The Royal Society and the GWPF

A couple of weeks ago, it came out that the Royal Society had hired space for an event being run by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). The event turns out to be a lecture by Matt Ridley, who I have written about before (I’ve also written about the GWPF before too).

It appears that, despite pressure to cancel the event, the Royal Society is allowing the event to go ahead. Apparently, instead of cancelling the meeting,

“some scientist experts will attend the meeting and keep check on the accuracy of the statements.”

Greg Laden, has responsed positively to this, suggesting that the Royal Society is putting the GPWF on notice. Possibly, but I think the Royal Society is making a mistake. I think they’re falling into the same trap into which I fell when I first started discussing this topic.

I naively thought that a solid explanation of someone’s error would either convince them they were wrong, convince others that they were wrong, or – possibly – both. I have since found that such an outcome is extremely unlikely, if not virtually impossible. Most who present scientifically incorrect arguments are unlikely to be convinced of their errors, especially if their errors have been highlighted many times in the past (as is the case with Matt Ridley). Also, as long as they sound convincing, most who accept their arguments are unlikely to change their minds.

Even if some expert scientists do attend the meeting to keep check on the accuracy of what is said, I doubt it will have a positive outcome. Either they will be ineffective and the GWPF will be able to imply that they had a meeting “hosted”, or maybe even “endorsed”, by the Royal Society, or they will try to counter what is presented at the meeting, and the GWPF will complain about being censored and will probably suggest that the Royal Society is behaving unscientifically. The GWPF will manipulate it, whatever happens. You may notice that I haven’t considered the possibility that what will be presented will actually be scientifically accurate. Well, that’s because that would be silly.

I’m not suggesting that the Royal Society should go ahead and cancel the event, as that would be manipulated by the GWPF too. I don’t actually think that there really is a positive way out of this at this stage (the meeting is in 2 days times). However, given their past encounters with the GWPF, you would think that they would have thought twice about hosting the event in the first place. Maybe they think that they can effectively counter any misrepresentations, but I suspect that they don’t fully appreciate how manipulative the GWPF can be. I may well be wrong, and would be perfectly happy if it turns out that I am.

Anyway, since I’m discussing the GWPF, I might as well advertise a recent paper about the structure of the climate debate, by one of their Academic Advisors. It’s actually mostly quite sensible. I’m not quite as optimistic that climate change is a relatively small problem that can easily be solved and it, of course, tries to portray the author as part of some sensible middle, which – given their association with the GWPF – is clearly nonsense. However, I largely agree with the basic suggestion that [f]irst-best climate policy is a uniform carbon tax which gradually rises over time.

This is getting rather long, and it’s about all I had to say. Comments welcome.

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200 Responses to The Royal Society and the GWPF

  1. Geoff,
    Indeed, that does nicely illustrate the conundrum.

  2. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Comments welcome? Righty ho.

    When you ‘first started discussing this topic’ you knew almost nothing about it: some scary stuff fed to you by the likes of the Grauniad and Thom Hartmann and that was it.

    You do seem to have a better grasp of the nitty gritty of climate change science these days (well done!) and you have even started to acknowledge that physics might not be everything.

    But you haven’t managed to ditch the tribal crap that first got you interested in the subject. WTF does GWPF have to do with anything that matters? It’s a tiny fringe lobby group.

    This blog is you jumping up yet again to ‘police the consensus’ on behalf of your tribe.

  3. Vinny,

    When you ‘first started discussing this topic’ you knew almost nothing about it:

    Really? I can’t remember if I was aware of Thom Hartmann back then.

    You do seem to have a better grasp of the nitty gritty of climate change science these days (well done!) and you have even started to acknowledge that physics might not be everything.

    Thank you. So kind. (just out of interest, what makes you think you’re capable of judging this?)

    But you haven’t managed to ditch the tribal crap that first got you interested in the subject.

    That isn’t really my memory of what got me interested, but you seem to think you know better then I do.

    WTF does GWPF have to do with anything that matters? It’s a tiny fringe lobby group.

    And this is just a tiny, fringe blog.

    This blog is you jumping up yet again to ‘police the consensus’ on behalf of your tribe.

    Ahh, my tribe. Which one would that be?

    Many of the above questions should probably be regarded as rhetorical.

  4. edaviesmeuk says:

    It seems to me that the only sensible option for the Royal Society, now they’ve accepted the booking, is to make it publicly clear that they’re just hiring out a room and that they don’t endorse the meeting. Anything else will, as you say, be manipulated in some way. Isn’t that what UCL did in similar circumstances?

  5. Isn’t that what UCL did in similar circumstances?

    No, UCL convinced them to hold it elsewhere.

  6. edaviesmeuk says:

    Ah, right. Even better.

  7. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ‘Many of the above questions should probably be regarded as rhetorical.’

    Good.

  8. Vinny,
    Always happy to help 😉

  9. JonA says:

    The meeting hasn’t happened yet. Nobody has said anything yet.
    They are still wrong though.

    Why do you even care?

  10. izen says:

    I do not know why ATTP may care, but I can present an argument why individuals may care enough to counter bad information spread into the public discourse.

    For several decades a major industry has funded research and influenced official bodies from the local to the global to maintain the high consumption of their product despite the evidence that at such levels it is harmful to humans.

    The regulation of the product has been inadequate as a result of the false information promoted by the industry that consumption of their product was safe at levels double what is now recognised as reasonable. As a result many millions face a shorter and less healthy life.

    There may be a moral case for speaking up when inaccurate information is promoted that results in harm to individuals and society.

    http://www.sciencealert.com/the-sugar-industry-funded-one-of-the-biggest-misconceptions-in-modern-nutrition

  11. Willard says:

    > Why do you even care?

    You go first, JonA.

    ***

    > [The GWPF]’s a tiny fringe lobby group.

    You keep using that word, Vinny:

    Lord Lawson (Chairman)
    Nigel Lawson (Conservative), Secretary of State for Energy 1981-83, Chancellor of the Exchequer 1983-89, author of An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming, 2008.

    Lord Donoughue
    Bernard Donoughue (Labour), Senior Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister (first Harold Wilson, then James Callaghan) 1974-79.

    Lord Fellowes
    Robert Fellowes (Crossbench), Assistant Private Secretary to the Queen 1977-86, Deputy Private Secretary to the Queen 1986-90, Private Secretary to the Queen 1990-99.

    Rt Rev Peter Forster
    Bishop of Chester since 1996.

    Sir Martin Jacomb
    Deputy Chairman of Barclays Bank 1985-93, Director of the Bank of England 1986-95.

    Peter Lilley MP
    Peter Lilley is a Conservative MP. He was Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Secretary of State for Social Security in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet. He was appointed by David Cameron to the Policy Board with responsibility for Foreign Affairs, Europe, Defence and International Development.

    Charles Moore
    Charles Moore is a former editor of The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator and still writes for both publications. He is the authorised biographer of Margaret Thatcher.

    Baroness Nicholson
    Emma Nicholson (Conservative), MP for Devon West and Torridge 1987-97 (first Con, then Lib Dem), former Lib Dem MEP for S E England (1999-2009).

    Graham Stringer MP
    Graham Stringer is a Labour MP. He was the leader of Manchester City Council and the Parliamentary Secretary in the Cabinet Office under Tony Blair.

    Lord Turnbull
    Andrew Turnbull (Crossbench), Permanent Secretary, Environment Department,1994-98; Permanent Secretary to the Treasury 1998-2002, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service 2002-05.

    http://www.thegwpf.org/who-we-are/board-of-trustees/

    I don’t think the word “fringe” means what you think it means.

  12. T-rev says:

    >I naively thought that a solid explanation of someone’s error would either convince them they were wrong, convince others that they were wrong, or – possibly – both. I have since found that such an outcome is extremely unlikely

    I think we all go through this. That was me a decade ago.

    There appears to be different groups. Those who square the round hole of the issue by outright denial, those who do like wise using cognitive dissonance acting one way but saying something else eg “we need to do something” while continuing to it profligately Usually these folk will say it’s all somebody else’s fault eg business, deniers, politicians etc Then there are those who ignore the longtailed distribution of problems and grasp to the less than slim chance of it being fine and lastly those who have come to accept humans aren’t evolved enough and we’ll head into something that will be unable to sustain modern civilisation (the Fermi Paradox writ large if you will).

    I am squarely in the latter camp and have adopted Dennis Meadows advice about building resilience, ensure I don’t throw fuel on the fire with profligate emissions and now bear witness, to pinch a sentiment from photograper James Nachteway.

    http://www.jamesnachtwey.com

  13. jyyh says:

    I’ll be surprised if the scientists attending the lecture are able to get a word in. Imho, there’s no chance they’re heard correctly, even if they do get a say. The only thing scientifically interesting here might be a recording of the full discussion that might be good source material to filologists and other language professionals.

  14. I don’t think the actual lecture itself, live, is really that important for the GWPF. What will matter for them will be the spin offs. They will publish the transcript and advertise it as ‘Lord Ridley’s Royal Society Lecture’ (or similar) thus milking credibility from the association, which they will fail to mention was no more than that of a commercial transaction between unconnected parties.

    Any subsequent protests by the Royal Society—assuming they can be bothered to complain—will be swept under the carpet when the transcript forms the basis of an article in the Times, Telegraph or Mail, and is then cited in blogs and ‘debates’ for years to come.

    I appreciate aTTP’s repeated efforts to close the stable door and I trust readers of this blog will do their utmost to correct any confusion after the horse has bolted.

  15. Marco says:

    If it is the foundation that organizes the lecture, they will have a problem if they falsely advertise the lecture as a “Royal Society” lecture. They have already been in trouble, and as a result had to split up the GWPF (into forum and foundation). The foundation can ill-afford to lose its charitable status, which they very likely will if they misrepresent the lecture. After all, the RS has made it very clear it isn’t related to the RS.

  16. The public (and many journalists) will not realise there’s a difference between ‘Lord Ridley’s Lecture at The Royal Society’ and ‘Lord Ridley’s Royal Society Lecture’—and the second is much snappier as part of a newspaper subtitle. The GWPF might use the first, and act whiter than white, but they’ll know exactly how the confusion will play out in the long term. In the aftermath, can you imagine the attractiveness of a complaint by the Royal Society as a subject for a newspaper article?

    In all likelihood The RS is about to be mugged.

  17. snarkrates says:

    Vinny,
    Tribal crap? Right. We belong to the tribe that thinks the facts, evidence and science matter.

    You?

  18. Marco and John,
    I suspect you’re both partly right. They will probably be careful how they promote, but will still do so in a way that is then interpreted as their meeting having been hosted, or endorsed, by the Royal Society.

  19. Christopher Winter says:

    Was the National Science Foundation mugged by Fred Seitz?

    The petition from the OISM (aka the Oregon Petition) is well known (and well debunked.) Seitz, a former president of the NSF, made the letter that introduced the petition to look like it came from the NSF. This undoubtedly caused some confusion, but that was (mostly) cleared up when the NSF issued a disclaimer.

    Similarly, the fact that the GWPF got Britain’s Royal Society to host a lecture by Matt Ridley will in the long run redound to the discredit of the GWPF. Both the RS and the GWPF have reputations. Given a dispute between them, I think there is little doubt about which will prevail.

    There are those who think that all of life is a poker game. They are mistaken to think so, as nature demonstrates time and again.

  20. I’m sure the GWPF knows what is inevitable in the long run. But their aim for the short—and not so short—term is to confuse and delay for as long as possible.

    Their type love telling scientists not to dabble in policy, but as their decision to hold this lecture at the Royal Society will surely demonstrate, they have no qualms about misappropriating science in the cause of influencing policy.

  21. Marco says:

    Christopher, the OISM wasn’t linked to the NSF, but to PNAS. It was the NAS that issued the disclaimer.

  22. MarkR says:

    I’m disappointed and I suspect that some at the Royal Society are, as ATTP says, misunderstanding the GWPF and think they’re trying to have a legitimate scientific discussion.

    They are propagandists that are willing to cherry pick and misrepresent science to mislead the public. Any attention they get is a win for them, and any discussion with the Royal Society might make them appear involved in a genuine scientific debate. Of course, any refusal to host them will be spun as “censorship”. IMO the least-bad way to deal with this would be to just not rent them space at any place that could be used to give them a mask of scientific credibility in future unless they show signs of becoming straight shooters when it comes to the science.

    Look here for an example:
    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/environment/article4696832.ece
    If the GWPF were interested in accurately representing their science they’d come out and make sure that people understood that the “statistical forecast” is a bit of a joke. If they were interested in propaganda to delay climate policy, they’d be happy with news stories that take it seriously. It’s pretty clear what they chose.

  23. Mark,
    Indeed. As James Annan pointed out, Terence Mills didn’t even seem to believe his own forecast and yet seemed comfortable with it being promoted in the media.

  24. ilma630 says:

    If this cannot be labelled an “RS lecture”, then for example, can we also agree then that the Grantham Institute only ‘rents a room’ at the LSE & are nothing to do with it, and their climate attack dog Bob Ward is no scientist (not even a PhD) but merely a policy spokesman.

  25. I’m failing to see why the Grantham Institute and Bob Ward have anything to do with the GWPF giving a presentation at the Royal Society.

  26. BBD says:

    can we also agree then that the Grantham Institute only ‘rents a room’ at the LSE & are nothing to do with it

    The Grantham Institute seems to be a bit more than a tenant:

    The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment was established by the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2008 to create a world-leading centre for policy-relevant research and training on climate change and the environment, bringing together international expertise on economics, finance, geography, the environment, international development and political economy.

  27. Indeed, I suspect that it is an institute within the LSE that was part-funded by a donor, rather than an insitute hiring space within the LSE.

  28. Vinny Burgoo says:

    [The GWPF]’s a tiny fringe lobby group.

    You keep using that word, Vinny:

    Lord Lawson (Chairman)… Lord Donoughue… [etc.]

    I don’t think the word “fringe” means what you think it means.

    Oh dear, dear Willard. Are you really unaware that the boards of environmentalist lobby groups with far more influence than poor old GWPF’s are stuffed to the everafters with bishops, lords, ladies, MPs and (trigger warning: rhyming slang imminent) merchant bankers who have made their pile but have now seen the light and think the rest of us should spurn superyachts and other conspicuous consumption and just get on our bicycles for the greater good, amen?

    I doubt it, somehow. So you must be playing tribal games.

  29. Vinny,
    None of that means that the GWPF is somehow a tiny finge lobby group. If you really object to the behaviour of other organisations, feel free to start a blog and write about them. It’s a free world and their conduct doesn’t somehow validate, or not, the GWPF giving a presentation at the Royal Society.

  30. guthrie says:

    I’m sure Vinny will be able to list the environmentalist lobby groups that have more influential members than the GWPF?
    Anyway, why should you take the side of a bunch of sad old men who deny science?

  31. BBD says:

    Vinny

    I doubt it, somehow. So you must be playing tribal games.

    I’ve never asked you this most obvious of questions: please, describe the tribe you most closely identify with.

  32. Willard says:

    Is a silly “but environmentalist groups” tu quoque all you can muster to justify your minimization of the “poor old” GWPF, Vinny, and should “GWPF” refer to the Global Warming Policy Foundation or the Global Warming Policy Forum?

    As you well may be aware, the GWPF doesn’t share your opinion of them:

    Since our launch, we have:

    encouraged media to become more balanced in its coverage of climate change

    opened the debate on climate policies among opinion formers and MPs

    contributed to the climate debates among MEPs in the European Parliament

    attracted some of the world’s top scientists and economists as members of our Academic Advisory Council

    created a popular website that is subjecting climate policies and claims by governments and campaigners to dispassionate analysis based on hard evidence and economic rigour

    incorporated and expanded CCNet, the world’s leading climate policy network, which is providing an outlet for news, intelligent analysis and in-depth reports by members of our Academic Advisory Council and others begun to shape the climate and energy debates in the UK and abroad.

    http://www.thegwpf.org/who-we-are/

  33. izen says:

    Out of curiosity I went looking for the announcement of the meeting at the GWPF website to see what they said about it.
    Unable to find any schedule or dates I used the search box and typed in ‘royal society’.

    This was the top of the list –

    ROYAL SOCIETY MISREPRESENTS CLIMATE SCIENCE
    Date: 01/03/15 Global Warming Policy Foundation
    London, 15 March: A new briefing paper published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation has accused the Royal Society of presenting a misleading picture of climate science. The briefing, entitled The Small Print: What the Royal Society left out, challenges claims made in the Royal Society’s recently published Short Guide to Climate Science, and demonstrates how the Society […]

    The other search results were articles less than complimentary about the Royal Society. I still could not find their own announcement of the meeting.

  34. If the Royal Society believes the GWPF is open to reason and logic, or the public is not gullible, or the former will not take advantage of the latter, they haven’t been paying attention.

    If they provide space for the GWPF to present, the GWPF will claim the Royal Society is supporting them.

    It’s that simple. All this arguifying is useless. Lies are lies, and the truth is truth.

  35. jyyh says:

    For fun I searched Royal Society Journal for articles and it looks like they sometimes let the truth out : http://royalsocietypublishing.org/search/royal%20society%20misrepresents%20climate%20science

  36. jyyh says:

    oh, the (sarc) tags went missing.

  37. jyyh says:

    (sarc) Another possibly relevant search produces a whopping number of 247 articles, but it is still possible they practice censorship, and have mistakenly let these through their pal-review system: http://royalsocietypublishing.org/search/Global%20Warming%20Policy%20Foundation (/sarc)

  38. Marco says:

    “If this cannot be labelled an “RS lecture”,”

    Indeed it cannot.

    “then for example, can we also agree then that the Grantham Institute only ‘rents a room’ at the LSE & are nothing to do with it”

    No, we cannot agree on that, because it would contradict the facts. If the LSE had nothing to do with it, no one at the Grantham institute would have an LSE e-mail address, and any job applications would not be run through the LSE system. And yet, they do.

    “and their climate attack dog Bob Ward is no scientist (not even a PhD) but merely a policy spokesman.”

    Not sure where anyone has claimed Ward is a scientist and holds a PhD (he certainly does not claim so himself). But for being “merely a policy spokesman” he sure has a lot of papers in scientific journals. It appears he has more than Matt Ridley…

  39. Marco says:

    A small P.S. to our host: quite funny to see a certain Academic Advisory Board member on Twitter accusing you of censorship, when he is the one who, provingly, directly has demanded censorship of a fellow academic.

  40. Marco,
    Indeed. In fact, I was trying to remember where he did that, so if you have a link that would be appreciated.

  41. jyyh,
    Unless I’m missing something, those search results are not returning exact matches for those search terms.

  42. jyyh says:

    trying to emulate a denier.

  43. jyyh,
    I wondered if there was some subtlety to it.

    Marco,
    This is the discussion I was thinking of.

  44. Marco says:

    Well, much more direct call for censorship here:
    http://frankackerman.com/tol-controversy/
    In particular note his pretty explicit request to Routledge to censor Ackerman’s book if he were to mention his article (i.e., the Ackerman-Munitz article) by claiming it would constitute libel, and his demands the article to be retracted.

  45. Marco,
    Indeed, that one is pretty direct.

  46. MartinM says:

    In related news, a bunch of creationist hacks have rented space at a Cambridge college for a conference. Regardless of topic, proponents of pseudo-scientific nonsense tend to follow the same strategy.

  47. ATTP

    Firstly, the GWPF do not speak for me and the vast majority of those people Willard listed have not been involved in politics for a quarter of a century They may previously have believed they were part of the ruling elite at the time but the British opinion of the ruling elite was given in the Brexit vote. I think their current influence is vastly over rated.

    Secondly- and surely more important – is the unique position the venerable Royal Society hold in the country. Their motto is ‘nobody’s word is final.’ Surely, by refusing the GWPF house space they would have been directly contradicting that motto and believe that climate change uniquely, is settled and warrants no debate.

    tonyb

  48. edaviesmeuk says:

    Climatereason: “Their motto is ‘nobody’s word is final.’ Surely, by refusing the GWPF house space they would have been directly contradicting that motto and believe that climate change uniquely, is settled and warrants no debate.”

    But isn’t that the point?: the GWPF and their like insist on putting forward arguments without supporting evidence and proper references expecting people to take their word (as final?) on things in direct contradiction to any reasonable interpretation of scientific method.

  49. Dikran Marsupial says:

    If ‘nobody’s word is final.’, surely that means they should not refuse my request for meeting space to discuss the geocentric hypothesis for the solar system?

  50. verytallguy says:

    climatereason,

    British opinion of the ruling elite was given in the Brexit vote.

    That would be the elite 52% of us voted for as represented by the Etonian Johnson, and ex stockbroker Farage?

    the vast majority of those people Willard listed have not been involved in politics for a quarter of a century

    In what way is being on the board of a political lobbying group “not involved in politics”?

    I think their current influence is vastly over rated.

    I think they are running the asylum, and you are naive. Why does Ridley have a Times column?

    Surely, by refusing the GWPF house space they would have been directly contradicting that motto and believe that climate change uniquely, is settled and warrants no debate.

    How is refusing a political lobby group who deliberately misrepresent science contradicting that?

    On the basis of your argument the RSC should, just for example, be welcoming white supremicist eugenicists. The GWPF will, as others have pointed out, be deliberately using the name of the RSC to misrepresent science. That’s a good reason to politely show them the door.

  51. verytallguy

    Hopefully ATTP will carry the debate link/ written material and pass an opinion on what was right and wrong with it

    tonyb

  52. Dikran Marsupial

    I think I would pay good money to see who turns up for THAT debate!

    tonyb

  53. verytallguy says:

    Hopefully ATTP will carry the debate link/ written material and pass an opinion on what was right and wrong with it

    You can already read the laughable standard of GWPF “written material” here:

    http://www.thegwpf.org/the-good-news-the-many-benefits-of-co2/

    Or you could ask why the charity commission “ruled that the GWPF had breached rules on impartiality in its climate change coverage, blurred fact and comment and demonstrated a clear bias”

    It’s a political organisation with a history of spuriously claiming scientific respectability. Very much of a par with the climate debate more generally, and a very good reason for the RSC not to play along with its antics.

  54. Dikran Marsupial says:

    tonyb it is a shame to didn’t address my point, which while made indirectly was hardly subtle.

    My counter example shows why your argument:

    “Their motto is ‘nobody’s word is final.’ Surely, by refusing the GWPF house space they would have been directly contradicting that motto and believe that climate change uniquely, is settled and warrants no debate.”

    is incorrect. Nobody’s word is final in science, but that does not mean they have to give a platform for any old nonsense (especially from a political, rather than scientific, organization).

  55. Tony,

    Their motto is ‘nobody’s word is final.’ Surely, by refusing the GWPF house space they would have been directly contradicting that motto and believe that climate change uniquely, is settled and warrants no debate.

    Some have responded already, but their motto does not mean that all views are equally credible/valid. The GWPF has a justifiable reputation for either promoting nonsense, or cherry-picking their evidence to suit their narrative. The RS should not be obliged to rent space to anyone who would like to rent it and should – IMO – not be renting space to those who habitually misrepresent our current understanding.

    FWIW, if this lecture does turn out to be mainly about climate policy and if it does so in a manner that does not misrepresent our current understanding, then I will stand corrected. I seriously doubt that that will be the case, though.

  56. ATTP

    Will you be able to write a follow up article and link to the original material so we can all see what the GWPF did-right or wrong?

    Dikran Marsupial

    Did not ,mean to evade your point but surely the proof of the pudding….

    If the GWPF have this platform and abuse it that will surely make your point that they are not a worthwhile/credible organisation or that they distort the facts. Consequently I hope that ATTP will feel able to revisit this subject at the appropriate time.

    tonyb

  57. verytallguy says:

    Tonyb

    If the GWPF have this platform and abuse it that will surely make your point that they are not a worthwhile/credible organisation or that they distort the facts.

    Given that is precisely what they did with their charitable status, as adjudicated by the Charity commission, perhaps you could tell us what impact that made on your view as to how worthwhile or credible they are?

    thank you

  58. Tony,
    If it becomes available I might.

    If the GWPF have this platform and abuse it that will surely make your point that they are not a worthwhile/credible organisation or that they distort the facts.

    I suspect that even if this is the case, actually convincing people is far harder than you seem to imply.

  59. Dikran Marsupial says:

    tonyb wrote “Did not ,mean to evade your point but surely the proof of the pudding….”

    you have evaded it again. I demonstrated why the RS refusing to give the GWPF a platform would not contradict its motto, which is that in science nothing is ever final, but that doesn’t mean that every theory that hasn’t been falsified is equally plausible and there comes a point where it is no longer worth discussing unless someone comes up with something new. For example, it isn’t absolutely final that we live in a heliocentric solar system, in principal it is possible that someone could come up with some plausible argument+evidence for why our observations are misleading us, but it is so unlikely that there is no point discussing it at the moment. The GWPF are in the same position (although not as extreme), and I’d say the RS shouldn’t give them a platform as public understanding of the science is more likely to be harmed by the talk than benefitted.

  60. Willard says:

    > the vast majority of those people […] have not been involved in politics for a quarter of a century

    The GWPF is a think tank, TonyB. There’s the word policy in both of their entities. The ageist card might not the best way to minimize their current influence, which is more than proportional to their current size or scientific relevance. Speaking of both, and since it’s your pet topic:

    ‘The monthly pattern of temperatures through the year has remained stable throughout the entire 355 years of the CET record.’

    A statement released by the Global Warming Policy Forum, which was founded by former British chancellor Lord Lawson, welcomed the report.

    It said: ‘His conclusion that statistical forecasting methods do not corroborate the upward trends seen in climate model projections is highly important and needs to be taken into consideration.
    ‘The topic has direct bearing on policy issues since it provides an independent check on the climate-model projections that underpin calculations of the long-term social costs of greenhouse gas emissions.’

    However, there was a mixed response from others who had read the report.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3461992/Is-world-really-warming-Planet-no-hotter-end-century-claims-controversial-statistical-report.html

    It appears that the Daily Mail wasn’t the only paper to cover what appears to be a GWPF report:

    I hope that satisfies your request to make the point that the GWPF “distort the facts.” Unless it never would, say because nullius in verba.

    Thank you for your concerns.

  61. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hpotenuse says:

    The GWPF can’t even quote their own sources without being corrected by them…

    http://www.desmog.uk/2016/10/17/scientist-corrects-claims-global-warming-policy-foundation-antarctica-climate-briefing

    Matt Ridley? Anti-science performance art. Ho hum.
    What a terrible waste of am excellent room-booking.

    Meanwhile, some good news from the trenches:

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/15/climate-change-environmentalists-hail-deal-to-limit-use-of-hydrofluorocarbons

  62. Mal Adapted says:

    Vinny Burgoo:

    Oh dear, dear Willard. Are you really unaware that the boards of environmentalist lobby groups with far more influence than poor old GWPF’s are stuffed to the everafters with bishops, lords, ladies, MPs and (trigger warning: rhyming slang imminent) merchant bankers who have made their pile but have now seen the light and think the rest of us should spurn superyachts and other conspicuous consumption and just get on our bicycles for the greater good, amen?

    I doubt it, somehow. So you must be playing tribal games.

    Vinny is making a syllogistic error, by equating the set of “all those he identifies as environmentalists” with the set of “all who accept the scientific consensus for AGW”, whereas the former is, at best, a subset of the latter. And if one defines a set of “all people who will pay the cost of AGW one way or another”, it must include the set of “all people alive after 1976*” (to be sure, some of those people will bear more of the cost in proportion to their contribution to AGW, others less — but I digress).

    Now, since Vinny has declined to say to what tribe he belongs, we may assume he belongs to none, that is, the tribe consisting solely of himself. Therefore, if there’s a tribal conflict here, it’s Vinny against the tribe consisting of nearly everyone else now living and yet to be born.

    * The year the long-term temperature trend began inexorably rising.

  63. BBD says:

    Vinny is making a syllogistic error, by equating the set of “all those he identifies as environmentalists” with the set of “all who accept the scientific consensus for AGW”, whereas the former is, at best, a subset of the latter.

    SOP for Vinny, that.

  64. very tall guy

    I said from the very start that the GWPF do not speak for me. it is others here that seem to believe they are more credible or influential than they are.

    On reflection, perhaps the Royal Society has been very smart.

    If they had refused house room to an organisation that some believe are influential or credible, then I am sure the GWPF would have got lots of publicity from it as they leverage the Royal Society Brand.

    However, by allowing it to go ahead, surely all the RS needs to do is provide an objective critique pointing out all the flaws in the lecture and they come out the winners?

    tonyb

  65. Tony,

    However, by allowing it to go ahead, surely all the RS needs to do is provide an objective critique pointing out all the flaws in the lecture and they come out the winners?

    The problem is that I don’t think this works. The RS could produce the most objective possible report clearly highlight all the flaws in the lecture and it would probably make little difference.

  66. verytallguy says:

    by allowing it to go ahead, surely all the RS needs to do is provide an objective critique pointing out all the flaws in the lecture and they come out the winners?

    Given the access the GWPF has to the UK media, this seems optimistic at best.

    Paul Nurse already did exactly what you suggest yet the GWPF and it’s politically driven agenda continues exactly as before.

    The same will happen again.

  67. ATTP and Very Tall Guy

    A detailed point by point critique/rebuttal by the RS, rather than a polemic, does no harm as very many of our newspapers are certainly not sceptical and would print such a piece. Even the Daily Mail waxes and wanes on the subject.

    As it happens, I am also not a fan of Ridley so some of us can be persuaded that his lecture has holes in it, if that is found to be the case.

    I do hope ATTP decides to produce his own piece that objectively follows up this one.

    tonyb

  68. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Climatereason, why should the RS have to debunk talks, rather than the responsibility lying with those giving the talk to present an accurate view of the science? Why is it ATTP’s job to do follow this up objectively, rather than your own? Why do you need to be persuaded that there are holes in Ridley’s lecture (scientific skepticism suggests that if someone promulgates a view contrary to the mainstream then the onus is on them to demonstrate it and we should be skeptical of their views).

  69. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hpotenuse says:


    I do hope ATTP decides to produce his own piece that objectively follows up this one.

    For what it’s worth, I do not.

    Smart people spending more of their valuable time debunking stuff that’s already been debunked serves only to legitimize the spam.

    IMHO, Ridley’s ignorant Gish-gallops really do not deserve the critical exposure that the GWPF so obviously wants them to have.

  70. RickA says:

    Dikran Marsupial:

    It is not ATTP’s job to rebut Matt Ridley.

    Climatereason only HOPES ATTP will do a write up after the talk is given.

    I also share that hope.

    Do you really think that talks should only be given which agree with the consensus view?

    That is not very scientific.

    The consensus view is not right every time.

    You would still be living in a solar system in which everything rotates around the Earth if only the consensus view gets printed or talked about.

    Would you have suppressed papers on Continental drift? Or bacteria causing ulcers?

    Those views and papers flew in the face of the “concensus”.

    Should they have been suppressed?

    I don’t think so.

    They turned out to be right – even though they started out as a minority view.

    Ridley believes that humans are emitting CO2 and warming the planet – so any CS between 1.5C and 4.5C is “scientific” and within the consensus.

    Who is to say it won’t turn out to be a CS of 1.6C (or 1.8C).

    Not me.

    Yes it is less likely to be near the 5% probable end – but if Ridley give a talk and says CS will be 1.6C and CO2 has a mostly beneficial effect – who is to say that is wrong (given our current data)?

    It cannot be unscientific to believe in a CS of 1.5C when that is within the consensus range of possible CS!

    After all – we don’t know what the answer to the question is yet (what is CS).

    We don’t know how much of the warming is natural versus caused by humans.

    It could turn out that only 50% of the warming is caused by humans – despite the consensus view that humans are causing more than 100% of the warming (cause aerosols cooled and masked some of our warming).

    Lets let him give his talk and see what he says and everyone can weigh in pro or con after the talk.

    ATTP, if he chooses to – and I am sure many others will also want in.

    In the final analysis, once CO2 hits 560 ppm we will be able to measure TCR and estimate ECS from TCR and we should be able to lower the error bars from plus or minus 1.5C to something less. For all we know it will turn out to be 1.8C plus or minus .3C – we just don’t know yet.

    I look forward to that data.

  71. izen says:

    Joshua has pointed out before the inherent contradiction in the position of those like the GWPF who excoriate respected scientific institutions for lack of credibility on AGW, but are then eager to ‘borrow’ some of that scientific legitimacy by staging their events on the hallowed ground.

    As someone has already commented that has been a tactic of creationists as well.

    There is something paradoxical, or at least un-reflective about seeking to share the very institutional credibility you are simultaneously trying to deny.

  72. verytallguy says:

    Rick

    Do you really think that talks should only be given which agree with the consensus view?

    That is not very scientific.

    The GWPF is not a scientific organisation. It’s a political lobby group. It’s charitable status was removed for precisely that reason.

  73. Rick,

    Do you really think that talks should only be given which agree with the consensus view?

    No, but think that premier scientific bodies should think twice about providing a venue for those who will promote views that are likely unscientific.

    Ridley believes that humans are emitting CO2 and warming the planet – so any CS between 1.5C and 4.5C is “scientific” and within the consensus.

    Choosing a number within the range is not really scientific. The range is essentially a probability distribution. It tells us the likelihood of it being a certain value (or, more correctly, the likelihood of it falling within some small interval within that range).

    Who is to say it won’t turn out to be a CS of 1.6C (or 1.8C).

    Indeed, but assuming that it will be is what the problem is.

    Yes it is less likely to be near the 5% probable end – but if Ridley give a talk and says CS will be 1.6C and CO2 has a mostly beneficial effect – who is to say that is wrong (given our current data)?

    He may well be right, but he would still be guessing.

    It cannot be unscientific to believe in a CS of 1.5C when that is within the consensus range of possible CS!

    Yes, it can; if you think this value is somehow much more likely than the range suggests then you’re not consistent with the consensus view.

    I don’t really need to say much more. Choosing a number within a range is not really consistent with best scientific practice. He’s welcome to do so, but then he can’t also claim to agree with the consensus.

  74. Dikran Marsupial says:

    RickA writes “Do you really think that talks should only be given which agree with the consensus view?”

    This is a straw man, what I said was is that it is the responsibility of the speaker to make sure that they give an accurate view of the science. If the view that disagrees with the consensus position is accurate, then I want to hear about it! I’m rather less keen on cherry picking, which is what I have found in the past when I have looked into Ridley’s arguments, and I would be surprised if the new GWPF talk was different from their other output in that respect. If Ridley says something new, then there might be a point in addressing it. For me the question is whether the talk benefits public understanding of science, and I rather suspect it won’t.

  75. Willard says:

    > it is others here […]

    Not a good idea, TonyB, and it’s “otters”:

    The House of Lords may not approve this meme.

    ***

    As far as objective critiques are concerned, it may seem important to you that the GWPF won’t underplay the importance of natural variability:

    People need to get out from behind their computers and look at the mass of evidence in the archives that show that variability is the natural order of things.

    It may seem hard to be more lukewarm than Matt King Coal, yet here you are.

  76. nullius in verba from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nullius_in_verba

    “It is an expression of the determination of Fellows to withstand the domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment.”

    We have here several people taking advantage of aTTP’s invitation to present their prejudices and refusal to accept the vast majority of science over the centuries and the simple basic physics of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emission consequences. They resemble the advocates of the GWPF who stubbornly exploit the honesty and uncertainty of science. They use prejudice to claim prejudice.

    The sad fact is that in many cases all unskeptical “skeptics” (climate science deniers; the non-deniers are real skeptics) have to do is turn carefully reasoned arguments on their heads, reverse their meaning, and encourage a large group of people who for various reasons (many of them innocent-seeming, such as fear of change and lack of imagination) don’t want to believe the challenges we all face in remediating our future.

    Since the whole operation is political, well financed by the wealthiest industries on earth with their corporate allies, the idea that honest inquiry is a part of the equation is largely bogus.

    The interest is in creating the appearance of equivalence, and by being hosted by the Royal Society, they have succeeded in one more data point in the vast nexus of deception.

  77. RickA says:

    Susan:

    No matter which group you identify with – it is all political.

    Whether you want to mitigate or adapt, or generate more power with nuclear or do nothing – it is all political.

    There is a tad bit of conspiracy ideation in your comment also – you might want to watch out for that.

  78. Rick,
    I don’t agree that it is all political, but it does appear to play a big role in what people are willing to accept.

  79. What I have a tad bit of is frustration with people who provide disinformation to other people who don’t want to look at facts (if anybody needs to take a looksee, it would be these two groups, the cons and the punters). Ten years of daily lies goes a fair distance towards the goal of taking down my once hospitable planet. Yes, tolerance and polite language doesn’t do much with guys who bring snowballs to Congress and other guys who conduct witchhunts of climate scientists and others who are paying attention because they have the power to promote dishonest badly supported claims.

  80. Willard says:

    > There is a tad bit of conspiracy ideation in your comment also […]

    Not a good idea, RickA.

    Not.

    A.

    Good.

    Idea.

    Neither is rope-a-doping without acknowledging responses to your crap.

    But speaking of politics:

    I decided a while back to vote for Gary Johnson.

    Nothing I have seen in the last 4 or 5 months has changed my mind.

    That saddens me a tiny bit.

    Thank you for your concerns.

  81. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ATTP, Willard: You’re right. My comment was a bit stupid. I meant to suggest that the lordly composition of GWPF’s board says nothing about its influence but, by emphasising similarities between GWPF and orgs with greater influence, came close to saying the opposite. I should have said that environmentalist groups with as little influence as GWPF have bishops and lords coming out of their ears, which I’m sure they do.

    (And I’m sure you’ll take my word on that.)

  82. Steven Mosher says:

    “Choosing a number within the range is not really scientific.”

    Ahem

    here we go with demarcation again.

    There are several justifications and rationales for choosing a number within the range

    A) choose 3C because most of the evidence points at that as a central figure
    B) Choose 3C because some pdf suggested it
    C) Choose 3C cause truth lies in the middle ( reduce your error)
    D) Choose 3C because the best evidence (paleo) indicates this
    E) Choose 1.6 or whatver lewis says.. cause newer science is better science
    F) Choose 1.6 cause you think observational data is best
    G) Choose 4.5 cause you rather be safe than sorry

    etc ect ect

    There are many ways to choose a number and many ways to justify, explain, defend, support, rationalize, the choice. are these approaches “scientific”… heck science isnt even scientific

    What is more concerning ( at least from my standpoint) is the inconsistent application of skepticism by folks like GWPF..

    lets face it, if the Royal Society lent out space to someone who wanted to discuss say some outlier results about the Drake equation ( life should be everywhere or no where ) nobody would give a rats ass that some provocative science was being discussed.

    yes willard green lines

  83. There are many ways to choose a number and many ways to justify, explain, defend, support, rationalize, the choice. are these approaches “scientific”

    Indeed, but you do still need to justify it and if choosing that number requires dismissing a lot of other evidence then you might justifiably be accused of cherry-picking.

    What is more concerning ( at least from my standpoint) is the inconsistent application of skepticism by folks like GWPF..

    Indeed.

    lets face it, if the Royal Society lent out space to someone who wanted to discuss say some outlier results about the Drake equation ( life should be everywhere or no where ) nobody would give a rats ass that some provocative science was being discussed.

    If it were a group selected largely on the basis of them accepting this outlier result, they might.

  84. edaviesmeuk says:

    RickA: “Whether you want to mitigate or adapt, or generate more power with nuclear or do nothing – it is all political.”

    Yes, what to do about GW (if anything) is a political (or even ideological) consideration. We all (including, of course, the scientists) can have our views. If the GWPF stuck to policy there’d be an awful lot less problem with it – people would agree or disagree but it’d be a legitimate argument.

    What’s not legitimate is to take a political or ideological view and use it to drive what you say about what actually happens in the world (i.e., the science). E.g., to think we don’t want to do much about it so let’s just say, without supporting evidence, that the sensitivity is at the bottom end of the likely range. That’s not political, that’s just kidding yourself.

  85. Willard says:

    > I’m sure you’ll take my word on that.

    You almost made me look, Vinny, but why would I help you peddle “but greens”?

    I’d rather challenge you to minimize this if you please:

    The record warmth of 2015 just made me £1,334 richer. While the extra cash is a nice bonus, it sadly demonstrates that the atmospheric dice remain loaded towards increasing climate change.

    So, how did I turn increasing temperatures into cash? About five years ago I was at a conference in Cambridge where most of the participants were sceptical about the influence of humans on the climate. I took the microphone and asked if any of them would care to make a £1,000 bet with me about whether 2015 would be hotter than 2008. Two brave souls, Ian Plimer and Sir Alan Rudge, agreed.

    http://www.chrishopepolicy.com/2016/07/making-a-safe-bet-on-dangerous-climate-change/?platform=hootsuite

    Where have I seen Plimer’s and Rudge’s names, again? Ah, yes, here:

    Professor Ian Plimer

    Ian Plimer is Professor of Mining Geology at the University of Adelaide. He has published 60 academic papers and six books. His latest book, recently published, is entitled Heaven and Earth – Global Warming: The Missing Science.

    […]

    Sir Alan Rudge

    Sir Alan Rudge FRS, an electrical engineer, is Chairman of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, Chairman of the ERA Foundation, former Chairman of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council,and a former member of the government Scientific Advisory Committee.

    http://www.thegwpf.org/who-we-are/academic-advisory-council/

  86. RickA says:

    edaviesmeuk:

    Well there is some evidence ECS is at the lower end of the PDF.

    Lewis and Curry – the observationally constrained energy balance stuff.

    So one could cite that and pick 1.6 ish for ECS.

    That would be completely consistent with the IPCC reports.

  87. Rick,
    Again, if you pick a single number, or a very narrow range, then you’re essentially assuming that it is much more likely to end up close to your choice than anywhere else. Even Lewis & Curry suggest 5-95% range of 0.8 – 3.1C. Also, if you select Lewis & Curry as your dominant source, then you’re assuming that their analysis is somehow much more likely to be correct than any other. Again, there is little to suggest that this is necessarily the case.

  88. BBD says:

    RickA

    Remind me – how many times have we been through this at GL’s?

    Yet still you peddle the same old rubbish.

  89. izen says:

    @-“There are several justifications and rationales for choosing a number within the range…”

    Most of which are irrelevant.
    Climate sensitivity is not a simple metric of damage. While climate sensitivity may be hard to define, or confine to a narrow range, the input, the extra energy absorbed by the land/sea/air system is much better constrained. Direct measurement, and the expansion of the oceans makes the amount of thermal energy added much less uncertain.

    The most effective way of re-establishing energy equilibrium is by a global rise in temperatures because of the T^4 relationship. Whatever the ESS or TCR eventually temperature will rise somehow to restore equal energy flows. But there are other mechanisms and patterns of regional temperature rise that can balance the energy flows with different effects on the global average.

    It is unwise to assume that a process that reduces the climate sensitivity metric by a process that offsets the global rise, (sequester more energy into the oceans, or increases polar amplification) would therefore be less damaging to our civilisation’s infrastructure than another degree rise in global temperatures.

    The best reason for focusing on climate sensitivity (in all its temporal flavours) may be BECAUSE it is ill constrained. The energy input is not. It might be tempting to frame the issue as one in which the danger is proportional to the global average temperature rise and not to the amount of extra energy the system must balance. Credible(?) justifications can be advanced for low (or high) climate sensitivity with the unjustified implication that this can be ‘converted’ into a measure of how damaging the energy imbalance created by rising CO2 may be. Conformation bias for those who have reason to hope that fossil fuel use is not as dangerous as feared and can continue for… just a little bit longer.

  90. Steven Mosher says:

    “Most of which are irrelevant.”

    Assertion is not argument. An argument would consist of picking an example and showing
    WHY it is “Irrelevant” For example. I happen to choose 3C. Why is simple.
    A) 3C is in the middle. Under an assumption that the distribution is uniform between
    1.5C and 4,5 C, an assumption that is not unreasonable, 3C will reduce my error
    of prediction
    B) 3C is slightly below the averaage of the models and there is some evidence models
    may run ever so slightly hot
    C) 3C is the paleo answer. and paleo answers subsume all physics.

    D) if you believe in the PDFs of various studies… its about 3C

    Now note that none of these reasons is irrational. i dont pick 2C because its monday,
    nor do I pick it because 3 is odd and I like odd. Can my choice be wrong? of course
    Is it picked rhapsodically? nope, arbitrarily? nope.. self interested;y? nope. I pretty
    much use the same method in all tough decisions. So it is choosen with reason.
    Reasons that have worked before.. reasons I expect will continue to work. Reasons
    that I MAY DOUBT, but reasons nonetheless. I am not certain. Reasons that you
    can persuade me are wrong, but you have to make a case. Otherwise I have no
    rational obligation to you. Since this isnt a “basic belief” ( one requiring no evidence)
    I have to present reasons and evidence. but unless you can make a counter case, I
    have ZERO obligation to consider your mere assertions. Being contrary is easy.

    “Climate sensitivity is not a simple metric of damage. While climate sensitivity may be hard to define, or confine to a narrow range, the input, the extra energy absorbed by the land/sea/air system is much better constrained. Direct measurement, and the expansion of the oceans makes the amount of thermal energy added much less uncertain.”

    1. Who said it was a simple metric of Damage? Nothing is a simple metric of damage
    2. The issue ATTP raised and the ONLY ISSUE I ADDRESS is the issue of choosing
    a number from a range. DIVORCE this discussion from climate science and you will
    agree. there are many rational approaches to choosing a number. I tell you that
    the number of people leaving Ohare airport is between 1.5M a month and 4.5M a month
    Can you choose a number from that range? of course. Can you justify the choice?
    of course. That is my only point. NOT to engage in a discussion of ECS

    As for the rest of your comment. Unconvincing and off my particular topic.
    If you have some great idea, do science and publish. Otherwise miss me with your armchair
    analysis.

  91. Steven Mosher says:

    “So one could cite that and pick 1.6 ish for ECS.”

    So surely one CAN merely pick that and one can observe that it within the range.

    The issue is more complex than that.

    1. What are your reasons for picking that number. Nic Has his reasons, he go through all the other
    studies and finds their “shortcomings” That’s an argument. You have to make that argument,
    not just repeat “Nic says” but you actually have to own and defend that argument.
    2. You might justify it by saying its the “newest findings”.. do you always valorize the “newest”
    how reliable is that? or are you just choosing that rationale because it works for todays
    argument?
    3. Do you acknowledge that you could be wrong about 1.6? Do you assess the consequences
    of being wrong.
    4. Whats your track record of guesswork..

    psst those are real questions

  92. Since we’re discussing this further. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who argues that they’re choosing something like 1.7C because it’s within the range, should be willing to accept that a choice of something like 4C is equally valid because it’s also within the range. If choosing 4C is valid, then being alarmed would seem a reasonable response. So, by symmetry, anyone who regards a choice of 1.7C as being a valid choice, should immediately become alarmed 😉 .

    On a more serious note, one corollary to the above is that if people think that all they need to do is pick a number within the range, then clearly reaching any kind of sensible policy decision becomes virtually impossible. If you want action, choose a big number. If you don’t, choose a small one. Ideally you should use something that is a better representation of the whole range and then consider the likelihood of various outcomes and the risks/costs associated with avoiding, or not, those outcomes.

  93. entropicman says:

    Or you could pick a number because it works.

    I have taken to playing with the CO2 forcing equation.

    ∆T=5.35 ln(C/C0)climate sensitivity/3.7.

    Use a CS of 3.0 (IPCC mid-range). Use a lag of 25 years between reaching a certain CO2 concentration and seeing it’s full effect on temperature.

    Those two assumptions generate a temperature/ time curve which closely matches the observed temperature record. . If Rick a or his fellows could correctly simulate the record using valid physics and a CS of 1.6, then I would give them a lot more respect.

  94. izen says:

    @-“WHY it is “Irrelevant” For example. I happen to choose 3C. Why is simple.
    ….
    Now note that none of these reasons is irrational.”

    I agree you can present credible reasons for choosing a number.
    But why choose? There is a range with no strong indication that the probability is symmetrical or skewed. Picking the middle of the range could look like guessing a dice will come up with 3.5

    @-” there are many rational approaches to choosing a number. I tell you that
    the number of people leaving Ohare airport is between 1.5M a month and 4.5M a month
    Can you choose a number from that range? of course. Can you justify the choice?
    of course. That is my only point. NOT to engage in a discussion of ECS”

    I can choose to hold the view that 3M people leave the airport a month. A choice that is irrelevant until I use it to decide policy for the operation of the airport.

    My apologies if you felt my comments were a direct attack on your position. I quoted your statement because it was the most succinct of the comments about climate sensitivity that embodied the issue of choosing a climate sensitivity value. I acknowledge that you do not appear to choose your climate sensitivity value as a consequence of a policy preference. Otters, those at the GWPF for instance, seem to have had a policy preference that has guided their preferred ECS.
    Which would only make sense if ECS was a good indicator of the damage potential of climate change and therefore of required policy.

  95. Steven Mosher says:

    “There is a range with no strong indication that the probability is symmetrical or skewed. Picking the middle of the range could look like guessing a dice will come up with 3.5”

    That reminds me that I have to do a Post on Essex’s paper about averaging temperatures.

    In that paper he asserts that one doesnt average color. and that you cant average temperature.. intensive variables blah blah blah

    hehe.

    Averaging colors? WHY? how the heel does that work

    Perceptual hashing

    works great

  96. Steven Mosher says:

    “Otters, those at the GWPF for instance, seem to have had a policy preference that has guided their preferred ECS.
    Which would only make sense if ECS was a good indicator of the damage potential of climate change and therefore of required policy.”

    fair enough.

  97. Steven Mosher says:

    “Since we’re discussing this further. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who argues that they’re choosing something like 1.7C because it’s within the range, should be willing to accept that a choice of something like 4C is equally valid because it’s also within the range. ”

    goose gander logic. very good.

    In practice I have found that this counter attack to low ballers or high ballers is somewhat effective.

  98. angech says:

    Dikran Marsupial says:October 17, 2016 at 12:53 pm
    “It isn’t absolutely final that we live in a heliocentric solar system, it is possible that someone could come up with some plausible argument+evidence for why our observations are misleading us, but it is so unlikely that there is no point discussing it at the moment.”
    Agree, absolutely final based on what we know.
    Definitionally though we do live in a person-centric solar system as far as we experience every day life.

  99. Steven Mosher says:

    Sorry..

    ‘I agree you can present credible reasons for choosing a number.
    But why choose? ”

    Simple. Its called a POR. lets take a mundane example.

    I am shipping a product. the software has 100 bugs. All tracked. I know on average that
    we fix anywhere between 3 and 10 bugs a day. Its all over the map because guys have a hard
    time estimating bug severtiy. some bugs last forever

    Now I have a choice to make.

    100 bugs is either 10 days to fix or maybe as bad as 33 days

    I can tell the boss 10 -30 days or I can tell him 20 days and promise an update every three days

    There is nothing that prevents us from choosing 3C as a planning number and starting down the path and adjusting as folks see fit.

    or do you think that policy is computable?

    about those biofuels if you say yes.

  100. > we do live in a person-centric solar system

    Or a person-centric virtual one:

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/11/simulated-world-elon-musk-the-matrix

    Lots of theories.

    Speaking of which, we should bear in mind that person-centric decisions do not carry the same requirements than group-centric ones.

  101. angech says:

    …and Then There’s Physics says: October 17, 2016 at 10:00 pm
    ” As far as I’m concerned, anyone who argues that they’re choosing something like 1.7C should be willing to accept that a choice of something like 4C is equally valid because it’s also within the range.”
    …and Then There’s Physics says: October 17, 2016 at 5:01 pm
    “Choosing a number within the range is not really scientific. The range is essentially a probability distribution.”
    As it is a probability distribution it is extremely likely that one of the two values is more valid than the other [has a higher probability].

  102. angech says:

    …and Then There’s Physics says: October 17, 2016 at 10:00 pm
    “one corollary to the above is that if people think that all they need to do is pick a number within the range, then clearly reaching any kind of sensible policy decision becomes virtually impossible.
    If you want action, choose a big number. If you don’t, choose a small one.”
    True, I could not have put it better.

  103. > As it is a probability distribution it is extremely likely that one of the two values is more valid than the other

    An alternative interpretation is that any specific value of a PDF has 0 probability to occur:

    http://www.math.uwaterloo.ca/~dlmcleis/s230/noteschap9.htm

  104. angech says:

    Dikran Marsupial says: October 17, 2016 at 5:03 pm
    ” If the view that disagrees with the consensus position is accurate, I want to hear about it!
    If Ridley says something new, then there might be a point in addressing it.”
    On the same page, after all.
    …and Then There’s Physics says:
    “If you want action, choose a big number. If you don’t, choose a small one.”
    Steven Mosher says: October 17, 2016 at 9:45 pm
    “I happen to choose 3C. Why is simple. 3C is in the middle.’
    Paraphrased, I want a lot of action to happen or not to happen sooner or later.
    12.48 just after midday here. Cannot believe Americans and British are alive and blogging now.

  105. So, did anyone on this thread go and listen to what Ridley had to say?

  106. I don’t give a flying horsefeather about numbers. Time doesn’t stop in 2100, and so far the evidence is so far ahead of the projections, it’s time to wake up. Here are a few things that are bothering me at the moment:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2016/10/16/factory-farming-practices-are-under-scrutiny-again-in-n-c-after-disastrous-hurricane-floods/

    Without even going to the poverty and devastation that is Haiti, Matthew and its associated floods, amplified by global warming, is once again leaving victims in its wakes whose lives have been destroyed while the popular press moves on to the latest Trumpian disease. The emanations from his mouth resemble the toxic raw sewage of the overflow of extreme floods. You’ve had some of that in the UK. Real people are suffering.

    Here’s another: https://sites.google.com/site/arcticseaicegraphs/
    The vaunted “recovery” has been replaced by extreme warmth, amplified by a cascade of Atlantic tropical storms heading due north in the mid-Atlantic, towards Iceland, Greenland, and the space to the west of Ireland (and probably western Ireland itself). Extent and Arctic temperatures give you the gist, which is that we did not avoid extreme Arctic melt this year, but the pattern has changed. (Ignore the instrument failure, though that’s a problem in itself. The glitch in some of the charts demonstrates how our governments think if they don’t pay for the observations, the stuff that needs observing will disappear, but they were never more mistaken.)

    You Brits appear to be infested with materialistic unrealistic friends of government as well. You have a good thing there with wind, but instead they’re imposing fracking?! Boom and bust, toxic waste, earthquakes, infrastructure overuse, false accounting, and all without our big wide-open spaces? Privatization of profit and socialization of risk. I thought Europe knew better, but apparently the hard-learned lessons of the 20th century are long gone. It’s much more fun to profit, cut taxes on the rich, hate, and blame victims.

    Well, I’ve gone off the reservation a good bit, but we humans need to wake up and start taking care of each other, or we’ve got real trouble. Counting sensitivity is not good enough.

  107. Oops, sorry, it’s not that I don’t care about numbers, it’s just that focusing on the detail misses the bigger picture, which is that “sensitivity” arguments have become a proxy for avoiding the human costs of some very real consequences.

  108. [that was in reference to a comment that is probably awaiting approval, a bit too passionate, perhaps … though I don’t think the continuation of civilized life on our once wonderful planet is ever entirely off topic.]

  109. Richard,
    I wasn’t invited.

  110. ATTP

    Over at Bishop Hill discussion thread Latimer Adler said yesterday that he was going to the meeting and would write up a report on it. If it appears I will link to it here and you can do what you want with it. Latimer is a sceptic so, if you have the inclination, it would be good to have your take on it

    tonyb

  111. verytallguy says:

    Susan,

    it’s worse than that.

    The “debate” on fracking here is completely in denial of the climate change implications.

    The govt advisory committe says it needs to pass three tests

    1. Emissions must be strictly limited during shale gas development, production and well decommissioning. This requires tight regulation, close monitoring of emissions, and rapid action to address methane leaks.
    2. Overall gas consumption must remain in line with UK carbon budgets. The production of UK shale gas must displace imports, rather than increase gas consumption.
    3. Emissions from shale gas production must be accommodated within UK carbon budgets. Emissions from shale exploitation will need to be offset by emissions reductions in other areas of the economy to ensure UK carbon budgets are met.

    https://www.theccc.org.uk/2016/07/07/exploitation-of-onshore-petroleum-requires-three-key-tests-to-be-met-ccc-says/

    The UK industry body, predictably, thinks these tests are great:

    Professor Averil Macdonald, chair of UKOOG, said:

    “Today’s report confirms what we have long maintained – that shale gas production is compatible with the country’s need to reduce emissions.

    The reality of course, is that we need to leave perhaps 3/4 of our fossil fuels in the ground, and the “tests” are narrowly focussed on national targets – to which where and how the gas is extracted is completely irrelevant.

    A policy to explicitly encourage exploitation of unconventional hydrocarbons is as far from a responsible climate policy as it’s possible to get.

  112. Susan

    You said

    ‘You Brits appear to be infested with materialistic unrealistic friends of government as well. You have a good thing there with wind, but instead they’re imposing fracking.’

    No fracking whatsoever that has produced any useable energy has occurred in the UK . Any commercial supply will be a decade away. There have been one or two trial borings only in the whole of the country

    Britain is only the size of New York State. Our finest landscapes tend to be our uplands which is exactly where Turbines need to be located if you want to maximise the wind. The Wind Association of Britain recently said Britain was not windy enough to support a viable wind industry

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/06/07/britain_not_windy_enough_wind_energy_says_windy_bloke/

    The Chief Scientist at our Department for climate change said a few years ago that renewables were not the answer . “In his final interview before his untimely death, DECC’s chief scientific advisor David MacKay called it an “appalling delusion” that the UK could meet its energy needs from renewables.

    Wind turbines were simply a “waste of money” in winter, for “when the wind blows you are going to have to either turn those wind turbines down or something else down that you have already paid for like the nukes or the CCS”,

    As far as solar goes we only get 1700 hours of sunshine a year in our sunniest locations and light levels drop dramatically once summer has finished. Its not a suitable place for a solar industry.

    The renewables industry over here only exists because of vast subsidies. Its a mature industry and should be capable of operating without them. Until renewables have a proper storage battery technology they are not a viable power source. We need reliable base power. Have you ever been in the UK during winter when light levels are low and the wind doesn’t blow due to a high pressure system?

    I am not against renewables per se, just that every country needs appropriate renewable horses for courses and wind and solar are not the right horses in the UK for practical as well as environmental reasons. You don’t save the environment by trashing the countryside. Solar and wind are often very unsightly in our intimate or wild landscapes and are associated with large amounts of infrastructure pylons to carry the electricity to where it is needed.

    Britain’s future renewable needs probably lies in the ocean. Nowhere here is further than 70 miles from the sea so Tidal/wave are surely where we should be investing, but there might be an entirely different viable option to your own country. Unfortunately all eyes have been on solar/wind over here and the oceans possibilities have been largely neglected.

    tonyb

  113. verytallguy says:

    The talk text is here.

    http://www.thegwpf.com/matt-ridley-global-warming-versus-global-greening/

    Looks to be the usual gish gallop of cherrypicks and loaded rhetoric, with extra lashings of victimhood, bottom line “The sceptics, with their shoestring budgets, with zero public money, under constant assault, are winning the argument.”

    Which is at least amusing, at the end of the third hottest year ever in a row.

  114. verytallguy says:

    Tony,

    before betting the house on tidal and wave you would be well advised to look at the cost and total potential capacity of both.

    As you’ve referenced MacKay already, you know where to look.

  115. vtg,
    Thanks. I’m travelling today to give a public talk, but might try and write something if I get a chance.

  116. verytallguy says:

    but might try and write something if I get a chance.

    I wouldn’t bother if I were you. Ridley didn’t come up with anything new, so why bother, just post a link to this and be done.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/tag/matt-ridley/page/2/

  117. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    I notice a majority of the source material is from blogs. and a large proportion of the graphs are misleading due to poor scaling. I’m not going to trial through the whole transcript as I have seen most if not all the arguments before and it would just be a waste of time. This is the problem with providing the GWPF this platform as it allows them to claim credibility but it takes an exhaustive amount of effort to put the their arguments in context. This is made much harder by the fact that very few of the arguments or figure have come from reputable sources.

  118. HH,

    I notice a majority of the source material is from blogs. and a large proportion of the graphs are misleading due to poor scaling.

    Well, one of the RS Fellows who – I believe – supports the GWPF managed to publish an entire peer-reviewed paper that was based largely on blogs and contained obvious examples of misleading graphs.

  119. ATTP

    Latimer Alder has just posted some bare bones comments on his attendance at the Ridley meeting yesterday.

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/discussion/post/2636412?currentPage=3

    He has not written anything comprehensive and probably his most interesting comment is that a modeller said they can’t model clouds.

    Hopefully, if you do a piece it will be more comprehensive than Latimers, although no doubt other comments will pop up on Bishop Hill as the day progresses.

    Hope your talk goes well.

    tonyb

  120. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    However since the greening argument is relatively new:

    “While the detection of greening is based on data, the attribution to various drivers is based on models,” said co-author Josep Canadell of the Oceans and Atmosphere Division in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Canberra, Australia. Canadell added that while the models represent the best possible simulation of Earth system components, they are continually being improved.

    http://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/carbon-dioxide-fertilization-greening-earth

    So the same models Ridley says are wrong have been used as evidence that the CO2 causing the greening.

  121. Here is a response to Matt Ridley’s original article about greening.

  122. Dikran Marsupial says:

    WRT picking a number from a range, from a probabilistic perspective, yes it is unscientific. Sure you can pick out a particular value as being the most plausible/likely (that is what the mode of a p.d.f. is), however to replace the p.d.f. based on an analysis of all of the evidence with a delta function on your preferred value is, shall we say, a rather poor approximation of what we actually know. The use of such approximations is fairly common in statistics, e.g. Maximum A-Posteriori (MAP) estimation, but you generally only do that if either the effects of the approximation are small (which obviously isn’t true for climate sensitivity) or you have no other feasible means of continuing the analysis (which isn’t true either).

    Richard Tol, I am not interested in listening to Ridley, given his past record of cherry picking It would be a bit of a waste of my time that I could spend doing something more productive (such as pointing out the new error in your paper that you still have not acknowledged ;o). Happily there are those that will listen to Ridley and if he has a good argument, I’m sure I’ll hear about it second hand.

  123. izen says:

    @-“Simple. Its called a POR. lets take a mundane example.Simple. Its called a POR. lets take a mundane example. … There is nothing that prevents us from choosing 3C as a planning number and starting down the path and adjusting as folks see fit.”

    Yes, that is a likely strategy.
    But it may be a misguided one.
    To re-cycle your airport example;
    There is a credible prediction that passenger numbers will increase by between 1.5M and 4.5M a year over then next 2-4 decades.
    Those who do not want to spend much on a new runway and terminal facilities argue that the rise will be 2M. Those worried about the rise suggest it will be 4M and advocate a much bigger spend on airport facilities to adapt to the larger numbers.
    After much dispute, they start with 3M a year and build accordingly.

    A decade or two later it is clear that the number of extra passengers a year is closer to 2M. But the extra travellers are seasonal. While the average over a year is 2M, it is concentrated into a 3 month period. The 3M people a year runway and terminal are overwhelmed by a flow of passengers during the short seasonal peak.

    The problem arises in hospital planning as well. A prediction of greater numbers of people visiting accident and emergency means facilities have to be expanded to adapt. But increasing provision to deal with the average increase is inadequate. The variance, the peak potential rise in numbers over a short time or in a locality can exceed the capacity of the new facilities. Building to the median probability is inadequate, you have to build to cope with the extremes.

    I think the reliance on climate sensitivity as a means of making policy on adaption may be equally misleading. It will be the local and seasonal peaks in the climate response that are most damaging and costly. Perhaps seen already with the last 2 years just a 1degC rise above the average, but large increases in flooding, wildfires and hurricane intensity.
    The global average temperature rise may be the least of our problems.

  124. Marco says:

    ATTP says: “…managed to publish an entire peer-reviewed paper…”

    Well…he got it published in an OMICS journal, so I’d take the “peer reviewed” with quite a few grains of salt. Unless you define “peer” as “someone with an equally poor understanding of the field, and with the same poor ability to prepare a scientific paper”.

    Regarding that last point, our third-year students get a significant hit on their knuckles from our external examiners whenever they use such non-informative figure legends and use such poor referencing as Kelly managed in that paper. It almost looked as if Kelly had never ever before written a scientific paper himelf. If I were working in climate science, I’d use the paper in our journal club as a prime example how NOT to write a scientific paper.

  125. Lionel Smith says:

    climatereason (aka tonyb)

    Wind turbines were simply a “waste of money” in winter, for “when the wind blows you are going to have to either turn those wind turbines down or something else down that you have already paid for like the nukes or the CCS”

    What a shame that David MacKay did not live long enough to be able to confirm or contest the accuracy of the enclosed quotes. The Register is not exactly trustworthy when it comes to climate reporting. Also given that this has been echoed through the usual I would note that Mark Lynas has shown some agenda shift since his well received early books on the subject.

    Have you read David J.C. MacKay’s book for he was not nearly so dismissive of wind energy? Correctly he pointed out the ‘intermittentcy’ issue but suggested this was a matter of planning and engineering solutions by way of amelioration. WRT CCS, he also points out the energy drain, and hence efficiency reductions, of capturing carbon in the flue gasses and transferring them to some hole in the ground. But that efficiency problem is not the only one with CCS, not by a long chalk. Has it been successfully, securely and economically, deployed anywhere in the world as yet.

    After all, the grid as it is uses excess output during any such period to store energy in other forms to cater for surges in demand. In the early 1990s I was peripherally involved (working on other projects and employed during a filming and photography session for publicity purposes) with the development of a neat computer simulation of the National Grid for use in schools sponsored by the industry and displayed at a BETT (British Educational Training and Technology) show at the Barbican (Electricity Council Stand). Coal fired and nuclear power plants were included and children were required to go through various procedures to start them up, control output to match demand and also take plants off-line for maintenance. A ‘replication’ of Dinorwig was included to aid in load balancing. Various emergency and sudden demand situations were included. It was a rather neat simulation, maybe games consuls could use this sort of thing to better inform the population about things taken for granted.

    The reason for my digress was to demonstrate that no power generation is fully on all the time and technical solutions, some involving clever use of chemistry others mechanical (consider the flywheel), to intermittentcy continue to evolve. Sure there can be environmental issues over materials used in electricity storage but considering the other toxic emissions from what is touted as ‘clean coal’ which are more difficult to control especially when impound ponds flood during ever more powerful deluges as the hydrological cycle ramps up.

  126. This video interview between Mark Lynas and David McKay does – I think – largely confirm Tony’s quote (I haven’t watched it for a while, so maybe I’m remembering incorrectly). I think David McKay made some very good points. I thought his book was very good. Neither of those things means that the views he expressed are completely correct.

  127. angech says:

    Matt Ridley’s talk
    The world is greening because of extra CO2.
    I am not claiming that carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas; it is.
    I am not saying that its concentration in the atmosphere is not increasing; it is.
    I am not saying the main cause of that increase is not the burning of fossil fuels; it is.
    I am not saying the climate does not change; it does.
    I am not saying that the atmosphere is not warmer today than it was 50 or 100 years ago; it is.
    And I am not saying that carbon dioxide emissions are not likely to have caused some (probably more than half) of the warming since 1950.
    Nothing new here then so we can all relax.

    willard (@nevaudit) says:
    re”> As it is a probability distribution it is extremely likely that one of the two values is more valid than the other
    An alternative interpretation is that any specific value of a PDF has 0 probability to occur”

    Though it has o probability to occur every specific value of “0” in this setting has a probability validity which makes some probability values have a greater weighting than others even when you claim they have “no” chance of actually occurring.
    A good test of paradoxical arguments is to use the sinking ship test [TM]. Something that does not exist cannot have a probability weighting. But this does [the ship has not sunk]. Hence the alternative interpretation is that any specific value of a PDF has 0 probability to occur” is just “plain” wrong.

  128. verytallguy says:

    Yes, Angech, he sets out a pretend set of reasonable credentials, then the downright lies kick in:

    The sensitivity of the atmosphere to CO2 is about 1.2C per doubling. That is the consensus, spelled out clearly (if obscurely) by the IPCC several times over the years.

    There are many more lies in there.

    The whole thing is cargo cult science – dressed up in scientific language, but without scientific content.

    But then that’s hardly a surprise, given that Ridley is a failed banker, coal mine owner and right wing politician, presenting on behalf of a political lobby group.

  129. Dikran Marsupial says:

    angech, I think the problem here is that you don’t understand what a PDF is, Willard was correct, that is a valid statement regarding a continuous probability distribution (hint the D is for “Density” not “Distribution”). Ships sinking/not sinking is not a continuous probability distribution, but a discrete one.

    “An alternative interpretation is that any specific value of a PDF has 0 probability to occur” unless the p.d.f. happens to be a Dirac delta function (which does seem to be the subjective Bayesian probability distribution employed by some engaged in the debate on climate change ;o)

  130. Philip Clarke says:

    The transcript has been posted.

    http://www.thegwpf.com/matt-ridley-global-warming-versus-global-greening/

    Much of the nonsense contained therein seems to be a rehash of the stuff he presented in his interview with Roger Harribin (linked above), and which has been pre-frisked by working scientists.

    https://www.scribd.com/document/292508993/Matt-Ridley-interviewed-by-Roger-Harrabin#fullscreen

    Though to be fair, Ridley’s point about Myneni changing his position on CO2 fertilisation does have merit, on the face of it.

    The rest would be a reason for shame in a genuine science journalist, he uses graphs from blogs, he reposts the discredited John Christy models graph, he repeats a lie from Climate Depot (!) about what James Hansen predicted in a magazine interview and he passes on half-truths such as


    “We will not, at any time, debate the science of climate change,” said three professors at the University of Colorado in an email to their students recently.

    Yes, Matt, those would be Professors of English, Sociology and Chemistry teaching a course on Medical Humanities, stating that students are to take climate change as a ‘given’ for the purposes of the course, much as a Biology course would not entertain debate about natural selection.

    I think it was Greg Laden who observed that anyone who has to claim the title ‘Champion of Science’ probably isn’t.

  131. Philip Clarke says:

    That should be pre-Fisked of course.

    Though I quite like the idea of pre-frisking.

  132. RickA says:

    verytallguy:

    He was discussing the NO-FEEDBACK climate sensitivity.

    I don’t think his number is disputed.

  133. Dikran Marsupial says:

    I have to say, angech’s summary seems somewhat selective.

    from the GWPF

    The climate models have failed to get global warming right. As the IPCC has confirmed, for the period since 1998,

    “111 of the 114 available climate-model simulations show a surface warming trend larger than the observations”. [IPCC Synthesis report 2014, p 43]

    That of course doesn’t mean the models are wrong. If I say that the mean value I would expect from rolling a six sided dice is 3.5 and I roll a two fours and a five, my model of the mean value is still perfectly correct. Of course if you are speaking to an audience that doesn’t understand properly how climate models actually work and what their output tells you, they might not realise that the IPCC quote doesn’t actually support the assertion. Looks like the prediction that Ridley would be misleading was a pretty accurate forecast.

    VTG and no page reference for that one!

  134. izen says:

    @-angtech
    “Though it has o probability to occur every specific value of “0” in this setting has a probability validity which makes some probability values have a greater weighting than others even when you claim they have “no” chance of actually occurring.”

    Given our present level of knowledge all values in the range of climate sensitivity 1.5C ~ 4.5C are equally likely.
    Like dice.
    3 or 4 is not more probable because it is in the middle of the range.

  135. verytallguy says:

    VTG and no page reference for that one!

    Sceptics might ask why. “Sceptics”, not so much.

    RickA, read the text. Capitalising your argument doesn’t make it right, and his text does, I’m afraid, not support you. So, as you’d expect, a politician deliberately misrepresenting the science. He goes on the misrepresent the consensus on sensitivity by only citing studies which support his position.

    To quote Lewandowsky ,

    endorsement of a laissez-faire conception of free-market economics predicts rejection of climate science

    And here we have a right wing politician and coal mine owner, egregiously misrepresenting climate science.

    Quelle surprise.

  136. RickA says:

    The graph box says “No Feedback 1.0 – 1.3C by 2100”.

    In the paragraph after your quote, he clearly distinguishes direct effects from “the supposed threefold amplification of carbon dioxide’s warming potential”.

    The amplification is the CS with feedbacks (tripling the 1.2 ish to 3C ish).

    But ok – you can certainly quote him out of context if you want.

  137. Lionel

    Yes, I did read his book at the time and had a small number of exchanges with him about it. As I say, I am certainly not against renewables. I am against heavily subsidised, inappropriate or ineffective, mature renewables.

    We need a large amount of base power and that isn’t going to come from renewables as they are currently constituted. IMO we should be spending money on refining such existing technologies, looking for new ones and trying to produce storage mediums for the power produced. I viewed Dinorwig some years ago but it is not readily reproducible.

    Personally I would welcome a ten year well funded CERN type project to examine these energy issues but that’s not always a popular idea, especially amongst US sceptics who think the private market should be the leaders on this.

    In the absence of sufficient wind and solar to meet UK demands I do think the oceans capabilities, tidal/wave/thermocline should be explored much better than it currently is.

    tonyb

  138. verytallguy says:

    you can certainly quote him out of context if you want

    It’s entirely in context.

    In the text he claims a consensus for 1.2 sensitivity, and goes on to claim that this is the real world sensitivity, and carefully cherrypicks his cites to back this up.

    That’s not out of context at all, it’s Ridley deliberately misrepresenting the science for maximum rhetorical effect.

    As you’d expect from a right wing politician. Which is what he is.

  139. verytallguy says:

    Tony,

    thermocline

    You think this has significant potential for cost effective exploitation in the UK? Seriously??

  140. Dikran Marsupial says:

    RickA, according to the GWPF “The sensitivity of the atmosphere to CO2 is about 1.2C per doubling. That is the consensus, spelled out clearly (if obscurely) by the IPCC several times over the years. And that’s what we are on course for at the moment.”

    Please can you explain, how exactly do we determine that we are on course for a no-feedback sensitivity of 1.2C per doubling?

    I can easily explain how we could tell if we are on course for a post-feedback sensitivity of 1.2C per doubling as it is the post-feedback temperature rise that we actually observe.

  141. angech says:

    izen says: October 18, 2016 at 12:29 pm
    “Given our present level of knowledge all values in the range of climate sensitivity 1.5C ~ 4.5C are equally likely.”

  142. Willard says:

    > Something that does not exist cannot have a probability weighting.

    It actually can:

    [Radford] The Bayesian approach takes modeling seriously. A Bayesian model includes a suitable prior distribution for model parameters. If the model/prior are chosen without regard for the actual situation, there is no justification for believing the results of Bayesian inference.

    [Socrates] Just under it, there’s also a note about the pragmatic compromises. It’s a rather neat intro, which even me can almost understand. For better sound bites, there’s Cromwell’s rule:

    [Dennis Lindsay] Leave a little probability for the moon being made of green cheese; it can be as small as 1 in a million, but have it there since otherwise an army of astronauts returning with samples of the said cheese will leave you unmoved.

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2013/02/on-priors-bayesians-and-frequentists.html

    You ought to try your Sunken Ship test at Judy’s, Doc – Thomas is trying to argue that because everything’s chaotic, we may never get boiling water.

    Interestingly, you find Thomas’ paralogism interesting.

    ***

    > I think the reliance on climate sensitivity as a means of making policy on adaption may be equally misleading.

    Of course sensitivity issues could only lead to a bunch of squirrels.

    There’s no lukewarm downside to that eventuality.

    ***

    > might try and write something if I get a chance.

    Too late.

  143. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    Climate models have been designed to project long term temperature changes to the end of the century NOT short term (e.g. next decade) fluctuations which is dominated by natural variability. Accurate short term projections require initialisation using current conditions and these are often using observed data sets that also contain a large degree of uncertainty.

    The fact that the likes of Ridley and the sceptic community chose to ignore this demonstrates their lack of understanding of the climate modelling process. It also damages their credibility and makes it much less likely that climate scientists will choose to engage them in discussion.

  144. Willard says:

    Seems you already noticed the boiling water comment, Doc:

    The discussion is about how the fluid moves in the pot of boiling water Willard and when that hot moiety of boiling water will jump out and burn your hand.

    Not about when it will change state from a liquid to a gas which happens at 100C under the usual boundary conditions , pressure elevation, gravity etc.

    Good try at misdirection though.

    Since Thomas’ paralogism rests on the intriguing idea that initial conditions are always necessary, you might need to take your “squirrel” back.

    I responded, BTW.

  145. Michael 2 says:

    Steven Mosher writes “In that paper he asserts that one doesnt average color. and that you cant average temperature.”

    You can average the numbers but it has no meaning. HEAT is a thing, and you can move it around and make averages. Temperature is not a thing, it is a property of a thing.

    Suppose you average the heat of one liter of water at 50 C and one liter of air at 0 C (sea level pressure). The heat of the air is almost negligible compared to the heat of the water, assuming you could mix and then divide the result would be 2 liters of air-water mixture very nearly 50 C.

    But if you average the temperatures, you arrive at 25 C,which is extremely misleading.

  146. angech says:

    izen says: October 18, 2016 at 12:29 pm
    “Given our present level of knowledge all values in the range of climate sensitivity 1.5C ~ 4.5C are equally likely.”
    No.
    Not true.
    You have seen numerous graphs of the probability distribution discussed on this blog in the past and I presume elsewhere.
    “Given our present level of knowledge all values in the range of climate sensitivity 1.5C ~ 4.5C are equally likely. Like dice.”
    No.
    Nothing at all like a dice.
    A dice has 6 possibilities only and as you point out, unweighted, nearly equally likely values when thrown in multiples of 6 averaged out over large numbers and time though the larger the number thrown the less and less likely they would ever be to be equally likely.
    Climate sensitivity, which is a very important concept, has a probability distribution in a range centered around but extending well beyond your parameters of 1.5C ~ 4.5C. Figures in the center of this range have a higher possibility of being correct and estimates at the extremes of this range are much less likely to be correct.

  147. very tall guy

    Badly phrased. I was really talking about the thermocline with regards to its wider use as part of a CERN type project, not necessarily the UK.

    It could perhaps have some very small output during summer in the UK, possibly as part of a wave or tidal application but unlikely as a stand alone project. The waters here on the South Coast reached only around 17 or 18C this summer.

    It certainly has considerable possibilities in a renewable horses for courses scenario in warmer waters though.

    http://www.explainthatstuff.com/how-otec-works.html

    tonyb

  148. Willard says:

    > A dice has 6 possibilities

    There are two bugs and one feature with that model, Doc:

    First, the possibilities in the sensitivity space are ranges of values, not integers.

    Second, we don’t really know the number of sides of the climate dice:

    The “loading the dice” analogy is becoming popular but it misses something very important: climate change also allows unprecedented (in human history) things to happen. It is more like painting an extra spot on each face of one of the dice, so that it goes from 2 to 7 instead of 1 to 6. This increases the odds of rolling 11 or 12, but also makes it possible to roll 13. What happens then? Since we have never had to cope with 13’s, this could prove far worse than simply loading the dice toward more 11’s and 12’s. I’m not sure whether or not what is happening in Russia or Pakistan is a “13” yet, but 13’s will eventually arrive (and so will 14’s, if carbon emissions continue to rise).

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/18/climate-extremes-beyond-loaded-dice/

    (Via MT’s.)

    Third, the whole idea of presenting CS as a number leads to lukewarm ClimateBall betting, just like you do.

    I’ll let you determine which ones are bugs and which one is a feature.

    You know that the “climate as a dice” is just a stoopid modul, right?

  149. RickA: “It cannot be unscientific to believe in a CS of 1.5C when that is within the consensus range of possible CS!

    Would you also say that it cannot be unscientific to believe you will throw a 6 when that is within the range of possible values on a die?

    I hope not; I hope you will be able to accept that every number between 1 and 6 is equally probable. Even if it becomes a 6, you would be an unscientific fool, I am sorry to have to say.

    I wish such fools would at least stop pretending to worship the Uncertainty Monster.

  150. Dikran Marsupial says:

    angech wrote “Nothing at all like a dice.”

    I think the point was that the pdf was uniform within the range given by the IPCC, i.e. equi-probable, just like a die. Sometimes you have to use your common sense to see the the sense in which what has been written can be interpreted so as to make the most sense and not get hung up on the details. Now I disagree that the dustribution is a truncated uniform distribution, but I think that is what was meant.

  151. verytallguy says:

    Hyper

    Climate models have been designed to project long term temperature changes to the end of the century NOT short term (e.g. next decade) fluctuations…

    …The fact that the likes of Ridley and the sceptic community chose to ignore this demonstrates their lack of understanding of the climate modelling process.

    Ridley fully understands this; he uses it knowingly and mendaciously as a rhetorical device to further his political ends.

    He’s a politician, coal mine owner and member of a social network, not a scientist.

  152. verytallguy says:

    Tonyb

    I was really talking about the thermocline with regards to its wider use as part of a CERN type project

    As far as your CERN proposal goes, I give you If JFK had used the Matt Ridley approach to progress…

    All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.

    We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.

    It is for these reasons that we should do nothing and just wait for someone to invent an antigravity machine.

    http://www.coveredinbees.org/node/459

  153. verytallguy says:

    Sorry, missed a bit under the first quote Tonyb. Meant to paste in

    “thanks Tony, that explains the misunderstanding. I’m familiar with OTEC which was why I was surprised on your apparent advocacy of it for the UK”

  154. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    vtg,

    I was going to suggest that but I thought I would be nice.

    Sceptics also demonstrate their lack of understanding of risk management when they play the uncertainty card.

    Also they complain when climate scientists venture into policy while turning a blind eye to supposed policy experts venturing into climate science. Consistency seems to be beyond them.

  155. verytallguy says:

    Hyper,

    fully agree. This made me laugh too

    Sceptics also demonstrate their lack of understanding of risk management

    given that Ridley was chair of Northern Rock, the worst run bank in the UK prior to the crash:

    The directors of Northern Rock were the principal authors of the difficulties that
    the company has faced…

    …The high-risk, reckless business strategy of Northern Rock… ….meant that it was unable to cope

    and now we have Ridley advocating a high risk, reckless approach to climate change.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmtreasy/56/56i.pdf

  156. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    When there are no consequences or accountability we will continue to make the same mistakes. This is particular relevant to the political and financial classes.

    Matt Ridley is a hereditary peer in the house of lords and therefore has preferential access to the inner workings of government and the ability to influence policy based on birth rather than merit.
    And he plays the victim card with regards to climate science. Again consistency!

    IMO he forfeited his right to be a member of the house of lords following the Northern Rock debacle.

  157. IMO he forfeited his right to be a member of the house of lords following the Northern Rock debacle.

    Amazingly, he entered the HoL after the Northern Rock debacle.

  158. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    ATTP,

    I made a mistake I assumed he took his fathers place however he was elected as a hereditary peer in February 2013.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_elected_hereditary_peers_under_the_House_of_Lords_Act_1999

  159. izen says:

    @-Dikran Marsupial
    “Now I disagree that the dustribution is a truncated uniform distribution, but I think that is what was meant.”

    Given the uncertainty I would suggest the PDF within the IPCC range is as likely to be uniform as any other distribution. It may even be the most probable. (grin)

  160. I looked up Willard’s DotEarth reference and the link to this was broken; since the shoe fits …

    climatereason and others:
    Though I am across the pond, I have spent considerable time in the UK and have regular contact with people following your situation with renewables, fracking, wind, and the current government. The Guardian covers shenanigans with fossil over cleaner forms of energy.

    I don’t think it is fair to say that wind is not a viable option for the UK; it is particularly successful in Scotland. David MacKay is useful; though his numbers-based practical approach might be regarded as daunting, it seems silly to me not to start or continue because something is only a partial solution. We don’t give up before we are born because life is a challenge.
    https://www.withouthotair.com/

  161. Michael 2 says: “You can average the numbers but it has no meaning. HEAT is a thing, and you can move it around and make averages. Temperature is not a thing, it is a property of a thing.

    Bull. The thermometer in your home has a finite size. It is the temperature averaged over a volume. The thermometer in your home has a finite response time. It is the temperature averaged over a period. The reading on your thermometer is still a thing.

  162. Steven Mosher says: “lets face it, if the Royal Society lent out space to someone who wanted to discuss say some outlier results about the Drake equation ( life should be everywhere or no where ) nobody would give a rats ass that some provocative science was being discussed.

    I have seen posters of a faith healer with long flowing hair holding a seminar at my university. That sure made me go hmm and the chap did not even try to benefit from the prestige of the university because he does not claim to be the better scientist.

    In the end I decided against lobbying the university not to do this because as soon as you start selecting you also more or less say that the people who rent rooms at the university have scientific credibility. If then some nonsense group shows up and you did not notice they would benefit even more from the prestige of the location.

    The Royal Society already has some rules that the people renting their rooms should be advancing science or something to that effect. In that case they should be consistent and not rent out a room to an obvious anti-science lobby group.

    There is a group of people who gives a “rats ass” about these things, also when it is not climate change, they are called sceptics. They were called that long before a hypocritical political group lobbying against mitigating climate change adopted that name.

    Personally, the rejection of rationality getting worse and worse worries me a lot more than climate change; the energy transition is now (nearly) economically unstoppable. It would still be great if we did it faster, but it will happen. A return to the irrational middle ages is possible. The age of reason is historically short and rational thought clearly does not come easy to most of us.

    Richard Tol says: “So, did anyone on this thread go and listen to what Ridley had to say?

    I also did not go to the faith healer with the long flowing hair.

  163. RickA says:

    Richard Tol (@RichardTol) October 18, 2016 at 4:18 am:

    I read his presentation.

    I would like to hear about the question and answer portion of the event.

    Is there a link to that?

  164. Steven Mosher says:

    “Building to the median probability is inadequate, you have to build to cope with the extremes.”

    Take sea walls as an example.

    Suppose you have a range of .0 meters to 4 meters.

    Do you immediately build for 4? err no… You can plan for 4, you can budget for 4, and you can incrementaly build as you get more information.

    now, if you dont leave yourself enough time to make adjustments, then you have a problem.

    but yes, regardless of ECS we should start a crash course on nuclear. glad you agree

  165. Steven Mosher says:

    “You can average the numbers but it has no meaning.”

    OF COURSE IT HAS A MEANING… as I have explained many times.

    the meaning lies in the USE.. it has an operational meaning.

    You can average colors.. what’s it mean? It means you can compare these two metrics
    and decide if the picture has changed.

    Did you ever wonder how google image search worked?

    They use just one of many perceptual hashing techniques. Some perceptual hashs depend on averaging the color.

    Same with averaging temperature. you get a metric. we call the metric an INDEX. what we track are changes in the index.

    So. for a perceptual hash you average the color of the pictures and you derive a hash ( say 64 bit hash ) from this. You can then compare that hash to other pictures hashes and find exact matches are close matches by summing the xor of the hash divided by the hash bits.

    So you can average temperature. you get an index. that index has a use.

    in fact it also has predictive uses.

    You need to re examine you unskeptical use of the word “meaning” there are many ways things have meaning. For the pragmatic person use is meaning and meaning is use.

  166. angech says:

    Willard says: October 18, 2016 at 2:06 pm > A dice has 6 possibilities
    “There are two bugs and one feature with that model, Doc:”
    Not my model Willard, you will have to take it up with the preposees of that model.
    izen said October 18, 2016 at 12:29 pm
    “Given our present level of knowledge all values in the range of climate sensitivity 1.5C ~ 4.5C are equally likely. Like dice. 3 or 4 is not more probable because it is in the middle of the range.
    Dikran Marsupial said October 18, 2016 at 12:28 pm
    ” If I say that the mean value I would expect from rolling a six sided dice is 3.5 and I roll a two fours and a five, my model of the mean value is still perfectly correct”.
    As you can see Izen is mistakenly comparing a simple 6 probability equal outcome model to something totally different, a probability spread for the estimated climate sensitivity which is a variable in itself [does not need to have one fixed correct value] and also on the information we have its estimated value has higher probability towards the “center” of the range.
    The center of course depending on the shape of the probability curve.
    I think he is confusing ATTP’s suggestion that it is equally allowable to pick any point you wish from the range with the concept that each value has an equal probability, which is definitely not the case.
    Dikran’s model is perfectly correct and will remain that way but I would suggest alterations to the model for his particular dice if it kept on coming up with 4’s and 5’s forever.

  167. angech says:

    Dikran Marsupial says: October 18, 2016 at 12:09 pm
    ” I think the problem here is that you don’t understand what a PDF is, Willard was correct, that is a valid statement regarding a continuous probability distribution (hint the D is for “Density” not “Distribution”).”
    …and Then There’s Physics says: October 17, 2016 at 5:01 pm
    “The range is essentially a probability distribution. It tells us the likelihood of it being a certain value (or, more correctly, the likelihood of it falling within some small interval within that range).”

    My bad, Dikran.
    Itook my wording from the comment above.
    I should have said probability density instead
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    “In probability theory, a probability density function (PDF), or density of a continuous random variable, is a function that describes the relative likelihood for this random variable to take on a given value.
    The terms “probability distribution function”[2] and “probability function”[3] have also sometimes been used to denote the probability density function.
    this use is not standard among probabilists and statisticians.”

    Just in normal usage most people would be happy, as I was, to use the terms interchangeably. I should have known Willard to be a probabilist who would request the exact meaning instead of the general usage meaning.
    Still we keep on learning and the probability distribution, as I understand and use it, varies with a concentration in value to the center of the range for this particular measure, climate sensitivity, for this particular discussion.

  168. Willard says:

    > I should have known Willard to be a probabilist who would request the exact meaning […]

    Any normal usage you’d wish to prefer does not address AT’s point that choosing a number within the range is not really scientific, Doc. Not only one does not simply pick the central estimate without taking the whole distribution into account, but one does not simply pick Nic’s lowballs and exclude everyone else’s by calling them the “best” estimates, as Matt King Coal did at the Royal Society.

    ***

    Were I to insist on a semantic argument, I’d say that your usage of validity in:

    As it is a probability distribution it is extremely likely that one of the two values is more valid than the other [has a higher probability].

    is not that clear, for I don’t think something can be more or less valid. Either it is, or it ain’t.

  169. Willard says:

    > I think he is confusing ATTP’s suggestion that it is equally allowable to pick any point you wish from the range […]

    Which part of choosing a number within the range is not really scientific do you not get, Doc?

    ***

    > As you can see Izen is mistakenly comparing a simple 6 probability equal outcome model to something totally different

    Both satisfy the Kolmogorov axioms, so they can’t be totally different.

  170. Dikran Marsupial says:

    “Just in normal usage most people would be happy, as I was, to use the terms interchangeably.”

    however if you are talking about a scientific issue and the discussion involved probability, then it is likely that the true definition of PDF was being used, rather than the inaccurate “normal” usage. As I said earlier, in a discussion try and look for a sense for words and phrases in which what was said is meaningful, and you will probably find the sense that was intended. If you think that someone has said something that doesn’t make sense then a good first guess would be that the misunderstanding was yours, rather than theirs and try and resolve it BEFORE posting.

  171. Dikran Marsupial says:

    FWIW to have a truncated uniform distribution for ECS would require a very hard constraint at either end of the range, but all we have are soft constraints from observations/theory with inherent uncertainties, so I would expect the distribution to be a curve that goes smoothly to zero at either end (probably not at the same rate, and not necessarily asymptotically) with a peak in the middle somewhere. A truncated uniform distribution however is still a very big improvement on a Dirac delta function centered on the most plausible/probable value, especially from a statistical decision theory perspective as the losses are likely an increasing function of ECS, so the delta function is very likely to be heavily biased if the true distribution is skewed towards low values (which I personally think is probably the case).

  172. angech says:

    Willard says: October 19, 2016 at 5:40 am
    As it is a probability distribution it is extremely likely that one of the two values is more valid than the other [has a higher probability].is not that clear, for I don’t think something can be more or less valid. Either it is, or it ain’t.
    -just occasionally, Willard the values can be equal.
    In fact with some distributions more than 2 values can be equal.
    Hence it is, it ain’t or it is equal.
    Satisfying axioms is not a preclusor to being totally different.
    Elephants and ants are totally different species but both satisfy an axiom of being an animal
    2 and 3 are totally different values but they both satisfy an axiom of being a number.
    Word games are fun but they are totally different to making a serious point, or in this case trying to subtract from it.
    Agree with both Dikran’s points, though the second resembles a Markov chain in it’s language ensemble.No one believes a uniform distribution for ECS density exists, read Mosher up page who spelt out the options extremely clearly.

  173. Dikran Marsupial says:

    “Agree with both Dikran’s points, though the second resembles a Markov chain in it’s language ensemble.”

    Blatant trolling, not going to rise to the bait, sorry.

  174. > Satisfying axioms is not a preclusor to being totally different.

    Different what, Doc, and what does add your “exactly”?

    I hope you like word games, for you hang around Lucia’s quite often enough. You still ignore AT’s point to which all these word games are supposed to respond. Picking one number within a range may not be that scientific.

    I too like word games, but contrary to what you insinuate, I did have a point. Not only one does not simply pick the central estimate without taking the whole distribution into account, but one does not simply pick Nic’s lowballs and exclude everyone else’s by calling them the “best” estimates, as Matt King Coal did at the Royal Society.

    Underlying your usage of validity also had a point.

  175. izen says:

    Here is why I think choosing a number within the range is not really scientific.
    The curves and error ranges are illustrative rather than accurate. This is a piece of visual rhetoric, which I find easier to construct than a lot of words, but possibly just as misleading!

  176. Willard says:

    Perhaps another point to bear in mind is that sensitivity may not be viewed as a constant.

    We should also bear in mind that Matt King Coal’s “Global Greening” crap is based on his misinterpretation of Ranga Myneni’s work, which is not exactly new:

    Much of this is based on my (+colleagues) unpublished studies – the satellite data of the past 30+ years do show a “greener” vegetation over about 30% of the global vegetated land area and this translates to about 11-13% increase in gross carbon fixation by vegetation. Our analyses showed that about 42% of this greening can be attributed to climatic changes in temperature, precipitation and solar radiation and the rest to anthropogenic factors (CO2 fertilization, Nitrogen deposition, land use management history, etc.). This, [Matt King Coal] does not mention, although they are contained in the same sources from which he falsely claims that CO2 fertilisation is responsible for the greening of the Earth.

    https://www.carbonbrief.org/scientists-respond-to-matt-ridleys-climate-change-claims

    His response? We won.

  177. Steven Mosher says:

    “Here is why I think choosing a number within the range is not really scientific.”

    Again.

    Appealing to the term “scientific” really only helps you if you have solved the demarcation
    problem.

    Good luck with that.

    Put another way. We are always choosing numbers from ranges.. Since no piece of knowledge comes without a range we are always and forever choosing a number (sometimes conciously, sometimes unconsciously ) and acting in accordance with that choice. We might choose the number and acknowledge the range, but we are always choosing. After the fact , after your action, we can in fact infer what number you appear to be choosing.

    So is this choosing “scientific”. Frankly I dont know what that means. Other than this. I would describe “scientific” as a process whereby you make claims and then commit to revising those claims as new evidence comes in. It describes a process, rather than a property of behavior.

    I think that eating garlic will cure my cold. I have no evidence for this, but I want to test it.
    is that scientific?
    I think chanting Ommm will heal the nation.. i want to test this. So I do. didnt work. I change my theory. Was that scientific?

    In short calling something scientific doesnt really tell you much. folks would be better off dropping that vocabulary and focusing on what works and what doesnt work

    But, the structure of the debate is such that you are almost forced to refer to everything your opponents do or say as “unscientific”

  178. Steven Mosher says:

    “Not only one does not simply pick the central estimate without taking the whole distribution into account, but one does not simply pick Nic’s lowballs and exclude everyone else’s by calling them the “best” estimates, as Matt King Coal did at the Royal Society.”

    This is not that hard.

    We are always picking a number. That picking will always be wrong (in the continuous case) .

    Seems to me the focus would be on this. Given that your choice will be wrong, what are the consequences of being wrong.

    And what information would change your picking.

    so one can, people do, pick a low ball. They do so with reason. They will be wrong. what is the consequence of being wrong.

    I choose 3. I do so with reason. I will be wrong. what is the consequence of being wrong

    There is no being right.. or scientific about this .

  179. Pingback: Matt Ridley’s lecture | …and Then There's Physics

  180. Steven,
    I agree that people can work with a single number, as long as they justify their choice. However, if someone choses to work with a number that is on the low side of the range without much justification, then someone else could equally justifiably work with a number on the high side of the range.

  181. Dikran Marsupial says:

    “We are always picking a number. ”

    err, no we aren’t. As a Bayesian I am perfectly comfortable with the idea of a distribution of belief/plausibility and the idea of marginalising over uncertainties. Picking a number when you know the uncertainty is not negligible and the expected losses depend on the uncertainties is irrational when marginalisation is feasible.

  182. izen says:

    @-“I choose 3. I do so with reason. I will be wrong. what is the consequence of being wrong”

    I choose 1.8 4.2.
    I will be less wrong.
    The consequence of this choice is the need to consider all the possible impacts of the entire range.
    Not just the bit I might prefer.

  183. izen,

    >Here is why I think choosing a number within the range is not really scientific.

    I think it’s worth noting that AR5 broke tradition by NOT stating an ECS best estimate as they had done in their previous four reports. As they say in the somewhat infamous SPM footnote 16:

    No best estimate for equilibrium climate sensitivity can now be given because of a lack of agreement on values across assessed lines of evidence and studies.

    The *implication* is that in prior reports, assessed lines of evidence and studies were in better agreement. Annoyingly, I have not been able to find in AR5 any *explicit* explanation — and I have looked since obviously the questions raised are fodder for luckwarmish contrarians to whom cuddly Uncertainty Monsters are embraced as friends, and maximised at every available opportunity with much hand-wringing about the *implications* for “rational” policy making.

    I digress slightly. In sum, I think it matters *how* the “best” number within the range is chosen. I think Willard put his finger on one way to demarcate the difference (my emphasis):

    >Not only one does not simply pick the central estimate without taking the whole distribution into account, but one does not simply pick Nic’s lowballs and exclude everyone else’s by calling them the “best” estimates, as Matt King Coal did at the Royal Society.

    … or as Dr. Curry did in the concluding sentence of her essay, finding Nic’s (and by extension, her own) estimates “to be the most convincing […] available to date”.

    Cue to Feynman on who is the easiest person to fool.

  184. Steven,

    >Appealing to the term “scientific” really only helps you if you have solved the demarcation problem.

    Indeed. Thanks for bringing that up earlier in the thread. I think it can be argued that the approach which takes into account the most available evidence is *more* scientific than one which limits to one line of evidence, or methodology. Some, certainly not me, might further load the rhetoric by pointing to the difference between a consilience of evidence and cherry picking.

    Let’s see if Willard thinks there is only scientific and non-scientific.

  185. Willard says:

    > Appealing to the term “scientific” really only helps you if you have solved the demarcation problem.

    Not really.

    It’s possible to appeal to scientificity as a way to say “that’s what scientists do” or “that’s what scientists should do.” This doesn’t imply we solved the demarcation problem.

    Also, working with ranges is not specific to scientists. Just about any kind of craftman who rely on measurement could attest to that. Even artists do:

    I like the stoopid modul of Bob Ross.

    ***

    In any case, the point is that Doc’s suggestion that modes should have more odds to occur fails in our actual case because (a) we’re speaking of a continuous variable; (b) to my eyeballs, the probability of the neighbourhood of the central value estimate is outweighted by the probability of the space outside that window; (c) we should be talking of overall ranges, with an s, for there are many estimates; (d) overselling central values is far from being prudent when considering risks.

  186. Willard,

    >I hope you like word games, for you hang around Lucia’s quite often enough.

    Here’s an example of Lucia being scientific like a boss:

    Qualitative interpretations are permitted in science. I assume you know that. I am not required to quantify for your convenience.

    Rud shows us the endgame of such lukewarm waffling:

    Judith, congratulations on this paper. A landmark.
    Way back in 1938 Guy Callendar estimated ‘effective’ sensitivity to be about 1.67. Your much more sophisticated approach says he was about right, and Charney/IPCC AR4 badly wrong.
    Your paper also is an alternative observational falsification of the GCMs. The other being the present length of the pause in light of Santer 2011 (need 17 years) and McKittrick 2014 (16, 19, or 26 years of no observed warming).
    Both are a big deal in the run up to Paris 2015.

    The neverending abuse of Santer’s 17 year itch was a nice touch.

    The “true” value of ECS doesn’t really matter so long as Teh Stoopid Modulz Ensemblez (which are meaningless) are biased hot.

  187. angech says:

    willard (@nevaudit) says: October 19, 2016 at 2:20 pm
    You still ignore AT’s point to which all these word games are supposed to respond. Picking one number within a range may not be that scientific.”
    …and Then There’s Physics says: October 19, 2016 at 7:21 pm
    “I agree that people can work with a single number, as long as they justify their choice. However, if someone chooses to work with a number that is on the low side of the range without much justification, then someone else could equally justifiably work with a number on the high side of the range.”
    He is quite right.
    If someone chooses a number on the low/high side with lots of justification?
    The word scientific justification would help.
    Moral justification may not be that scientific after all though it feels good.
    “Doc’s suggestion that modes should have more odds to occur is fails to have any bite when in our actual case (a) we’re speaking of a continuous variable”
    Guess we have to use probability of the density odds , is that better?
    We still have an impasse where we all recognize that there is a median estimate of ECS, that ECS is not higher at the end of the spreads generally, that ECS is a variable estimate anyway which changes a little with variations in the atmospheric, ocean and land mix and that trying to give it equivalent values over a range is not scientifically valid.
    Giving all values equal consideration, ATTP and Izen, giving them equal probability of being right philosophically, does not give them equal probability of being right mathematically or climate science wise.

  188. Willard says:

    > He is quite right. If someone chooses a number on the low/high side with lots of justification? The word scientific justification would help.

    Thank you, Doc.

    Then that scientific justification may imply mentioning the ranges of which you pick the central estimate, followed by a series of caveats like the ones we don’t read in the 20 lines 6 pt Times New Roman paragraph at the bottom of pharma ads.

    What would not be a valid scientific justification would be to say (or even suggest) that this central estimate is the best bet since it’s the mode. That’s false for most distributions, including the ones we usually see regarding sensitivity issues.

    What would not be another invalid scientific practice would be to dismiss just about any non-lukewarm estimates on the basis that they’re not observationally-based, model-free, or whatnot, e.g.:

    Nic Lewis appears to be arguing primarily on the basis that all work on climate sensitivity is wrong, except his own, and one other team who gets similar results. In reality, all research has limitations, uncertainties and assumptions built in. I certainly agree that estimates based primarily on energy balance considerations (as his are) are important and it’s a useful approach to take, but these estimates are not as unimpeachable or model-free as he claims. Rather, they are based on a highly simplified model that imperfectly represents the climate system.

    For instance, one well-known limitation of such models that effective climate sensitivity is not truly a constant parameter of the earth system, but changes through time depending on the transient response to radiative forcing. This introduces an extra source of uncertainty (which is probably a negative bias) into estimates based on this approach.

    Selling a number based on an approach where that number ain’t even a constant looks suboptimal to me.

    That’s not exactly science, but it’s important.

    ***

    > Guess we have to use probability of the density odds, is that better?

    Sure. What bet do you suggest, and how much can you afford to lose?

  189. angech, if you want to interpret the words of ATTP that way, then I do not agree with them. Naturally the full distribution has to be taken into account. In case of a coarse calculation and rather linear problems you may be allowed to do the computations in the mean value, but only because you would get about the same result when using the full probability distribution.

    It is stupidity to expect a 1 when you throw a dice.

  190. I’m certainly not suggesting that we should simply work with single numbers, but I can see that sometimes it might be easiest to do so. However, if you do simply select the number that you think is best without much justification, then someone else can select a different. It certainly seems to be that even if one is working with a single number, it should still be done so while being aware of the whole distribution.

  191. Earlier in this thread I wrote:

    The *implication* is that in prior reports, assessed lines of evidence and studies were in better agreement.

    I should have realized there was more than one possibility. As Gavin Schmidt writes in his summary of Marvel et al. (2015), to which he was a contributing author (my emphasis):

    One of the most intriguing differences between IPCC AR5 (section 10.8) and previous reports was the bottom line conclusion on equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS). Compared to AR4, they moved the lower limit for the likely range from 2ºC to 1.5ºC and instead of suggesting a ‘best estimate’ of ~3ºC, they didn’t feel as if they could give any best estimate at all, leaving an impression of a wide (perhaps uniform) distribution of likelihoods from 1.5 to 4.5ºC. (NB. If you want a good background on climate sensitivity, David Biello’s article at Scientific American is useful or read our many previous posts on the topic).

    The reason for this change was a series of new papers (particularly Otto et al, 2013 and Aldrin et al, 2012) which focused on sensitivity constraints from the historical period (roughly 1850 to the present). For a long time, this method had such large uncertainties that the resulting constraints were too broad to be of much use. Two things have changed in recent years – first, the temperature changes over the historical period are now more persistent, and so the trend in relation to the year-to-year variability has become more significant (this is still true even if you think there has been a ‘hiatus’). Secondly, recent papers and the AR5 assessment have made a case that the uncertainty in net aerosol forcing (a cooling) can be reduced from previous estimates. An increase in signal combined with a decrease in uncertainties should be expected to lead to sharper constraints – and indeed that is the case.

    The point of the paper is, of course, that not all forcings are created equal, and in treating them equally Otto, Aldrin (and Curry & Lewis) obtained TCR/ECS estimates which are biased too low. Dr. Schmidt writes in summary:

    In particular, with the publication of Marvel et al (2015) (and also Shindell (2014)), the reason for the outlier results in Otto et al and similar papers has become much clearer. And once those reasons are taken into account, those results no longer look like such outliers – reaffirming the previous consensus and reinforcing the idea that there really is a best estimate for the sensitivity around 3ºC.

    So. A “best” estimate, justified by arguments. Whether this represents reality — and what that means for future generations — are the salient questions, and as ever I note for the angechs of the world that there is one sure way to find out: continue to crank on the CO2 knob and see what happens. Personally, I hope that we’re not collectively so committed to the Integrity of empirical science and/or so natively curious as to actually run this experiment in the real system.

    But some days I wonder.

  192. It could even be that those the estimates of the climate sensitivity of the energy balance models, our non-sceptical friends love so much, are on the high side when the biases of these highly simplified models are removed. If the state of the research does not change again, I would expect that the next IPCC report will set the lower bound of the climate sensitivity back to 2°C per doubling of CO2.

    Is it time to freak out about the climate sensitivity estimates from energy budget models?

  193. Dikran Marsupial says:

    angech wrote “Giving all values equal consideration, ATTP and Izen, giving them equal probability”

    I don’t recall ATTP suggesting that all values within the range are equiprobable, can you give me a quote to support this statement?

    ATTP’s most recent comment suggests otherwise “It certainly seems to be that even if one is working with a single number, it should still be done so while being aware of the whole distribution.”

  194. Pingback: Another 97% | …and Then There's Physics

  195. Pingback: 2016: A year in blogging | …and Then There's Physics

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