolve? You have no idea what % of people think that all abortions should be banned? You have no idea what % of the public are concerned about aCO2 emissions? You have no idea what % of climate scientists think that aCO2 emissions pose a threat for dangerous climate change? Etc.?

  113. Mal Adapted says:

    Victor Venema:

    Does anyone have an idea to formulate what “dangerous” is in neutral scientific terms?

    I don’t know if “dangerous” can have a neutral scientific formulation, but surely those personally affected by AGW will make their own assessments. Presumably the 300 (as of 7 days ago) people killed by India’s ongoing heatwave would agree that AGW is dangerous, if they weren’t dead. I suppose we can ask those who were caught in Houston’s record rainfall and subsequent flooding last month if they think climate change is dangerous. The property-owners of Miami Beach aren’t in much danger unless a hurricane aims itself at them. Hurricane, heck — a tropical depression would be enough.

    Does “dangerous” really require a scientific consensus, Victor? Would you be satisfied with a consensus of victims?

  114. We could ask a medium to hold a survey among the dead.

    But seriously, sorry for being such a scientist, I was not trying to provoke, but if you want to study something scientifically you need to define it clearly. If you would just survey scientists for the question “is AGW dangerous” a very large part would refute to answer. As citizens most would likely have no trouble saying it is dangerous, but if you ask them as scientists, the problem would be that “dangerous” is not a scientific category.

  115. > if you want to study something scientifically you need to define it clearly

    If only we had a clear definition of “definition,” Victor. We don’t even know what’s a tree or a mountain and yet we study these things. Even rocks ain’t that crisply defined:

    https://larvalsubjects.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/hacking-the-social-construction-of-what2.pdf

    (See chapter 7. I guess the link is for a limited time only.)

    Were I to start to study dangerosity, I’d start with insurance, e.g.:

    In economics, moral hazard occurs when one person takes more risks because someone else bears the cost of those risks. A moral hazard may occur where the actions of one party may change to the detriment of another after a financial transaction has taken place.

    Moral hazard occurs under a type of information asymmetry where the risk-taking party to a transaction knows more about its intentions than the party paying the consequences of the risk. More broadly, moral hazard occurs when the party with more information about its actions or intentions has a tendency or incentive to behave inappropriately from the perspective of the party with less information.

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

    Kings of coal and globally lukewarm think tanks around the world ought to know about moral hazards.

  116. If only we had a clear definition of “definition,” Victor. We don’t even know what’s a tree or a mountain and yet we study these things. Even rocks ain’t that crisply defined:

    Science is hard. I know. Even if a general definition easily fails when it comes to stuff outside of the lab, for a specific study it is normally possible to give a definition that works for that study.

    Moral harards are an important idea. Especially in a world where most economic transitions are performed by companies that have limited liability (a government action in the economy that seems necessary for a modern economy and something libertarians prefer to ignore) and are thus moral hazard machines and unfortunately in need of regulation to reduce these moral hazards.

    Not sure if I see how this concept helps in defining “dangerous”. How would you propose to do so?

  117. > Not sure if I see how this concept helps in defining “dangerous”. How would you propose to do so?

    I’m not the one who pretends that science works first by defining its terms, Victor. That quest is on you. That’s why I said “study,” and not “define.” You really ought to skim the chapter I cited earlier. There’s even a Freeman Dyson cameo, and I can almost predict you’ll love to dislike it. I just wish I had come up with this gem:

    The curmudgeonly troll of hyperbolic scientific realism may go on grumbling in his dark cellar, but he will no longer shake the whole mountain in his rage.

    Rocks are hard.

    ***

    In any case, had I to start paying diligence to the notion of moral hazard, I’d start with the noun. Hazard should be well-defined (by that I mean well enough) by the insurance and reinsurance industries, or if you prefer by government agencies that protect workers. Since I’m on a philosophical roll, I’d rather plug in another Canadian, this time Joseph Heath:

    [E]galitarians cannot disregard moral hazard. All egalitarian social arrangements have an insurance-like character – they indemnify individuals, to a greater or lesser extent, against the effects of bad luck. A town that is devastated by floods, in a society committed to equality, will receive a transfer that reduces the extent of the loss. Yet the knowledge that such a transfer is forthcoming invariably reduces the incentive that individuals have to avoid such risks, or to minimize their losses. Thus more houses will be built upon flood plains in a society in which individuals are compensated for losses due to flooding. Egalitarian arrangements, in other words, can themselves create inefficiencies. (There are documented cases of malnutrition and starvation caused by egalitarian distribution systems that make free-riding more advantageous than farming.)

    The moral hazard problems generated by egalitarian arrangements would be far more severe in an international context than they are in the domestic case, simply because the absence of the rule of law in international affairs means that there is often no institutional mechanism in place to counteract them. Compare, for instance, the contrast between inheritance and the national savings rate. When we talk about “wealthy” countries, what we are really talking about is countries that have high levels of labour productivity. One of the major determinants of labour productivity is the domestic savings rate. Savings provide the pool of investment capital that in turn supplies all of the machines that enable workers to be more productive. Yet this savings rate functions very much like a public good on a national scale. Most of the benefits accrue to future generations, and so present workers often lack an incentive to maintain a saving rate adequate to promote industrialization and development. Countries that have industrialized over the course of the 20th century generally did so in part through their ability to overcome this collective action problem (either through cultural resources, as in the case of Japan, or through coercive measures, as in the former Soviet Union).

    http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~jheath/rawls.pdf

    There ought to be a philosophy of insurance one day. What’s good for Wallace Stevens should be good for humanity.

  118. Making changes to a system when the consequences of those changes are highly uncertain qualifies as dangerous in my book.

  119. Here’s an idea. An old friend told me that armies become inoperational after they lose a surprisingly small fraction of its forces. I vaguely recall something like 10%. Evan Jones, Victor’s dear friend, might be better placed to come up with historically correct figures. In any event, this intuition leads me to connect hazard with productivity, and of course I’m not the first:

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/253806

    Perhaps starting with costs would be more palatable:

    In this study, we address these questions by presenting estimates of the incidence, prevalence, and costs of workplace-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths for the entire civilian workforce of the United States in 1992. We also consider controversies surrounding cost methodologies, estimate how these costs are distributed across occupations, consider who pays the costs, and address some policy issues.

    Our major findings are as follows.

    Roughly 6,371 job-related injury deaths, 13.3 million nonfatal injuries, 60,300 disease deaths, and 1,184,000 illnesses occurred in the U.S. workplace in 1992 (see table 1.1).

    The total direct and indirect costs associated with these injuries and illnesses were estimated to be $155.5 billion, or nearly 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

    Direct costs included medical expenses for hospitals, physicians, and drugs, as well as health insurance administration costs, and were estimated to be $51.8 billion.

    The indirect costs included loss of wages, costs of fringe benefits, and loss of home production (e.g., child care provided by parent and home repairs), as well as employer retraining and workplace disruption costs, and were estimated to be $103.7 billion.

    Injuries generated roughly 85 percent whereas diseases generated 15 percent of all costs.

    These costs are large when compared to those for other diseases. The costs are roughly five times the costs for AIDS, three times the costs for Alzheimer’s disease, more than the costs of arthritis, nearly as great as the costs for cancer, and roughly 82 percent of the costs of all circulatory (heart and stroke) diseases.

    Workers’ compensation covered roughly 27 percent of all costs. Taxpayers paid approximately 18 percent of these costs through contributions to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

    Costs were borne by injured workers and their families, by all other workers through lower wages, by firms through lower profits, and by consumers through higher prices.

    […]

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/workplace/etc/cost.html

    3% of one’s GDP starts to be taxing. Now, imagine 10%. Then, 15%.

  120. J.R. Petit et al. (1999) dryly raises some concerns:

    As judged from the Vostok record, the long, stable Holocene is a unique feature of climate during the past 420 kyr, with possibly profound implications for evolution and the development of civilizations. Finally, CO2 and CH4 concentrations are strongly correlated with Antarctic temperatures; this is because, overall, our results support the idea that greenhouse gases have contributed significantly to the glacial–interglacial change. This correlation, together with the uniquely elevated concentrations of these gases today, is of relevance with respect to the continuing debate on the future of Earth’s climate.

    He speaks a little more freely in an interview:

    In this paper, one of your concluding remarks is that “Present-day atmospheric burdens of these two important greenhouse gases [carbon dioxide and methane] seem to have been unprecedented during the past 420,000 years.” Would you please elaborate on the implications of this statement?

    With industrial development and anthropologic activity, massive burning of fossil carbon as well as intensification of agriculture released exponential amounts of CO2 and CH4 over the last 150 years. Present atmospheric composition well surpasses all maximum concentrations from the ice records over the last 420 kyrs (30% more CO2, 300% more CH4).

    This makes a permanent atmospheric cover over the globe which prevents the natural cooling of the earth’s surface and making it so the heat is always “on.” A new climate equilibrium is expected but we have no analog from the past climate (except maybe at the time of the dinosaurs!). This raises questions for the future climate and the consequences.

    Allow me to translate: “no analog from the past climate (except maybe at the time of the dinosaurs!)” and “raises questions for the future” may be interpreted as “dangerous” … or as BBD often puts it, “potentially hazardous”. The qualifier is good as it drives home the “we don’t really know” message.

  121. Dangit Willard, we keep crossing! Curiously, I was just thinking last night that a decimation of world population would qualify as hazardous … if not catastrophic.

  122. Unless this decimation comes with a loss in productivity, BrandonG, I don’t think we’ll get the attention of the Kings of coal and their commingling buffoons. It’s too easy for them to get free rides out of bankcrupcies. They did this all their lives, sometimes by atavism, if I may borrow one particular King of coal’s fancy for pop-biology.

  123. A good business euphemism is “cost of sales”, Willard. The militant-minded might call it “collateral damage”. And then there’s this:

    The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic. ~Comrade Stalin, laying down the number one operating principle of totalitarian dictatorships

  124. bobcobbblog says:

    If you’re trying to say that all is lost, I’m afraid I don’t agree with you.

  125. bobcobbblog,

    I’m agreeing with Willard that the tycoon class aren’t going to be moved by appeals to moral responsibility.

  126. If you’re trying to say that you’re afraid of beating squirrels, Bob, then I don’t even want to finish that sentence.

  127. bobcobbblog says:

    No, the tycoon class will be moved by regulations rammed down their throats and the decline of coal hitting their pocketbooks. If we had moral CEOs, then climate change wouldn’t be a problem at all. That said, maybe I’m a blockhead or something, but what do you mean by the squirrels part?

  128. CEOs like subsidies.

  129. Willard says:

    > what do you mean by the squirrels part?

    I prefer beating squirrels to beating wifes, Bob. I have no idea where I made any commitment regarding the inevitability of our predicament. As far as I am concerned, this assumption is unwarranted, but even if I thought there was nothing to do, I’m not even sure I’d prefer to trust my judgment to entertaining some kind of hope.

    Moral CEOs would be a good idea.

  130. Canman says:

    Marco @6:18 responding to my question as to whether less credentialed critics should be included:

    Of course they are not. They haven’t published any climate science papers. OK, Watts has one, I think.

    They don’t have to have published papers to have their views compared to those who do. Percentages of the public who supposedly agree or disagree with AGW are often compared to climate consensus percentages. By that standard you can’t say, “Of course they are not”.

  131. Willard – I’m not even sure the problem would be solved, or even alleviated, with a cadre of moral CEO’s. The invisible hand and all that for one, and the inherent problems with democracy for another. As Justin Wilcox writes in the NY Times,

    The Marquis Condorcet, a French mathematician of the second half of the 18th century, showed how a majority-rule vote can lead to incoherent collective choices. But Kenneth Arrow, the economics Nobel laureate, showed in his 1951 doctoral thesis that the problem runs far deeper than anyone had imagined. Mr. Arrow’s famous “impossibility theorem” says that there is no mechanism that can coherently speak for the will of the people.

    Only during times of crisis does the USA seem to find the type of solidarity required to confront the problem that climate change presents. My own pessimistic opinion is that we (and much of the rest of the world) need to go on a war footing NOW if we want to leave future generations with anything other than unpalatable choices.

    Upthread you quoted wiki on moral hazard:

    moral hazard occurs when the party with more information about its actions or intentions has a tendency or incentive to behave inappropriately from the perspective of the party with less information.

    The intergenerational passing of the baton is not strictly a transaction, but viewed in this light we should be extremely careful of how we discount the future. Yet quite the opposite seems to happen when economists start arbitrarily putting numbers to variables to feed into IAMs. Case in point is the treatment of the ‘pure rate of time preference’ by both Stern and Tol. Each state that ethically it should be zero, yet each then increases it.

    Why, of course the people don’t want war…But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship…Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to do the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. – Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg Trials after WWII

    We need a Global war On Global Warming

  132. anoilman says:

    Canman, publishing papers is a means of measuring whether they really understand a problem or field of research. Quality of work, journals published in, etc are all part of consensus.

    Not all ‘experts’ are really the same. Crappy work… crappy journals…

  133. Marco says:

    “They don’t have to have published papers to have their views compared to those who do. ”

    Well, you can always do the comparison, and then you will find that those who criticize the consensus are much more likely to have little to no credentials in the field (see Anderegg et al).

    Maybe I didn’t quite get what you were after in your question to ATTP?

  134. Bwana_mrefu says:

    The most surprising, though, was a retired member of staff who came up afterwards and started with how poorly James Hansen’s 1988 predictions turned out (this suggests otherwise), moved on to the pause, and then said that he thought we could be heading for an ice age. At that stage, I decided that there wasn’t much point in carrying on and suggested we stopped there. He followed me back to my office claiming that I was incapable of rebutting his suggestion; it felt like real life social media.

    A couple of years back I was asked to do a talk to the local branch of the University of the Third Age (http://www.u3a.org.uk/). A lot of the members are retired, academics, medics, and engineers. In a conversation with the local group’s secretary, where we discussed possible presentations, she explicitly told me not to mention climate change, as; “a lot of our members have a bee in their bonnet on that issue.” Apparently, at a previous meeting, a well respected climate scientist from my University got a very hostile reception and was virtually shouted down by a small group of men in the audience.

    I guess this observation is a corollary of Planck’s famous quote about progress in science.

  135. Mal Adapted says:

    Thinking a little more about my previous comment on this thread, I was going to suggest to VV that actuarial science might offer a satisfactory formulation of “danger”. That’s sufficiently implied by subsequent comments from willard and brandonrgates, though.

  136. Magma says:

    They don’t have to have published papers to have their views compared to those who do. — Canman

    Any sensible weighting of respective views would consider knowledge, expertise and experience, and in scientific fields such matters are largely dependent on one’s body of published work. I can follow a reasonably wide range of climate-related papers and pick out some types of errors and shortcomings. But is my opinion the equal of Gavin Schmidt’s or Michael Mann’s? Of course not.

  137. Magma says:

    @ Mal Adapted & bwana_mrefu: Going by observation, actuarial science is the scourge of deniers. (Although Planck was acknowledging the limitations of the preceding generation of highly accomplished physicists, quite a few levels above our ‘skeptical’ friends.)

    Science advances one funeral at a time.
    or the slightly more ponderous original:
    Eine neue wissenschaftliche Wahrheit pflegt sich nicht in der Weise durchzusetzen, daß ihre Gegner überzeugt werden und sich als belehrt erklären, sondern vielmehr dadurch, daß ihre Gegner allmählich aussterben und daß die heranwachsende Generation von vornherein mit der Wahrheit vertraut gemacht ist.

    I think Einstein was one of the few German physicists who managed the art of the snappy quote in English.

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