Airtime for policy experts

As I discussed in this post, there’s been a lengthy discussion on Twitter about climate scientists publicly discussing policy/solutions. In response to this, David Roberts tweeted the following:

One of the responses1 to this was that there may well be many people with relevant expertise who are willing to step up, but that being willing to do so doesn’t immediately give them airtime.

I think there may be some merit to this, but I do wonder if there isn’t another issue. When climate scientists communicate publicly, there is a reasonably consistent framework. Most accept the consensus position that humans are causing global warming and, if they do discuss policy/solutions, that we should probably be doing something about this. Hence, there can appear to be this large group of people who have some kind of media platform.

I may well be wrong (I often am) but I don’t think that there is the same level of consensus when it comes to climate policy/economics. Hence, it may be that it just appears as though there are fewer experts given a platform to discuss this because it’s not as obvious that they belong to the same group (i.e.,a group consisting of those who have the expertise to publicly discuss climate policy/economics).

So, maybe one thing to consider is whether or not there some kind of consistent position that those who want to focus on climate policy/economic could present so that it would be more obvious that there is a large group of experts presenting a reasonably consistent picture. My impression is that this may not be possible; that there really is disagreement amongst policy experts and so there isn’t really a simple consensus position2.

I, however, may be wrong about this. Maybe there really are far fewer policy experts getting airtime than climate scientists. If so, maybe climate scientists should help to promote those who would like to engage publicly. Also, maybe there is some kind of consensus position that could be presented to help make clearer what experts regard as the optimal position when it comes to climate policy. If there is, I would be really keen to better understand what it is.

Footnotes:
1 This was from Glen Peters, who does – in my view – communicate very effectively about climate policy.

2 There are maybe two relevant consensus positions. (1) Economists regard a carbon tax as the optimal way to address climate change. (2) Addressing climate change will require reducing emissions and, eventually, getting them to zero.

Links:
Carbon budgets and the impacts of climate change.

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110 Responses to Airtime for policy experts

  1. If so, maybe climate scientists should help to promote those who would like to engage publicly.

    That is quite hard to do beyond retweeting them. More importantly, agreeing with your post, due to the lack of a consensus I would not have any idea which voice to amplify.

    Should I retweet people saying that we could solve climate change if only those hypocritical scientists would stop flying? 😉

    To be honest, I should probably read the IPCC Working Group 3 report to get a better idea what are credible solutions. But so much to do, so little time.
    http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg3/

  2. “To be honest, I should probably read the IPCC Working Group 3 report to get a better idea what are credible solutions.”

    The WG1 report is apparently fairly good if you want to get a good idea of the credible science, but hardly anyone reads it. 😦

    I fully agree though! ;o)

  3. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Re your 2nd footnote…

    Economists regard a carbon tax as the optimal way to address climate change.

    I learned a long time ago when I immersed myself into climate change matters that there is no silver bullet for resolving it. Rather there are many silver buckshot solutions that ought to be applied simultaneously.

  4. Ragnaar says:

    The science question isn’t complicated. The policy question is. Agree on:

    Carbon tax
    Wind Turbines
    Home solar
    Commercial solar
    Pumped water storage
    Power lines
    Nuclear power
    Electric cars
    Fracking
    Natural gas
    Ethanol
    Hydro power
    Soil carbon restoration

    With the science question, a block formed and that’s been pretty successful.
    A block was formed for solutions that disappears as soon as money comes into play. This block is at times strengthened by bringing in villains. Big oil. Home solar will hate utilities before this is all over and seek relief. To turn from the poster child to the victim.

    Of the list above, a consensus on one of them would be nice. As well as a consensus to strike one from the list as not being considered viable. To be mean, if you’re so scattered and non-committal and just a mindless cheerleader for all things green, why would I follow you? We could have a consensus of anything on the list might work out.

    The science cage matches are a distraction from policy. Take the MSM, please. Witty remarks about Flat Earthers. That felt good. Accomplished about zero.

    I should know better than to ask, what things on the above list have been poisoned? In other words, stricken them from being on the consensus list.

    I’ll suggest by now, the climate scientists are battle hardened. They just ignore the Republicans now and push through all opposition including allies and establish at least one policy consensus position. For a warm up, soil carbon restoration or the least controversial or scientifically sound thing you can think of.

  5. David B. Benson says:

    I would hope there is a consensus on a further point: carbon dioxide levels are too high and so need to be lowered.

    I promote the irrigated afforestation of the Sahara desert and the Australian outback as a potential solution. See the paper with that title by Len Orstein et al.

  6. Ragnaar says:

    Where I wrote:

    “…scientifically sound thing…” above, please substitute for that,

    an option supported by current engineering and having a viable cost/benefit ratio.

    One may suggest that climate scientists don’t understand these things. Accounting isn’t that difficult. A high school graduate has the required education for that. Engineering seems right up their ally.

  7. John Hartz says:

    Policy solutions should be developed and refined by a team of experts from various disciplines for consideration by policy-makers. Much of the work of the National Academies of Science is done in this manner.

  8. Ragnaar says:

    A soil carbon sequestration consensus. Engineering, good. Cost?

    Having a look here:

    https://www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/business/crop-budgets/central-mn-crop-budgets/crop-budget-2018.html

    We can use the 10 year average numbers and estimate.
    Key lines are:

    Available for land rent & operator living

    We can call that $200 per acre. If I own farmland worth $5000/acre, I want $200/acre per year in returns. The market says so. To not pay me that much is to sit on the sidelines. It’s a 4% yield plus my land is eternal.

    Then a factor is how much carbon will the field absorb per year when converted to grassland? Results are all over the board. A ton per year call it. That gives us a cost of $200 per ton of carbon. We’ll need spin off benefits to lower that cost.

    Here’s some of them:
    http://www.tallgrassontario.org/grassland_benefits.html

    Where they suggest: “Tallgrass Prairies make an excellent buffer strips along stream banks with their ability to anchor the soil with their deep root systems.”

    I know of two farmers that were next to creeks. Both are now planted in grass long term because of the benefits that provides to watersheds.  

  9. jacksmith4tx says:

    Ragnaar,
    I think your idea has merit IF you freeze all future development for a really long time, say 30-40 years. It’s hard to turn down land developers with wads of cash so you need long term agreements.
    Which item on this list matches your idea?
    #11, #16, #19, #23
    http://www.drawdown.org/solutions-summary-by-rank
    If it was up to you what would be your first choice and how would you sell the idea to people who think climate change is a hoax?

  10. Ragnaar says:

    Jacksmith4tx:

    I’d say a 15 year contract. Most of Western Minnesota is not in danger of turning into housing developments.

    #11 Regenerative Agriculture, which not what I suggested before about grasslands but it’s similar in some aspects. They reference Rattan Lal. Who seems an optimist. And suggests much more than a ton of CO2 per year per acre.

    Their numbers show a 35 to 1 return. Good but optimistic. What I didn’t cover is that carbon in soil is money. So while a field may be out of service for 15 years except for grazing cattle, it builds value and resilience

    The climate hoaxers can be farmers who voted for Trump that will accept government money. And before you protest, soil banking has been around a long time.

    Compare the disruption of this plan of mine to renewables. There is much less. However it is true farming density would decrease. A grain hub or elevator needs a certain amount of worked fields to be viable. Same with a supplier of farming inputs.

    What does a corn farmer want? Other farmers to not grow corn. All manner of hail, locusts and pestilence some place else increasing the price of their corn.

  11. Thomas Fuller says:

    Although I doubt your regular readers will be mightily impressed, two effective strategies have been much discussed in the comment sections of this weblog.

    Were you to endorse Paul Kelly’s grass roots approach you would have a chance at gathering (and demonstrating to politicians and business persons) support for addressing climate change as well as other environmental issues. Building a broad tent must start somewhere.

    Were you also to adopt a portfolio-based approach, rather than looking for a Grand Solution, it would spur innovation, lead to some demonstrable progress and reduce forcings more quickly than capping emissions. It is far easier to list and describe 50 2% solutions than one Big Bang Theory for lowering emissions. Ragnaar above jotted down 13 2% solutions. It is incredibly easy to add to the list.

    Endorsing Fast Mitigation as a first step would not only help address climate change, it could be the start of progress towards reconciliation between the warring parties.

    But let’s also list the things this approach would not do:

    It would not focus the world’s attention exclusively on human contributions to climate change

    It would not guarantee emission reductions according to a timetable.

    It would not penalize emitters to the extent wished for by many.

    To which I can only say ‘so what?’

  12. Ragnaar says:

    Thomas Fuller:
    I think you have some good ideas. Emission reductions do seem to be a central goal or highlight or whatever the proper word is. This limits one to things that do that.

  13. Tom,
    What strategy/strategies do you think would mightily impress the regular readers?

  14. Thomas Fuller says:

    ATTP, your readers have been clear and copious in their calls for capping emissions, punishing energy companies and limiting consumption. Those calls have been answered with policy proposals over the past 30 years. Europe’s Cap and Trade, Kyoto and the Paris Accords, lawsuits against energy companies and a concerted campaign to force them to change their behaviour have been the fruits of the endeavours of many committed activists.

    However, those proposals were all characterized by their proponents as more or less ‘a good beginning.’ And in fact they have not had the effect of lowering emissions, although we had a good few years where they stabilized.

    I really don’t know where your team/tribe/cohort/supporters go from here. I have no doubt that they will tell us here in the comments.

    I guess just to summarize, a top down approach has its limits. A bottom up approach really does not–it just takes time to scale.

  15. Thomas Fuller says:

    Not in order, not prioritized:
    1. Have DARPA buy a 51% stake in Tesla, recapitalize to support innovation in battery storage.
    2. Renew commitments to subsidies for residential solar power
    3. Eliminate Cold War restrictions on air space to shorten air travel routes
    4. Mandate installation of GPS on aircraft and allow stepped descent
    5. Institute a ‘Cash for Clunkers’ for older aircraft
    6. Beef up standards for LEEDS certification
    7. Increase CAFE mileage standards to 65 mpg for ICE powered cars and SUVs
    8. Offer employer tax breaks for telecommuters
    9.Institute a carbon tax starting at $12 per ton, with decennial re-evaluation against metrics for energy consumption, CO2 emissions and concentrations and GAT / SLR
    10. Reverse the current EPA trend to deregulate in the area of emissions and increase regulations on fossil fuel power generation.
    11.Accelerate permitting for new nuclear power plants to maintain nuclear power’s percentage of electricity at 20% in the U.S.
    12. Uprate existing hydroelectric plants to take advantage of advances in turbine technology.
    13. Increase utilization of Combined Heat and Power facilities from its current 7% of primary energy production to the world average of 9% and then by steps in northern regions to benchmark levels found in Denmark, Holland and other northern European countries.
    14. Support introduction of charging stations for electric vehicles.
    15. Force existing coal power plants to meet best available technology standards or close.
    16. Spend a global total of $100 billion for the transfer of technology to the developing world for the purpose of reducing the impact of development technologies, in hopes that they can leapfrog one or two generations of energy development.

    I’m sure your readers can come up with 34 more…

  16. Tom,

    your readers have been clear and copious in their calls for capping emissions, punishing energy companies and limiting consumption.

    I don’t read all the comments, but I don’t recall much in the way of this. Are claiming this because my readers have copiously called for this in their comments here, done so elsewhere, or are you reading between the lines?

  17. Thomas Fuller says:

    I would say both, actually.

  18. Thomas Fuller says:

    By both, I mean they have written a lot on their recommended remedies here and elsewhere.

  19. Tom,
    There were three options.

  20. Thomas Fuller says:

    Yes, I know. I don’t believe I was reading between any lines.

  21. Tom,

    capping emissions, punishing energy companies and limiting consumption

    I think people who regularly comment here agree that we should be aiming to reduce emissions, so maybe “capping emissions” is true to an extent. I don’t recall anyone regularly promoting punishing energy companies, and I’m not sure I’ve seen regular calls for limiting consumption (although there may be some who regard it as difficult to address AGW without also limiting consumption). So, can you provide some examples of people copiously calling for these kind of things. Otherwise, I’ll simply assume that you were simply reading between the lines.

  22. Joshua says:

    Tom –

    A bottom up approach really does not–it just takes time to scale.

    It reads to me that you are arguing that this team/tribe/cohort/supporters, a group to which you presumably do not belong, have been clear and copious in their calls for top down approaches to the exclusion of being clear and copious about calls for a bottom up approach? If so, I think you’re quite wrong about that.

    And in fact they have not had the effect of lowering emissions,

    Further, it reads to me that you are criticizing the approach of this team/tribe/cohort/supporters, a group to which you presumably don’t belong, because of a lack of demonstrable results. Well, OK.

    Does that mean that you (or your team/tribe/cohort/supporters) have taken an approach that has had demonstrably better results (using the yardstick of lowering emissions)? If so, please describe. Does it mean that there is any likelihood that any of your listed proposals are likely to be implemented in the anywhere near future, let alone have demonstrably beneficial results (given the scale of the problem)?

    I look at your proposed remedies and one thing that pretty well characterizes most of them (if not quite all) is that they stand in marked contrast to those policies which are actually being implemented.

    It’s always interesting to me how in these convos people like to list fantasies about what they’d like to see happen (sometimes they even use the laughable framing of what they’d “accept:). Are there any of those remedies that you would say are likely to become a reality (short of a situation where the effects of climate change are so dramatic that people will unambiguously recognize those effects in their every day lives)?

  23. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Leaving aside Tom’s rhetorical gamesmanship, from my observations it would be fair to say that commenters here, generally, are interested in capping emissions and limiting consumption. The “punishing energy companies” is nothing other than a rhetorical game, as it intentionally conflates wanting energy companies to be accountable with wanting to “punish” energy companies.

  24. John Hartz says:

    Speaking of “punishing energy companies”…

    Three years ago, Pope Francis issued a sweeping letter that highlighted the global crisis posed by climate change and called for swift action to save the environment and the planet.

    On Saturday, the pope gathered money managers and titans of the world’s biggest oil companies during a closed-door conference at the Vatican and asked them if they had gotten the message.

    Pressure has been building on oil and gas companies to transition to less polluting forms of energy, with the threat of fossil-fuel divestment sometimes used as a stick.

    Pope Tells Oil Executives to Act on Climate: ‘There Is No Time to Lose’ by Elisabetta Povoledo, Europe, New York Times, June 9, 2018

  25. John Hartz says:

    The url for the NY Times article I cited above is:

  26. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “from my observations it would be fair to say that commenters here, generally, are interested in capping emissions and limiting consumption.”

    I would qualify that further with the observation that the limit is specifically of consumption of fossil fuels in the form of energy. Individual, institutional or the global society consumption of any other material benefit is not generally targeted.

    A return to pre-industrial population level in a subsistence agricultural system to minimise the impact on Gaia does not seem to be a popular ‘solution’ here either.

  27. Steven Mosher says:

    Tom I think its safe to say that you and I, Political opposites in the extreme, can agree on the bottoms up approach. I see it this way. For the past, what 20 30 years, people have been debating the optimal top down approach while more c02 is emitted. Best to work bottoms up while the master planners figure out how to get everyone in lockstep with their grand plan.

    Anyway. As for the folks who comment here and other places ( “their tribe”) I would say
    1. They will generally cheer attempts to limit emissions PROVIDED you do it their way.
    If you prevent a Gigaton of C02 from Coal plants, that is WAY better in their minds
    from preventing that very same Gigaton, by buying up coal reserves.
    2. Oil companies. They will generally cheer any action whatsoever that punishes industry
    Note, there is an exeception. If the FF company is a state run affair then it gets a pass.

    3. Limiting consumption. Unless it’s purchases of airline tickets to conferences, they will
    generally agree with all limts to growth and consumption. Oh, also Unless you are talking
    about rebuilding in areas prone to floods, hurricanes and other weather disasters. In those
    cases, build baby build.

    “generally cheer” is wishy washing enough to trigger a full blown debate over the who promotes what exactly.

  28. Dave_Geologist says:

    An example or two would be nice Steven (and Tom). Otherwise it’s not so much reading between the lines, rather it’s joining our other permanent resident in the Imaginary Enemies club.

  29. Tom and Steven,
    I think it is time you provided some examples of what you’re claiming. You’ve both complained about how you’re apparently labelled and here you are essentially labelling people as holding certain views without actually demonstrating that they actually do so.

    1. I don’t actually have a preferred way of reducing emissions.

    2. I don’t think we should punish industry. I think that they’re simply providing a product that we can choose to use. Information about the risks associated with using this product has been publicly available for a long time.

    3. Just seems silly, so I really don’t know how to respond to that.

    So, come on, you can do better (I think).

  30. dikranmarsupial says:

    ““generally cheer” is wishy washing enough to trigger a full blown debate over the who promotes what exactly.”

    isn’t that essentially an admission of trolling? Provocatively suggesting that ” folks who comment here and other places ( “their tribe”)” have “their way” of limiting emissions is initiating exactly that debate.

  31. Chubbs says:

    What I am looking for is problem solving instead of problem avoidance. Without some form of carbon pricing, bottoms-up measures are unlikely to garner enough scale quickly enough. Certainly there is bottoms-up and some tops-down activity now. While we may or may not muddle through on this path, we could be doing much better.

  32. Matt Nisbet posted a set of tweets, which included this.

    3. As an Ecomodernist and public intellectual, @RogerPielkeJr has long argued that climate is an innovation not pollution problem. Stabilizing climate is not "by making FF energy so expensive… It’s by making alternatives so cheap that we’ll prefer them instead of FF energy.”— Matthew C. Nisbet (@MCNisbet) June 8, 2018

    This sounds great, but it’s not clear how you achieve this. If you impose a carbon tax, then it might simply happen through market forces. If you don’t, then you’ve got to somehow get alternatives to be cheaper than FF sources that don’t have all their externalities included in their price (i.e., it might be the case that the full price of the alternatives would need to be cheaper than a FF price that isn’t representative of the full price of using FFs). I did ask if this included a carbon tax and the answer wasn’t entirely clear.

  33. Chubbs says:

    Top-down support is needed to nurture new technology addressing climate change. Solar for instance wouldn’t be viable today without decades of support. All of the items on Tom’s list are top-down.

  34. Joshua says:

    Tom I think its safe to say that you and I, Political opposites in the extreme,…

    Don’t forget that Sam Harris can’t be tribal because he disagrees with Charles Murray on some issues.

    If you prevent a Gigaton of C02 from Coal plants, that is WAY better in their minds from preventing that very same Gigaton, by buying up coal reserves.

    Negative externalities.

  35. Joshua says:

    There are two rationalizations (at least) to support favoring a carbon tax. One is to have the price of carbon emissions reflect their true cost, reflecting negative (as well as positive) externalities . Another is “punish FF companies.”

    One way to attract attention at this blog is to provocatively talk about tribes being motivated by one of those rationales as opposed to the other.

  36. Thomas Fuller says:

    Hey Steve, ni hao ma? Ni shi bu shi zai Beijing?

    God, these guys don’t even read their own comment threads. And then they ask us to plough through them a second time… whether through oblivion or sadism is unclear.

  37. Joshua says:

    Tom –


    And then they ask us to plough through them a second time…

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m just grateful you did it the first time, Tom.

    Such a noble sacrifice is clear evidence of your deep concern.

  38. Thomas Fuller says:

    Joshua, I mostly skip over your contributions, I must admit.

  39. Joshua says:

    Tom –


    Joshua, I mostly skip over your contributions, I must admit.

    I’m just grateful for those rare occasions when you do take the time to read them.

    And in the meantime, I’ll be studying your “these guys” approach to providing constructive criticism about how to better approach discussions abiut climate change – in hopes that theifuh my study, some day I can attain even a fraction of your manifest success.

  40. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    I did ask if this included a carbon tax and the answer wasn’t entirely clear.

    FWIW, IIRC RPJr. favors a carbon tax as a way to fund innovation.

  41. John Hartz says:

    Rotten, if not unexpected, news coming out of the just held G7 summit in Charlevoix. Canada…

    A meeting of G7 leaders in Canada ended with a split over climate change on Saturday.

    Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the EU agreed new language on the importance of carbon pricing and a “just transition” to clean energy, as well as reaffirming their commitment to the Paris Agreement.

    The US asserted its position in a separate paragraph, prioritising economic growth and energy security. It would support countries in using “all available energy sources”, including to “access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently,” the statement said.

    On the biggest source of friction at the summit, trade, the leaders arrived at a consensus position – only for president Donald Trump to retract US endorsement after leaving the meeting.

    Trump refused to even attend a scheduled session on climate change, leaving the G6 to advance the agenda without him. It contrasts with last year’s summit in Italy, which resulted in a minimalist outcome as leaders held out hope of winning Trump round.

    G6 leaders advance climate agenda while Trump’s US defends fossil fuels by Megan Darby, Climate Home News, June 10, 2018

  42. Joshua says:

    Following the Nisbet tweet, I got to a series of Nordhaus tweets.

    Some highlights:

    10. Can we put the polarization genie back in the bottle, on climate or anything else?

    This comes after tweets 1-9 where Ted describes no aspect of accountability that RPJr. or the BTI for having done anything to contribute to the polarization around their public engagement on climate change. How does one think that such a method for addressing polarization will be effective?

    13. These are precisely the districts that radicalized climate rhetoric alienates culturally and the green policy agenda punishes economically. Since the failure of cap and trade in 2010, climate activists have taken rhetoric to 11, and what it got them was Trump

    This totally buys, IMO quite naively, the posited mechanism that Trump exists only because of hippies. Seems to me that the cause and effect mechanism behind Trump is rather more complicated.

    But I do hope we might figure out how to have a more civil conversation about our differences.

    Indeed – saying that those on the left he disagrees with are responsible for Trump (and the failure to make progress on climate change policies), without recognizing that there are other forces in play which have significant agency….. What could be a better way to civilize the convo about differences?

    There is no consensus science inconsistent with lukewarmist views. They are legitimate and should be engaged respectfully.

    The second sentence there is a fine prescription for beneficial dialog, IMO, but the first sentence…

    … So it seems thst Nordhaus believes that there is no difference on the science between the “consensus view” and the “lukewarmer” view, and that the only difference between those groups is on the policy implications of the science?

    Seems to me that this goes back to a major complication in these discussions: people throw around terms like “consensus” and “lukewarmer” without any clear and agreed upon definitions of terms. I don’t see how fruitful discussion will take place under such circumstances.

    Which brings me back to the first in Nordhaus’ series of tweets:

    Going to engage this against my better judgement.

    Seems to me that if someone starts with that kind of statement, they should be looking inward to reevaluate their approach to engagement. I think if you start by saying that you’re engaging against your better judgement you are effectively signaling a reinforcing of polarization, even if that isn’t your underlying intent.

  43. JCH says:

    Joshua, I mostly skip over your contributions, I must admit.

    Hey, nobody reads Joshua, which is odd as he has to have the information super highway record for the most responses telling him the responder seldom, maybe even never, reads him.

    Me, I always tell the truth. I never read Tom Fuller. Skip right over him. Have no idea what he says. Don’t care. Don’t even notice.

  44. Thomas Fuller says:

    🙂

  45. Joshua says:

    This just in: video of climate hawks and Michael Mann arriving at clumate change conference after departing gas guzzling airplane.

  46. Thomas Fuller says:

    Based on JCH’s admonition, I have read Joshua’s most recent comment.

    Joshua, what have Pielke fils and the Breakthrough Institute done to contribute to the polarization of the climate debate? I would hope you could be specific–because from what I have seen the only case you could make is that they should not have defended themselves from attacks from your tribe.

    I think we probably agree that Trump is a symptom, not the disease. I think Nordhaus does too. I disagree with him that Trump is the result of climate activism. But if he said that the increasing and hectoring tone of messaging from your tribe contributed (along with similar messaging on other subjects) to the efflorescence of this unfortunate symptom, he would be close to the truth.

    Nordhaus is objectively correct when he talks about science and the difference between consensus and lukewarmer positions on climate change. One reason for the confusion you cite is that people in your tribe consistently mischaracterize what lukewarm means. Whether it’s Eli Rabett’s myth of luckwarmism or BBD’s consistent labeling of it as denialism in disguise, your tribe misrepresents it to attack it, largely because, as Nordhaus points out, our favored policy approaches are different from yours.

    The lukewarmer position is that sensitivity of the atmosphere to a doubling of concentrations of CO2 is quite likely below 3C. However, we recognize that it is possible we are wrong–our heads will not explode with indignant anger if it is higher and we do not object to either mitigation or adaptation aimed at more pessimistic scenarios. There are people who claim to be lukewarmers who are not. There are people who try to put the tag lukewarmer on policy proposals and further statements. But I have outlined here what lukewarmer means. Our estimates of sensitivity are within IPCC ranges and we do not claim certainty.

  47. Tom,

    However, we recognize that it is possible we are wrong–our heads will not explode with indignant anger if it is higher and we do not object to either mitigation or adaptation aimed at more pessimistic scenarios.

    This doesn’t make any sense. Of course the Lukewarmer position involves objecting to policies motivated by a more pessimistic scenario; it’s almost the definition of a Lukewarmer position.

  48. Thomas Fuller says:

    ATTP, there is no single lukewarm policy position. Lukewarm is defined only by our belief/opinion/analysis/SWAG regarding sensitivity. All policy statements coming from lukewarmers, including my own, are individual statements.

    I personally do object to policies framed by inaccurate risk management models that are overly sensitive to outlier estimates of sensitivity. I don’t for one second think that lukewarmers we both know–Lucia, Mosh, etc.–agree with my policy preferences.

  49. Tom,
    Yes, I realise that there are multiple definitions of Lukewarmer. The latter part of your comment would appear consistent with what I said. However, my understanding of risk management is to consider the more extreme scenarios. Ignoring these possibilities would seem to be a poor way of managing risk.

  50. Thomas Fuller says:

    I have read a lot of commentary on climate blogs about risk management. I don’t think most of it is very well informed.

    Nobody is suggesting that outlier estimates be ignored.

  51. Tom,
    Okay, you didn’t quite say “ignored” but what’s your evidence for risk management models being overly sensitive to these outliers?

  52. Thomas Fuller says:

    I tried to call to you attention the existence of an academic field of study after the publication of Harvey et al 2017–the study of social networks. You were not interested at the time.

    Risk management is also a field of academic study and one element of it is dealing with outliers.

    “A common characteristic found in commodity price time series is a sudden or extraordinary change
    in the price sequence. These changes may be outliers and if not addressed, they could lead to
    erroneous conclusions according to Tsay (1988). Watson, Tight, Clark, and Redfern (1991) dene
    an outlier as an observation that is unrepresentative, spurious, and discordant, and as an event that
    does not seem to be from the target population. From a point of view of modeling time varying
    risk, Jorion (2007) presents two alternative viewpoints when the data generating process (DGP)
    exhibits characteristics of non – normality: the distribution is stationary and it has fat tails, or the
    distribution changes over time and has observations that could be viewed as outliers.
    The study of outliers in time series starting with Fox (1972) has been very active. Detecting
    outliers is known by many terms including anomaly detection, event detection, novelty detection,
    deviant discovery, change point detection, fault detection, intrusion detection, and misuse detection
    according to Gupta, Gao, Aggarawal, and Han (2013). Outlier research has studied outliers in many
    types of data. Gupta, Gao, Aggarawal, and Han (2013) discussed research in outliers that focused
    on temporal forms of data such as credit, nancial, medical, judicial, astronomy, web usage, sensor,
    real and virtual trac, and commercial transactions. Chang, Tiao, and Chen (1988) reviewed
    chemical process articles. Burman and Otto (1988) studied business division data series of retail
    and wholesale sales. Marczak and Proietti (2014) looked at Industrial Production for France,
    Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, and the U.S. for 1991 to 2014 and nd that outliers coincided
    with the Economic Crisis of 2009.”

    http://www.usaee.org/usaee2017/submissions/OnlineProceedings/Byers-Popova-Simkins-USAEE-2017.pdf

  53. Joshua says:

    Tom –

    Based on JCH’s admonition, I have read Joshua’s most recent comment.

    Well, thanks god that JCH has such as strong influence on you, so as to get you to depart from your long-standing behavior of not reading my comments and make an exception at least this once. I certainly won’t expect such generosity in the future if JCH isn’t around – but do consider myself so fortunate that he was around this time, anyway!

    Joshua, what have Pielke fils and the Breakthrough Institute done to contribute to the polarization of the climate debate? I would hope you could be specific–because from what I have seen the only case you could make is that they should not have defended themselves from attacks from your tribe.

    There are many examples, Tom. You’ve been engaged in these discussions for a long time. I’m quite sure that if you haven’t seen anything that you would consider examples, then you and I have a different set of criteria that we use to evaluate when someone is contributing to polarization. So I’ll just give you some broad characterizations, as it doesn’t seem likely that taking the time to provide details would be worth the effort. For RPJr.., I think that he has a tendency towards employing a plausible deniability methodology whereby he (sometimes passive-aggressively) insults people, implies fraud or other malignant motivations, and then plays the victim. He baits people, and he puts material out there in a manner that exacerbates polarization when it is easily foreseeable that will be the outcome of what he’s doing. He also tends to focus his specific critiques on the “realist” side of the ledger and merely pays lip service to critiquing the other side of the ledger. He provides an explanation for that (paraphrasing: that the “realist” side is the one in power and so it’s the one where his critique has the most meaning) which for me, doesn’t hold water. As for the BTI, I haven’t found Nordhaus to be as bad as Shellenberger, but the whole “hippie punching” paradigm seems to me to fit pretty well for describing one aspect of much of their approach. There whole framework of a “eco-modernist manifesto,” IMO, places their advocacy withing a polarizing dichotomy.

    That isn’t to say that there aren’t many occasions where , IMO, RPJr., and the BTI aren’t treated in a similarly polarizing manner; just to say don’t piss in my boot and tell me it’s raining, don’t contaminate the well and then complain that the water doesn’t taste good, etc. I happen to think that the BTI and RPJr., make some good arguments that merit serious engagement. (although particularly with Shellenberger, Irom what I’ve seen I think that sometimes their arguments are not comprehensive and influenced by polemics and rhetorical expediency) For that reason, I actually consider it unfortunate that they don’t engage in a more productive manner. But IMO, if you’re going to be a stealth advocate and sling mud and engage polemically, then just accept that you’ve made a choice as to how to engage.

    Nordhaus’ characterization of the interface between “lukewarmism” and “consensus science” makes a good case in point. Nordhaus is obviously sophisticated and well-informed enough to know that many who self-identify as “lukewarmers” view “sensitivity” in a manner that is distinctly different than the “consensus” (e.g., as evaluated by the IPCC). And yet he sets up a polarizing framework by failing to acknowledge that reality and instead creating a victimization environment where likewarmers can reinforce their driving sense of aggrievement.

    I think we probably agree that Trump is a symptom, not the disease.

    Another good example….IOW…

    I think Nordhaus does too.

    I think he probably does also. So then why did he phrase what he said in the manner in which he did so? That serves to illustrate my point. What is his mindset that leads him to think that implying that “climate hawks” are responsible for Trump would make a positive contribution w/r/t polarization?

    But if he said that the increasing and hectoring tone of messaging from your tribe contributed (along with similar messaging on other subjects) to the efflorescence of this unfortunate symptom, he would be close to the truth.

    There is a lot of room behind “contributed” there. My own opinion is that both sides tend to blame the other side for the polarization, and that is exactly what we would expect when we look at polarization mechanism from a systems perspective. I view the problem as more of a human problem than a problem that one side can lay – even hidden under the blanket of “contributing” – at the feet of the other. Your argument here reminds of the argument that “skeptics” exist because realists call them “deniers” – an argument that I find to he highly flawed. “Skeptics” exist because people tend to align into tribes and thus, filter pretty much anything in a way so as to reinforce their tribal identity and denigrate those they identify with another tribe.

    Nordhaus is objectively correct when he talks about science and the difference between consensus and lukewarmer positions on climate change.

    I disagree. I wouldn’t say that he “objectively incorrect” because I don’t pretend to pass judgement on what an’ “objective” truth is here. Another factor that contributes to polarization is when people pass off subjective assessments as “objectively correct.” So, another example.

    One reason for the confusion you cite is that people in your tribe consistently mischaracterize what lukewarm means.

    That’s beautiful, Tom. Another perfect example of what I was describing. You don’t get to define “what lukewarm means,” Tom. You get to determine what it means to you, or what you think that it should mean. A perfect example of how people contribute to polarization by turning ambiguity into a reinforcing mechanism for polarization. I couldn’t have come up with a better illustration than that for what I was trying to describe with Nordhaus. Polarization is even further enhanced by on top of defining “objective” by assertion, ignoring any aspect of the polarization around “what lukewarm means” to the contributions of self-identified “lukewarmers” and “skeptics.”

    Whether it’s Eli Rabett’s myth of luckwarmism or BBD’s consistent labeling of it as denialism in disguise, your tribe misrepresents it to attack it, largely because, as Nordhaus points out, our favored policy approaches are different from yours.

    At the root of the disagreement about “lukewarmerism,” IMO, lies an important structural question of how to address uncertainty. Dealing with uncertainty is a tough nut to crack, and there isn’t a clearly “objectively correct” manner in which to approach the issue, IMO. I think that the ambiguity around “lukewarmer” reflects a kind of structural opposition in the different ways to approach uncertainty.

    People stake out a position at one end of the structural opposition or the other, adopt a polarized positioning, and then dig in and defend. In so doing, they exploit uncertainty to hide from the difficulty of dealing with uncertainty. An exploitation of the difficulty of dealing with uncertainty takes place on both sides, for sure. I think I understand why that takes place, and I try to avoid judging people for the mere fact of doing so (not always successfully) because at some level, it is a by-product of human nature.

    But that said, I find it quire notable that people twist themselves up so far into their own tribal maelstrom that they actually believe, as you just deomonstrated, and as Nordhaus seems to agree, that they can find their way out by explicitly adopting a polarizing technique. Good luck with that, bro.,

    The lukewarmer position is that sensitivity of the atmosphere to a doubling of concentrations of CO2 is quite likely below 3C.

    It is my understanding that, in general, those who identify as “lukewarmers” have a different assessment of the likelihood range of sensitivity than “the consensus,” broadly, although within that taxonomy, there is then further disagreement even among those who identify as “lukewarmers” as to what that likelihood range is.

    However, we recognize that it is possible we are wrong–our heads will not explode with indignant anger if it is higher and we do not object to either mitigation or adaptation aimed at more pessimistic scenarios.

    Again, this ignores a whole basketful “lukewarmers” who most certainly “object to either mitigation (in particular) or adaptation aimed at more pessimistic scenarios.

    There are people who claim to be lukewarmers who are not.

    Perfect, Tom. Really.

    But I have outlined here what lukewarmer means.

    Really, that’s spectacular.

    Our estimates of sensitivity are within IPCC ranges

    With a different evaluation of probabilities – which is a scientific disagreement.

    and we do not claim certainty.

    Many who self-identify as “lukewarmers” advocate for policy opitions that dismiss dealing with policies aimed at more pessimistic scenarios.

    And with that, I’m done, Tom. Let’s just go with the not reading my comments option henceforth, eh?

  54. Joshua says:

    I just saw that there is a discussion going on over at Judith’s crib on Nordhous’ tweets.

    This was interesting:

    curryja | June 10, 2018 at 5:34 pm |
    Actually the IPCC AR5 did NOT mention 3C at all (although the AR4 and earlier ones did). They gave a likely range 1.5 to 4.5 C, with no best value.

    So after all these years of making her arguments about how she disagrees with the “consensus” w/r/t the science on uncertainty (e.g.,w/r/t sensitivity, w/r/t causal attribution, etc.) ,she is also now arguing that there is no difference between her perspective on the science of uncertainty and that of the “consensus?”

    Reminds me of her arguments that her advocacy isn’t advocacy.

  55. Steven Mosher says:

    “ATTP, there is no single lukewarm policy position. Lukewarm is defined only by our belief/opinion/analysis/SWAG regarding sensitivity. All policy statements coming from lukewarmers, including my own, are individual statements.

    I personally do object to policies framed by inaccurate risk management models that are overly sensitive to outlier estimates of sensitivity. I don’t for one second think that lukewarmers we both know–Lucia, Mosh, etc.–agree with my policy preferences.”

    Some history might help folks here.

    When we first started Lukewarmer stuff , one people figured out that it was consistent with consensus science, a lot of people pestered me with the policy question. WHATS YOUR LUKEWARMER POLICY? well, my first reaction was.. “i’m not a policy guy, why would I have one?” but folks persisted. At one point tom invited me to write a book with him. Ask him.
    I refused, because policy aint my thing. I know a tiny bit of science, the data science around
    temperatures. That’s all I know with confidence and experience to avoid being a total dunce.
    Gimme a few years to study policy and I might feel less reticent about actually writing a book, something that was more than just verbal jousting in comment sections of blogs.

    At some point I think I could say I agreed with a no regrets policy. Thats a list of things i would agree to, regardless of the uncertainty/certainty in climate science. Black carbon abatement, getting rid of FF subsidies, Energy efficiency, regulatory relief for Nukes, switching from coal to gas.
    At times I also considered adaptive governance, grass roots, local kind of stuff. I’d rather see local experiments ( like BC carbon tax) tried before top down polcies are implemented. Fly before you buy. but these are just general tendencies.

    And these are all personal. The underlying point being is there was no clear logical path from anything in the science to specific policies.. Emit less, dont hurt the poor. Now Tom doesnt want to hurt the poor because he genuinely cares for them. I realize they are legion and carry pitchforks.
    The concern for the poor is not tied to climate science, Tom and I would both care for the poor ( for different reasons) whether climate science were true or not. Emit less IS tied to the science, and how much less is informed by the science, but the science doesnt tell us how to proceed.

  56. Dave_Geologist says:

    Nordhaus is objectively correct when he talks about science and the difference between consensus and lukewarmer positions on climate change. … The lukewarmer position is that sensitivity of the atmosphere to a doubling of concentrations of CO2 is quite likely below 3C.

    .
    Sorry Tom, by the normal reading of your definition, Nordhaus is objectively wrong. Unless you’re opting for the Philadelphia-lawyer reading and are saying that “quite likely” is 50-60%; in which case you really ought to clarify your position by acknowledging that 40-50% also qualifies as “quite likely”. And make the second statement (quite likely above 3C) as often (or almost as often) as the first.

    My general perception of lukewarmers is that they focus in on 1.5C and dismiss anything much above that, certainly anything above 3C. They act as though 1.5C is their central estimate and the outcome is as likely to be below 1.5C as above 1.5C. IOW their “quite likely” is a lot closer to 90% than it is to 50%. They claim not to be in science denial because they pitch their tent within, but at the bottom of, the IPCC range. Luckwarmer is precisely the correct term. They either claim to accept the IPCC science, but are gambling that reality is at the good end of the range not the bad end. On the basis of zero evidence. Relying entirely on luck. Or they are saying that the consensus is wrong and the range is more like 0C-1.5C-3C then 1.5C-3C-4.5C. In which case there is a difference on the science between the “consensus view” and the “lukewarmer” view, and the difference between those groups is not just on the policy implications of the science. It’s not impossible that a bunch of people who are not competent to evaluate the science, and a handful of contrarian scientists, are right, and the vast majority of those who are qualified to evaluate the science are wrong. But it’s highly unlikely. Lottery-winning unlikely. So again, relying on luck.

    If it’s really all about policy differences not the science, why not come out and say: I agree with the IPCC that the range is 1.5C to 4.5C; that it is as likely to be above 3C as below 3C; that it is unlikely to be as low as 1.5C and extremely unlikely to be below 1.5C; but I oppose the proposed policies because (insert political, economic, religious, technological, moral, whatever argument here). Can you point me to an example of that (of accepting the IPCC range, not of the policy argument)?

  57. Dave_Geologist says:

    Nobody is suggesting that outlier estimates be ignored.

    True Tom, but some people are suggesting that the majority of estimates should be ignored and we should base policy on the (low-end) outliers. You know what those people are called, at least by me? Lukewarmers (the tiny minority who have the scientific chops to come up with their own lowball estimate, and the arrogance to think they’re right and everyone else is wrong) or luckwarmers (the rest).

    And what on earth has Byers et al. got to do with it? For one thing, none of the fields they reference is subject to conservation laws. Kinda important. Rules out random-walk type silliness (not that I’m saying RWs are always silly – just silly in bounded systems where the parameter you’re walking is subject to conservation laws). And it seems to be about time series analysis. So completely inappropriate for assessing “outlier estimates of sensitivity”, which are outputs from time series not inputs. Also, isn’t SSRN a preprint site? I see no reference to peer review. It’s an unusual “field of academic study” if you can only refer to preprints, not peer-reviewed publications.

    And am I right in thinking that they recommend detecting and throwing away outliers, then congratulate themselves on getting something more like a normal distribution? Sort of an anti-Taleb? I’m not sure the people of Puerto Rico or Houston would agree that ignoring outliers is good risk management. BTW do you know which ECS estimates are thrown away by the IPCC? A bunch above 4.5C, some of which have ranges up to 9C. None below 1.5C, none which have ranges going below 1C. If you worry about outliers, you should be worrying that the IPCC range is biased low.

  58. Joshua says:

    DG –

    On the basis of zero evidence.

    I don’t think that’s right. They do have evidence such as Lewis, Curry.

    But the claim that there is no scientific distinction between Lewis, Curry and “the consensus” is noteworthy. Since I tend to think that people don’t usually consciously make arguments that they know are blatantly fallacious, my guess is that it isn’t a case of them being consciously dishonest, but rather just quite “motivated.”

  59. Dave_Geologist says:

    Joshua, I meant zero evidence that L&C is the central estimate, not a low-end outlier. L&C are in the IPCC range (just) so don’t falsify the IPCC. They’re just one more bean in the jar. Not the whole jar. I presume that neither Tom nor Nordhaus has the scientific knowledge to assess the guts of LC18 and come up with an informed opinion as to why they’re right and everyone else’s ECS is wrong. There are plenty of more knowledgeable people who’ve pointed out why L&C might be wrong. Why ignore them? Particularly the ones who pointed out that you get a higher ECS if you split the Earth into latitudinal zones. IOW that the actual pattern of warming (more at the poles) gives a false ECS when you do a global-average calculation. Just like the modulz say, but with no need to trust the modulz.

    They’re just taking LC18 on trust, presumably because it gives them comfort, not because there’s any reason other than political affiliation or wishful thinking to believe that L&C are more expert than everyone else. IOW hoping that the dice roll a double six. Luckwarmers.

  60. Dave_Geologist says:

    And as you say Joshua, (and as I did above 😉 ) if they believe L&C have come up with the One True ECS, then there is a difference on the science between the “consensus view” and the “lukewarmer” view. I agree with you, it’s (mostly) not dishonest. I’m sure there are a few bad actors around who are consciously lying, but after the tobacco lawsuits, they’ll know to keep themselves well hidden and use patsies and proxies. Motivated reasoning is much more common. Coupled with ignorance about science and particularly of the scientific method.

  61. Joshua says:

    DG –

    Joshua, I meant zero evidence that L&C is the central estimate, not a low-end outlier.

    With that I agree. Of course, that doesn’t in and of itself mean that L&C is wrong – but for me, as someone who doesn’t/can’t comprehend the science, the low-end outlier aspect is “information.”

    Coupled with ignorance about science and particularly of the scientific method.

    Not sure I agree with that to the extent that I think that ignorance about science and particularly of the scientific method aren’t apportioned in association with views on climate change.

  62. Steven Mosher says:

    DG.

    I cant speak for Tom but i would we would be happy if 50 percent of the discussion focused on scenarios less than 3c and 50 percent focused on scenarios greater than 3c.

    and if we spent 20 percent of the time discussing rcp 8.5 and 80 percent on the others

  63. Thomas Fuller says:

    I’d go with 75/25 on the first point and I’m fine with the second, although 8.5 is already a dead horse.

    But if we talk about mitigation over the next 50 years, seems to me that we’d be advocating the same steps for either low or high sensitivity. I have my list way up above in this thread. Everybody wanted to play gotcha, I guess because they didn’t want to discuss the real world.

  64. Thomas Fuller says:

    I wrote, ‘Nobody is suggesting that outlier estimates be ignored.’

    Dave the Geologist responded: “True Tom, but some people are suggesting that the majority of estimates should be ignored and we should base policy on the (low-end) outliers. You know what those people are called, at least by me? Lukewarmers (the tiny minority who have the scientific chops to come up with their own lowball estimate, and the arrogance to think they’re right and everyone else is wrong) or luckwarmers (the rest).”

    You could also call us artichokes. Or rutabagas.

    I don’t see lukewarmers suggesting the majority of estimates should be ignored, nor that we should base policy on the low-end outliers. Citation, please?

    Risk management professionals would assign probabilities for each point in the sensitivity PDF and suggest allocation of remedial resources accordingly.

    I like artichokes.

  65. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    Tom,

    “Risk management professionals would assign probabilities for each point in the sensitivity PDF and suggest allocation of remedial resources accordingly.”

    You do realise that risk = probability x impact – see aTTP’s latest post for illustration.

    This doesn’t really stack up with your comment below assuming the 75% is less than 3oC and 25% greater than 3oC. The other way round would be more sensible.

    “I’d go with 75/25 on the first point and I’m fine with the second, although 8.5 is already a dead horse.”

  66. Thomas Fuller says:

    Hi Hyperactive Hydrologist,

    I’m not convinced ATTP is a definitive source on risk and I wrote above about another approach.

    I was allocating percentages for discussion, not action. RCP 8.5 has been over-discussed and as a pathway that is already obsolete, doesn’t deserve more.

  67. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    There are people who claim to be lukewarmers who are not.


    Some history might help folks here.


    I don’t see lukewarmers suggesting the majority of estimates should be ignored, nor that we should base policy on the low-end outliers. Citation, please?

    Citations for knocking down lukewarm straw-man science?
    Sorry – I don’t find the search-term indexed in any of the usual databases.
    All the hits I get from searches on teh intertubes are bloggery.
    So – What would count?
    Obviously, Fuller and Mosher need to write another quickie-book called “The True Meaning of Luke”, perhaps with an appendix, or two, explaining the subtle differences between 50/50, 75/25, and 100/0.

    Because – You just can’t have too much historical pseudo-scientific navel-gazing from two non-climate-scientist guys named Tom and Steven.

    Meanwhile, folks in need of help could use this:
    – A lukewarmer is someone who (metaphorically, of course) drives a full-sized V8 pickup with a bumper-sticker that reads “I identify as a Prius”.

    As a self-identified expert bouffonologist, let me just add:
    There are people who do not claim to be clowns who are.

    You can cite me on that.

  68. Dave_Geologist says:

    Tom, does that mean you think there’s only a 25% chance of >3C? Or that it’s more like 50% and you apply the precautionary principle to saving money rather than saving lives (or if you think that’s too harsh, avoiding economic disruption over avoiding climatic disruption)?

    (You avoided saying what your central estimate was, leaving open the possibility that it is indeed 1.5C, but you’ll give >3C some airtime on the basis that we should respect the fat tail with its possible high impacts.)

    The IPCC didn’t give a central estimate, but given (a) the subsequent consensus of Persons Having Ordinary Skill In The Art, as expressed in the peer-reviewed literature, and (b) the fact that we are primarily looking (before slow feedbacks kick in) at additive forcings and therefore the Central Limit Theorem should apply, with the ML, mode and mean midway between the two equiprobable points 1.5C and 3C, and (c) the disproportionate impact at the high end, (HH’s risk = probability x impact), surely anyone who accepts the IPCC’s numbers should devote at least half their time to >3C.

    I, for example, am unsurprisingly influenced by the palaeo data, which tends to lean higher although it may not kick in until after 2100. I’ll buy for now the Palaeosens decision to discount the Pleistocene >4.5C, on the basis that it probably does require slow feedbacks to wipe out the bulk of the world’s land ice. But ice is consistently melting faster than models prognose, so my bet is those slow feedbacks are not as slow as we think. And the PETM is perhaps a special case, probably with the involvement of methane one way or another, perhaps requiring special circumstances like the buildup of extensive peat in Antarctica. But maybe it is hydrate destabilisation, in which case it could happen today and we need to assume a PETM sensitivity when estimating the carbon budget required to avoid a PETM.

    The split into ECS and ESS is somewhat unsatisfactory in my view, because while we might reasonably say “don’t make plans for 6100, maybe half of us will be living on Mars by then”, we cant reasonably say “don’t worry about post-2100, because we’ll have come up with some marvellous geoengineering or CO2 sequestration solution by then”. I don’t buy that. Maybe by 2200 or 2300, but 2100 is just too soon. So you’ll see my blog contributions are biased more towards 75/25 >3C. But I’m content for the global community to go with the IPCC.

  69. Thomas Fuller says:

    Hypotenuse, I believe the term you’re trying to use is ‘buffoonologist.’ Spelling matters.

    Dave the Geologist, https://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/moving-the-debate-forward-tom-fullers-league-of-2-5/

  70. dikranmarsupial says:

    Tom, “I’m not convinced ATTP is a definitive source on risk and I wrote above about another approach. ”

    What HH wrote was RISK 101 stuff. If you don’t recognise that, then you would be well advised to start with something basic and well-explained (such as ATTP’s recent post) rather than the definitive source. If you want something more definitive, then Berger’s book “Statistical Decision Theory and Bayesian Analysis” is a good place to start.

  71. Thomas Fuller says:

    I don’t believe the discussion of climate risk should start at the introductory (101) level. As I mentioned above, there is a body of work regarding risk management. I don’t believe ATTP has familiarized himself with it.

    I have noticed that the most popular use of Bayesian analysis in the climate discussion has been to establish prejudice as prior. It has led to some unfortunate results.

  72. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    Spelling matters.

    So does etymology.

    It’s “bouffon”, you buffoon.

  73. Tom,

    I don’t believe the discussion of climate risk should start at the introductory (101) level. As I mentioned above, there is a body of work regarding risk management. I don’t believe ATTP has familiarized himself with it.

    What’s motivating this? This post is about potentially encouraging those with, for example, policy expertise to get more airtime. What’s that got to do with me familiarizing myself with the body of work about risk management?

  74. Thomas Fuller says:

    ATTP, I’m not suggesting that you should do so (although I think more (some?) climate activists should. I’m observing that it is likely that you have not and hence you should not be considered the ‘go-to’ source on the subject.

    I would welcome those with expertise in risk management (which should be central to policy formation) getting more air time. I should note in advance of the usual queries that I am not one such.

    Hypotenuse, the term originated with the Italian buffone, so your rather weak attempt fails on either standard.

  75. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    …the term originated with the Italian buffone

    Wrong. Apparently, following embedded hyper-links is too much work for you.
    Try Latin: “buffare”.
    It means “to puff” – I’m surprised you didn’t know that.

    Carry on.

  76. Joshua says:

    you should not be considered the ‘go-to’ source on the subject.

    Damn! Now I’m going to have to rethink my entire approach!

  77. Damn! Now I’m going to have to rethink my entire approach!

    I’m also going to have to rethink promoting myself as the go-to source on this topic. Oh, hold on….???

  78. Joshua says:

    you should not be considered the ‘go-to’ source on the subject.

    Tom makes a good point. I think we should all head over to Lucia’s, Judith’s and Anthony’s so where we will see Tom admonishing those bloggers and their w”denizens” to not discuss risk management without reference to the experts.

  79. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Yes, please stop promoting yourself that way (and while you’re at it, please stop making TE worry ’bout stuff).

  80. dikranmarsupial says:

    “I don’t believe the discussion of climate risk should start at the introductory (101) level. ”

    Recipe for Dunning-Kruger.,

    “I have noticed that the most popular use of Bayesian analysis in the climate discussion has been to establish prejudice as prior. It has led to some unfortunate results.”

    In that case you have misunderstood much of the discussion of distributions of ECS, which are largely subjectivist Bayes, and most of the stuff on decision theory. Perhaps you should have started with the basics.

  81. Thomas Fuller says:

    Perhaps because it is the length of the thread, but you people seem remarkably resistant to the idea of having any type of substantive discussion.

  82. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    Now I’m going to have to rethink my entire approach!

    And so – the collapse of The Consensus begins…
    All because of Concerns – and some unfortunate results.

    To hell with lukewarmerism – I’m going to have a very large scotch, and then become a Pruittarian.
    If anyone gets risk management right, it must be the current head of the US EPA.

  83. Tom,
    Maybe that’s because you don’t seem to be saying things that make any sense. For example, I’m not promting myself, or regarded as, a go-to source for risk management (for anything, really). So why suggest that I shouldn’t be? It’s kind of obvious that I shouldn’t be. So, what substantive topic would you like to disuss?

  84. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    Perhaps because it is the length of the thread, but you people seem remarkably resistant to the idea of having any type of substantive discussion.

    Yeah – It’s the length of the thread, Tom.

  85. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Perhaps because it is the length of the thread, but you people seem remarkably resistant to the idea of having any type of substantive discussion.”

    HH was doing exactly that, but you completely disregarded the point he made.

  86. Joshua says:

    ” you people seem…”

    Nothing signals intent for substantive discussion quite like a “you people…”

  87. Dave_Geologist says:

    Tom, you’re duly acknowledged as being in-the-ballpark and not a luckwarmer, My read is that if the experts had to pick a central number it would be 2.8C. My own palaeo-influenced spidey sense says that’s slightly low, and 3C has the merit of being a round number (so can represent 2.5 to 3.5 and we’re both in it). I spent too much time on another thread debating angels on a pinhead, so on that, you win.

    I think you’re in pretty slim company among lukewarmers. How many of the Curry/Watts/McIntyre blog residents would accept 2.8C (after excluding those who flat-out deny that AGW exists)? How many of any persuasion would interpret “The lukewarmer position is that sensitivity of the atmosphere to a doubling of concentrations of CO2 is quite likely below 3C” as meaning that it’s 2.8C? That’s a difference so small it makes no difference. I’m pretty sure that most people (me included) take it to mean the ML is something at or near the bottom of the IPCC range, if not 1.5C, 1.8C. See the LC18 post for examples. frankclimate, angech, Lewis himself.

    I tried to find Nordhaus’s views but he seems rather coy. Even in his recent House testimony (I only had time to skim it) he only mentions sensitivity twice, once to say how uncertain it is and how it changes between IPCC reports, once to say that even it it is 1.5C, there are still risks. He seems more focused on playing the uncertainty-monster card, the too-difficult card, and the USA-is-an-advanced-nation-and-will-adapt card. And in his earlier Foreign Affairs effort (ATTP had a post about it) the it-will-hurt-the-poor card, that’s right, the-ones-the-right-already-thinks-we-give-too-much-money-to.

    I think it should be mandatory for anyone who talks climate policy to be upfront about their ECS assumptions, so we know whether they’re coming from a realistic starting point. If his testimony and articles are predicated on a ML 1.5C ECS, we can dismiss them as being over-optimistic and not very far away from delusional. If they’re predicated on a ML 3C ECS, they’re at least based on a credible premise and we can have a sensible technological, moral, economic etc. discussion. If he won’t come clean, it’s a reasonable suspicion that he’s assuming something around 1.5C but hiding within the 1.5-4.5C IPCC range because he knows if he comes clean about 1.5C, his conclusions will be dismissed as based on an unrealistic premise (one that relies on the planet getting a lucky break).

    On risk management, I know from personal experience how the oil industry does it. I’ve spent many hours and days in risk management sessions, in some of which it was my professional ass that was on the line as I was quantifying one of the risks. I’ve also led sessions and prepared the final document. And for a period about halfway through my career had a formal HSE role. Probability times impact first, then you can do your PDF. Usually two or three parallel calculations, one for $$, one for environmental/social/legal/licence-to-operate, one for death or injury. Escalation/sign-off level is always based on the highest of the three. And there is an additional ranking where impacts that kill people, make a spill that might get you banned from a country, or that could bankrupt the company, have to be escalated to a higher level than impacts that can’t do that but have the same probability times impact value. That’s how climate risk should be assessed. The Byers et al. preprint is, frankly, laughably irrelevant.

  88. Thomas Fuller says:

    Dave the Geologist, I know Mosher would accept planning on the basis of 3C sensitivity. He’s written that here, I believe, and elsewhere, I know. McIntrye has said he would accept IPCC findings as the basis for action. I don’t know about Lucia’s strike point.

    My point about risk management is really just that it is bandied about in a rather facile manner by both sides in the climate discussion.

  89. John Hartz says:

    Please do not gang up on me for posting this because it’s directly related to the OP. 🙂

    It’s no secret that United States–Russia relations are currently rife with tension and mistrust. The news is full of reports of Russia meddling in U.S. elections, seeding U.S. media with fake news, supporting the Syrian regime and so on.

    The relationship between the two countries has reached an all-time low since the fall of the Soviet Union, with some going so far as to call it a new “cold war.” Diplomats have been unable to mend the relationship, as national security interests on each side are too narrow to provide common ground.

    But there are avenues of collaboration beyond the security realm that can help to balance strained relationships, maintain open channels of communication and build trust, enabling a more positive diplomatic process overall.

    One key avenue is science. As a common and apolitical language, science brings allies and adversaries together with technology and innovation to address cross-border challenges that exist across the Earth – think climate, disease pandemics and international trade – which are out of reach for a single nation to address alone.

    Could science diplomacy be the key to stabilizing international relations? by Paul Arthur Berkman, The Conversation US, June 11, 2018

  90. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    Tom,

    Simple question: do you agree risk = probability x impact? yes or no?

  91. Thomas Fuller says:

    No. (Too simplistic.)

  92. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    OK what about the IPCC definition of risk:

    “The potential for consequences where something of value is at stake and
    where the outcome is uncertain, recognizing the diversity of values.
    Risk is often represented as probability of occurrence of hazardous
    events or trends multiplied by the impacts if these events or trends
    occur. Risk results from the interaction of vulnerability, exposure, and
    hazard. In this report, the term risk is used primarily to refer to the risks
    of climate-change impacts.”

  93. Joshua says:

    My point about risk management is really just that it is bandied about in a rather facile manner by both sides in the climate discussion.

    As a general statement, I think that us people would agree with that statement (happy to be corrected by anyone who disagrees).

    It’s when you make a less generic and banal statement (if that’s possible) that disagreement would set in.

    Maybe being more specific would lead to a substantive discussion?

  94. Thomas Fuller says:

    HH, the IPCC statement is not (as far as I can see) wrong. It is far too open-ended (I wanted to say vague, but felt that would be interpreted as perjorative.)

    I know just enough about risk and risk management to know I don’t know very much about it. I do know that as risk management is practiced today it is more complex than represented in the climate conversation.

  95. Joshua says:

    I do know that as risk management is practiced today it is more complex than represented in the climate conversation.

    There are many things presented in many ways in the climate conversation.

    Could you try being less banal and generic?

  96. Dave_Geologist says:

    Tom,

    Second question: is your “Too simplistic” in line with my example above? R = P x I, but then you add an extra layer that says, e.g., a 1:1000 chance of a million barrel spill gets higher-level attention than an even chance of a 2000 barrel spill. In a sense that’s still R = P x I, but you’ve added another I which doesn’t have an easily calculable value, e.g. banned-from-country. Do you have something like that in mind or something else?

    E.g. if it’s less probable than one-in-whatever, I’ll ignore it. Or if the solution conflicts with my politics I’ll ignore it. Note that the latter is still amenable to my example with the additional layer. Instead of saying “this is a moderate P x I risk but it has existential consequences if it happens”, you say “this is a moderate P x I risk but the actions I’d have to take to mitigate it are unacceptable”. I’m quite happy with that framing, as long as you’re transparent and don’t hide the P x I and the fact that you’re making a political decision, not a risk-management one (that’s the generic lukewarmer you of course, not you personally).

  97. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    Tom,

    As a practitioner in flood risk management I would argue the opposite it is just that people find the concept of probability, particularly in reference to abstract concepts like flood return periods (Annual Exceedance Probability is the correct terminology) hard to grasp.

    With reference to flood risk, only a relatively minor increase in rainfall or or peak flood levels, about 10%, can double the flood risk and consequently the economic damages.

  98. Willard says:

    > Could you try being less banal and generic?

    Refraining from speaking of a “conversation” would help.

    We need to have a conversation about “the conversation.”

  99. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    *”peak flood levels” should read “peak river flow”

  100. Joshua says:

    HH –

    in your work in risk management, do you take into account how people (i. e., the general public) approach risk, as with such factors as recent bias, or risk avoidance?

    Also, do you have experience in working with the public, within the frame of a risk management expert, in participatory democracy practices (such as master planning)?

  101. Joshua says:

    …. recency bias…

  102. Joshua says:

    Oy. Risk aversion… not “risk avoidance.”

  103. dikranmarsupial says:

    Tom wrote “I know just enough about risk and risk management to know I don’t know very much about it. ”

    and yet you don’t think the discussion should not start off at a basic level and you are happy to say how risk should or should not be defined? If experts define risk in a particular way, that should suggest to you that there are good reasons for them doing so, and if it seems wrong to you, that just perhaps the problem lies with your lack of understanding, rather than the experts having got it wrong. Although hubris seems somewhat of a theme in the public discussion of climate change…

  104. Tom,

    No. (Too simplistic.)

    Odd, because I think what HH suggested is the (or, one of the) definitions of risk. Again, this doesn’t tell us what to do, but I do think it is fairly standard to consider the risk factor as being the probability of some outcome times the impact of that outcome.

  105. John Hartz says:

    Australia’s CoastAdapt conveniently provides detailed guidance on how to conduct climate change risk assessments…

    How to conduct a climate change risk assessment

    To support different goals, data and resource availability, CoastAdapt provides a three-level risk assessment process (of increasing depth and resource requirements) with guidelines and tools.

  106. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    Joshua,

    I try and avoid direct public contact if possible 😉

    Generally people who have experience flooding tend to have a good understanding of the issue although the use of return period confuses many people even engineers I have worked with. I try and frame it in a way that people can more easily understand, for example a 1 in 100 year flood has a 25% chance of occurring in a 30 year period (typical mortgage). However, this assumes the climate is stationary and our estimate of the 1 in 100 year flood is correct (almost certainly not the case). Flood mapping, GIS and visual flood modelling tools can also help to convey the risk. In terms of resilience community engagement and understanding is critical.

    The company I work for does a lot of master planning, however, I am mainly involved in the technical side including flood risk modelling and mapping, hydrology and economic appraisal.

  107. HH,
    Just to clarify something, a 1 in 100 year flood means 1% chance every year. Hence in a period of n years, the chance is

    P = 1 - \left[1 - \frac{1}{T}\right]^n,

    where 1/T = 0.01? Is that right?

  108. Joshua says:

    HH –

    Thx.

    FWIW, I am interested in how risk management experts integrate the psychology of risk assessment into their communication with the public.

    Not that I can decide for Anders who should guest post, but if one of your colleagues wanted to write a guest post about risk management within a master planning process, there would be at least one interested reader.

  109. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    aTTP,

    Yes, although it is a 1% chance of being exceeded usually in reference to a peak flow or flood level. It is more correctly referred to as an Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP). To confuse things further in a 100 year period there is a 63% chance of the 1 in 100 year flood occurring at least once. Meaning there is a 37% chance that in a 100 year period there will be 0 1 in 100 year floods. This is important as most of our flow records are less than 50 years meaning the estimate of the 1 in 100 year flood for a specific location or river gauging station is very uncertain. Unrealised internal variability and climate change to date has the potential to significantly increase our estimates of the 1% events.

  110. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    Joshua,

    A couple of UK Environment Agency projects on communication flood risk can be found here andhttp://evidence.environment-agency.gov.uk/FCERM/en/Default/FCRM/Project.aspx?ProjectID=0fa45bfa-2768-48e7-943e-4b14344bff1f&PageID=25ed1548-e755-452a-9d94-f2fc7d984e56.

    Regarding master, in the UK, planning flood risk tends to come at a later stage in the planning process unless the site is in an area of significant flood risk. The planning process is quite strict in regards to flood risk. Although is often not fully adhered to.

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