Hearing about climate science and the scientific method

I’ve been travelling and so haven’t really had much chance to keep up with what’s going on. I have, however, finally managed to watch the Congressional Hearing on Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications and the Scientific Method. It was all rather predictable and this Washington Post article pretty much nailed it in advance.

Judith Curry played the uncertainty card and then suggested that the inability to definitively attribute periods of warming in the past, suggested that we can’t make strong attribution claims about recent warming periods. Well, this is silly, since we clearly have much more information about the recent past than we do about the distant past. The whole attribution issue has also been covered extensively, both here and on Realclimate. Ideally, Judith should recognise that just because she is uncertain about this, does not mean that everyone is uncertain.

John Christy played the lack of a hotspot card and also promoted his model-observation comparison, that he claims illustrates that the models have failed. There is an interesting Climate Dialogue discussion about the tropical hotspot, in particular the contribution by Steven Sherwood. I was pleased that, during the hearing, Michael Mann pointed out that if the troposphere has indeed warmed less than we expected, that that would imply that our climate is more sensitive than we expect, not less, since the tropical hotspot is indicative of a negative feedback. John Christy’s model-observation comparison is also discussed in this Realclimate post and it’s clear that there are a number of issues to consider, such as how you baseline the datasets, the model spread, and the structural uncertainty in the observations. It seems clear that the discrepancy between the models and the observations is nowhere near as large as his comparison suggests.

Roger Pielke Jr’s presentation was more interesting, in that I found some of what he said quite reasonable. He brought up a carbon tax, mentioned that we were unlikely to be able to substantially reduce our uncertainty prior to needing to make policy decisions, and even mentioned that, in many cases, we would not necessarily expect a trend in extreme events to have emerged, even if we would expect it to emerge were we to continue emitting CO2 into the atmosphere. On the other hand, he stills seems to blur the distinction between not detecting a trend, and there being no trend. He seems to ignore that, in many cases, we’re interested in whether or not there is an increase in the intensity and frequency of the most extreme events, rather than simply an increase in these events overall. He seems to fail to properly distinguish between detection and attribution, and he often focuses on damage/cost without making it all that clear that a lack of a trend in these does not necessarily imply anything about physical climatology.

I think this is a bit unfortunate, because these are important and interesting issues, and it would be good if he could be more careful in how he presents his information. It should be possible to do so in a way that is consistent with the evidence, allows for more meaningful discussion, and makes it harder for others to criticise what he says (which he appears to particularly dislike). On the other hand, one can’t discount that this is a feature, rather than a bug.

You’ll notice that there are two things I haven’t really mentioned. One is Mike Mann’s testimony, which was pretty much mainstream science (or, more correctly, science), and the other is how the hearing focussed somewhat on various conflicts in the public climate debate. Well, the latter just seems rather irrelevant to me, even though I do think that we should avoid attacking those who present alternative views; I’m all for an improved public dialogue about this topic, even if I don’t think it is actually possible. On the other hand, I see nothing wrong with publicly criticising what others choose to say. Even though I’m all for better dialogue, I’m certainly not in favour of not criticising what others say when it’s clear that what they’re presenting is not consistent with the best evidence available today. My rather cynical impression is that the complaints about tone is motivated more by a desire to reduce criticism of what is said, than a desire to actually improve the public dialogue.

Links:

A post by Stoat, to whom I forgot to link 😉 .

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82 Responses to Hearing about climate science and the scientific method

  1. Jim Hunt says:

    Here are my own ruminations on Wednesday’s events:

    The House Science Climate Model Show Trial

    Included are my “live tweets” of the proceedings, along with several other people’s too. The aftermath has been interesting also. Assorted allegations against Mike Mann from Pielke Jr., McIntyre and Morano, plus an in depth look at Mann’s written allegation that ex. Prof Judy is a “climate science denier”.

    Not to be missed, and much more to come! I’m off to Judy’s now to see if she’s shown her face on her own blog yet, post “show trial”.

  2. Jim Hunt says:

    I return from ex Prof. Judy’s, linkless screenshot in hand. I guess that means she’s back?

  3. Jim Hunt says:

    Judith is indeed back, with a new post on the topic of Wednesday’s hearing. Archived for posterity at:

    https://archive.is/Hdxdo

    JC reflections

    Well, the Hearing was rather bizarre. I don’t think anyone got out of it what they wanted (other than MM with his PAC donations). I hope that my written testimony will result in reflection by some scientists. And it seems possible that the Red Team idea will develop legs.

    Some establishment scientists are calling for climate scientists to boycott these Hearings. Well, that would be fine with me. Scientists who don’t want to engage in respectful discussion and debate should stay home, and preach to their choirs.

    Here is some advice for Lamar Smith. If you hold another Hearing on climate change and the democrats invite Mann, either cancel the Hearing or call Steve McIntyre and/or Mark Steyn as witnesses. Several times during the Hearing, the thought popped into my mind that I wished Mark Steyn was here. Who could forget his performance at Ted Cruz’s previous Hearing

  4. semyorka says:

    Hard to see this as anything more than a circus.

  5. Pingback: The East is Red – Stoat

  6. I will repeat what Ive said before. Please look for better spokesmodels.

    Alley,
    Palmer
    Zeke

    And Mike should take a breather.

  7. Michael 2 says:

    “just because she is uncertain about this, does not mean that everyone is uncertain.”

    That goes both ways. Just because you are certain does not mean everyone is certain.

    In the end, the advocates speak and jurors decide.

  8. Jim Hunt says:

    I am on the public record as agreeing with that sentiment Steven:

  9. Its funny.

    According to Judith Fringe science can just be ignored.

    Jim Hunts comments… must be moderated

  10. JCH says:

    To me, the very most important thing is… who was the first person to speculate that 2017 has the stuff to become the 4th warmest year in a row?

  11. M2,

    “just because she is uncertain about this, does not mean that everyone is uncertain.”

    That goes both ways. Just because you are certain does not mean everyone is certain.

    I wasn’t all that happy with how I phrased that. The key point is that the scientific analysis can produce a result that includes a confidence/uncertainty interval. If Judith would like to argue for a different confidence/uncertainty interval then she should really do the analysis. Simply hand-waving to things like ocean cycles and indirect solar effects is not really an analysis and is suggesting a much bigger role for processes that other analyses suggest do not have a significant effect on our long-term warming.

  12. Watching from NZ and feeling the US with its history of science superiority is making itself look stupid . Enough with the circus of the few loudmouths and get on with finding the answers to the catastrophe we are taking ourselves to, please. Signed… Not a scientist .

  13. verytallguy says:

    Jim,

    Judith is indeed back,

    She always seems to have had a feud with Mann, but she appears to have completely lost the plot with that post.

    [actually on reflection the plot went a long time ago -this is just more of the same
    https://judithcurry.com/2015/01/11/charlie-challenging-free-speech/ ]

  14. Jim Hunt says:

    VTG – Quite so!

    Whilst I’ve been asleep (UTC) Nick Stokes has picked up on the point I was getting at. Rep. Clay Higgins has been publicly promulgating porky pies, and so have some of the denizens. Quoting Nick (with approval!)

    “Why he is associated with a group calling for RICO prosecutions of skeptics?”

    That’s an absolute lie. OK, it was made by a congressman, but it’s still a lie.

    Note that Judy herself quotes “RICO” in her article, with apparent approval.

  15. Leto says:

    M2 says: “In the end, the advocates speak and jurors decide.”

    What on Earth makes you think this process would lead to the jurors deciding anything resembling the truth? Reality does not give a toss about the results of a show trial.

  16. JCH says:

    It’s simple physics. Take Mann out of the equation, anthropogenic global warming no longer exists. Hence, the obsession…

  17. Jim Hunt says:

    More details on Clay & Judy’s “RICO” obsession:

    http://GreatWhiteCon.info/2017/03/the-house-science-climate-model-show-trial/#Apr-1

    Today is All Fools’ Day, but this is no joke.

    What on Earth are Rep. Higgins and ex Prof. Curry on about with all this “RICO” business?

    Would you be able to at some future date provide to this committee evidence of your lack of association with the organisation Union of Concerned Scientists and lack of your association with the organisation called Climate Accountability Institute? Can you provide that documentation to this committee Sir?

  18. Its funny.
    According to Judith Fringe science can just be ignored.
    Jim Hunts comments… must be moderated

    Oh, puleaze. Conspiracy theory much? Self importance much?

    Like most other things these days, Word Press has automatic filtering.
    I get that message a lot, usually for a fouled up URL but sometimes for words that have multiple meanings. Jim Hunt’s message is posted, I see. That means that probably the first time JC saw it was when it showed up in a list of filtered messages.

    BTW, I’m guessing the filter trigger word in JH’s message was Trump, which is a reasonable word to filter if you’re trying to limit noise.

  19. izen says:

    @-“What on Earth are Rep. Higgins and ex Prof. Curry on about with all this “RICO” business?”

    Mann claimed in the hearing he had no affiliation with an organisation called the Climate Accountability Institute. Apparently his CV lists him as sitting on the Climate Accountability Institute’s advisory board and has done since 2014.
    Clearly he tells lies. Ergo all his science testimony can be discounted.
    Allegedly.

  20. Jim Hunt says:

    izen – Can I safely assume that you have yet to read my deconstruction of those “allegations”?

  21. Willard says:

    > if you’re trying to limit noise.

    An interesting counterfactual when referring to Judy’s, TE. Is it your April’s Fool joke?

  22. Jim Hunt says:

    TE – What do you suppose triggered this one then? “Rose”?

    A reasonable word to filter if you’re trying to limit noise!

  23. BBD says:

    Speaking of intentionally promulgating falsehoods:

    It seems clear that the discrepancy between the models and the observations is nowhere near as large as his [Christy’s] comparison suggests.

    A lot of thought and tinkery-winkering went into that graph. So who’s a naughty boy, then?

  24. Willard says:

    Arguing by rhetorical questions is stupid, JimH.

    You’re not.

    Please give it a rest and stick to your usual drive-bys.

  25. JCH says:

    A lot of thought and tinkery-winkering went into that graph. So who’s a naughty boy, then?

    Well, maybe he had to cut corners and manipulate data in order get it ready in time for a congressional hearing. Sort of like placing a thumb on the scales…

  26. To me, the very most important thing is… who was the first person to speculate that 2017 has the stuff to become the 4th warmest year in a row?

    JCH, wagers don’t prove anything, and neither would any particular outcome for 2017.

    However, aside from science, I have grown confident( mostly because of OHC loss and the anomalously low albedo for both 2015 and 2016 ) that 2017 will have a lower global average surface temperature than that of 2016.

    I am also confident, based on demographic arguments I have made before, that 2017 will have lower global CO2 emissions than than those of 2016.

    Do you wish to wager?

  27. However, aside from science, I have grown confident( mostly because of OHC loss and the anomalously low albedo for both 2015 and 2016 ) that 2017 will have a lower global average surface temperature than that of 2016.

    Well, yes, I’d still be surprised if it were another record.

    I am also confident, based on demographic arguments I have made before, that 2017 will have lower global CO2 emissions than than those of 2016.

    Do you wish to wager?

    Almost a bet worth taking, as it would be a, sort of, win win. I’m not much of a gambler, though.

  28. Almost a bet worth taking, as it would be a, sort of, win win. I’m not much of a gambler, though.

    I’m more a rogue than gentleman, but we can have a gentleman’s wager just to watch.

  29. TE,
    Except, the implication is that you think that I’ve somehow suggested the opposite, which I haven’t. I don’t think your claims that CO2 emissions have peaked are justified by the available evidence. However, that doesn’t mean that CO2 emissions in 2017 couldn’t be lower than those in 2016.

  30. JCH says:

    OHC had substantially recovered its pre-El Nino level as of 12-31-2016. We’ll soon know if it has continued its recovery in the 1st 1/4 of 2017.

    Saying 2017 will be cooler than 2016… perhaps the most well-braced limb out on which anybody has ever ventured. A bet would be the bold taking 2017 being 2nd or 1st versus foolish believer money on what they believe: 3rd or worse.

    I spend my money on guitars and Asian antiquities… things that I enjoy… even if I overpay. Trying right now to buy a 1870s house. Stone. Too cool.

  31. BBD says:

    @TE

    Still don’t see it.

  32. Michael 2 says:

    Leto says: (April 1, 2017 at 11:37 am, re: M2 says: “In the end, the advocates speak and jurors decide.”)

    “What on Earth makes you think this process would lead to the jurors deciding anything resembling the truth?”

    It leads them to policy decisions. As you have observed, truth isn’t usually present nor can it be. It is a mixture of claims and evidence; each item of which is subject to belief, disbelief, denial or disinterest.

  33. Jim Hunt says:

    Thanks for your kind words Willard. Like this you mean?

    http://GreatWhiteCon.info/2017/03/the-house-science-climate-model-show-trial/#Apr-2

    Over on Twitter Stephen McIntyre continues to make my case for me.

  34. Frank says:

    The hearing prompted some possibly useful thoughts about whether extreme weather events are increasing. a) RP Jr approaches this problem from the traditional perspective. Is the frequency of a particular extreme event, say hurricanes, increasing with time? Does the 2.5-97.5% or the 5-95% or the 10-90% confidence interval (adjusted for autocorrelation) for the slope of a linear fit to hurricanes vs time include zero? This traditional strategy avoids Type I errors at the risk of Type II errors. b) MM discusses detection and attribution approaches. Take the recent flood in England or the four-year drought in California. With long model runs under current GHGs vs PI GHGs, one might find that these recent extreme events happens twice as frequently with today’s GHGs compared with the past.

    First, it is possible that both types of evidence could be scientifically valid. Suppose we have have 50 years of useful observations that are mostly pre-industrial and 50 years of observations potentially influenced by aGHGs. Historically, the CA drought and England floods appear to have occurred perhaps a few times a century (1924 and 1976/7 for earlier serious CA droughts). Climate models might provide us with 500 years of each, making detection of a change more likely. In other word – IF models provide a fully accurate representation of a particular type of extreme event – we would almost certainly fail to find a statistically-significant increase in these types of severe events IN THESE LOCATIONS in the observational record. One might need to experience a century or more of such extreme weather events before accumulating enough observations to statistically prove that such an increase has already occurred. With bad luck, such proof might require two centuries or longer. And all this time. PR Jr will be telling us it hasn’t happened yet!

    When we have contradictory evidence like this, what should the public be told? It needs to start with the qualifier: “If our climate models are correct, then …” Next, one needs to say what observations actually have shown and possibly what models say we should have been observing.

    Unfortunately, increases in CA droughts and English floods are examples of regional climate change and climate models disagree in significant ways about regional climate change. So now we need to start with the qualifier: “If our climate models are correct – and we know that some are wrong, but we don’t know which ones are wrong – then, …” ??? If that is the best we can do, perhaps scientists shouldn’t be talking to the public about this subject.

    With 20 models from which to choose, one has a good chance of finding at least a few models that say that the probability of this type of extreme drought or flood has been doubled or more by today’s GHGs. (For example, when Amazon droughts were in the news, some climate models were predicting an increase in Amazon rainfall and other as decrease in Amazon rainfall. The one that predicted the rain forest would become grassland got all of the publicity. It could be right.) And with several dozen extreme events every decade from which to choose, one can publish (or the press can publicize), the 5, 10 or 20 cases where model(s) show that the probability of experiencing extreme weather has doubled or worse. If one knows which climate model(s) show an increase in blocking events with rising GHGs (the IPCC says most do not predict an increase in blocking), one can even focus their attention on those models most likely to predict an anthropogenic increase in droughts and floods via an increase in blocking. Finally, if one finds that the incidence of a particular extreme weather event has “doubled”, that result usually doesn’t come with a confidence interval such as 1.8X to 2.2X versus 1.1X to 2.9X or 0.5X to 5X. Success or failure at rejecting a null hypothesis always involves a confidence interval, but changes in D&A (such as “doubling”) do not.

    The indirect prediction of an increase in extreme weather can be even more problematic. Michael Mann just reported a “temperature fingerprint” associated with more stable and intense undulations in the jet stream that are associated with some summer blocking events. This temperature fingerprint – more warming at about 60 N – is already occurring and will be occurring more frequently in the future due to Arctic amplification. Unfortunately, we don’t know whether the temperature fingerprint causes OR IS CAUSED BY more stable and intense undulations in the jet stream. The second possibility is certainly reasonable. And we know that most AOGCMs currently don’t predict an increase in blocking events in the future. I’ve seen similar arguments about models showing an increase in the winter high pressure ridge off the Pacific Coast (associated with lack of precipitation), but the same models don’t show a decrease in precipitation. And arguments saying the conditions that caused Hurricane Sandy to make an unprecedented turn towards NJ/NY are more likely to occur when summer Arctic sea ice is low.

    References pointing out why my skepticism is unwarranted will be appreciated and studied.

  35. dave s says:

    Frank @ 7:56am, you want references but don’t seem to give any for your speculations. What’s relevant here is Pielke’s written testimony including his update to his 2013 House & Senate Testimony, “Summary: Have disasters in the US or globally become more costly because of human-caused climate change?” to which he answers “No.”

    As for models, his economic model may be bonkers, so other expert opinion needed. The physical climate models operate on the basic physics that increased greenhouse gases will sooner or later result in increased temperatures, and changes in climate. Temperatures have duly increased, and climate patterns have already altered. For example, sea level rise is occurring. The need in Miami to raise roads above the levels of adjoining houses and to install a very expensive pumping system probably doesn’t count as a disaster. Yet.

  36. I’m not quite sure what Frank is asking for, but here is some thoughts on the topic.

    What do we expect from some pretty basic physics? If we keep adding GHGs to the atmosphere, then we expect the climate system to warm. If it warms, then there will be more energy in the system and we might expect some weather events to become more energetic (i.e., an increase in the frequency and intensity of some weather events – cyclones, for example). If the atmosphere is warmer then it will hold more water vapour and we would expect an increase inn evaporation and, consequently, precipitation. Again, an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme precipitation events. We would also expect an increase in the frequency and intensity of what we, today, call heatwaves.

    So, what if you don’t find a trend? What might this mean? Do it mean that there is non trend? Well, no, not finding one doesn’t there isn’t one. Have you looked at the correct sample of data? Things like damage/cost, floods, droughts, etc are – in a sense – potential consequences of these changes, but not direct indicators of these changes. Is your data suitable? We’re expecting an increase in the intensity and frequency of the more extreme events, which are – by their very nature – rare, so trying to extract a signal from the noise is difficult.

    So, my view is that we have to be careful of how we interpet the possible lack of a trend in some dataset that might represent extreme events. I think being cautious about drawing conclusions one way or the other is fine, but we have to bear in mind that not only are we pushing a non-linear system (and so would expect there to be changes) some of this is based on some pretty basic physics (it would be extremely surprising, for example, if we continued to emit GHGs into the atmosphere and did not start to see definitive indications of an increase in the intensity and frequency of heatwaves and precipitation events).

  37. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    The flood in the UK were in excess of anything that had been observed in the historic record. To put it in context the Carlisle flood defence scheme which was completed in 2012, following the extreme flooding in 2005, was designed for an event of approximately 0.5% AEP (Annual Exceedance Probability. Storm Desmond over topped the flood defence by approximately 0.5m.

    The peak flow at the Sheepmount gauging station in Carlisle was approximately 10% higher for the 2015 (1680m3/s) event than the 2005 (1515m3/s) event. The length of the record at the gauging station is approximately 50 years and the previous highest peak was 1200m3/s and occurred in 1968.

    http://nrfa.ceh.ac.uk/data/station/peakflow/76007

    Storm Desmond also caused over topping of new flood defences in Keswick, Cockermouth and Kendal all of which were designed for 1%AEP events. Peak river flows in all these locations exceeded all previous events.

  38. “Oh, puleaze. Conspiracy theory much? Self importance much?

    Like most other things these days, Word Press has automatic filtering.
    I get that message a lot, usually for a fouled up URL but sometimes for words that have multiple meanings. Jim Hunt’s message is posted, I see. That means that probably the first time JC saw it was when it showed up in a list of filtered messages.

    BTW, I’m guessing the filter trigger word in JH’s message was Trump, which is a reasonable word to filter if you’re trying to limit noise.

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

    Well, each and every one of my posts to her blog are moderated.
    I guess her ban of me ended, but now I am moderated. ( at both judith and wuwt)
    Jim Hunt as well I guess

    So you see, Judith believes that everyone knows enough to ignore fringe science
    BUT
    she thinks that she has to protect them from fringe commenters like Jim Hunt and me?

    At least willard gives a warning and plausible reason when he moderates.

    FFS, what has this world come to when Willard looks reasonable compared to Watts and Curry

    hehe

  39. JCH

    At the end of Jan 2017, we estimate a 50% chance of 2017 being a record.

  40. JCH says:

    Given that the heavyweights were saying warming was going to take a 2017 breather, that’s pretty aggressive.

    Me on January 25th

    invoked fourpeat on 10 Feb… but used could be… I could have been great!

    Was probably more aggressive at CargoCult Etc., but who cares.

  41. Well, each and every one of my posts to her blog are moderated.

    Everyone of my posts here are moderated.

  42. JCH

    we just looked at past data with no memory of El Nino.

    50/50… yes it was agressive..

  43. paulski0 says:

    TE,

    I’ve been looking at some issues relating to inventory CO2 emissions data, focusing on Nigeria. Both the CDIAC and EDGAR inventories report a flat to negative fossil fuel emissions trend since the early-2000s for Nigeria. To me this seems implausible given dramatic increases in population (reportedly close to 50% increase) and GDP over the same period.

    I know some people from Nigeria and they say that although there is a centralised electric grid in some cities no-one trusts it and everyone runs their own household generator – typically a diesel generator. I suspect this kind of large-scale informal residential fossil fuel usage is not well-captured by current inventory methods. I also suspect this picture would be similar in many other rapidly growing countries without comprehensive centralised power grids (i.e. almost all of them).

  44. Frank says:

    ATTP writes about extreme weather: “What do we expect from some pretty basic physics? If we keep adding GHGs to the atmosphere, then we expect the climate system to warm. If it warms, then there will be more energy in the system and we might expect some weather events to become more energetic (i.e., an increase in the frequency and intensity of some weather events – cyclones, for example). If the atmosphere is warmer then it will hold more water vapor and we would expect an increase inn evaporation and, consequently, precipitation. Again, an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme precipitation events. We would also expect an increase in the frequency and intensity of what we, today, call heatwaves.”

    Frank replies: Is “basic physics” relevant to extreme weather? Storms are often heat engines driven by the DIFFERENCE in temperature between two locations. Both lapse rate and meridional temperature gradients are projected to decrease. In my personal experience, winter storms seem more “extreme” than summer ones. Believing in a GHE, doesn’t require a belief in CAGW; basic physics doesn’t imply a catastrophic increase in extreme weather.

    In the US, tornados peak in late May or early June, well before the peak in surface temperature. There is some evidence this peak is shifting to earlier in the year. Higher temperature does not imply more tornados. They are driven by CAPE and helicity.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL063968/full

    The hurricane season tracks higher SST reasonably well. More areas above 26.5 degC may spawn more hurricanes. However, the increase in hurricane wind speed with SST is modest (about +5 mph/degC, if I remember correctly). Power may come from the temperature difference between SST and the top of a hurricane (the tropopause?), not SST alone. AGW is supposed to increase wind sheer, which inhibits hurricanes. The IPCC is still projecting fewer but stronger hurricanes, but using the qualifier “more likely than not”. (I’d really like someone to publish a paper showing how the probability of a storm intensifying (say from Cat 1 to Cat 2) varies with SST of the ocean below.) This isn’t basic physics.

    Despite a 7%K increase equilibrium vapor pressure, AOGCMs project a trivial 2%/K increase in total global precipitation due to a slowing of the hydrologic cycle. This slowing of the hydrologic cycle contributes to higher climate sensitivity. However, for reasons I haven’t mastered, drier regions are supposed to get drier and wetter get wetter. An increase in short intense rainfall (the type that causes flash flooding in vulnerable locations) has already been detected, but I’m not sure how much additional damage is involved. The risk of flash flooding is determined mostly by local geography, human choice, and government subsidy of insurance for those who make poor choices. Basic physics?

    Blocking is currently projected not to increase, so flooding and heat waves associated with blocking shouldn’t either. (Mann’s “temperature fingerprint” associated with blocking could easily be CAUSED BY blocking, not BE a cause of blocking.) Basic physics?

    Drought (a combination of lack of rainfall and higher temperature/evaporation) will get worse with warming. This is basic physics. Rising precipitation and adaptation may help some. Heat waves will increase and cold spells will decrease. Pick your poison there. Affluent people in developed countries are moving towards warmth.

  45. Frank,

    Frank replies: Is “basic physics” relevant to extreme weather? Storms are often heat engines driven by the DIFFERENCE in temperature between two locations.

    Yes, I realise that some systems are complex enough that the response may not be simple and that – in some cases – we might even see a decrease in the frequency of some events. However, we will have more energy in the system and that can lead to more energetic systems. My understanding is that we might see a decrease in cyclones overall, but an increase in the frequency and intensity of the most extreme cyclones.

    Believing in a GHE, doesn’t require a belief in CAGW; basic physics doesn’t imply a catastrophic increase in extreme weather.

    Indeed, science cannot tell us if something will be catastrophic, but it can provide information that will allow us to make a judgement. Bear in mind that you are – I think – the only person to bring up the possibility of catastrophe. I would ask why, but I can’t really be bothered finding out the answer.

  46. RickA,
    Just to continue a bit, the rest of your comment appears to be essentially saying “we’re not quite sure precisely what will happen”? Well, yes, of course; we can’t be precisely sure. But we do understand something of the kind of changes we might expect and something of the magnitude, even if we can’t make precise predictions. We don’t need precision in order to make decisions about whether or not we should continue doing something.

  47. Jim Hunt says:

    Re – Steven Mosher says: April 2, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    I’m permanently persona non grata at WUWT!

    At Judy’s I seemed to be off moderation for a while, but my most recent comments have once again found themselves on her cutting room floor without explanation.

    My pet theory is that Judith doesn’t like to let “warmists” have “the last word” on any of her articles.

  48. verytallguy says:

    Jim,

    You’re paranoid. That doesn’t mean the bastards aren’t out to get you, of course.

    Alternatively, maybe it’s just time to leave the crazies to stew.

  49. Jim Hunt says:

    VTG – I’m not paranoid, but they are of course out to get me!

    Watts recently plastered my contact details all over the world wide interweb. Well, on WUWT and Twitter at least.

  50. verytallguy says:

    Watts recently plastered my contact details all over the world wide interweb. Well, on WUWT and Twitter at least.

    Sounds like it’s definitely time to leave the crazies to stew.

  51. Frank says:

    ATTP wrote: “We will have more energy in the system and that can lead to more energetic systems”.

    You are the physic professor. Isn’t it more difficult to perform work – make something happen – with heat energy than with other forms of energy? Does a 4 degC rise in temperature everywhere change the atmosphere’s ability to do work (damage homes, etc). If I burn natural gas in a heat engine, I’m limited to (T2-T1)/T2. If I “burn” it in a fuel cell to directly make electricity, I’m not. There are massive fluxes of radiant energy into and out of our planet every day. Isn’t it difficult to abstract work from them?

    Detecting an increase precipitation with AGW is extremely difficult because unforced variability (as a percentage) is much higher than for temperature. Models also have more trouble reproducing precipitation than with temperature.

  52. Jim Hunt says:

    VTG – But Dr. David Whitehouse would surely condemn such behaviour in the strongest possible terms, and so should you!

    “Freedom is paramount. You are free to lie, and I am free to challenge.”

    Except that I’m not. Whether at Climate Etc,, WUWT, or indeed at the GWPF web site.

  53. Frank,
    I think it depends on the scale one is considering. If we warm the planet so much that we reduce some of the large temperature gradients, then we might change global circulation patterns in a way that might reduce how much work they do. On the other hand, something like a cyclone requires (as I understand it) warm, moist air over the ocean. So, if you warm the upper ocean/sea surface you might expect to produce somewhat more intense cyclones. On the other hand, if you change latitudonal temperature gradients you might, at the same time, reduce how often cyclones form. So, it is possible to reduce the frequency of cyclones overall while still increasing the frequency and intensity of the strongest ones.

    There are also other types of extremes – precipitation, heatwaves, and then consequences of some of these like droughts and floods. We may not know how droughts and flooding will change, but it would seem rather surprising if there weren’t changes if we were to warm the planet so that evaporation increased and there were changes to the hydrological cycle.

    Detecting an increase precipitation with AGW is extremely difficult because unforced variability (as a percentage) is much higher than for temperature.

    Indeed, but that there will be increased evaporation in a warmer world (and more water vapour in the atmosphere) seems pretty basic – would be remarkable if we warmed the planet and did not see a change in the hydrological cycle.

  54. verytallguy says:

    “Freedom is paramount. You are free to lie, and I am free to challenge.”

    Except that I’m not. Whether at Climate Etc,, WUWT, or indeed at the GWPF web site.

    I’m not sure if you’re being serious or not. Dr Poe is in the building.

  55. Frank,
    Here is a discussion of a paper that might be relevant to your question.

    As the climate warms, the system may be unable to increase its total entropy production enough to offset the moistening inefficiencies associated with phase transitions. This suggests that in a future climate, the global atmospheric circulation might comprise highly energetic storms due to explosive latent heat release, but in such a case, the constraint on work output identified here will result in fewer numbers of such events. Earth’s atmospheric circulation thus suffers from the “water in gas problem” observed in simulations of tropical convection, where its ability to produce work is constrained by the need to convert liquid water into water vapor and back again to tap its fuel.

  56. Michael 2 says:

    Jim Hunt complains “My pet theory is that Judith doesn’t like to let warmists have the last word on any of her articles.”

    In what way is any warmist blog different? About 1 in 20 of my comments here sees the light of your screen and I don’t even challenge the scientific theories. I’m banned at Scientific American for merely pointing out the obvious — Michael Mann’s generous offer of data and a model (in MatLab) so that you will see that you get what he gets. Well of course you will; it is a computer program and it does exactly what it is told to do.

    All model runs of any climate model ought to produce exactly the same result. How could it be otherwise? Each “run” is tweaked as to its parameters and starting conditions but the outcome is determined by those parameters and starting conditions.

    Blogs are not the place to have a meaningful discussion or argument because all of them are controlled by one side or the other (assuming for sake of convenience that only two sides exist) and exist as pubs, more or less, places for like-minded people to gather round and increase their like-mindedness.

    The newsgroups, alt.anything.goes (figuratively speaking) was the place to have unmoderated arguments. it was relatively trashy (cesspool was a word I frequently used) but easy enough for each reader to “ban” specific writers without denying those writers their expression. Since it was impossible (more or less) to actually shut anyone up, people had to be persuasive rather than wield a non-existence banhammer.

    The fine art of persuasion seems to have been mostly lost in this modern electronic age; how to make your opponents at least consider your points of view, and count it a “win” if he moves even a little in your direction. Insulting your opponents and banning them ensures your point of view won’t even be seen by the people that perhaps ought to see them.

  57. Jim Hunt says:

    VTG – Serious? Moi?

  58. Jim Hunt says:

    Michael – Assuming “Snow White’s” blog fits into your “warmist” category “she” doesn’t [snip] 19 out of 20 “skeptical” comments. Fire enough facts at them and they eventually slink off with their tail between their legs.

    Vast quantities of “spam” are automattically removed by Akismet, and the occasional comment gets removed due to “repetition”, after a fair warning of course. Very occasionally a genuine comment gets auto-misidentified as spam, but nobody’s ever complained about the mod’s failure to dig one of those out of the sin bin.

    Getting back to Judy, she endeavours to present herself as some sort of “lukewarm honest broker”. Needless to say I disagree! However I do broadly agree with your final paragraph. See for example:

    http://AFWetware.org/2017/03/21/the-problem-with-facts/

    Good luck with your next 19 comments here!

  59. verytallguy says:

    Jim,

    freedom of speech is not the same as entitlement to publication. If you don’t like the crazies’ moderation, no-one is forcing you to post in their spaces. You have your own venue. Or this one. Or you can go out in the street with a placard.

  60. I agree with vtg. I think people should be free to run their blogs as they see fit; I certainly do. Sometimes I delete comments that I think aren’t appropriate and sometimes moderate parts of comments. What’s more interesting is how I get criticised for doing this on sites that do exactly the same.

  61. Andrew Dodds says:

    Yes, people can run their blogs as they see fit, but exploded irony meters are a significant externality in some cases. Although if Climate Etc did get rid of all the content-free and/or bickering comments, I’d go back there to read the single-screen threads.

  62. Willard says:

    Look, JimH.

    I’ve already asked to stop playing the ref.

    You’re at it again.

    Had I been awake when you again peddled your insufferable whining, I would have deleted it.

    Now that people commented, I can’t.

    But I want to make sure you finally understand that what you’re doing right now is uncool.

    (That M2 took your bait to play the ref in response should give you a hint as to why there’s a policy against it.)

    If that kind of thing is annoying here, how do you think it’s perceived in contrarian outlets?

    As Cocteau once said, tact is about knowing when to go too far.

    Work on this, please.

  63. verytallguy says:

    exploded irony meters

    Unplugging the meter is highly recommended before reading an OP at Judy’s, and essential should the ill-advised avenue of skimming the comments be pursued.

  64. John Hartz says:

    I am not a fan of using a comment thread to replay what transpired on another comment thread on a different website.Doing so typically occurs when a comment thread is nearing the end of its useful life.

  65. Jim Hunt says:

    [Playing the ref. – W]

  66. John Hartz says:

    Jim Hunt: As a general rule, yes. What happens on Curry’s website, should stay on her website.

    We have bigger fish to fry, i.e., educating the general public about the realities of manmade climate change and getting it to act on that knowlege.

    In this context, Curry’s website is a distraction. Expending time and energy commenting there is akin to trying to push water uphill.

  67. RickA says:

    John Hartz says:

    “Expending time and energy commenting there is akin to trying to push water uphill.”

    Not that that is a bad thing.

    I believe they use pumped hydro to store power for the grid (a tiny portion of it) – so pushing water uphill is a fine thing.

  68. Jim Hunt says:

    John H – I’m aware of the conventional wisdom, but nonetheless I like to perform the “push[ing] water uphill” experiment from time to time.

    Regarding the “bigger fish to fry”, have you ever wondered whether explaining “the realities of manmade climate change” is not enough?

    http://AFWetware.org/2017/03/21/the-problem-with-facts/

    There’s a final problem with trying to persuade people by giving them facts: the truth can feel threatening, and threatening people tends to backfire. “People respond in the opposite direction,” says Jason Reifler, a political scientist at Exeter University.

    Facts, it seems, are toothless. Trying to refute a bold, memorable lie with a fiddly set of facts can often serve to reinforce the myth. Important truths are often stale and dull, and it is easy to manufacture new, more engaging claims. And giving people more facts can backfire, as those facts provoke a defensive reaction in someone who badly wants to stick to their existing world view.

  69. John Hartz says:

    JH: You ask:

    Regarding the “bigger fish to fry”, have you ever wondered whether explaining “the realities of manmade climate change” is not enough?

    Yes, I have.

  70. John Hartz says:

    Jim Hunt: Recommend that you peruse:

    The ‘simple question’ that can change your mind about global warming by John Sutter, CNN, Apr 5, 2017

  71. Windchaser says:

    Michael:

    All model runs of any climate model ought to produce exactly the same result. How could it be otherwise? Each “run” is tweaked as to its parameters and starting conditions but the outcome is determined by those parameters and starting conditions.

    Huh? No. Very definitely not. Completely wrong, even. Sorry.

    Different compilers sometimes use slightly different algorithms, which can result in very small numerical changes. And while computers are very accurate, they do occasionally slip a bit here or there.

    Since individual climate scenarios are chaotic, either of these would (and do) result in different numerical results from one model run to the next.

  72. Michael 2 says:

    “Simple question, what if you’re wrong?” he asked on Sunday. The implication: What if you’re wrong and carbon dioxide pollution — from burning fossil fuels — really is the main driver of global warming? That’s what a near-consensus of climate scientists say, after all.

    What if anyone is wrong about anything?

    Thomas More’ wrote about it in Utopia; a way for the King to obtain money is to sell licenses for those things that people do anyway. The Catholics did it with the sale of indulgences. Modern societies propose the same thing but call it “carbon credits”. The similarity is conspicuous and so is resulting social resistance.

    The direction to which you are being manipulated is not for your benefit, but for the benefit of the manipulator. When we talk about spending billions of dollars, that comes from citizens, but it goes to industrialists. They love (your fear of) global warming.

  73. John Hartz says:

    Michael: You wrote:

    All model runs of any climate model ought to produce exactly the same result. How could it be otherwise? Each “run” is tweaked as to its parameters and starting conditions but the outcome is determined by those parameters and starting conditions.

    Aslthough I typically disagree wih the gist of your comments, I have genrally found them to be logical in their construct. In this particular case, your logic totally escapes me.

  74. John Hartz says:

    Windchaser: Your comment prompted mine. Thank you.

  75. John Hartz says:

    A recently posted commentary percipitated by the House Hearing cited in the OP turns one of the climate science deniers’ favorite memes on its head. Enjoy!

    PS – “What goes around, comes around.”

    Recently, the House Science Committee held a hearing on climate change that stacked the deck of testimony at the hearing to be 3 to 1 climate change deniers, while climate scientists at large are 97% to >99% in agreement that anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are leading to a warming planet. The only scientist present that represented the overwhelming conclusion of the scientific community was Prof. Michael Mann, of Pennsylvania State University (as well as an Advising Board Member of 314 Action).

    The controlling Republican Party Congressmembers stacked the hearing in such an unrepresentative way in order to push their own political interest above that found from proper scientific methodology. Prof. Mann appropriately referenced what the leading Congressmen were doing with their science denialism as akin Stalinism. Why is that? For nearly forty years, Soviet political leaders supported a theory of evolution called Lysenkoism, which was based on the long discredited Lamarckian evolution. It was the basis of state-planned agricultural policy that led to devastating results, resulting in famines. Why would this happen and why would it take so long for policy change when confronted with failing policy? Lysenkoism was a favorite theory of Stalin himself, with the Soviet propaganda machine presenting Trofim Lysenko as a home-grown genius going against the overwhelming consensus of scientists outside of Soviet influence. The policy based on the debunked ideology lead to not only widespread famine, but the execution arrest, imprisonment and/or firing of about 3,000 mainstream biologists in the Soviet Union. Fortunately, we are not yet at that point in America, but House Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith has harassed and subpoenaed government and university scientists that are in the mainstream due to their work.

    Climate Change Denial: the Lysenkoism of the present-day Republican Party by Dr. Kevork N. Abazajian, 314 Action, Apr 5, 2017

  76. Michael 2 says:

    John Hartz quotes and presumably finds important: “but House Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith has harassed and subpoenaed government and university scientists that are in the mainstream due to their work.”

    To think it has been only a year since the Democrats and Attorneys General were doing that and worse. Karma! While I wish it wasn’t this way, it is, and I enjoy the spectacle more than I should.

    The pendulum will swing and the worm will turn, and turn again and swing again. It’s a rough business being employed at the public trough in activities sponsored by only one of the major political parties. During my Navy career I carefully avoided being either Democrat or Republican. I served the nation.

  77. John Hartz says:

    Michael2 states:

    During my Navy career I carefully avoided being either Democrat or Republican. I served the nation.

    I thank you for your service.

    PS – Did you also avoid being a Libertarian while you were in the Navy? 🙂

  78. verytallguy says:

    I served the nation.

    Lest we all be blinded by the sun glinting from the spurs of our knight as he mounts his high horse atop the moral high ground, let us also remember

    Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

  79. Michael 2 says:

    verytallguy writes “Lest we all be blinded by the sun glinting from the spurs of our knight as he mounts his high horse atop the moral high ground, let us also remember Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

    What is the first refuge of a scoundrel? 😉

    Anyway, scoundrel has a nice sound to it. I am called many things; scoundrel is refreshingly different. I have heard this phrase several times so I looked into it.

    http://www.samueljohnson.com/refuge.html

    He seems to be speaking of false patriots; persons that cloak themselves in patriotism (or a religion, or almost anything else that cloaks the malevolent person).

    So the question then becomes whether I am the real deal. I don’t know and I don’t even care as it is not a goal I seek. However, my time in service and positions of responsibility suggest that others believed I was real enough. I am a little nervous around “patriots” that make announcement of it, in the same way that I have doubts about people that proclaim truth (rather than proclaim whatever it is they think is true and I’ll decide for myself how true it is) or religion.

    True patriotism, which I haven’t thought much about (live it, don’t talk it) seems to be to honor the society in which one has obtained social debt through its benefits, education in particular, national defense, freedom to travel within its borders, and opposition to nations that would revoke those freedoms. Patriotism is giving back to that society that nurtured me. Since my own nation is revoking its own freedoms I am feeling a bit less patriotic.

  80. Jim Hunt says:

    Michael – “The direction to which you are being manipulated is not for your benefit”

    Even if true, what has that got to do with the science of whether “Carbon dioxide pollution — from burning fossil fuels — really is the main driver of global warming?”

  81. Pingback: Toys, pram, out! | …and Then There's Physics

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