Climate misinformers

There’s been a rather lengthy debate on Twitter about Skeptical Science’s Climate Misinformers page. The discussion involved, amongst others, Richard Betts, Peter Jacobs, Steven Mosher, Gavin Cawley, and – briefly – myself. Before I start, I should acknowledge an association with Skeptical Science and should mention that I have published some papers with people associated with Skeptical Science. I also think it’s mostly an excellent resource and that it is quite remarkable what has been achieved, without any funding, by a group of, mostly, amateurs.

I do, however, have some sympathy with the criticism. The list does appear to label the individual, rather than labelling the behaviour. Some of the entries don’t have much in the way of evidence. Some of those included (Richard Muller, for example) have ultimately changed their views and have since made a positive contribution (Berkeley Earth). The list also only includes people whose misinformation aids arguments against climate action; it doesn’t include any who exaggerate in order to promote stronger climate action. It also has the potential to make the site appear political, which can make it – in some circumstances – difficult to use as a resource.

However, few of the criticisms involve arguing that some of those included do not deserve to be on the list (in the sense that there is no reasonable argument one could make for inclusion). In my experience, those included either do it intentionally, don’t do it intentionally but should know better, or regularly say things that are then highlighted by those who oppose climate action. This is essentially why I find it hard to get too bothered about Skeptical Science having a Climate Misinformers page; all of those included seem deserving of such a characterisation. Would it be better if Skeptical Science had focussed on the science and left this kind of thing to deSmogBlog? Maybe, but that ship has essentially sailed.

They could simply delete their Climate Misinformers page, but many who use this to criticise Skeptical Science, would probably then simply find something else to criticise. I also think there is some value in knowing about those who are associated with promoting misinformation. We should applaud any who recognise their errors and change their views, but I don’t think we should necessarily forget their less positive contributions.

What about it being political? I suspect those associated with Skeptical Science do have a bias. Like me, they probably think we should be doing more about climate change, rather than less. Being aware of this can itself be useful. One should also bear in mind that trying to remain politically neutral can also be criticised. This is a very complex communication environment and, in my experience, it is extremely difficult to engage in a way that satisifies everyone and that can’t be criticised by some.

Whatever one thinks of their Climate Misinformer page, Skeptical Science provides some extremely useful resources on their site and they’ve done a remarkably good job of carefully representing our scientific understanding. Given that it’s an almost entirely volunteer effort, I find this quite impressive. Others are welcome to disagree.

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206 Responses to Climate misinformers

  1. I should probably add a couple of things (as usual). Even though I can’t get too bothered by Skeptical Science having a Climate Misinformers page, I do have some sympathy for some who are included. I wouldn’t like to be there. I realise that this may sound inconsistent, but I can still understand why some seem upset by it while also thinking they could try harder to not be on it. Additionally, I’ve always had a bit of an issue with mixing journalists, politicians, pundits, and scientists/academics. We should value academic freedom. On the other hand, academic freedom doesn’t mean freedom from criticism.

  2. define people “who exaggerate in order to promote stronger climate action.” Are you talking about the folks who are shown in ten to twenty years to have been essentially correct about the danger we face from global warming and climate change?

    How wrong do you have to be on the top end of impacts to be an exaggerater rather than a person who is simply quite alarmed about the impacts of RCP 8.5?

    how are we doing?

    Daily CO2
    June 30, 2018: 409.64 ppm
    June 30, 2017: 406.78 ppm

    Monthly CO2

    May CO2
    May 2018: 411.31 ppm
    May 2017: 409.91 ppm

    Folks who might be inappropriately described as exaggerators are really not in the same class as people who deny the basic science and impacts of CO2 and heat accumulation in the atmosphere and oceans.

    Were you trying the “both sides do it” thing? (which I think is often a false equivalence as I believe it is in this instance) What is the downside if we decarbonize the global economy too quickly by being too alarmed about global warming? Particularly if the decarbonization involves sensible energy and taxation policies that create powerful incentives to reduce CO2 outputs. We all know the middle of the road lukewarmer argument that they must be correct because there are extremists on both sides of them. Take that to the bank, baby!

    Otherwise a good piece.


  3. Were you trying the “both sides do it” thing?

    No, I was mainly highlighting some of the criticisms. I think there are some who exaggerate (Wadhams, McPherson) but – from what I’ve seen – they are quite rare.

  4. Richard S J Tol says:

    The entry on David Montgomery is intriguing:

    Montgomery (1972) is a key paper in the development of tradable permits, the policy instrument used to reduce emissions in the EU, in California, in the US North East, in South Korea and soon in China.

    Montgomery has actually done something against anthropogenic climate change.

    That SkS opted to attack the architect of so much climate policy tells you all you need to know about SkS.

  5. Fair enough. Not in the same class as the ideological flakes like Tol, Curry and the corporate polar bear scientist imho or the weird types like Victor Grauer, angech etc. The folks like Victor who appear impervious to education and scientific evidence are in a class by themselves for me.

  6. I am a little conflicted on this one. SkS has been a brilliant source when asked questions not by ‘deniers’ but people at meetings or over a beer who might ask “I heard that it might be the Sun …” or whatever, and at that point you can give a brief answer and follow up with “if you need a fuller explanation, try this link SkS/…”. And agree with Richard Betts (on Twitter) who says that it rather undermines this science explainer role by getting into the non-science stuff (of which the misinformers clearly is a part). Ideally, SkS would say it is Desmog’s role to do those profiles. But then the reason for SkS’s existence is precisely because the Ridley’s of this world have been the source of the ‘myths’ that SkS is countering, so disentangling the myth-makers from the myth-debunking is problematic, at the very least!

    Maybe a less confrontational way to frame the quotes from these guys would be to link their statements to the relevant entry where the myth is debunked. But is ‘Purveyors of Climate Myths’ (say) synonymous with plain speaking Aussie language (misinformers).

    Nevertheless, SkS does surely want to be in the business of building a bigger tent, and not using language that will tend to build walls or at least put people off, even if they do not go easy on the Ridleys of this world (and please don’t do that).

  7. Steven Mosher says:

    Prof Tol,

    whats weird is that Montgomery says nothing about climate science.

    I will repeat what I said on twitter. If you want to do political hatchet jobs, then hire professionals
    A poorly done smear job is just pathetic

  8. dikranmarsupial says:

    I’ll return to commenting briefly as this it involves my alter ego (“Gavin Cawley”). It is worth noting that the reason this came up was that I’ve had a few Twitter discussions with Roger Pielke Jr, which all ended up with him using the SkS misinformers page as a means of evasion when the argument became too difficult. He repeatedly did this despite the fact that (i) I have argued his case (ii) I have no power to change the SkS page (despite having written a few blog posts and helped out with moderation there) (iii) I have explained a more productive way of dealing with this, namely to point out the factual errors on the page to SkS and ask them to take him off the list. I’ve told him this repeatedly, but the fact he ignores this and still complains to someone who can’t do anything further to help him suggests to me that it is just a rhetorical device and the complaints are not very sincere.

    I also pointed out one of his old blog posts which I would say is clearly misinformation, but he wouldn’t discuss that either. It was a pretty old blog post, but I’m not really interested in Roger’s end of the climate change debate, it is the basic science that I’m interested in, I only got involved in that one because it was a [misleading] probabilistic argument.

    My views on the pages seem pretty similar to ATTP’s

  9. Richard,
    Yes, that’s an interesting point. A lot of Skeptical Science’s work has revolved around myth-busting. This does require demonstrating, in some way, that these myths are indeed promulgated. A bit of a catch-22. If you demonstrate the fallacies in various bits of misinformation, someone will say “noone ever says anything like that”. If you illustrate that some people do, you run the risk of being criticised for labelling people.

    Maybe they’re not actually trying to do a political hatchet job?

  10. Dave_Geologist says:

    Montgomery has actually done something against anthropogenic climate change.

    Well maybe, Richard. It would help if you gave the full reference so we could read it. We’re not all economists with the historic literature at our fingertips. And you’re rather coy about what he actually did. Did he argue for tradeable permits; was it in connection with AGW; or is it just a piece of background economics which the actual proposers referred to in forming their proposal?

    His congressional testimony, from which the posts appear to come, was a litany of do-nothings. Whatever his views in 1972, he seems to have spent 2011 arguing vociferously that the USA should take no action, downplaying the risks, and playing up the cost of mitigation. While I’m not sufficiently versed in economics to challenge his it’s-all-too-expensive, no-fair-on-US, and everyone-else-is-doing-it-wrong arguments, I’m well enough read to get that he was arguing a do-nothing or do-nothing-for-now case.

    Did you mis-type? “Montgomery has actually done something against anthropogenic climate change” instead of “Montgomery has actually done something against efforts to contain anthropogenic climate change”.

    I have some sympathy for Muller, but he really should have seen the writing on the wall earlier. The denialati didn’t call BEST out as traitors or fifth-columnists until 2012, but Muller must have had access to preliminary results and known before then what the answer was going to be. And it’s part of the rough-with-the-smooth aspect of science that when you screw up in public, that screw-up remains in the public record. You don’t get to retract papers to avoid embarrassment. And he was definitely intemperate in his statements about Mann and others as late as 2011. About things where he had no inside knowledge and can only have been repeating denier trash-talk. He should have realised then, as per Feynmann, that it was easy to fool himself because he wanted to believe the deniers were right. He should have been extra-sceptical about claims emanating from
    them. Instead he seems to have been gullible and lapped them up. And he was way over the top in his claims about AIT.

    So on balance, I’d say leave him in. But also link to his road-to-Damascus YouTube video.

  11. Tol said:

    “The entry on David Montgomery is intriguing:

    This guy sounds more like a Peak Oil denier. We need to transform our energy sources independent of the possibility of climate change. At least 80% of the transformation taking place is due to depleting high quality fossil fuel resources, which apparently Montgomery ignores.

  12. Richard S J Tol says:

    Google Montgomery 1972 and you shall find.


  13. John Hartz says:

    As a member of the all-volunteer SkS author team, I salute ATTP for a nicely written OP. John Cook created SkS as a place to debunk climate science misinformation with peer-reviewed mainstream science. Over the years, various nooks and crannies were added to the website. The Misinformers section is one of them. Because the SkS author team is engaged in ongoing discussions about the future of the Misinformers section, I will not opine about it publicly in this forum. I am however monitoring this discussion with more than a passing interest.

  14. I think it’s important to note – and maybe I’ll write about this and make this point – that nobody aside from some followers listens to alarmists like McPherson and Wadhams. Nobody is basing policy on their alarmism. Sadly that’s not the case for climate deniers. Republican Party policy is based on denier misinformation. They invite deniers to testify to Congress like Pat Michaels and yes, David Montgomery, who spouted all kinds of bullshit in a congressional hearing.

    I certainly have no problem with debunking the McPhersons of the world, but as some have noted, there’s an opportunity cost there. Time spent refuting alarmists is time not spent refuting deniers, and the latter have a real-world impact on climate policy and thus on climate change, unlike the former.

  15. “This guy sounds more like a Peak Oil denier.”

    Peak oil is the ultimate vindication of the “lukewarmer” type of position- yes the basic premise (finite supply) is correct, and we all thank our maker that nobody in authority paid any attention to those who made wild projections of doom.
    This is why the “Hanson wasn’t wrong!” theme of the climate concerned rather isn’t persuasive. The same folks claiming this also tell us Ehrlich wasn’t wrong either.
    “The word’s going to end in 10 years… or get better!” isn’t very useful to anyone who has to make policy and face the public over the consequences of that policy.

  16. Dave_Geologist says:

    The same folks claiming this also tell us Ehrlich wasn’t wrong either.

    Total, complete and utter nonsense. If you genuinely meant that false claim and are not just trolling, name ten. With links.

  17. jeff,
    Hansen wasn’t wrong because he wasn’t wrong. It’s quite simple.

  18. John Carpenter says:

    2011 appears to be a pretty good year for misinformation. In fact most quotes are dated 2011 and earlier, maybe even 80% from a rough eyeballing of the sample. Doesn’t that seem odd to anyone looking from a 2018 vantage point? I mean, why were they not called out in 2013 instead? Are we saying but for these 41 misinformers that misinformed mostly 7 to 10 years ago we would be much further down the road to taking action? (Well I guess not 41, more like 37 because about 4 apparently don’t have to actually say anything to misinform… ) I guess the world has to blame somebody for failure to curb AGW.

    Remember there was no pause.

  19. John,

    In fact most quotes are dated 2011 and earlier, maybe even 80% from a rough eyeballing of the sample.

    That’s probably because they haven’t had a chance to update it recently.

    Are we saying but for these 41 misinformers that misinformed mostly 7 to 10 years ago we would be much further down the road to taking action?

    No, that would be silly. On the other hand, if there was less misinformation, or if were less prevalent, it would probably help.

  20. @Dave Geologist, @Richard S J Tol,

    While I think Prof Muller oughtn’t be on a current list of misinformers, back in the day, before he changed his mind, he said some nasty things about climate science and climate scientists, things which remain accessible via YouTube and places. As far as I know he hasn’t specifically apologized, retracted, or made an effort to counter this stuff which remains out there in the ether. I think that’s a problem.

    I also do not understand the relationship between some climate scientists and people like Prof Richard Lindzen. I understand that Prof Lindzen should be respected for the work he’s contributed to the field, and is a smart guy, but he’s also sided with Trump and famously recommended that the funding of climate science should be cut 80%-90% until the field cleans up (a near quote). Yet, at symposia which would logically deal with climate change front-and-center, some climate scientists will defer to him and tone it down, and they afford him the greatest respect.

    I don’t know the man, but I think it utter egotism to think that the only way to read the reality and pace of climate change is through atmospheric science and similar dynamics, essentially dismissing the strong signals seen in oceanography and field biology. Still, I’m not surprised. As I’ve remarked here before, I see plenty of evidence of parochial stovepipe views in the sciences and economics.

    So, perhaps the informers list could be improved by addressing an epoch to which the criticism of the character applies, and why they are there.

    The only other thing I’d say is that hunting for Singular Bad Guys as the cause of inaction on greenhouse gas mitigation has, in the time I’ve been aware, proved to unhelpful. That’s because, when it comes down to it, people whose lifestyles and jobs ride on the back of the fossil fuel wave (or even the concrete building wave) show little or no sign they are enthusiastic about cutting back in order to reduce emissions. I do not believe that we can mitigate without doing that.

    Accordingly, with the way things are going, the economies of the globe are rushing headlong towards a nonlinear climate cliff, and at some point they’ll fall off. This may be after my lifetime. I hope it happens sooner, because, then, we can get on with what we need to do. I do hope for a grand Minsky moment. Wish it could be done more reasonably, but, like Prof Kahneman, I no longer believe the triple economic whammy of climate change effects costs (e.g., rapid devaluation of coastal properties), needing to rapidly decarbonize (with attendant loss of jobs), and the need to build out clear air Carbon capture and implement is avoidable.

    Fun times.

  21. Dana,
    Yes, I agree. There is a difference between ineffective misinformation, and effective misinformation. I also people need to recognise that Skeptical Science is essentially unfunded volunteers. There is only so much that they can do.

  22. dikranmarsupial says:

    ATTP “That’s probably because they haven’t had a chance to update it recently. ”

    I think that illustrates how keen SkS are on labelling people/hatchet jobs rather than dealing with the science ;o)

  23. hyper,
    Here’s Lindzen giving evidence to the UK parliament.

    Q96 Chair: Were you suggesting just now that the people who have gone into this field of work were academically or intellectually inferior to those who had chosen other fields of work?

    Professor Lindzen: Yes. I do not think there is any question when we were in college that the brightest kids went to physics and math, then chemistry and other areas.

  24. +1 to what Dana said

  25. Richard S J Tol says:

    Geosciences is physics for those who are not very good at math. There are exceptions, of course (Hasselmann, Storch, Marvel, Edwards, Wunsch) but by and large Lindzen is correct. How else would you explain Mann and Rahmstorff?

  26. Richard,
    Not really deserving of a substantive response.

  27. Richard,
    One clarification. I think that Mann, Marvel, and Edwards have PhDs in physics/astrophysics.

  28. We can see how Lindzen’s marginalization of climate scientists and geophysicists has influenced people like Tol. Yet that’s just the equivalent of locker-room talk which most scientists ignore.
    On a related topic, I noticed that Lindzen’s theory of tidal forcing of the jet rings of Saturn and Jupiter may be getting some traction in the last year:

    “Semidiurnal thermal tides in asynchronously rotating hot Jupiters”, Astronomy&Astrophysics, arXiv:1801.07519
    “Resonant tidal excitation of planetary atmospheres and an explanation for the jets on Jupiter and Saturn”, AGU 2017,

    The QBO is an invisible “Saturn ring” encircling the earth, which I have shown is highly likely a lunar tidally forced behavior. Lindzen thought this was the case as well but was never able to demonstrate the synchronization. He was good at math but that’s not all it takes.

  29. @Richard S J Tol,

    Geosciences is physics for those who are not very good at math. There are exceptions, of course (Hasselmann, Storch, Marvel, Edwards, Wunsch) but by and large Lindzen is correct. How else would you explain Mann and Rahmstorff?


    That is completely laughable. This is just the claim, repeated, that theoretical types are superior to experimental ones. There are completely brilliant people working in the field, and designing experiments, whether geophysics- or oceanographically-related, or in physics labs.

    And, frankly, a lot of what passes for rigorous mathematics in physics journals would readily get rejected by a mathematical one. (That’s why, in part, mathematicians have to come in and clean up the mess after physics create an important abomination like quantum mechanics.) And don’t get me started on what passes for adequate statistical inference in Phys Rev!

  30. Richard S J Tol says:

    Marvel and Edwards have PhDs in high energy physics, that is, they are proper smart (as is clear if you would ever talk to them). Mann has a PhD in geophysics.

  31. @Richard S J Tol,

    Mann has a PhD in geophysics.

    And part of the reason why he ran into so much trouble with the tree ring work was because the referees and his colleagues did not understand the basic mathematics that went into what that field eventually called empirical orthogonal functions but the rest of the applied mathematical community knows as various flavors of the Singular Value Decomposition or the Generalized Singular Value Decomposition. All Mann and company were doing was bringing it into the field.

    I didn’t see any “super bright physicists” coming in and explaining it to everyone.

  32. dikranmarsupial says:

    This “my field is greater than your field” academic snobbery is pretty stupid IMHO, particularly so in science where self-skepticism is very important, so dissing some other field/researchers is likely to make you overly confident and not take their criticisms seriously, and hence make a fool of yourself in the long run.

  33. dikranmarsupial says:

    Re: Marvel, it appears she can’t win either way, if she was a geophysicist she would be looked down upon by Lindzen/Tol, but being a high-energy physicist she gets criticised for not having a background in geosciences.

    It is almost as if this was a rhetorical effort to ignore the science. ;o)

  34. T’would be interesting if that Wikipedia list of scientists [ ] also included their ages. I’ll take a punt that the vast majority are retired or near retirement and don’t want to see their life’s work overturned.

  35. @dikranmarsupial,

    This “my field is greater than your field” academic snobbery is pretty stupid …

    I also think it’s been around for a long time. Planck complained about it. It afflicts engineering as well, e.g., electrical engineering in its early days, when the “study of strong currents” was considered superior to the “study of weak currents”. In the end, the “weak” became all important.

    I also think, from my studies, that this attitude peaks during a time when the methods used to practice the science are undergoing rapid change. While there is a good deal valuable in people understanding continuum mechanics, there are strong limits to what can be done with that, partly because systems of interest are too complicated to be addressed directly, and partly because the assumptions of theory are, with better and more measurements, not granted. The conventional way of doing, teaching, learning is to subdivide phenomena into a bunch of special cases, learn techniques which apply to each, and then learn how to combine two or three of these to address a real system. But when the number of special cases explodes to the hundreds and thousands, the field has lost intellectual control of its subject.

    So, while appreciation of these techniques is worthwhile, when they can’t keep up with the needs of the field, they will inevitably get eclipsed. It would be like trying to solve everything in the 19th century using Keplerian mathematics rather than calculus.

    As I’ve mentioned here before, I really do think advanced numerical and other methods are posed to challenge conventional approaches and schools of doing things, and the likes of Lindzen (and possibly Charney, were he alive) don’t like that one bit. Also, the saints of that field are, from a broader perspective, not that saintly. Lorenz is enshrined, but a lot of what he brought to physics wasn’t particularly original. I’m not saying he oughtn’t be credited. Bradley Efron brought eminence to the bootstrap in Statistics, which was not original with him, but he taught us how to use it. Geophysics has had at least three major challenges introduced to it from basically outside the field: Shoemaker’s introduction of impacts and impact theory as a geologic process, plate tectonics which only was accepted (and very late) because of work in paleomagnetism and oceanography, and I’d say mass extinctions, related to impacts, but disturbing the paleontological record.

    Michael Mann brought the SVD into geophysics, and showed how it could be used differently than just Principal Components Analysis.

    I think it’s pretty typical, too, for people versed in present methods to complain that the people proposing all these things “aren’t properly schooled and credentialed”. Well, of course, with some exceptions, if they were part of the tribe, they’d think like other members of the tribe do.

  36. I don’t think I’m all that bothered about what the people who criticise the SkS ‘Climate Misinformers’ page think. The only people I’m bothered about are the huge percentage of the population who are struggling to understand climate change and whose viewpoint is not leaning ideologically towards denial.

  37. dikranmarsupial says:

    Reminds me a bit of this cartoon ;o)

  38. Willard says:

    > Geosciences is physics for those who are not very good at math.

    Many argue that economics is maths for those who are not very good at maths. Otters argue that economics is for those who are very good at Gremlins.

    This isn’t a thread about MikeM, BTW. No need to follow up on Richie’s squirrels.

  39. Much of the underpinnings were created by generalists such as Pierre-Simon Laplace and others who really didn’t belong to any scientific discipline.

  40. Magma says:

    I was going to note that the SkS inclusion of Roger Pielke Sr. with the likes of David Rose and William Happer seemed patently unfair. However the SkS page on RPSr provided quotes and links to a 2009 blob post titled Real Climate’s Misinformation in which Pielke provides the following ‘corrections’ to information given by Real Climate website. (No points for figuring out how well Pielke’s points have stood the test of time.) Perhaps people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    1. Sea level has actually flattened since 2006.
    2. Their (sic) has been no statistically significant warming of the upper ocean since 2003.
    3. Since 2008, the [Arctic sea ice] anomalies have actually decreased.

  41. “Total, complete and utter nonsense. If you genuinely meant that false claim and are not just trolling, name ten. With links.”

    You can do your own googling, but here is the New York Times, The Guardian, and Climate One either saying he wasn’t wrong or still taking him seriously.
    Then, of course, you still have WHUT banging the peak oil drum. Full disclosure, a distant relative got me interested in climate change because he kept sending me link after link about it and his hobby-horse peak oil. He was certain about catastrophic global warming and peak oil, thought Ehrlich was a hero who just got the dates a little wrong.

    Back to you- two questions. Do you really see no overlap at all between the “resource depletion” population and sustainability crowd and AGW advocacy? Everyone else does. Secondly, after the excesses of the ’60s, ’70’s, ’80s, 90’s and 2000’s is it really unreasonable to be skeptical of predictions of doom from a group that so proudly connects itself with both environmentalism and leftist politics?

  42. Willard says:

    > such as Pierre-Simon Laplace and others

    Pointing at guys who studied maths and other things in the 18th century to justify one’s own take on generalism has limits, Web.

  43. Willard says:

    > is it really unreasonable to be skeptical of predictions of doom from a group that so proudly connects itself with both environmentalism and leftist politics?

    I’d respond to your rhetorical question this way, JeffN – expecting to peddle the CAGW meme in this thread may not be reasonable now that AT pulls me back from my hiatus.

  44. The point is that these geniuses such as Laplace and others intentionally studied what was later known as geophysics. One case in particular is how many of these famous minds touched on the subject of the shape of the rotating earth:
    “The dawning of the theory of equilibrium figures: a brief historical account from the 17th through the 20th century” —

  45. @jeffnsails850,

    Well, not all of us are Leftist, despite what some may think. Politically and economically I’m a Schumpeterian, and otherwise have pretty free trade, small government views, INCLUDING no prohibitions on free flow of labor across borders.

    Besides, seems to me that ascribing climate change physical to a Leftist plot is the lazy way of avoiding learning the physics, which is really not that hard.

    And the clains of people like Lindzen or people who think the biosphere will save us is expecting just the right rabbit to be pulled out of a hat in the nick of time to permit Carbon Worship to continue. The only way I can see that justified is if own really believes in Deux Ex Machina. I sure as heck don’t. I am a physical materialist and atheist.

  46. “Then, of course, you still have WHUT banging the peak oil drum.”

    It’s a full drum kit if you really want to understand the energy transformation that the world is going through. Yet, you have to ask how much of this discussion is really all that complicated?

  47. Eli Rabett says:

    Wrt Ehrlich, in the absence of the Chinese one child policy and the birth control pill was he wrong?

  48. Eli Rabett says:

    Wrt to something earlier. RPSr got trapped by his prejudices when he jumped early on to the first Argo results. At the time Eli told him it was early days and dangerous to get far out in front of basic theory.

    Where that is interesting is that physics teaches the danger of putting observation over basic theory. It”s an attitude issue where your first question about any new observation has to be does this agree with the laws of thermo, qm, etc.

  49. Willard says:

    FWIW, here’s something that looks stronger to me than the “misinformer” label:

    With respect to climate change mitigation, Lomborg presents the same false dichotomy in much of his output: There are limited resources, so we must choose between dealing with global warming or what Lomborg has decided are “more important problems”. He considers AIDS and other diseases, starvation, malnutrition, and poverty to be more important problems than global warming, yet his framing of the issue treats global warming as a discrete issue, ignoring the fact that it will actually exacerbate the other problems he considers to be more important. Strangely, Lomborg spends most of his time and effort debunking these “unimportant” environmental concerns, writing tendentious books and setting up bullshit forums titled in such a way as to confuse the ignorant — he has done little to nothing to encourage greater spending on what he considers the really great problems.

    While the editorial line of that site may not please the RichardBs of ClimateBall, identifying what doesn’t work in an argument is hard to dodge.

  50. Willard says:

    Let’s also bear in mind why we have opiniated hawt takes in the first place:

  51. Oh, I dunno … There is a strong need for academic and university study, but a shortfall of the Western system is that while academics have a path to get into business, there is less of a path for talented engineers, say, to formally contribute to to collective without being blessed by The Priesthood.

  52. Ken Fabian says:

    I’m in two (or perhaps more than two) minds about this. I would like to see a spotlight shone on the small minority of credentialed scientists who dispute the existence or seriousness of our climate problem – but a lot of those featured are not any kind of scientists – or any other kind of qualified expert. At least in theory these are bound by professional ethical standards – but I’m not sure those standards get applied consistently or necessarily at all where it involves broad and generalised misrepresentations of the work of their peers, rather than specific, actionable ones. This really ought to be the job of standards boards specifically and mainstream journalism more generally – but they are mostly missing in action.

    I would make a separate category for those experts separate from the non-credentialed politicians, journalists, media commentators, lobbyists, Tankthinkers etc. Tony Abbott, politician, taking the alphabetical first place doesn’t look appropriate to me; a repeater but not an originator.

    Others are tricky to pin down; Richard Muller is unequivocal in stating that there is real global warming, yet routinely blames poor quality climate science and exaggerated and alarmist messaging by scientists for the messy politics.

    Muller appears to be one of those who seeks to raise the bar too high for policy responses that he would support. He appears to want to start with stopping existing, less than adequate policies and agreements to make way for uncompromising ones (nuclear and shale gas apparently – despite shale gas being a potent ghg source and nuclear requiring levels of political commitment to emissions reductions that do not exist. That looks a lot like a lukewarmer policy position and as such it overlaps in it’s immediate priorities (stopping support for RE and EV’s for decarbonising, withdrawing from international agreements) with deniers and obstructors.

    Is Richard Muller one of those who thinks that if only environmentalists didn’t oppose nuclear power then mainstream opposition to strong climate action would never have arisen? I don’t know, but I’ve come across a few like that. Like they really believe pro-fossil fuels lobbying and influence would never have been turned to protecting their trillion dollar future earnings from nuclearisation like it has turned against renewables! I suspect he may be one of those who are much taken with the (manufactured) notion that extreme environmentalist politics has been the most significant influence and that climate science is ‘infected’ by it, whereas on the other hand, extreme climate denial and obstruction politics is somehow deemed to be purely a reaction to those environmentalists seeking to address it with means other than nuclear and gas.

  53. Steven Mosher says:

    “Montgomery has actually done something against anthropogenic climate change.

    Well maybe, Richard. It would help if you gave the full reference so we could read it. We’re not all economists with the historic literature at our fingertips.”

    This is Dave G
    dave G appears to have a standard he wants to hold Dr Tol to.
    When making a claim, supply evidence.

    This is a good standard, we can agree. right?

    So, when I need ti make a science claim I check SKS. I read. I find the articles they link to
    and I use those. I dont link to them directly because they are a secondary source. I use them
    as resource for primary sources, which is really what matters.
    They do a great job in the science.

    Now, back to Dave Gs reasonable request of Dr Tol. Dr. Tol says nice things about X
    Dave wants primary literature.
    be like dave

    Is WIll happer a climate mis informer?
    Well check what SKS says

    See that? Evidence! which is even more important when you are trying to slag someone !

    lets check Pielke?


    Now, lets use dave Gs standard. Opps, lets NOT use Dave gs standard because “whatever excuse we can manufacture”… there’s evidence somewhere? the page is old? we forgot
    If we leave the page they complain if we change it we admit mistakes, never do that!

    Dude has asked to remove it. Remove it until you can make it better

  54. Steven Mosher says:

    “I have some sympathy for Muller, but he really should have seen the writing on the wall earlier. The denialati didn’t call BEST out as traitors or fifth-columnists until 2012, but Muller must have had access to preliminary results and known before then what the answer was going to be.”

    hmm, well the history is that SKS tried to use their articles about him to influence his congressional testimony, we know that much from hacked internal dialogues.

    of course, smart folks might build several different categories:
    Science misinformers
    Policy mis informers


    But hey, the planet is at stake why try to do a better job when a half assed one will do and no one
    will dare criticize our half assed job, or we will put them on the dang list.

    Good thing science is self correcting, hatchet jobs, not so much.

  55. Harry Twinotter says:

    I agree with Dana. The “misinformers” are active in the political sphere. They use their authority to misinform.

  56. tedpress says:

    As with Prall et al, the pictures on SkS lack that most important element… bullseyes.
    If the debate is over the page isn’t needed.
    If the debate isn’t over the page is just invective.
    Pielke is not a misinformer. He has made mistakes. Muller is not a misinformer. He has made mistakes.
    When your tribe is free from mistakes, feel free to put the page back up.

  57. dikranmarsupial says:

    FWIW Prof Pielke Sr tweeted to complain about SkS’s behaviour towards him, so I replied with evidence that his behaviour at SkS was not exactly beyond reproach either. He then accused me of using ad-hominems and when challenged to point one out, he blocked me. Sadly I can’t see his tweets anymore, so that is of course IIRC.

  58. dikranmarsupial says:

    In that thread, Prof. Pielke Sr is (IMHO) a source of misinformation as he is arguing that the lack of a statistically significant trend in (IIRC lower trophospheric) temperatures implies that there is a pause in warming, and ignores my explanation of why that isn’t the case (so it is directly relevant to the complaint).

  59. dikranmarsupial says:

    That is not to say (as I have pointed out repeatedly on Twitter) that I think Prof. Pielke Sr. (or anybody else) should be labelled as a misinformer, but if they make these kinds of arguments, they can’t expect me to agree that the label is not applicable.

  60. Richard S J Tol says:

    My point exactly.

    Read Waldrop’s Complexity.

  61. dikranmarsupial says:

    SM wrote “But hey, the planet is at stake why try to do a better job when a half assed one will do and no one will dare criticize our half assed job, or we will put them on the dang list.”

    Has anyone been even considered for addition to the “dang list” for criticising SkS’s “half assed job”?

    “Good thing science is self correcting, hatchet jobs, not so much.”

    LOL @ the irony in the juxtaposition of those two sentences… ;o)

  62. Dave_Geologist says:

    2011 appears to be a pretty good year for misinformation. … Doesn’t that seem odd to anyone looking from a 2018 vantage point? I mean, why were they not called out in 2013 instead?

    That because some (perhaps all) of them come from the Congressional dog-and-pony show in March that year. Where the Republicans got a majority and called in the usual suspects to give them “expert” cover for the science-denying policies they would use to thwart Obama’s efforts to change the USA’s irresponsible course. Hence the Executive Order approach which could be overturned by Trump. As opposed to laws which would require new laws to overturn. With a Conservative majority assured in the Supreme Court, those actions will reverberate down the generations. The guys and gals who either willing colluded or served as useful idiots have a lot to answer for.

    They were called out in 2011, and no doubt in 2013. It’s an old page. You’ll notice that the links are broken; I had to search for quotes using Google to find the archived Hearing transcript. And, get real John. Yes it’s 2018 now, but who other than Muller has changed tack?

  63. Richard,
    Oh please, using metrics to try and imply something about people’s relevant expertise is silly. The discussion is also about statistics, something that happens to be Gavin’s field.

  64. Richard S J Tol says:

    They were arguing over the power of a test. Calling someone a climate misinformer because he thinks that a test has power whereas someone else thinks it has not, is a tad over the top.

  65. Dave_Geologist says:

    “Google Montgomery 1972”. Thanks Richard. I’d have done the courteous thing and posted a link, but whatever. Not terribly helpful as it’s paywalled. But from what I can see, it looks like my option 3. He laid some of the groundwork for taxing externalities such as pollution. But that only makes him helpful in the same way that the person who first realised that 1 + 1 = 2 is helpful to any field that uses arithmetic. It has no bearing on his efforts, if any, to control AGW. It’s perfectly possible that he’s spent the last 45 years denying the existence of AGW or that it is harmful, but that people who favour carbon taxes use his paper as part of their argument for how to set up the taxes. If you don’t think the problem exists, you’ll come up with a carbon tax value of zero. Garbage in, garbage out.

    His 2011 testimony was certainly unhelpful. And very probably incorrect when he strayed outside economics. For example his claims about the USA being fairly immune from the negative effects of rising temperatures and other changes, and influx of tropical diseases, flies in the face of peer-reviewed literature by actual experts in those fields. Of course the USA won’t have the same disease problems because everyone is covered by excellent First World healthcare … oh hang on a minute, that’s not true, is it? And calling out the “dumb farmer” fallacy in a hearing specifically designed to keep those farmers dumb (i.e. in denial, thinking it’s all just weather or Acts of God) is particularly hilarious. And I’m pretty sure, given that is is based on his Ph.D. thesis of the previous year, that if it has any merit, someone else would have come up with it in the meantime if he’d decided to be a surfing instructor rather than an economist. So I’d say the ledger is, on balance, strongly weighted towards the negative. He deserves to be on the page.

  66. Richard,
    That isn’t quite what Gavin was suggesting.

  67. dikranmarsupial says:

    Tol on Cawley -v- Pielke


    This invites the obvious response: If Prof. Pielke Sr is such an eminent scientist (and I would agree that he is), why did he have to repeatedly evade simple direct questions about the statistical support for his hypothesis? Of course it would be almost unheard of for a highly cited acadamic to evade basic questions about statistics, wouldn’t it Prof. Tol? ;o)

  68. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard Tol wrote “They were arguing over the power of a test.

    Technically you can’t have an argument about something if one side repeatedly refuses even to acknowledge it as an issue. ;o)

    “Calling someone a climate misinformer because he thinks that a test has power whereas someone else thinks it has not, is a tad over the top.”

    I’ve also repeatedly pointed out that I am not in favour of calling anyone a climate misinformer, so you ought to withdraw that criticism.

    It is a fundamental error in statistics to argue FOR the null hypothesis (which is what Prof. Pielke Sr was doing) without first showing the test has sufficient statistical power. This is precisely why most statisticians arrange the test so they are arguing against the null hypothesis, which reduces the need for that calculation. This is basic STATS 101, and Prof. Tol (having taught statistics) should know that.

  69. Richard S J Tol says:

    Montgomery is not about taxing externalities.

    Montgomery’s claim that the USA is among the least vulnerable countries is supported by a large and robust literature.

    As Prentice noted, the “dumb farmer” hypothesis (beloved by agronomists to this day) actually reflects the intelligence of those who use it.

    You are probably right that someone else would have written Montgomery’s 1972 paper had he not, but that does not take away that he did write it, published it in a good journal, and is still cited 46 years later.

  70. Richard S J Tol says:

    “Prof. Pielke Sr is (IMHO) a source of misinformation”

    “That is not to say […] that I think Prof. Pielke Sr. […] should be labelled as a misinformer, but if they make these kinds of arguments, they can’t expect me to agree that the label is not applicable.”

  71. Dave_Geologist says:

    Professor Lindzen: Yes. I do not think there is any question when we were in college that the brightest kids went to physics and math, then chemistry and other areas.

    So now that Kate Marvel (whiz-kid mathematician, ex string theory/general relativity physicist) has joined the blue team, it should all have been cleaned up and NASA should now be saying AGW was all a big mistake. Or Lindzen should have agreed that NASA were right all along and apologised for the aspersions he’s cast over the years.

    Strange, AFAIC neither of those things happened. As yes of course. She was in Student Pugwash. Must be a filthy librul. Can’t be trusted. 😉 . Only right wing-physicists (can) count.

  72. dikranmarsupial says:

    I can strongly recommend the “Beautiful Minds” documentary about Jocelyn Bell-Burnell (about the discovery of pulsars) that was repeated on BBC 4 last month (still available on BBC iplayer for those with access: Powerfully made the point about the problems women face in STEM subjects (hopefully not quite so severe now!), but about 26:00 she made a more general point:

    Sometimes in research you can know too much and it is the youngster who is ignorant or somebody coming in from outside that says “you know the emperor has no clothes on”, that actually is telling the truth and can see the truth.

    [transcription mine, may not be fully accurate]

    In other words, those with academic authority cannot use that authority to ignore facts and questions put to them by their PhD students (why I don’t like my students to use my academic titles, I don’t want them to be more respectful to me than anybody else, I want them to question what I say), or less well cited colleagues or people from outside the field. Their scientific position has to stand on its own merits.

  73. Richard,
    This isn’t all that difficult to understand. You can do this if you concentrate. It’s perfectly reasonable for an individual to choose not to directly label others, while at the same time regarding their behaviour as being consistent with that label. That’s essentially the point of my post. There may well be valid arguments as to why the Skeptical Science Climate Misinformer page is sub-optimal, but I’m not going to get too bothered by it given that all those included seem (in my view) to have behaved in a way that justifies such a label.

  74. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard Tol, that is not the same as calling them a “misinformer”, it is criticizing the action, not the person, an important distinction that was made by several people in the Twitter discussion. For a start it is not assigning motives, it is just stating that he has promulgated information that is not correct and misleading, which is objectively true. I see no reason to doubt that he sincerely believed his arguments to be valid and thought they should be made, but that doesn’t mean they are not misinformation.

  75. Dikran,
    I’m pretty sure that what you describe is essentially one of the Mertonian norms (universalism) which some seem to appeal to when it suits them, and then ignore when it does not.

  76. Richard S J Tol says:

    Dikran Mustela is having his cake and eating it.

  77. dikranmarsupial says:

    Indeed, it seems obvious to me (if nothing else it is a straightforward corollary of the Golden Rule, which is a good basic guide to academic behaviour generally), which is why I found the Cawley-v-Pielke comment so laughable.

    The idea that scientists can’t be questioned because of their academic authority is fundamentally wrong-headed. However, of course some methods of questioning are better than others. Being “direct though courteous” ought to be generally acceptable in the sciences and result in straight answers to those direct questions.

  78. dikranmarsupial says:

    Prof. Tol. Yawn. I have no idea what “Mustela” refers to and not greatly interested to find out. No, I am not having my cake and eating it to, you may not see that sort of distinction, but others can (good article, well worth reading).

    I note you don’t seem to want to talk about statistics anymore. Usual Prof. Tol, when shown to be wrong fails to admit it and just blusters away onto something else. Rather unedifying behaviour for a senior academic, IMHO, but there you go.

  79. Richard S J Tol says:

    Hint: Mustela refers to the genus.

    I did not argue that Pielke Sr is beyond reproach. No one is. The idea that someone who has made so substantial a contribution to climate science is treated with such disrespect by a bunch of nobodies who claim to act on behalf of climate science …

  80. Calling people “nobodies”? Come on, aren’t you listening to the arguments? Label the “behaviour” not the “person”.

  81. Dikran,
    I think he’s confusing you with Stoat.

  82. Richard S J Tol says:

    Whatever else you may think of Connolley, he is not a weasel.

    I’m invoking Kant. If the SkS crowd is happy to label people, they are happy to be labelled.

  83. Dave_Geologist says:

    I asked for ten jeffnsails850, but whatever. To have shifted the public mood the way you claim, there would have to be thousands, over decades. Including the NYT editors, not some unknown professor in a short opinion piece. In the “Room for Debate” section, which means the editors don’t necessarily support the view and may be doing the “false balance” thing. That 2015 article affected the Bush White House how, precisely? The Guardian piece was a review of Ehrlich in the “Overstretched Cities” series. Like the podcast, it was revisiting his 50-year-old book, and acknowledged that some of his predictions didn’t come true.

    Pathetic effort. Homework fail.

    I also see an overlap with surfer dudes and fat-cat reinsurers. So what? The real world is not divided into two mutually exclusive tribes, only your imaginary world. Why are you not sceptical about those who made predictions of no-warming, when warming has continued, the “pause” wasn’t statistically significant, and 1998 is barely clinging onto its top-ten spot?

  84. Dave_Geologist says:

    Hilarious Twitter thread dikran. A proper roasting, up there with Trump at the Correspondents’ Dinner. I’d have said sad, but there are a fairly equal number of male and female supporters, which is at least something. I presume she has to block or mod out lots of trolls though. This is a good one:

    This may be the first English usage of the sentence “She only has a PhD in theoretical physics.” Google search found no results for that sentence.

    Shame she anonymised the poster. I’d have named and shamed. Shows she’s a better person than I am, as well as a smarter one. I guess some people missed out on the #MeToo moment. Or, more likely, have been in a state of permanent apoplexy since.

  85. dikranmarsupial says:

    LOL I’m more a Vombatus ursinus (the hint is in the surname). If my avatar makes Prof. Tol think of musteliae, the his zoology is on a par with his statistics.

    “I’m invoking Kant. If the SkS crowd is happy to label people, they are happy to be labelled.”

    More cant than Kant. I have made it perfectly clear that I am not happy labelling people (likewise I avoid calling people “deniers”), so that is just misrepresentation.

    “The idea that someone who has made so substantial a contribution to climate science is treated with such disrespect by a bunch of nobodies who claim to act on behalf of climate science …”

    I didn’t treat Prof. Pielke Sr. with disrespect in our discussion on SkS, quite the opposite, in fact. His repeated refusal to answer straightforard questions about his scientific position is equally disrespectful as yours.

    I wouldn’t say that I am particularly prominent in my field, but then again I am not so intellectually insecure that it bothers me that you consider me a “nobody”. It is your poor behaviour, not mine.

  86. Richard S J Tol says:

    It is not your avatar, it’s your words.

  87. dikranmarsupial says:

    Prof. Tol “Whatever else you may think of Connolley, he is not a weasel.”

    no, definitely not.

    (The stoat (Mustela erminea), also known as the short-tailed weasel or simply the weasel in Ireland where the least weasel does not occur,…)

    Well at least Prof. Tol is consistent! ;o)

  88. Dave_Geologist says:

    Steven, I don’t know why the SkS quote links are dead. But if you disbelieve them, it’s trivially easy to Google for the. Denier and lukewarmer quotes are easy to find on the Web by design. It’s a feature not a bug. They’re not ashamed of their false or misleading statements. Just unhappy about having them called out as false or misleading. And of being correctly categorised as deniers.

    My own evidence standards vary. In this case I was influenced by a Bayesian prior whereby Richard had rowed back in a previous thread on “I was instrumental in putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, Ireland and the USA.” So I evaluated a high probability that Montgomery had made very little contribution to AGW minimisation or mitigation, but had just produced an abstruse bit of economic theory that other people later found useful. And regardless of his opinion in 1972, his 2011 testimony argued against AGW minimisation or mitigation, so given that it was more recent and in a more influential forum, on balance he’s made matters worse.

  89. dikranmarsupial says:

    “It is not your avatar, it’s your words.” ah, just an insult/label then. Meh.

  90. Richard,

    Whatever else you may think of Connolley, he is not a weasel.

    I wasn’t suggesting he was a weasel. His new blog is called

  91. dikranmarsupial says:

    So can you point to where I was disrespectful to Prof. Pielke Sr in the SKS thread I posted?

  92. I’m invoking Kant. If the SkS crowd is happy to label people, they are happy to be labelled.

    Indeed, but you seem to be forgetting that it’s not really SkS who are complaining.

  93. dikranmarsupial says:

    Prof. Tol. Do you think Richard Betts was being a weasel in making a distinction between “denier” and “in denial” in the guest post he wrote for this blog? If not, why not, were is the distinction drawn?

  94. Dave_Geologist says:

    Montgomery’s claim that the USA is among the least vulnerable countries is supported by a large and robust literature.

    But he went further and argued that damages were overstated, costs understated and benefits of actions overstated. While providing no supporting evidence. Not even your “large and robust literature”. And waved the uncertainty-monster flag to diss all the professional publications on climate impacts. And “change in global average temperature is the fundamental outcome of interest” is just plain nonsense in an impact discussion. People will lose their homes, lives and businesses due to floods, droughts and storms long before parts of the USA have extended periods with the wet-bulb temperature above 35°C. And sticking to the global average is just silly. He spoke about America’s ability to respond, so he should have used USA land surface temperatures. And people die in heatwaves, not at average temperatures. So he should have considered heatwave return times and the differential deaths for each extra degree. Like the professionals do.

    The question is not whether the USA will be the worst affected – nobody believes that, as least in per-capita, percentage of GDP terms. Although in cash terms, quite possibly it will because it’s so rich. It’s whether the costs will outweigh the benefits. And not just economic ones. How many poor people are you prepared to have die for a ten cent reduction in the price of a gallon of fuel? And even for economic ones, what does your own model say about the USA at 3, 4 or 5°C warming? Neutral, positive or negative?

  95. Richard S J Tol says:

    Denier is a reserved word.

  96. dikranmarsupial says:

    Yes, I though it would be different somehow, in some unspecified and unjustified manner. Ironic you accuse me of weasel words.

    BTW “mustela” doesn’t appear to be a real word.

  97. Magma says:

    Dave_Geologist: “And waved the uncertainty-monster flag to diss all the professional publications on climate impacts”

    Odd that the skeptics’ flag only flaps one way.

  98. dikranmarsupial says:

    Prof. Tol is also ignoring the content of Richard Bett’s guest post:

    The reason that ‘in denial’ and ‘denier’ are different is that the former labels the behaviour while the latter labels the person.

    So the distinction lies in labelling the behaviour (promulgating misinformation) rather than labelling the person “misinformer”. Betts is making the same distinction that I am and doesn’t need the special pleading that Prof. Tol uses.

  99. The idea that someone who has made so substantial a contribution to climate science is treated with such disrespect by a bunch of nobodies

    An impression I have is that, in some cases, it’s not so much about name-calling, it’s more about not giving due respect to those who regard some of us as beneath them. I wonder where that impression might be coming from?

  100. Magma says:

    Roger Pielke Jr., in a December 2016 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal:

    “No Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricane has made landfall in the U.S. since Hurricane Wilma in 2005, by far the longest such period on record. This means that cumulative economic damage from hurricanes over the past decade is some $70 billion less than the long-term average would lead us to expect, based on my research with colleagues. This is good news, and it should be OK to say so.”

    In August 31, 2017, while Harvey’s floodwaters were still slowly draining from Houston, Pielke replied with another WSJ op-ed:

    The Hurricane Lull Couldn’t Last
    The U.S. hadn’t been hit by a Category 3 or stronger storm since Katrina in 2005. We were overdue.

    Some of that “overdue” toll: Hurricane Harvey (>100 deaths, >$125 billion in losses), Hurricane Irma (>100 deaths, >$60 billion in losses), or Hurricane Maria (>2000 deaths, >$90 billion in losses).

    One might think that an academic who has spent years focusing on extreme events and the statistics of losses wouldn’t fall prey to such an obvious case of gambler’s fallacy. But one would be wrong.

  101. Magma says:

    Added: the above comment posted since RPJr was earlier raised in the context of an empty SkS ‘misinformers’ quote page.

  102. Dave_Geologist says:

    You are probably right that someone else would have written Montgomery’s 1972 paper had he not, but that does not take away that he did write it, published it in a good journal, and is still cited 46 years later.

    Indeed Richard. But does that support your claim that “Montgomery has actually done something against anthropogenic climate change.” And if it did, he appears to have changed his mind by 2011 (at least in terms of being a do-nothing rather than an outright denier; but he dismisses projected impacts far too cavalierly IMHO for me not to conclude that he’s in denial about them at least).

    A few threads ago I contributed to a discussion about supervolcanoes, which got onto whether the melt fraction under Yellowstone was big enough to initiate a super-eruption in the near future (TL;DR, it’s not). I have expertise in that field because one of the areas I studied decades ago for my PhD was a fossil magma chamber caught in the act of formation by partial melting and expulsion of melt plus entrained solids. I did material balance calculations to constrain the melt fraction in the escaping melt and in the residual solids. The latter defines the residual melt which cannot escape by buoyancy or filter pressing (in that example at least). Yellowstone is currently well below that threshold, i.e. not only was all the mobile melt erupted last time, some residual melt has crystallised since. I published on it and have checked back – I referred to laboratory data but no other field examples. So I may very well have been the first person to do that calculation. Probably the first to tie it to the lab data, which only came out in the final year of my PhD. It’s now available online with a DOI. I don’t claim on that basis to have “actually done something against supervolcano hazards”

  103. “Wrt Ehrlich, in the absence of the Chinese one child policy and the birth control pill was he wrong?”

    The birth control pill was approved for contraception by the FDA in 1960 and was popularly prescribed by ’62. In fact it had been in use as contraception since 1957. Ehrlich wrote his book in ’68, and predicted millions of starvation deaths in the United States in the ’70s and ’80s. The United States is unaffected by China’s one child policy (which didn’t happen until 1979 and, as such, couldn’t have prevented starvation here.)
    Free markets and truly democratic government have proved the most effective at increasing wealth, which is now understood to be the only effective means of reducing fertility rates, poverty and hunger. China is doing it with the copious use of coal that somehow has the enthusiastic support of the allegedly climate concerned who’ve been writing in a pass for China on emissions since ’92. including the most recent Paris agreement that allows China to continue increasing emissions until 2030 (so much for the planet). This has led to absurd policy, such as Australia getting international accolades for “limiting” emissions while it exports coal to China and Vietnam as fast as it can.
    Along with Time Magazine, the New York Times’ most influential columnist- Thomas Friedman – promoted Joe Romm as the “indispensable” source for global warming during the George W administration. Romm worked for a political organization dedicated to the election of left-wing Democrats called Center for American Progress. This isn’t conspiracy mongering- it was the mission statement on their website. CAP hosted his blog until a Democrat got elected president and he became less useful to highlight. Around about the same time Andy’s Dot Earth blog got canned. In other words, the history of climate change advocacy is loudly and proudly partisan- a rather silly mistake.
    The warm have made several own goals that engender rational skepticism: they embraced discredited doomsayers, tied themselves to partisan politics, signaled their lack of seriousness by agreeing to higher global emissions selectively distributed, went all-in on Easter Bunny technology, and got busted using motivated statistics. Their heyday, IMO, came about because it’s a real concern that just happened to coincide nicely with and provide a great, green hook for peak oil concerns (and Europe’s reliance on Russia for energy). The fracking revolution showed they bet on the wrong horse for the energy transformation and the world bought time for a rational revisit of the anti-science anti-nuclear movement. The latter of which appears to be the absolute last thing the climate concerned want.

  104. To be quite honest, I have no great interest in a discussion about Ehrlich. Jeff, if you want to use things like this to justify why you’re dubious, that’s entirely your choice.

  105. @Richard S J Tol,

    My point exactly.

    Well, I’m glad we agree on something. However, there was a lot said and I’m not sure exactly what.

  106. @Richard S J Tol,

    Over the top, yes, and an example of how both camps don’t do stats well. The test is completely meaningless.

  107. Dave_Geologist says:

    Ehrlich got it wrong. Hansen didn’t

    End of.

  108. Yeah, @Dave_Geologist, the first world immunity argument was always odd to me. We have little central coordination of placement of important resources in terms of risk and very extended supply chains. Dunno, but at least in military planning have extended and undefended supply chains is a bad idea.

  109. I don’t do nulls at all. Silly idea.

  110. Dave_Geologist says:


    Montgomery is not about taxing externalities.

    Well, don’t hid his light under a bushel then. Tell us what he was about. Maybe it will justify shifting him from a wall of shame to a hall of fame. Although it will have to be really, really good to counterbalance 2011.

    I’m not prepared to spend good money to find out when you could just tell me.

  111. @Richard S Tol,

    Montgomery’s claim that the USA is among the least vulnerable countries is supported by a large and robust literature.

    Symposium? Bibliography? Would love to see what passes for robustness in Economics.

  112. John Hartz says:

    A wee bit of good news…

    Aberdeen wind farm opposed by Donald Trump generates first power by Kevin Keane, BBC News, July 2, 2018

  113. Richard S J Tol says:

    The best exposition is Schelling’s 1992 AER paper. The first quantitative estimates are in Fankhauser’s 1995 book (and his papers around the same time — see the Pearce chapter in IPCC AR2). From there, just pick up the citations to these earlier papers. The most recent papers are by Marshall Burke and Marco Letta. Melissa Dell’s work is probably the most influential in recent years.

    Montgomery (1972) is about markets for emission permits. Previously, Dales had given qualitative arguments, and Arrow a proof of concept. Montgomery shows that tradable permits work in theory.

    Joskow, Schmalensee and Bailey (1998, AER) show that tradable permits work in practice.

  114. Willard says:

    > I’m invoking Kant.

    You might need to revisit him before you do, Richie:

    Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.

    That’s a bit stronger than reciprocity.


    > Read Waldrop’s Complexity

    Which chapter would you think resolves Lomborg’s Dilemma, The Irish Idea of a Hero?

  115. Willard says:

    > One might think that an academic who has spent years focusing on extreme events and the statistics of losses wouldn’t fall prey to such an obvious case of gambler’s fallacy. But one would be wrong.

    A page on Junior’s gambling fallacy would be more interesting to me than a page of Junior the climate misinformer, even if it wasn’t empty.

  116. Lerpo says:

    “If the SkS crowd is happy to label people, they are happy to be labelled”

    Says the guy, with no hint of irony, who has been happily labeling the SkS crowd for years. Likely has his knickers in a knot over the fact that these “kidz” (as he calls them) repeatedly call him out on his “big mistakes” and misrepresentations .

  117. Dave_Geologist says:

    blockquote>Montgomery (1972) is about markets for emission permits.
    So how exactly does that equate to “Montgomery has actually done something against anthropogenic climate change”? Presumably you don’t have markets for emission permits where you consider the emissions to be harmless, or even beneficial (plant food). So it’s perfectly possibly to be a pioneer of “markets for emission permits” but nevertheless a fully-signed-up, died-in-the-wool AGW denier. And anyway, isn’t a market for emissions permits a form of carbon tax? Assuming it’s not a command-and-control “switch off your power station when you’ve used your year’s quota”, someone has to pay to buy permits in order to continue emitting. In Europe, for example, “A cap is set on the total amount of certain greenhouse gases that can be emitted by installations covered by the system. … Within the cap, companies receive or buy emission allowances which they can trade with one another as needed. … Auctioning is the default method of allocating allowances. … businesses have to buy an increasing proportion of allowances through auctions”

    So basically you have to pay to emit (but get some free but reducing-over-time grandfather rights). The more you emit, the more you pay. And the payment increases over time as grandfather rights are eroded. Sounds like a tax on carbon to me. IOW a tax on a negative externality. A flexible tax, and one which allows the market to allocate permits to the most efficient or least intensive emitters. Maybe an economist wouldn’t call it a tax. In the same way a politician would claim that UK National Insurance contributions are not a tax. Even though it gets collected with tax, and the more you earn, the more you pay. Both sound like a tax to me (in layman’s bucket-terms), although NI at least is accounted for differently (as an expense, or as a drawing if you’re self-employed). I’ll bet the companies’ shareholders think of both as a tax. Money that goes to the government rather than being returned to shareholders or invested in the business.

  118. verytallguy says:

    Whilst I do think that labelling people as “misinformers” is generally unhelpful, the true reason SKS is attacked is that the truth hurts – it’s effective at communicating the current state of the science

    In Tol’s case there’s probably an element of jealously too as they get more attention than he does.

    The Neymar – like histrionics from folk whining about SKS are alas from people lacking the compensatory skill and grace he brings to his chosen playing field.

  119. Richard S J Tol says:

    Montgomery (1972) build confidence in emission permit markets, which led to the Clean Air Act of 1990 and the first trades in 1992. The RGGI (2003) and EU (2005) ETS were build on the success of the sulfur permit market.

  120. Dave_Geologist says:

    Jocelyn Bell-Burnell – Powerfully made the point about the problems women face in STEM subjects

    I heard that some time ago. She was surprisingly modest and well grounded for someone who not only has a big discovery to her name, but also rose to the top of the academic tree. Albeit more in management than in original research. IIRC she did say that her PhD involved more electrical engineering than sky-watching, and that she made her name managing a couple of big satellite and telescope construction projects without the usual major delays and cost over-runs. So she didn’t just get preferential treatment as a token woman, or as a consolation prize for missing out on the Nobel. And obviously a pretty formidable character, particularly as she’d have been managing a mostly male workforce and suppliers. Probably had to appear stronger than the men to get her way. JBB seems to have kept her humanity in the process. I can think of an ex-prime minister who appeared to lose some of hers. Ditto the high-profile UK woman who had to resign recently after making remarks which could have come from the crustiest of crusty old businessmen.

    Hopefully it’s not so bad now, but I have no doubt there’s still a way to go.

  121. Willard says:

    > The Neymar – like histrionics

  122. BaerbelW says:

    Just some technical – sort of – notes about the page under discussion: even if a page looks empty, it actually isn‘t, there may for eample be something in the tab for blogs.

    To get to the source of a quote, you can just delete the first part of the URL which you see on the „not found“ page. Unless the actual link has gone stale, it should work. This workaround might be faster than doing a search for the quote.

  123. @Dave_Geologist, @Richard S J Tol,

    Re: Heat waves. Yes, not clear urban or extended rural areas are set up to deal with >105F low temperatures for a couple of weeks at a stretch. The 1990s Chicago experience was not encouraging.

  124. @Magma,

    Re: We were overdue.

    Personally, I think it’s worse than what you suggest. I think Pielke knows perfectly well about the Gambler’s Fallacy. However, he also knows his audience doesn’t, that it’s an easy intellectual pitfall for untrained members of the public, and he is exploiting that.

  125. Willard says:

    > Just some technical – sort of – notes about the page under discussion: even if a page looks empty, it actually isn‘t, there may for eample be something in the tab for blogs.

    I wouldn’t call that a technical note, not even sort of.

    A technical note would be that in the case under discussion, “misinformer” amounts to a vague euphemism. Quotes alone don’t suffice to establish in what ways the contrarian claims misrepresent the state-of-the-art knowledge and mislead the public. Since JohnC’s main objective should imply acting as a megaphone for our state-of-the-art knowledge on AGW, this is a big problem.

  126. @Richard S J Tol,

    The best exposition is Schelling’s 1992 AER paper. The first quantitative estimates are in Fankhauser’s 1995 book (and his papers around the same time — see the Pearce chapter in IPCC AR2). From there, just pick up the citations to these earlier papers. The most recent papers are by Marshall Burke and Marco Letta. Melissa Dell’s work is probably the most influential in recent years.

    Thank you very much. I will grab them, and probably emerge with some thoughts at my blog.

  127. @Dave_Geologist,

    Small world — While not a geologist, I spent most of my spare time two decades back learning about the backhistory of the Yellowstone caldera, fascinated by the connection with tectonics and hotspots and the Snake River Plain. This is partly because I did a project for a course in Tectonics at Binghamton University trying to constraint Apparent Polar Wander/True Polar Wander using a hotspot reference frame.

    Do you happen to know the status of the Long Valley Caldera? I thought it went into crisis a year or so back.

    Sorry for the off topic, people.

  128. Dave_Geologist says:

    So Richard, Montgomery (1972) does fit with my option 3. He did some early work on emissions trading, which gave confidence that ET schemes would work. The success of earlier schemes led to their extension to GHG emissions. But that makes him at best, an accidental enabler. You yourself admit that someone else would likely have come up with the idea. It takes a really special PhD student to come up with something really special in their thesis. Like JBB, mentioned above, for example. At least in my field, PhD students are guided in topic selection by professors who know where the active research is and gaps are in the field. So unless he went off into left-field, it’s likely he was working on an idea who’s time had (almost) come. And if ETs had not been pioneered, the EU might have tried one anyway. Or gone for something more familiar, like a straightforward tax per tonne emitted.

    Balanced against his 2011 testimony? Sorry, no contest. He deserves to be on the wall of shame.

  129. @jeffsnails850,

    I was going to reply to this overpopulation thread yesterday, but then something came up and I accidently deleted what I was writing. Y’need to look at the re-do of the UN population studies, led by Adrian Raftery and others. Population dynamics are not as simply as your presentation suggests, and the after-the-fact analysis suggests the Chinese One Child Policy had little to do with population control there, that it was well underway of taking care of itself. In fact, there are natural trajectories of population which countries trace. Also, most countries in the world are (already) vastly economically better off than they used to be. There are a couple of population hotspots, in Africa, for example, but these are places where having large families is a cultural mark of well-being and affluence, almost unrelated to child mortality and gene pool preservation.

    Don’t have time to link in now.

    Professor Raftery is a Bayesian and a hero to many, including me. He presented his UN population work at the New England Statistics Symposium a few years back.

    Don’t forget to check out his/their “Less than 2 °C warming by 2100 unlikely” with Abstract:

    The recently published Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections to 2100 give likely ranges of global temperature increase in four scenarios for population, economic growth and carbon use1. However, these projections are not based on a fully statistical approach. Here we use a country-specific version of Kaya’s identity to develop a statistically based probabilistic forecast of CO2 emissions and temperature change to 2100. Using data for 1960–2010, including the UN’s probabilistic population projections for all countries [2,3,4], we develop a joint Bayesian hierarchical model for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita and carbon intensity. We find that the 90% interval for cumulative CO2 emissions includes the IPCC’s two middle scenarios but not the extreme ones. The likely range of global temperature increase is 2.0–4.9 °C, with median 3.2 °C and a 5% (1%) chance that it will be less than 2 °C (1.5 °C). Population growth is not a major contributing factor. Our model is not a ‘business as usual’ scenario, but rather is based on data which already show the effect of emission mitigation policies. Achieving the goal of less than 1.5 °C warming will require carbon intensity to decline much faster than in the recent past.

    It’s refreshing to read quantitative estimates based upon other than wishful thinking or incense burning at the feet of the Technology Deity. Yeah, I’m a Schumpeterian, and wind and solar energy technology are going to just kill fossil fuels and their economic dependents, but it isn’t going to happen fast enough to save us, and it won’t be enough: We’d need to actively furlough existing fossil fuel infrastructure in order to have a gnat’s chance of not needing clear air capture of CO2.

    With all the discussion of economic brilliance around here, I wish they did something useful, and assessed where there is any possibility at all that at 2016 US$200/tonne CO2 capture costs the world can afford to extract and bury 80 ppm CO2, let alone the probable 100-150 ppm we’ll probably need. Uninformed back-of-the-envelope calculations, including my own, suggest absolutely not, even with economic growth.

  130. Dave_Geologist says:

    There are a couple of population hotspots, in Africa, for example, but these are places where having large families is a cultural mark of well-being and affluence,

    Indeed hyper. There was a BBC News Channel/BBC24 documentary a few months ago as part of their 100 Women series which looked at Nigeria. It may be available online. Basically, in rural villages people still had ten or twelve children, but had flipped from “we need them to help us in the fields, and need to have enough left after early deaths to look after us in our old age” to “we need them to help us in the fields, and need to have enough left after the majority move to the cities to look after us in our old age”. In Lagos it was “we can only afford to have two or three children, we want to educate them so they don’t have to live in the slums, and so they can afford to look after us in our old age”.

    Algeria was similar 25 years ago. I spent a lot of time in the field with Sonatrach geologists and our regular drivers. The driver in his mid-50s said he needed his 13 children, even though it was hard to bring them up on a driver’s salary, because most would emigrate and he wanted two or three to still be around to support him in old age. The younger drivers only had a few children (although actually, oil-company driver was a really well paid job, with big away-from-home payments because the terms were set up when it was assumed they also had a small farm or allotment which they couldn’t maintain while away). But they tried to get them into French-speaking schools because at the time the state schools taught everything in Arabic. Previously they’d been bilingual, Arabic for cultural stuff, French for science, engineering etc. Which made graduates more saleable abroad, which was probably seen as a negative by the government (brain-drain), quite apart from rubbing in the colonial memories. The only exception was the guy who’d moved from being an Arabic teacher because the pay was better, and who was very Arabist (you can’t be a proper Algerian unless you’re an Arab, or a proper Muslim unless you’re an Arab). Despite looking the least Arabic of the lot (think Mubarak; yes I know physiognomy is tosh, but at the time I found it amusing). He took the Catholic attitude: God will decide how many children you have.

  131. Dave_Geologist says:

    BTW, I was not knocking Jocelyn Bell Burnell for going into management (some scientists get sniffy as if it’s going over to the other side – but good managers are invaluable, the problems lie with the bad ones). My own PhD supervisor was open about his mediocre-to-OK personal publication record. But his strength was identifying gaps in the science and putting together groups who could make a difference, mixing scientific and personal skills to turn a bunch of strangers into smoothly functioning teams. When he took over as Head of Department he moved it ahead by leaps and bounds, despite replacing someone whose personnel publication record was much better, who’d made breakthroughs and published papers that are still classics, who’d received multiple medals and awards, whom I greatly admired, but who was a terrible administrator.

  132. Dave_Geologist says:

    hypergeometric, if you didn’t see the Yellowstone stuff, it was towards the end of the low-probability, high-risk thread. Looks like you may have ducked out by then. angech provoked me into checking my memories, and I made the effort because nostalgia. It took me back to my roots (I’ve not worked in that area since my PhD). And Yellowstone quiescence is my interpretation – e.g. seismologists who report 15% melt may not make the connection to no expellable melt. There has been a surge of recent literature on Yellowstone coming from successful attempts to image the plume and magma chamber, so I’d have been less confident five years ago and far less confident ten years ago. I don’t know about Long Valley. Maybe it will pique my interest.

    BTW I’m not saying there won’t be a Yellowstone eruption. The tomography doesn’t have the resolution to distinguish between a large volume with a sub-critical melt fraction and a mix of smaller critical and sub-critical volumes. However, the latter would only make a small volcano, not a supervolcano. A supervolcano comparable with the last three would require more melt that the total inventory which is currently down there. Interestingly, one of my back-of-the-envelope calculations said you’d need to get the melt fraction in the entire magma chamber up to a volume large enough to make a supervolcano like the last few, in order for the entire magma chamber to erupt at once. So there’s maybe some sort of critical process going on here. If the heat flow gets high enough to mobilise the entire magma chamber, a supervolcano is inevitable.

  133. dikranmarsupial says:

    Yes, I thought Prof. Tol would just use “weasel words” (in this case special pleading) to avoid justifying his criticism of the distinction between labelling the person and labelling the behaviour as weasel words, and then run away from the discussion. Plus ca change.

    I can understand this from your average blog commenter, but from a senior academic, it is not what I would expect.

  134. Richard S J Tol says:

    What else do you want me to say? You label something misinformation, but do not want to call the responsible person a misinformer, yet say you do not object if someone else calls him a misinformer.

    Weasels are fine animals. Perhaps I should call you a dancer (on the head of a pin).

  135. dikranmarsupial says:

    “What else do you want me to say?”

    I’d expect you to be consistent and take the same view of Richard Betts in making a distinction between “denier” and “in denial”, but instead you weaseled out of it via special pleading, which was somewhat ironic.

    “yet say you do not object if someone else calls him a misinformer.”

    No, I don’t think I did say that. I am happy with labelling behaviours, but I think labelling people is not constructive. However if someone says that they shouldn’t be called a misinformer because they are not a misinformer, then they can’t expect me to agree with them if there is evidence that they have misinformed. If they said they shouldn’t be called a misinformer because it is divisive or unconstructive, I’d would be happy to agree.

    “Weasels are fine animals. Perhaps I should call you a dancer (on the head of a pin).”

    How very witty. Note it is the same pin that Richard Betts was dancing on, does that apply to him as well, or was he making a reasonable distinction? I’d say the latter.

    * I’d agree that “as source of misinformation” is perhaps not a good wording, but the context makes it clear that I am criticizing the action of spreading incorrect information, and am not criticising Prof Pielke’s character.

  136. Dave_Geologist says:

    BTW returning to the Kate Marvel “she only has a PhD in theoretical physics” nonsense, and contriving a link to JBB 😉 : IIRC JBB took a lot of stick for chairing the committee or meeting that decided Pluto wasn’t a planet. Her reputation for managerial efficiency was used against her: “they’ve put her in charge to railroad it through”. And the planetary geologists thought it should be one of them: “she’s an astrophysicist who’s spent most of her career in physics departments”. I was all for her because (a) there probably was a risk of drift, forever putting off the unpopular decision which most people knew was the right one, so it needed someone who’d force a conclusion one way or the other, and (b) an outsider is just what you need when planetary, asteroid and comet astronomers are squabbling among themselves. But sometimes you just can’t win 😦

    Were the criticisms surrogates for “but she’s a woman”? I would think not, at least mostly. There were plenty of other excuses for noses being put out of joint. But you never know…

  137. dikranmarsupial says:

    Hard to argue that it wasn’t the right decision, given that it isn’t the only large Kuiper belt body. Good for her!

  138. Richard S J Tol says:

    Misinformer is a neutral word.

    Denier has connotations to the Holocaust.

    It is fine to call someone who misinforms a misinformer.

    It is not fine to call someone who denies a denier.

    Furthermore, Betts used the passive “in denial” rather than the active “deny”.

    Finally, don’t hide behind Betts and whataboutery.

  139. Denier has connotations to the Holocaust.

    Mostly, from what I’ve seen, highlighted by those who object to its use.

  140. dikranmarsupial says:

    What ATTP said.

    “Finally, don’t hide behind Betts and whataboutery.”

    No hiding, just arguing for consistency.

    “It is fine to call someone who misinforms a misinformer.”

    I disagree, I personally think it is a bit counter-productive, but I don’t feel that strongly about it (nor denier), especially as in both cases it tends to be used as a means of avoiding awkward scientific arguments. The behaviour of Profs. Curry, Pielke Jr and Pielke Sr on twitter recently hardly encourages me to continue arguing their case.

  141. dikranmarsupial says:

    Prof Tol wrote “yet say you do not object if someone else calls him a misinformer.”

    I wrote “No, I don’t think I did say that.”

    I am still waiting for Prof. Tol to provide a quote supporting his accusation or to withdraw it.

  142. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Furthermore, Betts used the passive “in denial” rather than the active “deny”.”

    another way in which my position on this seems the same as Betts’.

  143. verytallguy says:

    Denier has connotations to the Holocaust.

    Can we call this “going the full Neymar”?

    Denier is a perfectly respectable word in common usage.

    Let’s note that George Osborne called Jeremy Corbyn a deficit denier and none of Tol’s right right wing pals at the GWPF called him out for that.

    Pathetic trolling.

  144. dikranmarsupial says:

    The dictionary suggests that the use of denier is not restricted to holocaust denial

    noun: denier; plural noun: deniers

    a person who denies something, especially someone who refuses to admit the truth of a concept or proposition that is supported by the majority of scientific or historical evidence.
    “a prominent denier of global warming”

    That doesn’t mean it is fine to call someone a denier, just that it is conventional usage.

  145. Dave_Geologist says:

    Do you happen to know the status of the Long Valley Caldera? I thought it went into crisis a year or so back.

    This paper is open access hyper. It finds a deep magma chamber charging a shallow one, underlying the inflation. It looks to me that, unlike in Yellowstone, the deep magma chamber is at the critical threshold for melt expulsion. About 30% (a bit more in short-term lab experiments, but I’d expect a lower threshold in nature on account of crystal-plastic deformation of the grains before the melt freezes, allowing a bit more magma to escape). I use 30% because that’s the retained melt I found in the field example I studied as part of my PhD. So I suspect it’s continually recharging from local melting and deeper sources, but is buffered at 30% melt fraction by periodic expulsions to the shallow chamber. If this paper is right and buoyancy is the supervolcano mechanism, I’d think that the bleeding off of magma into the shallow chamber should tend to stabilise the deep chamber. It needs to get well above 30% melt fraction to blow. Of course, the more magma goes into the shallow chamber, the more likely it is to blow. But I’d expect a normal volcano, unless the eruption depressurises the deep chamber enough to trigger it. From the sketch below, it looks like the shallow chamber could only contribute a few cubic kilometres of magma, i.e. a few percent of Tambora or about the same as Mount St. Helens. If the deep one goes, it looks like it could expel 100-200 cu km of magma. Smaller than the last Long Valley supervolcano (600 cu km at 760 ka), but on a par with Tambora, Santorini or Crater Lake. That size of supervolcano is not exceptional in the geological record. About ten in the last 10,000 years. The last one caused the Year Without A Summer. Obviously it’s never happened before with world population at current levels. Another Year Without A Summer would be, hmmm, interesting. Not to mention the global flight disruption and the economic damage downwind.

  146. Dave_Geologist says:

    hyper, this paper refers to the more recent activity, which it links to the shallow magma chamber. They infer that it’s inflating at a rate I estimate to represent somewhere between 0.1% and 1% per year. probably at the lower end.

  147. DM said: “That doesn’t mean it is fine to call someone a denier, just that it is conventional usage.”

    I think it is fine to use the term denier. It is descriptive term, well-defined and easily understood per that dictionary definition. I know Tom/Tedpress suggested that it was like hate speech, but so far, I have not had a sense that the term fits that category at all. I also have no qualms about the use of “alarmist” as in, one who is alarmed and wants others to be alarmed, as well. That certainly describes me. I find the facts and pace of global warming to be very alarming and I can’t fathom how a sensible person can fail to be alarmed at this situation. I figure time will move people to the sensible position and you can see that happening when former deniers change their positions to be luke-warmers. These same folks will move to being alarmed if they live long enough, but they may always be bringing up the rear, so to speak, if their ideological motivations continue to cloud their ability to sort and evaluate the science in a reasonable manner.

    Misinformer? Also fine with me because it appears to be a simple and accurate description of the role that some folks choose over and over.

  148. I tend to think of the folks who don’t believe that there was genocide aimed at the Jewish people as “holocaust deniers.” I think that term is in common usage and is simple and descriptive. The two terms need to be combined to accurately describe that particular position. One or the other doesn’t get the job done.

    “Holocaust misinformer” has yet to take off as a meme and it’s getting pretty late for that one to get any traction. Didn’t take us too long to move the discussion back to the third reich, did it?

    I guess we are headed for a discussion of the definition of the verb “is.” Misdirection is useful when a person wants to avoid answering simple questions.

    what exactly is a photocopy machine, as an example?

  149. @Dave_Geologist,

    Thanks so, so much! I look forward to a deep read.

    That’s a pretty active area, with Mono Lake to the north and Mammoth Mountain right there:

  150. John Hartz says:

    smalbluemike: I kinda like the term, “purveyors of pseudo-science poppycock.”

  151. @Dave_Geologist:

    What’s interesting is that the subject of communicating hazards came up in connection with Long Valley as well:

    D. P. Hill, M. T. Mangan, S.R. McNutt, “Volcanic unrest and hazard communication in Long Valley volcanic region, California”, part of Advances in Volcanology book series.

  152. Brian Dodge says:

    “…the history of climate change advocacy is loudly and proudly partisan- a rather silly mistake.”
    I think you mean liberal, rather than partisan – as in, “reality has a liberal bias”.
    On the other hand, there is no doubt that denial of the science is loudly and proudly Republican conservative (and the Right wing has hijacked and degraded the term conservative; conserving what? good Neonazis, good white supremacists, good statues of lying treasonous racist losers like Lee, or the abominable GINI coefficient of wealth distribution in the USA?).
    Is rejecting reality silly, or deadly? It was a foolishly risky gambit to reject the science,rather than turn it to supporting a conservative agenda; physics doesn’t do political negotiation. It could have been that the scientific understanding was inaccurate, as a result of some grand conspiracy, and that the physics would have ultimately been found to be in Republicans favor, but it’s obvious to many people that denialists lost that bet. The other problem is that the time spent arguing “it isn’t warming” “CO2 isn’t the cause””we’re not causiing CO2 to rise””more CO2 & warmer temperatures will be beneficial” “we can’t do anything about it because China and India” & “doing anything about it will destroy the economy just like Romneycare2.0, er, Obamacare” means any conservative solutions that Kasich, for example, might propose will be attacked as untrustworthy Since it took Republicans 20 years to even admit there was a problem, any “solution ” they propose will be as ridiculous as their previous same ole same ole denial. Even Exxon knew what was going to happen and chose their profits over good citizenship; When the Republican party took the fossil fuel companies money and did their bidding, they sold their soul to the devil.
    Even if David Montgomery had anything useful to contribute to the discussion, he is an untrustworthy source, requiring confirmation. Why would anyone waste time listening to him, instead of going to reliable sources?

  153. dikranmarsupial says:

    dikranmarsupial says:
    July 4, 2018 at 8:37 am

    Prof Tol wrote “yet say you do not object if someone else calls him a misinformer.”

    I wrote “No, I don’t think I did say that.”

    I am still waiting for Prof. Tol to provide a quote supporting his accusation or to withdraw it.

    Still waiting (breath not being held). Doesn’t sound like something I would say, but I my recollection may be wrong.

  154. Dave_Geologist says:

    Thanks for the links hyper. I did see reference to how USGS were persona non grata at first because residents worried that raised hazard levels would hurt their property values. The residents only got on board once they were properly scared. By Mother Nature, not by experts. Now, what does that remind you of? 😉

  155. [You’ve been warned to stop peddling Ehrlich, JeffN. – W]

  156. BBD says:

    Don’t ignore those lessons.

    Framing, old chap. None of what you suggest applies to the scientific understanding of AGW nor to the risks of relying on imaginary technologies to fix problems that urgently require action now.

  157. Dave_Geologist says:

    Tell you what Jeff. I’ll ignore the actual lessons from Ehrlich (not your fantasy lessons), if you’ll agree not to ignore the lessons from this:

  158. Marco says:

    [Refers to a deleted comment. – W]

  159. [Snip. – W] The ’70s are over, they have designs for nuclear plants that don’t make bombs, or melt down, or need refueling. We should have been investing in R&D for nukes for the last 30 years. Alas.
    If the choice is between subsidizing nukes or subsidizing solar panels, it’s an easy choice. The former actually produces power, cheaply, for decades. The latter produces little power, expensively, for years (and requires 100% backup generation pretty much every day.)

  160. @jeffnsails850,

    Old snuff.

    The U.S. nuclear power industry has invested very little in new development since the 1960s.

    There may better technologies potentially out there. However, the global evidence is that no one knows how to build a nuclear power plant. I say that, as I have said here before, because if someone has a successful technology, the N+k^{\text{th}} copy ought to be cheaper to build than the N^{\text{th}}. It isn’t, even controlling for safety, environmental regulations, and popular resentment. (Yes there are references and, if you can’t find them at ATTP elsewhere, email me or write at my blog and I’ll provide them.)

    Solar panels don’t need any subsidies, not any longer. The only reason to subsidize them — or storage — is because in many places, fossil fuels and other resources are being rapidly retired, primarily because of market competition from natural gas generation. To the degree to which some administrative regions don’t want to commit capital to what will be a losing proposition — natural gas — for a full depreciation cycle, they are encouraging the build and adoption of solar energy technology, which of course includes wind.

  161. jeffsails said:

    “there would be no technical solutions to real problems – ie genetic engineering of crops, hydraulic fracturing and other drilling improvements. “

    The latter is not a technical solution to a problem. The problem is nearly depleted supply from a non-renewable resource. What you have described is a spatula.

    “The ’70s are over”

    No one used a spatula in those days.

  162. Marco says:

    “If the choice is between subsidizing nukes or subsidizing solar panels, it’s an easy choice. ”

    In the 1st quarter of 2018 alone, the US installed 2.5 GW capacity of solar. That’s about a quarter of the total GW of nuclear that is planned in the US – but which won’t come online for another 5-10 years (if ever!). If it is such an easy choice, it is in the US where it would be easiest. But apparently it isn’t as easy a choice as you make it.

    The choice between nuclear and solar is, in fact, a really hard one for investors and governments alike, even ignoring potential public opposition. A nuclear power plant takes many, many, many years to build. Delays of several years are not uncommon. Heck, there are two reactors in the US that are planned (again), and by the time they may come online, it’s 50 years after construction began. RoIs are thus not only uncertain, they will often come at least a decade after making the investment. Also, solar is easily removed again, nuclear power plants are not.

  163. Dave_Geologist says:

    It’s an easy choice for jeff, Marco. Librulz/greenies love solar and hate nukes. So let’s build nukes and not solar.

  164. Pingback: There are genuine climate alarmists, but they're not in the same league as deniers | Dana Nuccitelli | Ecology Way

  165. Pingback: There are genuine climate alarmists, but they’re not in the same league as deniers | Dana Nuccitelli – Eco Planet News

  166. Eli Rabett says:

    The competition to fossil fuels are, efficiency, nuclear, hydro, solar and wind and all are capital intensive. For practical purposes, efficiency is 100% capital, an upfront cost. At least in theory people weigh the cost of money vs. the money they save, and that depends on the interest rate. That’s theory. As a practical matter people and businesses are very reluctant to invest even with payback periods of a year or two.

    That explains the role of regulations and subsidies, to get people to do what they rationally should do but irrationally won’t. Good examples of this are, for example, power companies paying or subsidizing compact fluorescent bulbs so they didn’t have to build more power plants, or building code insulation requirements, or fleet mileage, etc. Each of these can be played but each of these has a rational effect.

    Nuclear, hydro, wind solar are the opposite of fossil fuels with about 70% up front capital cost and 30% operating costs (close enough).

    Nuclear to start, comes in large lumps and has a long time between when you issue the bonds to build, spend the money to build and the plant comes on line and starts trading electrons for cash to pay the bonds. This can only be done by governments, or with guarantees from the government. The most successful example is France, which took a political decision in the 1960s/70s to go nuclear for electrical generation and provided the resources to do so to EDF which is 85% government owned.

    Big hydro is pretty much the same story with the add on that the lake behind the dam covers a lot of ground which requires eminent domain seizures.

    So it is pretty clear that nuclear/hydro build out is best suited to places with strong, stable (gotta last more than a decade, let’s not talk about the proliferation risk) and well funded central governments, China, France, Russia, maybe India. The US could do it, but the free market folk and the NIMBYs would never allow it. (Caveat: Folk have been talking about small nukes for almost as long as fusion. Eli is a show me bunny)

    Wind and solar are distributed. The generating facilities are small and inexpensive, Eli could even affords some rooftop solar, and even industrial strength wind and solar are cheap as compared to hydro and nuclear, well within the reach of your local source of electrons. But, of course, the wind don’t always blow and the sun is on a fixed schedule.

    Of course, Eli has discussed this before

  167. Hank Roberts says:

    The problem with nuclear power is the people who operate the plants.

    Case in point:

    “It is probable that atmospheric scientists were wrong about CFC’s …”

    It’s like the problem in the 1930s when FDR counted up the number of banks in the US and observed that there were fewer competent bankers. Add up the number of nuclear facilities, and then ask how many people are available competent to manage them.


  168. Dave_Geologist says:

    A superb display of Dunning-Kruger in action there. It should be linked from Wiki.

    And while I’ve nothing against engineers, having worked with hundredsof very good ones over the course of my career, which is it always an engineer who manifests such supreme D-K on climate science (OK atmospheric chemistry in this case; but I bet he’s an AGW denier too)?

  169. verytallguy says:

    which[sic] is it always an engineer who manifests such supreme D-K on climate science

    1. Citation required
    2. The grammar Nazis will get you if we engineers don’t
    3. Coming from a geologist that’s quite something:

    One survey of earth scientists found that while 97 per cent of actively publishing climate scientists agree humans are changing global temperatures, only 47 per cent of economic geologists (those who study geology with a view to its commerical exploitation) concur

  170. John Hartz says:

    Here’s an insightful analysis of the bleak future of nuclear power by David Roberts.

    Scientists assessed the options for growing nuclear power. They are grim. by David Roberts, Energy & Environment, Vox, July 11, 2018

    Roberts’ article is based on the findings contained in

    US nuclear power: The vanishing low-carbon wedge

    M. Granger Morgan, Ahmed Abdulla, Michael J. Ford, and Michael Rath

    PNAS July 2, 2018. 201804655; published ahead of print July 2, 2018.

  171. Dave_Geologist says:

    Bit of goalpost-shifting there vtg, from geologists to economic geologists. And it was 2011. Recent update required. See

    And from the SkS article itself “However, the broader community of geologists seems convinced by the evidence that humans are causing global warming.” And the source for the 47%? US geoscience institutions. “Of our survey participants, 90% were from U.S. institutions and 6% were from Canadian institutions; the remaining 4% were from institutions in 21 other nations.” So given that the USA is AGW-denial central, probably a number that’s biased upwards wrt non-USAnians like myself. Overall, the participants, “geosciences faculty at reporting academic institutions, along with researchers at state geologic surveys associated with local universities, and researchers at U.S. federal research facilities”, were 90% Yes to the litmus-test question, compared to 42% for economic geologists and 58% for the general public. Don’t tar all geologists with the same brush: as a group, US geoscientists are 50% more convinced of the truth than are the general public.

    Who do you think works on all those palaeoclimate ESS estimates? In 40 years, the number of AGW-denying geologists I’ve met is precisely two (both Brits). Plus one Australian luckwarmer. Of course others may be keeping their powder dry, but the same applies to engineers. Maybe if they’d quizzed engineering departments they’d have found a lower number. Or maybe not. I’d be interested to know if such a survey has been done, given that engineers will be needed to deal with a lot of the consequences.

  172. verytallguy says:

    C’mon Dave, your claim was that it is *always* engineers.

    Don’t double down.

    On geologists, I merely point out that there are some with a problem, as there are engineers – hanks link above is absolutely remarkable from someone in his apparent position.

    I think the research shows that more qualified people are *more* likely to hold contrarian positions, which are driven by tribal loyalties, because they have stronger confirmation bias.

  173. Dave_Geologist says:

    I don’t have statistics because I don’t keep count, but once you screen out the obvious flakes, and the ones who write like they failed to graduate high school, it has certainly been my impression that engineers number highly among the remainder. Especially electrical engineers for some reason. Also medical doctors (although I often find from other comments (on sites with a broader remit than this) that they’re young-earth creationists), and ex-Cold War physicists. The latter two have obvious religious and political blinkers which prevent them seeing straight on certain subjects.There, now everyone can pile onto me 😦 .

    The D-K comment came from my observation that they’ve usually put some effort into it and done the math, although usually with a fatal flaw early in the chain of reasoning (like collapsing all the CO2 to a thin layer at the Earth’s surface). So they sound plausible and have obviously thought about it, as distinct from those who are ignorant and are just parroting a tribal chant. But no, not always. That was (hopefully obvious from the stock-phrase “why is it always”) hyperbole.

    I’ve shared my guess at why before. Unlike most of the public, they have the basic science and math training to persuade themselves they’re competent to do their own analysis. And they often find themselves the smartest (i.e. best-informed) person in the room when it comes to science or math topics. Not just at home but at work, because, like clinicians, they often work in an environment where many of their clients, patients and workmates are less science/math educated than they are. Even in a design house they will be among a group of peers, rarely in contact with the luminaries of the field. Indeed, many reports and surveys conflate scientists, engineers, medics and mathematicians. And of course “rocket scientist (probably an engineer in reality)” and “brain surgeon” are canonically bright people.

    Research scientists OTOH spend their early-career years or decades as the dumbest person in the room (in the D-K sense of least knowledgeable, as opposed to low I.Q.). It takes time to get to the point where those inclined to hubris succumb, often to emerititis. Now engineers may be less inclined to hubris than the average member of the public (I can think of reasons why, such as decades butting up against an unforgiving real world), but the combination of their large population (compared, say, to mathematicians or geologists), and often being the smartest person in the room, makes those who do succumb fairly common, in absolute numbers if not percent.

  174. Willard says:

    Here could be an explanation:

    I surmise that engineers and doctors aren’t used to not being taken with deference.

    The same can be observed among scientists.

  175. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    I surmise that engineers and doctors aren’t used to not being taken with deference.
    The same can be observed among scientists.

    Engineers and doctors aren’t used to not being taken with deference because it happens very rarely that they are not taken with deference by those who need their products.

    Scientists aren’t used to not being taken with deference because it happens very rarely that anyone is paying serious attention to them at all.

    Philosophy is hard.
    Science is Sisyphean.

  176. Dave_Geologist says:

    Comments crossed vtg. But for clarity I meant “is it always an engineer” in the sense of “why does toast always fall butter-side down”, “why does it always rain when I leave home without an umbrella”. Hyperbole based on a sense of resignation, coupled with selectively forgetting the days when I didn’t take a brolly and it stayed dry. Of course I didn’t mean literally always. I will however assert that yes, it is often an engineer (I’m sure you’ve encountered more than one on this site; I have), often enough to engender that sense of resignation and trigger the reaction when the next one comes along.

    You inspired me to look for stats on engineers’ views. The 47% for economic geologists (and BTW that’s a fairly large number when you think about it, because many will be involved in oil, gas or coal so have a very strong motivated-reasoning basis to disbelieve) was in answer to the question “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”. Among students entering US engineering courses, this survey found that 17% strongly agree that climate change is caused by humans, 30% agree, 34% are neutral, 12% disagree, and 7% strongly disagree. Miraculously, the first two add up to 47%. So engineering students are as bad as economic geologists, but only half as good as geologists overall. Lefsrud and Meyer (2012) asked somewhat different questions of a group of oil industry geoscientists and engineers (but 84% of the sample were engineers so they dominate). Their comparable answers added up to 46%. So there seems to be a consistent pattern (in North America) among economic geologists, oil-industry engineers and engineering students of all types (most of whom probably haven’t picked their industry yet). So it looks like US geologists as a whole are twice as likely to believe in AGW as US/Canadian engineers and one-and-a-half times as likely to believe in AGW as the US general public. Indeed at 90% they fall not far short of publishing climate scientists!

    Way to go, US geologists!.

  177. @Dave_Geologist,

    There are a lot of engineers in the world, and a lot of different kinds of engineers. At the moment I’m a member of the IEEE (electrical engineering) and they have no official position on climate change or its mitigation. Many scientific organizations have official statements on climate change and its mitigation, and these are fairly international, e.g., the AAAS position statement or the PNAS position statement. And, as always, it’s not clear what the relationship of the position of such organizations is to those of their members, although it’s entirely reasonable to believe the statements represent the position of a majority.

    However, to pick one, such as the American Society of Civil Engineers, they have a lot of policy statements. They have one on climate change. They have one on greenhouse gases.

  178. Dave_Geologist says:

    I would slightly disagree with this vtg: “I think the research shows that more qualified people are *more* likely to hold contrarian positions, which are driven by tribal loyalties, because they have stronger confirmation bias”, to the extent that you need to already have a political/religious/economic reason to disbelieve the evidence you should be well placed to evaluate as true. Hence US geologists in general being more aligned with the scientific consensus than the US population as a whole. Those with relevant knowledge, who start from a neutral position, have the nous to see through the denier bullshit and specious arguments. Only those who start from a negative position degenerate into motivated reasoning. I think that also explains a lot of the international differences. Countries in which those who should know better fool themselves tend to be countries where there is a strong political, social or religious opposition to AGW science. In countries where AGW doesn’t push those buttons, qualified people are much less likely to engage in motivated reasoning, because they lack a pressing motivation.

    In LM12, geologists were more likely to be deniers than were engineers. And more likely to be deniers than the average for the O&G industry (the professional organisation surveyed includes government and, presumably, academic staff as well as industry). So within the subgroup who had strong motives for motivated reasoning, whose who were better able to see the truth, used their knowledge to explain-away the truth. But within that same industry, over here in Europe, the picture is different. I don’t see extensive AGW denial in the O&G industry, just as I don’t see it in the mainstream European conservative parties.

  179. Dave_Geologist says:

    hyper, time for my school text book Venn diagram quote: “all lipe shends are umpty, but not all umpty shends are lipe”. “Always an engineer” was hyperbole. And because there are tens or hundreds of millions of engineers out there, even if it wasn’t hyperbole, it wouldn’t mean “every engineer” or even “most engineers”. My engineer/D-K connection came about because engineers know enough maths and science to fool themselves and others. Medieval scholars, English Lit professors, psychologists, biomedical Nobel laureates, philosophers, PPE-graduates-turned-journalists (not even ones who were in charge of a nation’s finances), movie stars, etc., generally don’t. That’s why most climate misinformers (yay! back on-topic!) are parrots. Some engineers aren’t. They sing out of tune, but it’s their own composition.

    I could have quoted the AAPG website (which went neutral after dying of embarrassment when it gave Crichton’s fictional AGW-denying book an award for non-fiction), but didn’t because it falls into the same category as the Alberta study. Its members’ motivated reasoning stems from working in the O&G industry, not from being geologists. As evidenced by the 90% AGW acceptance by US-based geologists as a whole*. The UK Geological Society’s Petroleum Group, for example, is totally on board with AGW and has held conferences on impacts and mitigations (e.g. CCS). Thirty years ago, neutral could plausibly be portrayed as neutral. Given the evidence we have nowadays, neutral is science denial. False balance. “No official position” strikes me, frankly, as cowardice. That the leaders recognise the truth but are afraid to confront the almost-half of their membership who deny it. You should write to them. Or, more generously, that the Board is split down the middle.

    This storm-in-a-teacup arose from my ‘nym being conflated with US-based economic geologists (which I’m not), where I only claim to be a geologist. 90% of whom, even in the US, accept the reality of AGW. More than in the general population, despite them having the tools to indulge in motivated reasoning. As it happens I did indeed spend decades in the O&G industry, but in Europe where that’s perfectly compatible with accepting AGW, because over here we’re comfortable with the idea that this sort of thing is best dealt with by government policy and international agreements, When the rules change, we’ll follow the new rules. When the taxes change, we’ll adapt to the new taxes. Meanwhile we’ll follow the existing ones. The transition to the new rules won’t be scary to those working in an industry where prices vary by huge amounts on short timescales. I survived about ten redundancy rounds triggered by oil price falls or mergers. Managed transition to a low carbon economy … meh.

    It’s good that US engineering’s professional bodies recognise the risks of AGW. Their members will be needed to combat its effect, big-time. On the international front, be aware that a lot of US-based bodies like AAPG have a large international membership, but are very heavily loaded with US members relative to world population (by more than an order of magnitude in the case of AAPG).

    * As per Chris Mooney’s The Republican War on Science, by canvassing universities and research institutions, the authors of the 90% paper sampled a Republican-light electorate. It’s become hard to be a Republican scientist this last few decades, not because of hiring/promotion/publication bias, but because you’d have to sign up to a plethora of science-denying claims and policies. It needs a really, really strong dose of motivated reasoning to get through the eye of that needle.

  180. I surmise that engineers and doctors aren’t used to not being taken with deference.

    The same can be observed among scientists.

    It’s not as if physicists are noted for a lack of hubris.

  181. @Dave_Geologist,

    I never for a second thought you said or seriously meant “all engineers”. Such a set, as I implied, is difficult to enumerate let alone sample.

    I just posted a couple of stats I found because, well, stats are kind of my thing.

    It’s interesting that NASME hasn’t an official position. They just offer the science, which is unequivocal. That, to my mind, and I suspect to yours, is how it should be.

    And I’m not really surprised the implications of the science are a hard sell, for reasons I’ve stated elsewhere and because that’s how people and managers are. I mean, in my corporate consulting work, despite people being corporate leaders they don’t from what I can see really do rational decision making, except for project s below their level of concern, which they delegate. Moreover, all the features you see in luckwarmism are present: Waiting and hoping reality will be better than projections, trusting past trends and experience above all, preferring incremental changes even in the face of large risks, procrastinating that it might not be their problem.

  182. dikranmarsupial says:

    Speaking as an (electronic) engineer, I haven’t noticed the deference thing so far (but only 23 years, so it may not have kicked in yet)… ;o)

  183. Willard says:

    First hit for a search restricted to 2018:

    A new public poll, commissioned as part of the Engineering 2018 report, has found that the most trusted professionals in Ireland are engineers and doctors. 90% of Irish adults trust engineers to tell the truth and, of the 10 professions listed, only doctors are more trusted.

  184. Willard says:

    > It’s not as if physicists are noted for a lack of hubris.

    Philosophers are worse, even among themselves:

    If memory serves well, the public perception of scientists is quite good, better than contrarians portray themselves. You know what might increase it? Selfies:

    Unfortunately, we know little about how the presence of a human face in images taken in scientific contexts impacts perceptions of scientists in particular, especially in the context of social media environments. We know smiling faces make people appear more friendly, approachable and trustworthy in images, but the effect can be different for different people or different types of scientists, including for men vs. women. Instagram practices (such as posting selfies) may boost the perceived warmth but hurt the perceived credibility of female scientists but not male scientists, for example. “Female academics in the sciences are perceived as less competent and more warm than their male counterparts.” Attractive or feminine women who post self-portraits on Instagram may elicit responses of “But You Don’t Look Like A Scientist!”, reflecting gender stereotypes.

  185. verytallguy says:

    Well, I must say I’m *very* impressed at the level of research promoted by my impassioned defence of les ingenieurs!

  186. @ATTP,

    Tell me about it:

    (1) “Why analyzing the Internet is painfully hard”, V. Paxson, MSRI, 1998; (2) “Modeling Internet traffic”, W. Cleveland, 2001, MSRI.

  187. Bob Loblaw says:

    We’re forgetting the meteorologists. A good number of them also deny the science of global warming. For the meteorologists, I think it is at least partly due to their familiarity with atmospheric dynamics and the difficulty of predicting weather more than a week or so out. They tend to fall into the how can you expect to predict the climate when you can’t predict the weather? myth. Radiation transfer isn’t a big part of basic meteorology, and they can’t really see how small changes can have large effects over time. In a short-term weather forecast, the dynamics are much more important than getting the radiation right. In climatology, understanding radiation is the key.

    As for geologists, they deal with really long term observations. They tend to fall into the climate’s changed before” myth. Things are always changing. How do you know this change isn’t natural? How can puny humans possibly affect a system that can make mountains? (By changing atmospheric composition in ways that have happened before and changed climate before…)

    The engineers are just engineers. 🙂

    And physicists? Well, everything is physics, so if you know physics, you know everything, don’t you?

  188. @Bob Loblaw,

    A joke I heard related by the late and great Dr Victor Weisskopf once at the opening of a seminar talk he gave when I was a Physics undergrad:

    It’s said that Mathematicians know absolutely everything about absolutely nothing, and that Philosophers know absolutely nothing about absolutely everyting. As a physicist, I’m content knowing something about something.

  189. Dave_Geologist says:

    hyper, I presumed when you said neutral you meant like AAPG, I would regard this as false balance:

    Certain climate simulation models predict that the warming trend will continue, as reported through National Academy of Sciences, American Geophysical Union, American Academy for the Advancement of Science, and American Meteorological Society. AAPG respects these scientific opinions but wants to add that the current climate warming projections could fall within well-documented natural variations in past climate and observed temperature data. These data do not necessarily support the maximum-case scenarios forecast in some models.

    “Certain climate simulation models” is a dog-whistle to those who don’t trust teh mudulz and vastly understates the scientific evidence. The bolded bit is either science-denying (if we’re talking Holocene, it’s plain false: MWP or LIA crap) or disingenuous (any geologist worth his salt knows “it was hotter in the Triassic” is a dumb argument). And the italicised part is either a dog-whistle for luckwarmerism (we think 3°C ECS is the absolute max and it’s probably much smaller but we don’t want to tarnish our reputation again by denying the IPCC) or a red herring (policy is not, never has been and never will be based on 9°C ECS or all the ice melting by 2050).

    If an organisation doesn’t equivocate on the science like AAPG, but does say “leave policy to the policymakers”, I’m fine with that. Where each one stands probably depends on the extent to which its leadership sees themselves as leaders, as opposed to delegates. The AAPG, for example, has a House of Delegates in addition to the Trustees and Executive. I wouldn’t be surprised if a poll of members, or at least US and Canadian members, came out as more anti-AGW than the official position.

  190. Dave_Geologist says:

    Oops, because it’s in blockquotes, replace “italicised” with “plain font” 😦 .

    Famous people can be very modest and approachable. I attended a turbidites training course run by Arnold Bouma just after he left Chevron. He’d gone native in his time with Gulf Oil in Texas, right down to the string tie and cowboy boots. When Chevron took over they gave him a sideways move, although still a senior position, but he left when he saw that the Texas boots were being steadily replaced by California suits.

    When I saw the course advertised my first reaction was “I thought he’d be dead by now”. When I was an undergraduate in the 70s, Bouma Sequences had been part of the standard literature for a decade and were in my second-hand textbook. When I saw him in person it was “I thought he’d be 20 or 30 years older”. I learned that his ground-breaking 1962 publication (cited over 3,000 times, still being cited at the rate of 100 per year) had been based on his 1961 PhD thesis. He was a very modest, friendly, approachable guy who said he’d just been lucky enough to get the right project, with the right supervisor, at the right time. Of course fortune favours the prepared mind!

  191. @Dave_Geologist,

    Yeah, IEEE has nothing. I’m sure that’s because of the more rabid views of some of its membership.

    In contrast — and crazy broadcast meteorologists like Joe Bastardi and colleagues at WeatherBELL Analytics LLC aside, the American Meteorological Society has a very strong position.

  192. Magma says:

    That’s why most climate misinformers (yay! back on-topic!) are parrots. Some engineers aren’t. They sing out of tune, but it’s their own composition. — Dave_Geologist

    That corresponds closely to my own observations over the years. Where contrarian geoscientists are concerned, they tend to be older geologists, often but not always working in natural resources, wandering far outside their areas of expertise and too lazy or opinionated to put in the effort to broaden them. But some of the engineers do spend time and energy developing idiosyncratic theories of global heat flow based on flawed analysis, faulty fundamentals, and half-remembered undergraduate courses they once took. I’m not sure why they don’t read the scientific literature, except that some seem to distrust it deeply.

  193. verytallguy says:

    From my area of expertise.

    The UK Institution of Chemical Engineers Position on Climate Change (jointly with RSC) is very sensible:

    The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence indicates that human activity is the predominant cause of recent climate change. It is clear that the increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial revolution is the chief cause of observed global warming. Regional and year-on-year variations are expected within climate systems, but the evidence shows warming over the last half-century that cannot be explained by natural causes…

    The US equivalent is, on the other hand, shamefully denier-accommodating:
    …AIChE does not plan to make any statements assessing the extent or causes of climate change. Scientists continue to collect and analyze data and refine models, which are used by governmental authorities. Chemical engineers respect data and careful modeling, while being well aware that both data and models have uncertainties and potentially varying interpretations…

    Click to access aiche_and_climate_change_final.pdf

    I guess this suggests it’s a political rather than a professional thing.

    [please delete if posted twice – seem to be having difficulties.]

  194. Dave_Geologist says:

    Where contrarian geoscientists are concerned, they tend to be older geologists, often but not always working in natural resources, wandering far outside their areas of expertise.

    Spot on Magma. The two Brit deniers of my acquaintance are both biostratigraphers by background, from the days before biostratigraphy turned numerical and you had to learn maths and statistics for cladograms, biomechanical studies, population studies etc. One stayed in biostrat (which in the O&G industry is still old-school) and the other turned to general exploration geology. One of them was at university with me, but was definitely not in my maths or chemistry classes.

  195. Dave_Geologist says:

    I guess this suggests it’s a political rather than a professional thing.
    I did toy with the idea of suggesting that the consistent 46-47% numbers across different groups meant it was not profession- or industry-based and just reflected the weight of political opinion. But the geology figures suggest motivated reasoning. By industry in the US (economic geologists vs. all geologists) and by profession in the Alberta one (O&G geologists even more AGW-denying than O&G engineers). The latter bears a clear imprint of motivated reasoning, because the geologists should know better than the engineers. Even if the former are no more denialist than the peer-group of engineers, they still display more motivated reasoning because, unlike the engineers, they have the background to know better.

    Although I suppose it’s possible that the US and Canada are so polarised that it is indeed politics, and no Democrat/liberal/whatever worth his salt would work in an extractive industry over there (economic geologist doesn’t just mean commercial vs. academic – it generally refers specifically to those working in extractive industries: O&G, coal, metals etc.). Not the case here in Europe.

  196. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Yeah, IEEE has nothing. I’m sure that’s because of the more rabid views of some of its membership.”

    Now, now, we’ll have less of that if you don’t mind! ;o) (member for 20 years)

    I suspect it has nothing because it is not a topic on which electronic and electrical engineers have conspicuous expertise. The ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) has nothing either AFAICS.

  197. Bob Loblaw says:

    In my (undoubtedly selected) experience, a lot of engineers really aren’t scientists. Following prescribed processes, applying standards, etc., yes. But unless they’ve had some good instruction or role models doing actual research, they struggle with things like experimental design, analytical methods that aren’t prescribed by a standard, dealing with new problems, etc.

    Although science is objective in many ways, there is a real art to figuring out how to approach a new question – initial exploratory analysis, teasing out patterns in data, identifying what sort of data is needed next, etc. These don’t fit in a plodding methodical framework that matches day-to-day plain vanilla engineering applications.

    And the use and development of procedural models is something even a lot of scientists struggle with. It’s very different from using general statistical models. An engineer might be quite familiar with using something like finite difference or finite element structural models, but developing them is another story. And using such models for research instead of applications is also another mind set.

  198. @dikranmarsupial,

    Well, why offhand should an association of chemists or an association of civil engineers or, for that matter, a bunch of ecologists have “conspicuous expertise”? At least the ecologists and field biologists see an independent signal, and do make a statement. But civil engineers?

    And I count no fewer than 6 articles in the last two years in IEEE Spectrum regarding climate change or its mitigation:


  199. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Well, why offhand should an association of chemists or an association of civil engineers or, for that matter, a bunch of ecologists have “conspicuous expertise”? ”

    Lots of chemistry in climate change science (in causing it, the science and in mitigation), civil engineers very much involved in impacts and mitigation, likewise ecologists are very likely to have direct and relevant expertise on impacts.

  200. Dave_Geologist says:

    Thanks hyper (I’d never heard of wikivisually, bookmarked). Same text I looked at the other day on main Wiki. I went direct to the LF12 paper for the data breakdown.

    Bob, re engineers not *getting* science (experimental design, peer review, hypothesis testing). Totally agree, but it’s not just engineers. Medical doctors also, and geologists/geophysicists who did a vocational MSc rather than a research PhD (= the vast majority of those in extractive industries). I’m not being snobbish, it’s a feature not a bug. They’re trained to apply other peoples’ research findings, not to do their own independent research. Most O&G employers prefer it that way. Someone with a PhD is less pre-qualified than someone with a petroleum geology MSc. They do toy research projects as part of the MSc (I’ve supervised interns and was an external examiner for an MSc course), but they’re spoon-fed and it’s never blue-sky, because failure could cost them their degree and you don’t want that to happen just because they were given a problem that could not be solved, at least not in the time available.

    I got in by the back door, as a structural geologist on the strength of the half of my PhD that wasn’t geochemistry. Unlike with biostratigrapers and geochemists, many O&G companies like to rotate structural geologists in and out of mainstream roles because their job is so intimately tied to mainstream geological and geophysical interpretation. About ten years in, when coming back from a mainstream role, I toyed with switching to full-on geochemist because it was becoming much more intimately involved with basin modelling, which I’d done a bunch of as an extension of structural geology. I was tapped when a colleague saw that I’d gone from being shown how to use our in-house maturity modelling software on day one, using it on day two, and going to the developer with a list of bugs and enhancements on day three. But I decided it would be too limiting and that I preferred variety.

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