Depolarising the debate?

I’ve always been a little puzzled by the (mostly) social scientists who seem to argue that to develop effective climate policy we should stop using labels, be depolarizing the debate, and should prioritise civil disagreements. It’s not that I object to these in principle (I’m in favour) I just don’t see really see how engaging constructively with those who don’t see the need for climate policy would somehow lead to effective climate policy.

What brought this up again, was that I was having a brief Twitter discussion with Matthew Nisbet who commented that constructive disagreement was sorely needed. So, I asked him what motivated this suggestion. He highighted a number of his articles, including one that discusses the trouble with climate emergency journalism, another that discusses public intellectuals and their arguments for action on climate change, and one that argues that [t]he IPCC report is a wake up call for scholars, advocates and funders. There’s a lot in these, but to give you a flavour, a suggestion is that the current style of engagement results in

a discourse culture that substantially reduces opportunities for developing effective policy and technology approaches on climate change that broker support among not only liberals, but also moderates and conservatives.

This all sounds great, but it’s still not clear how this would help to develop effective climate policy, especially if we do need to make substantial changes on a timescale of decades.

What then struck me is that this article ended with

There is no ending or solving climate change, but we can do better, rather than worse at managing the far reaching risks.

and this article ended with

We will not solve climate change; it is a chronic societal condition that we will do better or worse at managing over the century and beyond.

Clearly we will continue to have volcanoes, the Sun will continue to vary slightly, and there will always be internal climate variability. Hence, we will not end, or stop, climate change. However, in the context of these discussions, climate change refers to anthropogenically-driven climate change, which is almost entirely due to our emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Furthermore, until we stop emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the climate will continue to change and, in the absence of technology for removing these gases from the atmospheres, the changes we do induce will be irreversible.

So, we can solve/end climate change; stop emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The longer we take to do so, the bigger the changes we will be leaving for future generations. So, there are real long-term consequences to delaying acting. This is what I was trying to argue in this post, but I’m still not sure I’m articulating this as clearly as I could.

Of course, if some people think that climate change is simply some kind of societal condition that we can only manage, rather than end/solve, then I can see why they regard it as important to spend time depolarising the debate. However, in my view, this framing of climate change is wrong; it is something we can end/solve, and the longer we take to do so, the greater the changes we, and future generations, will have to deal with. It may still be worth trying to depolarise the debate, but it’s not clear why – given the constraints – this would be the optimal way to develop effective climate policy.

Links:
Sciences, Publics, Politics: The Trouble With Climate Emergency Journalism by Matthew Nisbet.
The IPCC report is a wake up call for scholars, advocates and funders by Matthew Nisbet.
Disruptive ideas: public intellectuals and their arguments for action on climate changeby Matthew Nisbet.
The benefits of acting now, rather than later – post by me trying to argue why we really should act soon (not sure I’ve quite articulated this as well as I could have).
Wicked – some posts by me about framing climate change as a wicked problem.

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119 Responses to Depolarising the debate?

  1. Chubbs says:

    I agree with this part: “we can do better”. Compromise on policy is a good thing, that’s how things get done in a democracy, but not science, no middle ground there.

  2. Chubbs,
    Yes, I agree. We’re not going to achieve much if we’re only willing to accept the policy that we believe to be right and nothing else. However, it is hard to have a sensible discussion about policy if some parties don’t see the need for anything.

  3. dikranmarsupial says:

    “a discourse culture that substantially reduces opportunities for developing effective policy and technology approaches on climate change that broker support among not only liberals, but also moderates and conservatives.”

    Err, isn’t that labellng? ;o) The scientific debate is polarized largely because disagreement about the science is being used as a proxy for disagreements about polarized political positions and to avoid arguing directly about the politics.

    FWIW, I try to avoid labeling, or use complimentary labels such as “skeptic” (although I don’t always achieve that), but in my experience the only benefit it brings in the discussion is avoidance of interminable “nature of the debate” debates, and allows me to concentrate on discussing the science.

    The debate is polarized because many people are highly polarized, rather than because of labeling (IMHO). The only thing we can do to reduce this is to be willing to discuss the science without regard to our political views, which isn’t going to happen any time soon.

  4. Dikran,
    Yes, I do sometimes find the arguments about depolarising somewhat one-sided. It’s often aimed at those arguing for climate action, rather than at those who don’t seem to be willing to accept the scientific evidence. I also rarely see arguments that people should stop using “alarmist”, or “warmist”, but often see arguments against using “denier”.

  5. Greg Robie says:

    Deborah Tannen’s work in linguistics and conversational styles cogently apply a to this posts’ framing. A pertinent generalization from her studies is that men tend to engage in discourse that can be described as oneupmanship, while women effect conversation-as-circles. I’m virtually certain that a gender-defined difference regarding accessing oxytocin informs this gendered difference in conversational style preference. Consequently the concept of “depolarizing” is fraught with motivated reasoning. “Polarizing” is a feature of one of the species’ genders. (The moderation and comment policies of this blog can be seen in this light to be – or at least be an – attempt to affect ‘rules for engagement’ regarding the oneupmanship conversational style.

    To the degree an inclusive, and, potentially, an ever more complex leaning society, it is a both/and situation, and to suggest otherwise tends to functionally be comparable to the denial of physics.

    Which, of course, is germane to the surety of our host. Motivated reasoning cannot not be affected in social conversations. The more gender-inclusive these are, and the more emotion-invoking they are, the less the [rational] communication that can transpire.

    This is why the systemic bottom line to all human social intercourse is what is done, not what is said. And this is why I keep pointing out that academia is the linchpin for affecting what ATTP asserts is possible (while concurrently effecting a belief that such action is not germane to the social responsibilities of science). To the degree our “failure to communicate” is more a feature, than a choice, and at this time of ‘karmaticly’ induced climate AND social chaos, increasingly it is ONLY action that argues. AND, and proportionally so, motivated reasoning floods into social dynamics effecting a repeat of the Tower of Babel story.

    @-Mal expressed aspects of this well in his observation about the passion present in this blog’s activities and its Moebis band dynamic. Isn’t a different Moebis band – with one “side” words, the other “side” action – and paradoxically (thanks to motivated reasoning) our both/and as-good-as-it-gets? In all human endeavors, doesn’t history teach that there comes a time and season for – paraphrased – ‘no one to be right and everyone to be wrong’. If so, and FWIW, 😉 is time to “stop, children, what’s that sound, everybody look what’s going down?”

    Or, and again, “Adieu”:

    sNAILmALEnotHAIL …but pace’n myself

    https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCeDkezgoyyZAlN7nW1tlfeA

    life is for learning

    so all my failures must mean

    that I’m wicked smart

    >

  6. dikranmarsupial says:

    “This is why the systemic bottom line to all human social intercourse is what is done, not what is said.”

    People don’t behave according to their actual values (they don’t even act in accordance with their own best interests – Kahneman?). Both what they say and what they do is relevant if you want to change what they do.

    Not oneupmanship, at least not intentionally. 😉

  7. There are two global energy/climate policies that are actually being done to varying degrees- one makes sense and is reducing emissions and the other makes no sense, isn’t reducing emissions, and is becoming politically unsustainable.
    George Will in this morning’s Washington Post on the state of play in the US:
    “The Democrats’ threat to nuclear power’s existence tells you how seriously they take their own rhetoric about the “existential” climate threat. As does their vague, tepid and perfunctory endorsement of the most efficient way to reduce carbon — a carbon tax, which might pose an existential threat to their aspirations.
    Also, America is not going to retrofit every building. Or wean people off air travel and get them onto high-speed electric trains like the forever-hypothetical one between Los Angeles and San Francisco that California is failing to build at a projected cost — so far — of up to $100 billion.”

    Fantasies aren’t policies and can’t really be debated.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/warren-and-sanders-know-their-startling-ideas-wont-get-done/2019/11/06/17f80a18-fffb-11e9-8501-2a7123a38c58_story.html

  8. RickA says:

    I think quite a bit of the polarization is due to the nature of the debate. We have many competing predictions of the future, and disagreement about which one is most likely. Only waiting will clarify which prediction is correct. So we are just marking time and waiting to see which prediction is correct. Ultimately, we will learn this and it will inform the science and improve the modeling process – but I think it is pretty clear that we are not there yet. Just look at the range among the latest models, with some as high as ECS of 5.4C.

    Arguing over what the future holds is very polarizing – that is not going to change.

    Secondly, even if we all agree on what the future holds, there will always be disagreement on the best way forward. For example, I personally think that eliminating CO2 is impossible and that 100% renewable is also impossible. I see the way forward to rely 75% on nuclear and 25% on renewable – but that position is a non-starter for at least 50% of the population. This doesn’t seem rational to me, but obviously does to over 50% of the population. 75% nuclear and 25% renewable is technically possible and would solve the problem, but this solution is being rejected. Meanwhile, there is no technically possible solution and what is being pursued is 100% renewable, which I regard as physically impossible, massively impractical and likely to create new problems which dwarf the problems created by CO2 emissions.

    There will always be arguments over the way forward – that is not going to change.

    Maybe compromise would be a good idea. Maybe we should look at increasing renewable from 20 ish to 40 ish percent of power generation, while also increasing nuclear from 20 ish to 40 ish percent of power generation, just to start solving the problem. I am sure we will learn a lot about the various problems that will certainly be uncovered as we roll out this plan, and we can revise and redirect based on what we learn. Say re-examine every 5 years and tweak the plan.

    In the meantime, it would be a good idea to keep looking at the economics of 100% renewable and do studies on whether it is really practical to use wind and solar to produce power, without inventing grid level power storage. It would also be a good idea to keep trying to invent fusion, or look at space based solar or some other not-yet invented baseload power generation strategy which doesn’t emit CO2.

    But it is hard to debate when one side rejects the only actual technically feasible solution we have in hand – instead choosing to rely on a pipe dream.

    At least that is how I see it.

  9. ecoquant says:

    Not sure communication works well if parties it in don’t share common knowledge. Setting deniers and luckwarmers aside, environmental progressives, in my experience, don’t really know the science of climate change. They trust authority, and they have heard it will bad, and they think of CO2 as a greenhouse effect, without knowing the mechanism. But they don’t understand/know the longevity of CO2 in the climate system, they don’t understand/know how long oceans hold onto heat, and they don’t understand/know the expected ramifications of +1.5C, +2C, +3C, or +4C and why.

    I even know of environmental activists who are so overcome by humanity’s collective social malaise to act on this problem that they’ve given up, and feel the best thing we can do is embrace one another as we go down.

    And while I understand the motivation of containing social and economic disruption from a rapid switch to non-fossil fuel energy implicit in Green New Deal kinds of plans, I worry that these plans themselves will impede the task that’s front center, namely, zeroing fossil fuel emissions. Sure there’s a need for social and environmental justice, but we may need to triage. And my attitude on this isn’t terribly popular among that camp.

    So, I don’t know how we talk.

  10. dikranmarsupial says:

    “So we are just marking time and waiting to see which prediction is correct.”

    That is a somewhat suboptimal approach if what happens in the future depends on our current actions. We don’t know what will happen, but that doesn’t mean all outcomes are equally plausible. So we shouldn’t be marking time, we should be establishing the relative plausibilities of the outcomes, and the damages associated with each outcome so that we can act rationally now. The same as rational people would do in relation to any uncertainty about the future (e.g. insurance).

  11. Rick,
    Your comment is kind of my point. It would be much more pleasant if things were less polarised. However, given that this polarisation appears to be largely due to fundamental disagreements about whether or not there is actually a problem we need to try and solve, it’s really not clear why de-polarising the debate would make any difference, at least in terms of actually solving the debate. Some might even argue that doing so would be counter-productive because it would give credibility to those who actively oppose doing anything.

  12. Willard says:

    > see the way forward to rely 75% on nuclear

    Fun fact. Even the Torygraph talks about going vegan. On the 1st of November:

    Today marks World Vegan Day, and the start of World Vegan Month. In fact, it could be dubbed ‘Vegan Season’. Wait a few weeks and we’ll be in Veganuary – though, truth be told, you’ll probably hear a fair amount about plant-based diets before then.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/six-reasons-go-vegan-according-science/

    Drive-by done, RickA and JeffN.

  13. bkellysky says:

    Hi! I think depolarizing the debate has more effect on the people watching the exchange. They may be undecided, looking for more evidence or learning how to engage people they know who don’t trust some of the more political actors. I’m not as good at that myself. I look to Katharine Hayhoe and others who work to persuade people to relate what they are seeing around them to the physics of atmospheric science and what that means for our future.

  14. bkellysky,
    Yes, I agree with that. How we conduct ourselves can influence the undecided observers. Katharine is indeed an example of someone who seems to be able to effectively engage with those who are pre-disposed to dispute the need for climate action.

  15. ecoquant says:

    @dikranmarsupial,

    So we shouldn’t be marking time, we should be establishing the relative plausibilities of the outcomes, and the damages associated with each outcome so that we can act rationally now. The same as rational people would do in relation to any uncertainty about the future (e.g. insurance).

    From a policy-making perspective, and for implementation of climate mitigation, the other important aspect is that these systems have lags. There are lags in the climate system itself, and lags between when humanity more-or-less says, “Go: Let’s fix this” and how long it takes to arrange matters so emissions are zeroed or, more realistically, minimized. (Agriculture will be very difficult to zero.) But, too, on the former, when/if we do minimize emissions, with great economic pain, no doubt, people are going to want to know, “Well? When is it going to get better?”

    And the really difficult thing for representative democracies is that, essentially, it won’t get better. It’ll stop getting worse, even if atmospheric concentration of CO2 begins to taper off, because (a) some of it will remain in the system for a thousand years or more, and (b) that darn latent heat in oceans. (We’re lucky 90+% of the excess is going into the oceans.)

    I think people collectively have a really hard time thinking about lags (even if they shoot skeet) and, in mood of distrust, this sounds all like flim-flam even if it isn’t.

  16. attp says “it is hard to have a sensible discussion about policy if some parties don’t see the need for anything.”

    I think many people may only act when they are convinced that there is a real threat to themselves or people they love. Even today, some scientists are not yet convinced that global warming is happening much faster than scientists expected and until they are convinced, by noting scientific milestones such as the IPCC reports and their dependable acceleration about the speed and impact of the climate crisis, the unconvinced scientists may fail to convey our true plight. But, in any case, I still think that many people may only act when they are convinced and/or actually feel threatened.

    That’s just the nature of our species. We should be respectful and continue to communicate with folks. We should be as persuasive and patient as we can be. It’s important to remember that in the long run, we are all dead, so be happy to be alive and friendly to others sharing that transient state.

    Cheers

    Mike

  17. daveburton says:

    Re: “…until we stop emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the climate will continue to change and, in the absence of technology for removing these gases from the atmospheres, the changes we do induce will be irreversible.”

    Although some minor GHGs are quite persistent, no “technology for removing” CO2 and CH4 (methane) from the atmosphere would needed, even if they were harmful, because nature is already rapidly removing them.

    Even if you don’t burn it, CH4 in the atmosphere is quickly removed by oxidation into CO2 and water. The effective half-life of CH4 in the atmosphere is under a decade.

    CO2 is also fairly quickly removed from the atmosphere, mostly by terrestrial “greening” and the oceans. If we “stopped emitting” CO2, then the atmospheric CO2 level would be falling, not stable.

    Greening and the oceans are currently removing about 5 PgC per year from that atmosphere (equivalent to about 2.3 ppmv CO2). That removal rate is governed primarily by the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. As CO2 levels rise, so will that removal rate. If CO2 emissions suddenly dropped to zero, the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere would continue, though the removal rate would decline along with the CO2 level. If CO2 emissions ceased today, the atmospheric CO2 level would fall below 350 ppmv in under 35 years.

    Unfortunately, the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere, and the resulting benefits for agriculture and natural ecosystems, cannot be maintained without continued CO2 emissions of about 5 PgC per year (about half the current rate).

  18. Dave,

    Even if you don’t burn it, CH4 in the atmosphere is quickly removed by oxidation into CO2 and water. The effective half-life of CH4 in the atmosphere is under a decade.

    This is correct, and I was planning on writing a post about methane. I will add, though, that if we continue to increase methane emissions, then this will lead to increasing warming.

    CO2 is also fairly quickly removed from the atmosphere, mostly by terrestrial “greening” and the oceans. If we “stopped emitting” CO2, then the atmospheric CO2 level would be falling, not stable.

    This is wrong. If we stopped emitting CO2, the oceans would continue to take up some of our emissions. However, 20-30% of what we’ve emitted (or an amount equivalent to this) would remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years. If you would like to learn more about this, I suggest this paper. I’ve also worked through some of the carbonate chemistry, so could provide links to my posts if you would like.

    Unfortunately, the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere, and the resulting benefits for agriculture and natural ecosystems, cannot be maintained without continued CO2 emissions of about 5 PgC per year (about half the current rate).

    Again wrong. Maintaining current levels would require emissions of around 1GtC/yr. At 5GtC/yr, atmospheric CO2 would continue rising.

  19. Willard says:

    > Although some minor GHGs are quite persistent

    They’re almost as persistent as DaveB. I wonder if Matthew Nisbett ever had to deal with such a pure form of denial. If he did, he too would come to the conclusion that we need better contrarians.

    To that effect, I duly submit that better contrarian role models would help. Stay tuned.

  20. ecoquant says:

    @daveburton,

    Oh, that’s your usual rubbish.

  21. Willard says:

    No piling on, please.

  22. Jeffh says:

    ‘the resulting benefits for agriculture and natural ecosystem’…

    [Piling on. -W]

    The net benefits to agricultural ecosystems are more than offset by costs e.g. exposure to extreme climate events such as droughts, heatwaves and floods which are increasing in frequency and intensity and which are harming plant mutualists above-ground and below-ground. As for natural ecosystems there are absolutely no net benefits. A colleague of mine is doing a meta-analysis on the effects of extreme climatic events associated with warming on plant-animal interactions and plants suffer immense fitness costs. This, in turn, has a profoundly negative effect up the food chain. The results are startling.

    [Piling on. -W]

  23. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    > it is something we can end/solve,

    So I world turn this…

    > I just don’t see really see how engaging constructively with those who don’t see the need for climate policy would somehow lead to effective climate policy.

    around. How will “… using labels, be depolarizing the debate, and should prioritise civil disagreements…” end/solve the problem of climate change… lead to effective climate policy?

    I happen to think that effective policy will only come about at the point when the ownership of climate policy is de-polarized. I’m not particularly optimistic that WILL happen through de-polarizing practices (I think it COULD happen that way but that it isn’t likely it will). Instead, I see that happening only when the pressure of risk from climate change overwhelms the “motivation” of identity politics.

    Not that I think your question shouldn’t be answered. I think the argument that a lack of policy progress is attributable to labeling is not well-supported by evidence. I see the causality mechanism as rather more complicated – whereby the labeling /polarization AND the lack of progress sre both being driven by a shared underlying causality.

  24. Joshua says:

    Rick –

    > Maybe compromise would be a good idea.

    The problem, IMO, is that the notion of compromise is meaningless absent a means (and accompanying commitment) to reach compromise.

  25. Joshua,

    around. How will “… using labels, be depolarizing the debate, and should prioritise civil disagreements…” end/solve the problem of climate change… lead to effective climate policy?

    Yes, I don’t specifically think that polarizing the debate helps either. I just don’t see how de-polarising will help to develop effective climate policy.

    I happen to think that effective policy will only come about at the point when the ownership of climate policy is de-polarized. I’m not particularly optimistic that WILL happen through de-polarizing practices (I think it COULD happen that way but that it isn’t likely it will). Instead, I see that happening only when the pressure of risk from climate change overwhelms the “motivation” of identity politics.

    Yes, I agree with this, unfortunately. In some sense, isn’t this the point? It will de-polarise when it’s essentially obvious that some views are simply wrong. So, it won’t happen because we actively tried to depolarise the debate. It will happen when it becomes clear that some positions are essentially unacceptable. I do sometimes wonder, though, if we could accelerate this if those who seem to accept the evidence but think we should de-polarise, instead pointed out that some views are simply wrong.

  26. Joshua says:

    > I do sometimes wonder, though, if we could accelerate this if those who seem to accept the evidence but think we should de-polarise, instead pointed out that some views are simply wrong.

    Maybe. It’s possible, I guess. But I think that blaming polarizing practices is more annoying than materially (differential) impactful in either direction. Annoying, imo, because it looks to me like weak science.

    But I also think it’s theoretically possible that those who advocate against polarizing practices would increase their likelihood of impact if they stopped focusing (in error, IMO) on assigning blame and instead narrowed their focus on advocacy for depolarized methods of engagement.

    Name-calling/labeling in combination with decrying the negative influence of name-calling /labeling shows a rather remarkable lack of insight, imo. Laying the blame for the lack of climate policy progress on (particular people) name-calling/labeling isn’t quite as useless, but it does seem to me to be a close cousin. At any rate, avoiding last place in a race to be less useless seems like a rather low bar.

  27. Joshua,
    Yes, there is an element of irony to some of this. I have sometimes had more trouble having constructive disagreements with those who argue in favour of constructive than one might imagine.

  28. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Hi, ATTP.

    I put the first sentence of your post into a new AI engine* and it half-completed it thus:

    I’ve always been a little puzzled by the (mostly) social scientists who seem to argue that to develop effective climate policy we should stop using labels, be depolarizing the debate, and should prioritise civil disagreements.

    It seems to me that we need to work more closely with the rest of the world’s scientists. The most successful climate policy comes out of the public policy side of climate science. We need to work more closely with industry, government, NGOs, and others to create the incentives that will drive the most cost-effective and effective climate policy. We need to be more open to working with the public to develop policies. We need to encourage more of those who have been studying climate impacts on the social rather than just on the economic, to write papers on their work. And we need to work more closely with the scientific community so they can…

    (It cut off there.)

    I think that’s a clearer summary of ‘your’ position on climate change than anything you have ever offered yourself, though it prolly places too much emphasis on non-science.

    So how about this second attempt:

    I’ve always been a little puzzled by the (mostly) social scientists who seem to argue that to develop effective climate policy we should stop using labels, be depolarizing the debate, and should prioritise civil disagreements.

    Climate policy should be about policy; it should not be about politics. It is about the future of our planet, and the future of our descendants. And it’s also about how our societies deal with the social implications of this new climate reality. The political debate around climate change is already being hijacked by self-interested interests and ideological agendas.

    So I would suggest that if you do not want to be the next Stephen Hawking, do not debate climate science; do not be the next Tom Steyer.

    What is needed is a new climate science and policy framework. I think that there is a good chance that the new…

    Oof!

    Maybe not.

    Third attempt:

    I’ve always been a little puzzled by the (mostly) social scientists who seem to argue that to develop effective climate policy we should stop using labels, be depolarizing the debate, and should prioritise civil disagreements.

    The first point is correct – we should depolarise. But, the second point is wrong – we don’t need a new kind of ‘climate language’ to develop effective policies, we need a new kind of language that we can use to argue effectively on climate. We need a climate language that is inclusive and that allows for debate, and that is based on our shared human concerns. It’s about using language as an organising tool, not a label, and it is about being willing to have different ways of thinking about climate policy.

    If we accept that there is a common human language, if we accept that we can use language to make sense of what is happening on Earth, then we can also see that there is nothing wrong with climate science. We have an idea of what is happening…

    Better?

    ===
    *https://talktotransformer.com/

  29. Vinny,
    I quite like the first one. I certainly don’t know how to solve this problem and am all for people with alls sorts of different views and perspectives engaging in discussions about what to do. I also think we need to consider all sorts of factors when thinking about solutions. I simply don’t see how trying to depolarise a debate with those who don’t think we need to do anything, will somehow lead to an effective solution.

  30. ecoquant says:

    @Jeffh,

    Heartily agree on

    … the effects of extreme climatic events associated with warming on plant-animal interactions and plants suffer immense fitness costs. This, in turn, has a profoundly negative effect up the food chain. The results are startling.

    See, for example, Webb, et al, 2017, Grimm, et al, 2013, Classen, et al, 2015, and especially Ellis, 2015.

    Also, one could hope for species which are relatively hearty (like some corals) that might take the place of those affected by heat, droughts, extreme rain, and changes in microbial soils composition, but it will take quite some time, and require changes in many of our notions of agriculture and landscape management. One of my favorite themes, inspired by Prof Del Tredici of Harvard and colleagues, is that many of the species we presently consider “invasives” might be the best to encourage in a future harsh climate. Still, it’ll take time for people to get back their taste for Alliaria petiolata, despite it being a delicacy of 19th century America, and even today. (Though I’m not sure how good it is dosed with Roundup.)

  31. Willard says:

    Move over, Matthew:

    In a recent paper, Vartanova and her colleagues showed just how powerful universal arguments can be. Using data from a survey that tracked public opinion in the United States on 74 different moral issues from 1972 to 2016, they created a measure of how strongly common arguments (such as, “We should limit carbon emissions because people are suffering”) connect to the care and fairness foundations compared to opposing arguments (such as, ”We shouldn’t limit carbon emissions because it would impede economic growth”). If a given argument is rooted more deeply in care and fairness than its counterargument, it has what the researchers call a “harm-fairness connection advantage.”

    A model of public opinion change they developed not only reaffirmed that public opinion is becoming more liberal on many issues, but also showed that the rate of this change depends largely on the strength of the harm-fairness connection advantage: The bigger the advantage for a given argument, the faster the leftward shift among liberals and conservatives alike. The model offers, as the researchers wrote, “an explanation for why gay rights, gender equality, and racial equality are gaining support faster than opinions in favor of abortion rights, affirmative action, and suicide, for which harm-and-fairness considerations are much less clear-cut.” Vartanova and her colleagues seem to have shown how exposure to the right arguments can predictably change not just individual opinions, but the belief system of an entire society: As they put it, “Our model illustrates that psychology can create culture.”

    http://nautil.us/issue/78/atmospheres/the-psychology-of-greta-thunbergs-climate-activism

  32. Gandyalf says:

    Hi all,
    According to the keeling curve, absolutely nothing has been done to reduce our collective and global emissions.

  33. “However, in the context of these discussions, climate change refers to anthropogenically-driven climate change…”

    Why the doublespeak? It’s illogical thinking and language – it obscures, disguises and distorts the meaning of words. It is off-putting.

  34. Gandyalf,
    Yes, we certainly haven’t yet succeeded in getting our emissions to start going down.

  35. edimbukvarevic,
    I don’t quite get what you mean. I’m all for people being clearer, but it’s also clear that when people discuss climate change today, they don’t mean climate change in general, they mean the climate change that’s occurring because of what we’re doing.

  36. aTTP, it is not clear for many. It is deceptive. Like you said, “we will not end, or stop, climate change.”

  37. edimbukvarevic,
    Except, it should be clear to those who are commenting on the topic. The issue today is anthropogenically-driven climate change (which we can end/stop) not simply climate change.

  38. Yes, it should be clear and logical, so I suggest stop using “climate change”, and use AGW/ACC or something like that. The sloppy “climate change” is off-putting.

  39. dikranmarsupial says:

    “aTTP, it is not clear for many. It is deceptive. ”

    No, it would only be deceptive if the intent was to decieve (rather than just achieve more efficient communication by omitting a word that is obvious from context). There is always a burden on those joining into a conversation to meet those already engaged at least half way by trying to establish a common frame of reference. If I join in a discussion about football (22 people kicking a ball about for 90 minutes), I shouldn’t expect them to avoid jargon terms etc. just to suit me. They should be able to talk about “offside traps” without being accused of being deceptive! ;o)

  40. edimbukvarevic,
    Maybe you’re missing my point. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t be clearer. I’m suggesting some aren’t.

  41. izen says:

    @-edimbukvarevic
    “The sloppy “climate change” is off-putting.”

    The sloppiness you perceive may be the result of an intentional framing.

    The IPCC was set up to investigate Climate Change, the clue is in the initials, because anthropogenic global warming is only part of the change. And a very generalised description at that.

    However as the Luntz memo made clear, a polarised component of the debate decided to use ‘climate change’ because it had less impact on how the issue is viewed than ‘global warming’.
    The issue has been further complicated by a frequent response to discussions of climate change with the meme ‘the climate is always changing/has always changed.’
    As if the past inter-glacial transitions magically refute the scientific knowledge we have about the current observed changes and their causes.

    It doesn’t matter what you call a rose, it will still wilt in a drought and drown in a flood.

  42. Dikran, I didn’t mention intent, only deception. There is deception without (conscious) intent, self-deception… I also don’t criticize jargon, but illogicality of the term “climate change”. Offside trap is perfectly logical.
    ATTP, I am not missing your point. We should be clearer.

  43. Greg Robie says:

    Does de-polarization mean deifying?

    This question’s framing arises from my researching the etymology of “god” and “good” regarding my attempted visual pun of “GREED-as-go[]d”. First, my pun about the good/god thing is unsubstantiated. Furthermore, it turns out that there is linguistic research that reveals that the social concept of associating good with god is a recent development. Before this transition, there was no direct correlation.

    Think about that!

    If [physics] just is, it can’t be polarized; there is no debate; there is only duty and honor (concerning that duty). Corollaries to this is the red-pill-real awoke-ness of there is no individual, or, at least no rational personal perception of good. What is the relevant line from the “Matrix”? … “There is no spoon.”? 😉

    Isn’t this both a mind bender AND an iteration of the muse for this blog’s name? Regardless, etymology seems to be saying that a long lost social condition is also our [limited] future. As the chaos of this change cycle envelops all-things-social is affected by the functionally [final] collapse – and as proof of our propensity to repeat of history via socially trusted motivated reasoning – won’t good be stripped from the social perception/conflation of good with [physics]. 😉

    To test this as an iteration of the “Dismal Theorem”, @-Anders, propose to the administration of the University of Edinburgh that they affect a business plan that will effect zero CO2 emissions by _______. Then write a post about what you experience. An iteration of this did not go well for me at MIT (https://www.climatecolab.org/contests/2015/harnessing-the-power-of-mit-alumni/phase/1312705/proposal/1327121). Or, a death-of-good experience constrains and defines our future.

    8|

    @-Vinny’s AI: ask to be reprogrammed to process such questions without linking good to [physics] or GREED-as-go[]d … I bet the cost effective & effective differentiation will cease to calculated. (Or, a very interesting set of results regarding inputted and assumed constraints?)

    =)

    sNAILmALEnotHAIL …but pace’n myself

    https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCeDkezgoyyZAlN7nW1tlfeA

    life is for learning

    so all my failures must mean

    that I’m wicked smart

    >

  44. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Dikran, I didn’t mention intent, only deception. There is deception without (conscious) intent, self-deception…”

    No, you can unintentionally mislead, but you can’t unintentionally deceive. Even when you decieve your self, it is done with an intent (possibly unconscious), e.g. to avoid accepting something unpleasant – for instance that we need to do something about fossil fuel emissions. The dictionary definition is “deliberately cause (someone) to believe something that is not true, especially for personal gain.” [emphasis mine]

    “I also don’t criticize jargon, but illogicality of the term “climate change”.

    The use of “climate change” in this context is jargon. It is a word or phrase with a nuance to its meaning that may be different to general usage. In this case, eliding a word that is obvious from context in the interests of efficiency (especially as anthropogenic is quite a long word). People do that all the time when speaking, and there is nothing illogical about it. It is a bit like requiring people to say “the pause in global mean surface temperatures” every time rather than just “the pause” – when discussing climate we know that the speaker is most probably referring to GMSTs without requiring them to say it, and there is nothing deceptive about it.

    “ATTP, I am not missing your point.”

    There is usually no stronger indication that a point is being missed than a statement of that nature. If you actually are missing the point, how could you know whether you had missed it?

  45. dikranmarsupial says:

    Anyway, I’ll leave it there.

  46. “No, you can unintentionally mislead, but you can’t unintentionally deceive. Even when you decieve your self, it is done with an intent (possibly unconscious), e.g. to avoid accepting something unpleasant – for instance that we need to do something about fossil fuel emissions.”

    This is a really good point.

    “According to the keeling curve, absolutely nothing has been done to reduce our collective and global emissions.”

    This is a really good point that relates to the first.
    IMO much of the polarization is around the simple fact that today’s climate activism is glaringly blind to the importance of the word “global” (where are today’s emissions?) and focuses like a laser on demanding specific alternatives to fossil fuels that are not happening for very good reasons. We can agree that it’s imperative that I leave my New York office to attend a meeting in Los Angeles tomorrow. But if you insist that I walk there, it won’t happen and the debate about the importance of the meeting will be polarized and ineffective.

  47. Chubbs says:

    Funny how the “other” side is always responsible for polarization.

  48. dikranmarsupial says:

    Chubbs “Funny how the “other” side is always responsible for polarization.”

    This is kind of the point. There are no “sides” to the science, the “sides” are imposed on the science by the people arguing about it. Some of us just want to discuss the science and want policy to be formed on the basis of a rational assessment of the best available science, and don’t really have a “side”. However we are placed on a “side” for pointing out that obvious canards are canards (the distribution of canards across the two “sides” is very asymmetrical).

    Ironically, this was on my Twitter feed today, and I think hits the nail squarely on the head.

  49. Willard says:

    > It is deceptive.

    You could say that for any word choice whatsoever, Edim. Language is a social art.

    Besides, we know at least since Frank’s Memo that “climate change” ought to be less polarizing:

    The phrase “global warming” should be abandoned in favour of “climate change”, Mr Luntz says, and the party should describe its policies as “conservationist” instead of “environmentalist”, because “most people” think environmentalists are “extremists” who indulge in “some pretty bizarre behaviour… that turns off many voters”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2003/mar/04/usnews.climatechange

    Interestingly, Matthew’s Big Think piece does not mention that:

    In a segment from the recent Frontline special “Hot Politics,” GOP pollster Frank Luntz explains his 1997/1998 memo that became the playbook for how conservatives like President Bush and Senator James Inhofe redefined climate change as really a matter of “scientific uncertainty” and “unfair economic burden.” We detail the strategy and its impact on public opinion in our Framing Science thesis and in our talks as part of the Speaking Science 2.0 national tour.

    https://bigthink.com/age-of-engagement/the-luntz-memo-and-the-framing-of-climate-change

    A Speaking Science tour. Sounds polarizing to me.

  50. JNS says “if you insist that I walk there, (la meeting from ny office) it won’t happen and the debate about the importance of the meeting will be polarized and ineffective.”

    If it’s a debate, it will probably be polarized. A discussion of other options to avoid airflight across the country doesn’t have to be polarized. I think your choices for attending an LA meeting from NY home are not limited to flying or walking to LA.

    https://www.smartmeetings.com/tips-tools/technology/85250/12-tech-tools-for-virtual-meetings

    It can be done, but it’s not business as usual.

    Cheers

    Mike

  51. “Funny how the “other” side is always responsible for polarization.”

    Like it or not, the most fervent advocates have a greater responsibility.
    If both sides can’t debate the solution, then the argument about the importance of the problem is polarized and ineffective. Each just shouts at the other “your idea won’t work so you must be in denial that the issue is real” followed by “I don’t like your idea and we have only hours before the Earth dies and falls out of the solar system”

    The trends are improving:
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/19/james-hansen-nasa-scientist-climate-change-warning

    https://apnews.com/933b49681b0d47d3a005d356f35251ab

    mike- “i can call people in LA anytime I want, why have you been in my office all morning insisting I be in LA tomorrow instead of setting a conference call? Tell you what, if you think this is so important you tell your guy in LA to email Cindy in marketing. If she thinks there’s anything to this, she can bring it up next Wednesday. Meanwhile you write a memo on this and give it to my admin assistant, be sure to address the six reasons why Tom in accounting says this is bogus and explain why you didn’t feel the need to schedule a conference call at any point over the last six months even though you said this was an existential threat to our business.”

  52. ecoquant says:

    @dikranmarsupial,

    I also believe there is a widespread misunderstanding on how conflicts in Science and Statistics are resolved. There are conflicts in Mathematics, too, but I’m too inexpert to understand those, as I look in but never participate there. (I have a feeling logic and deference to superior authority plays a stronger role.) The methods for resolution of scientific conflict are pretty much out there for people to see, but they seldom look. They are not always practiced. After all, scientists are people, too.

    But, in Science, generally speaking, there is a kind of Letters challenge, where letters are often short technical papers. Sometimes, if the challenge or issue is big enough, there is a critical paper written, peer reviewed and all that. And, clearly, as the matter works out over months and years, people challenge or improve on the view. You can see this in the short term when a bunch of experts convene at a place like Snowbird and react to each other’s presentations. Sometimes this doesn’t work out, and there is unresolved conflict. In the best cases, the protagonists and critics team together after the initial proposal-fby-criticism, and work up a clarifying or exploratory joint rejoinder. I always see that as Science at its best.

    In Statistics, most papers are tossed off into the ether, and people working in the field do the usual pile on, or criticism of them. Eventually there is a review. With arXiv.org this cycle can be fast, with publication being a kind of tombstone on a point of discussion, in the same sense that adverts-of-record for stock IPOs usually and effectively only come out after the IPO is fully subscribed. This also occurs, as in Science, during conferences, in person.

    In Computer Science, at least in many of its subfields, the publication path is eschewed in favor of arXiv.org and presentation at important annual conferences. I don’t really know how conflicts there are resolved, although I do know many active computer scientists.

    I think the public — and perhaps policymakers — think of scientific conflicts as being resolved in a rhetorical manner, particularly taking courtroom forms. That’s wholly inappropriate to the field. Ultimately, statistically sound evidence is what’s required whereas in a courtroom setting, presentation and force of argument can matter, even to the point of fallacy, and especially statistical fallacy.

    There is a final review and criticism of Science which is touchier. Sometimes, whether in the case of ,Millikn and his oil drops or Eddington and his validation of General Relativity during eclipses, an attempt to reproduce a part or a retrospective analysis reveals weaknesses. In the case of Millikan, he apparently made an honest mistake which affected his results, but did not invalidate them. What’s interesting is that because of his stature, the challenge took a bit of time to be believed. In the case of Eddington, the assessment is less clear. (The Millikan Experiment is particularly meaningful for me since I had to reproduce it as a Physics undergraduate.)

    I’ve looked at Eddington, and, not wanting to go too far down a rabbit hole, and knowing some of the manual observational techniques which pre-technological astronomers and others used to improve their precision and accuracy, I suspect his startling accurate measurements were genuine, but at least the precision was due to some of these tricks of the trade. Eddington’s flaw was that he did not document what he did to get the measurements he did, and so we are left to wonder.

  53. Willard says:

    > Like it or not, the most fervent advocates have a greater responsibility.

    Come on, JeffN. We all know since (Raimi, 2002) that from great power comes great responsibility. Unless you can correlate power to advocacy, you got no case.

    Troglodyte blackmail needs to be better than that.

  54. angech says:

    Willard says
    “> Like it or not, the most fervent advocates have a greater responsibility.
    Come on, JeffN. We all know since (Raimi, 2002) that from great power comes great responsibility.”
    In the interests of accuracy one should mention that the line comes from the comic book series Spider-Man and predates the film by Raimi by a considerable margin of years, as “we all” know.

  55. Willard says:

    > In the interests of accuracy

    That’s the joke, Doc.

    The idea that from great power comes great responsibility is at least as old as the Bhagavad Gita.

  56. dikranmarsupial says:

    I’m a bit concerned with arXiv.org – while experienced researchers will be able to distinguish between the good papers there from the “dross” (we all produce papers that time reveals to have been not worth the effort in hindsight), I’ve seen several cases of graduate students and early career researchers being seriously misled by non-peer reviewed papers.

    Personally I think far too few comments papers are published these days, which are an important part of post-publication peer-review. There are no incentives for academics to write them and journals are increasingly resistant to publishing them (which IMHO shows a very poor attitude to quality control).

    The sort of thing statisticians do, where a paper is read before an audience who can have their comments published along with the paper is a great way to deal with high-quality papers likely to be of great importance. but it is too time consuming to be the default. Ultimately the problem is that there are too few competent reviewers for the amount of papers that get submitted.

  57. Gandyalf says:

    Thanks for your prompt reply ATTP,

    Gandyalf,
    Yes, we certainly haven’t yet succeeded in getting our emissions to start going down.

    That’s my point exactly.
    We’ve known for some time now about GHG’s and there likely effect/s.
    We’ve been discussing it when and where such discussion is allowed and/or encouraged,
    and yet, our emissions are rising, not falling.
    I used to bother arguing about it both online and offline, but I found that to a pointless waste of my time and energy.
    Far too often have left my computer hopping mad and/or fit to be tied, and so I don’t bother.
    All that I do these days is point to the relevant link.
    I know that it’s very short and curt but I’ve had some bad experiences trying to explain the best available understanding to people who, quite simply, aren’t interested.

  58. angech says:

    “That’s the joke, Doc. The idea that from great power comes great responsibility is at least as old as the Bhagavad Gita.”
    A bit slow at this end, I did wonder.

  59. Gandyalf says:

    So, here’s a good “for instance” recently posted:

    https://insideclimatenews.org/news/07112019/paris-climate-agreement-pledges-lack-urgency-ipcc-timeline-warning

    Although I haven’t read it yet, I feel sure that there’s nothing new in it for me or for you, nor indeed for most of your readership.

  60. Gandyalf says:

    Oops, that is one article that I wish I had read before I had posted it, and the report is indeed new, so, my bad.

  61. izen says:

    It takes two to polarise an issue.
    And both parties to depolarise it.

    Since 1990 when Thatcher made the speech at the UN cited above the two sides have been the consensus view of the IPCC in one direction with few pushing further than that; against a range of views from doubt the problem is as big as the IPCC describes to outright rejection into conspiracy land where even observational evidence is dismissed as group-think, fraud or a secret cabal intent on imposing a NWO.

    The effect of all this is to create a dynamic tension where the ‘Overton Window’ on (anthropogenic) climate change has occupied an unstable, shifting position between the IPCC consensus and the politically neutered SPMs and the delay, doubt, and the other D word position.

    But now it looks like a third position is gaining ground. That things are worse, and happening faster than the consensus projected.

    “The word “upended” does not do justice to the revolution in climate science wrought by the discovery of sudden climate change. The realization that the global climate can swing between warm and cold periods in a matter of decades or even less came as a profound shock to scientists who thought those shifts took hundreds if not thousands of years.”

    Is polarisation of an issue always a binary process, or can it become a 3-way split ?

  62. mrkenfabian says:

    We need minimum standards for honesty before there is any chance of depolarising the “debate”. That cannot be achieved by compromising on those standards. That will narrow the scope of the debate and undoubtedly be resisted by those who see winning as more important than abiding by such standards.

    Our institutions are our way of imposing standards – for underlying climate science those are our science institutions. Any positions based on presumptions of incompetence or bias within climate science – that rejects what is well founded and in agreement in favour of inflating the bits that are not well founded and not in agreement – lack legitimacy; being uncompromising with those holding such positions looks exactly right to me.

    That most people are not capable of making such a judgement – of what is well founded and what is not – just makes it more important to look to the judgement of experts operating within institutions and systems that do have minimum standards.

    Michael Mann gets explicit about the shift of focus onto personal lifestyle choices by opponents of climate action that has been alarming me – https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/nov/09/doomism-new-tactic-fossil-fuel-lobby

    MM – “We should also be aware how the forces of denial are exploiting the lifestyle change movement to get their supporters to argue with each other. It takes pressure off attempts to regulate the fossil fuel industry. This approach is a softer form of denial and in many ways it is more pernicious.”

    It is a Doubt, Deny, Delay message that effectively declares those who care about their emissions guilty of hypocrisy and morally inferior, whilst – hypocritically – deems those who don’t care free from any responsibility for theirs, and morally superior for it. I for one cannot compromise with such ethically challenged thinking.

  63. ecoquant says:

    This may not be a popular view but humanity has a way of resolving apparently irresolvable conflicts over things and outcomes: The marketplace. They who bid in an auction and win it get to choose.

  64. an_older_code says:

    @mrkenfabian, yes when I read that article I could not help thinking it’s essentially the same “burden shift” the tobacco companies used in the debate over house fires and fame retardant furniture – the problem was not the cigarette but the world around that cigarette – that was what needed addressing

    “the playbook” strikes again – once revealed never concealed

  65. izen says:

    @-ecopquant
    “humanity has a way of resolving apparently irresolvable conflicts over things and outcomes: The marketplace.”

    While the marketplace does exhibit some efficiencies in evolving optimisation, historically it also displays an inherent toxic tendency to concentrate assets. The haves get more, the have-nots get less.
    It is hard to find a stable society in history or extant that employs the marketplace system without also imposing re-distributive processes to reverse, or at least ameliorate, the worst effects of inequality. In the form of progressive taxation, and/or free services.
    And the marketplace has proved, repeatedly, that it is incapable of providing fire protection, water treatment, education, and medical services.

  66. Steven Mosher says:

    “Is polarisation of an issue always a binary process, or can it become a 3-way split ?”

    N way split .

  67. ecoquant says:

    @izen,

    In part it depends upon what kind of auction is used. The English auction isn’t the only model.

    And regarding

    And the marketplace has proved, repeatedly, that it is incapable of providing fire protection, water treatment, education, and medical services

    well, mutual aid societies provided insurance pretty well in the 19th century. And we’re not talking about those. We’re talking about mitigating climate disruption. Nothing in that has worked — including marching in the streets — so I wouldn’t be so condemnatory of other options.

  68. Sometimes just repeating the facts and hoping that the facts will convince others of the facts is seen as polarizing. Is climate change happening faster than scientists expected?

    “Last week, a bombshell study confirmed that the oceans are warming 40 percent faster than many scientists had previously estimated.” https://medium.com/@grist/the-debate-is-over-the-oceans-are-in-hot-hot-water-614958bb7d6e

    underlying study here: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6423/128

    There are lots of reasons to be easily convinced that climate change is happening faster than scientists have expected, but a lot of people continue to resist accepting this inconvenient fact. Why is this fact resisted? Even by folks who appear to have no particular reason to downplay the seriousness of our global situation?

    Cheers,

    Mike

  69. RickA says:

    smallbluemike says “There are lots of reasons to be easily convinced that climate change is happening faster than scientists have expected, but a lot of people continue to resist accepting this inconvenient fact. Why is this fact resisted? Even by folks who appear to have no particular reason to downplay the seriousness of our global situation?”

    I think it is because facts are slippery things.

    The ocean is made up of water, parts of which move at different speeds than others (currents), parts are warmer than others, parts are saltier than others, and so on.

    If you put two temperature sensors in the ocean at two different locations, add the temperatures and divide by two you can say you have measured the average temperature of the ocean. Is that the same temperature you would get if you simultaneously measured each cubic meter of the ocean separately and averaged them? I doubt it. I don’t think we have an average temperature of the ocean based on simultaneously measuring the temperature of every cubic meter of water – yet. If we did, I suspect it would provide a different average temperature than Argo does. Then we could measure every cubic centimeter of water, and I suspect we would get a slightly different average temperature than either Argo or my hypothetical cubic meter average temperature.

    So my long winded answer to your question is it all depends on what they measured, and how they measured, and how they computed the rate and so forth. Of course I haven’t read the paper yet, so I cannot comment on the particulars – but I question your use of the word “fact”.

    We measure the CO2 content of the atmosphere at the top of a mountain – but is that the same number we would get if we measured every cubic meter of the atmosphere for CO2 content and averaged it? I suspect not.

    So we are dealing with gross approximations – and that is part of the problem.

    You measure the CO2 content two inches from your face and you get a different number than at the top of a mountain. You measure the ocean temperature in one part of the ocean and get a different temperature than in another. Ditto for depth, in a current versus outside of a current and so forth. It probably changes based on the time of day also. So “facts” are pretty slippery.

    What do you do when 100 people measure the same thing and get 100 different results?

    You call it an ensemble result and make a spaghetti graph (I guess).

    Are any of the global climate models correct? I don’t think so. Are any of them a “fact” yet. I don’t think so. If you average them all, is that a “fact”? I don’t think so. Might the average by closer to reality – maybe. I will get back to you when we have better data on reality.

  70. izen says:

    @-RickA
    “If you put two temperature sensors in the ocean at two different locations, add the temperatures and divide by two you can say you have measured the average temperature of the ocean. Is that the same temperature you would get if you simultaneously measured each cubic meter of the ocean separately and averaged them? I doubt it.”

    measuring the steric expansion of the oceans as reflected in sea level rise gives an accurate average of the temperature of every cubic centimetre of the oceans. In fact it is a measure of the average temperature of the oceans at the level of the individual kinetic energy of each molecule of sea-water.

  71. yes, yes, RickA, it’s all very complicated. But the fact that I am bringing up is whether climate change/warming is happening faster than scientists anticipated. If we take the projections of the various IPCC reports over time as representative of the expectation of scientists, what do you see? How do those reported expectations graph? I submit that in almost every case, the impact and speed of the warming has arrived faster and stronger than expected as per the projections of the IPCC. Hence, we may arrive at a fact that climate change/warming and impacts have happened faster than scientists expected. This seems like a fact that can be easily recognized.

    btw – there are some reasons that MLO was chosen as a benchmark spot to measure atmospheric gases. A spot near your face or mine was not chosen and I think there are good reasons for these decisions.

    Cheers

    Mike

  72. izen says:

    @-RickA
    “We measure the CO2 content of the atmosphere at the top of a mountain – but is that the same number we would get if we measured every cubic meter of the atmosphere for CO2 content and averaged it? I suspect not..”

    https://phys.org/news/2018-04-global-carbon-dioxide-chinese-satellite.html
    “TanSat, launched in December 2016, is the third satellite in orbit capable of monitoring carbon dioxide with hyperspectral imaging, and it is China’s first greenhouse gas monitoring satellite. The satellite measures not only the presence of carbon dioxide, but also what YANG calls carbon dioxide flux—the source and sink of carbon dioxide on Earth’s surface. The satellite can measure carbon dioxide’s absorption in the near-infrared zone for a better picture of carbon dioxide’s behavior on and around Earth.
    The TanSat maps were completed within a year of the satellite’s launch.

  73. RickA says:

    izen:

    Great – where is your data set for the measured steric sea level over time? How far back does it go? How did you control for evaporation? How did you control for melting ice adding to the sea level? Volume changes to the ocean?

    Are you using tide gauges or satellite for your sea level rise data?

    We don’t know how much the sea floor has changed or risen or sunk or how much coastlines have raised or lowered, changing the volume of the ocean.

    Of the steric expansion, how much is due to underwater volcanos or thermal venting, and how much is from the sun?

    You see – sea level rise data is a gross approximation also. We really don’t know how much of sea level rise is from expansion due to temperature increase and how much is from additions or subtractions due to melting ice or evaporation. How much from external heat (the sun) and how much from internal heat (the core). How much from changes to the volume of the ocean (continental drift, subsistence and glacier rebound).

    All we have are gross approximations for all of these variables. None are a “fact” as such.

    If steric expansion is such a great measurement tool – why did we need ARGO?

    I don’t think anything actually substitutes for measurements, and the more the better (in my opinion).

    It is a fact that the sea level has risen. But how much is a bit more slippery.

    How much of the 120 meters of sea level rise from 20,000 years ago is due to thermal expansion?

    I don’t even request decimals, you can round to a whole number.

    I don’t think we know this – but you may disagree (and that is ok).

    Facts are slippery things.

  74. RickA says:

    smallbluemike says “I submit that in almost every case, the impact and speed of the warming has arrived faster and stronger than expected as per the projections of the IPCC.”

    Well, the ECS range in 1990 was 1.5C – 4.5C and the ECS range in the last IPCC report was 1.5C – 4.5C – so I am not sure I agree with you.

  75. izen says:

    @-RickA
    “Might the average by closer to reality – maybe. I will get back to you when we have better data on reality.”

    If you are attempting to cast doubt on the credibility of the observational measurements we have on the major components of anthropogenic climate change it might be less polarising to address the ACTUAL multiple methods we have to determine this data and the cross-validation that is possible.
    Rather than just aiming at strawman versions.

  76. RickA says:

    izen:

    I am really questioning whether the claim that “the ocean is warming 40 percent faster than many scientists had previously estimated” is a fact. That is all. I suspect this is an opinion and that other people could arrive at different numbers, probably from the same data. But I confess I have not read the paper. The hair on the back of my neck rises when something so complicated is stated with such certainty and precision. 40% faster. Maybe so and maybe no. We will see.

  77. Steven Mosher says:

    ““Last week, a bombshell study confirmed that the oceans are warming 40 percent faster than many scientists had previously estimated.” https://medium.com/@grist/the-debate-is-over-the-oceans-are-in-hot-hot-water-614958bb7d6e

    hmm.

    The paper seems to show that the observations are now in line with what was modelled,

  78. izen says:

    @-RickA
    “How did you control for evaporation? How did you control for melting ice adding to the sea level? ”

    estimating the relative contributions from thermal expansion and melting land ice is difficult. Satellite altimetry and the GRACE measurements of land ice and water storage have increased the accuracy of the ratio. As has the ARGO measurements and other multiple methods of assessing the contribution from these two factors.
    That does not make the facts ‘slippery’. The total effect is well established, all we are arguing about is the relative contributions. Variations from evaporation/rainfall and water storage are relatively minor and short-term)

    @-“We don’t know how much the sea floor has changed or risen or sunk or how much coastlines have raised or lowered, changing the volume of the ocean.”

    Please think about that question. How does changing the shape of the container alter the volume of fluid it contains ?

    @-“Of the steric expansion, how much is due to underwater volcanos or thermal venting, and how much is from the sun?”

    The relative magnitude of each effect is well known. thermal energy from the core is about two orders of magnitude smaller than that from the Sun.
    And the measured change from rising CO2 is already larger than the total thermal flux from the core. A large increase in thermal flux from the core would require a major tectonic event which would be evident from seismology.

    @-“How much of the 120 meters of sea level rise from 20,000 years ago is due to thermal expansion?”

    We are interested in how much sea level rise is due to recent climate change, not the events of the last glacial-interstadial transition, most of which was eutstatic.
    We know that for the last ~2000 years sea level rise was insignificant from geological evidence and historical records of solar and lunar eclipses.
    That makes the recent sea level rise exceptional and rapid in the historical context of the Holocene period we are concerned with.

    @-“Facts are slippery things.”

    I don’t think this is true from an epistemological standpoint. But something is slippery in this exchange.

  79. an_older_code says:

    I thought this article was apposite re the polarisation of the discourse

    View this collection on Medium.com

    step forward the honest broker

  80. RickA says:

    Ok – I have now looked at the paper. I cannot tell where the 40% warmer number came from.

    I suspect it is using DOM + CHG versus DOM + LEV (swapping CHG for LEV for 700 – 2000 meter), but really cannot tell, even from looking at the supplemental data.

    Does anybody know where the 40% warmer came from?

    Facts are slippery, and this seems to bear out my point.

  81. Willard says:

    > Facts are slippery, and this seems to bear out my point.

    Paragraphs too are slippery.

    What is your point, again?

    To say – we just don’t know, it’s very complex, facts are slippery?

    And to shrug?

    Or is it just to ask questions?

    About a paper you just read?

    Of which you don’t know where the 40% comes from?

    Really?

    About how fast are the oceans warming?

    Me neither.

    Have you tried the abstract?

    Let’s start with that:

    Climate change from human activities mainly results from the energy imbalance in Earth’s climate system caused by rising concentrations of heat-trapping gases. About 93% of the energy imbalance accumulates in the ocean as increased ocean heat content (OHC). The ocean record of this imbalance is much less affected by internal variability and is thus better suited for detecting and attributing human influences than more commonly used surface temperature records. Recent observation-based estimates show rapid warming of Earth’s oceans over the past few decades (see the figure). This warming has contributed to increases in rainfall intensity, rising sea levels, the destruction of coral reefs, declining ocean oxygen levels, and declines in ice sheets; glaciers; and ice caps in the polar regions. Recent estimates of observed warming resemble those seen in models, indicating that models reliably project changes in OHC.

    https://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6423/128

    If not, you can ask Zeke.

    Here’s a tweet:

    Report.

  82. ecoquant says:

    @RickA,

    I don’t think we know this – but you may disagree (and that is ok).

    Facts are slippery things.

    No serious field experimenter goes doing what they do ignorant of what’s been done. A lot has been done, and the kinds of questions you gloss on are standard material in introductory courses on physical oceanography.

    I suggest you go learn some.

  83. RickA says:

    Willard:

    My point is that one person’s “fact” is sometimes another person’s opinion. I don’t think that paper is actually saying the ocean has been warming [40]% faster than we thought it was. So I was questioning smallbluemike’s “fact”. Neither of the things you cited has anything to do with the 40% warmer number. I am just not sure the paper says what grist says it said. Which is why facts are such slippery things.

  84. The ocean heat paper is from January 2019. I don’t think that there is any reason to think it is incorrect. It’s been covered and reviewed extensively. Folks with an ideological reason to resist the facts of global warming are a challenge… and generally a waste of time.

    The fact that I was concerned about was whether the impacts and speed of global warming are happening faster than scientists expected. I think the NYT weighed in on that question with an opinion piece today. But, hey, don’t let me get in the way of Slippery RickA.

    https://www.axios.com/ocean-heat-climbing-40-percent-faster-carbon-removal-e6a101ee-4488-4f52-ad4c-75b57b8529fe.html

  85. Willard says:

    > My point is that one person’s “fact” is sometimes another person’s opinion.

    Well, that’s rather trivial a point to make, Rick. Also, please bear in mind that if we slip from facts to opinions, or more precisely someone’s belief about facts, then facts become more than slippery. They become secondary to what we believe about them. In fact, it’s easy to slip furthermore and become dudeists:

    So I would suggest that those who are concerned about the slipperiness of facts stick to them as closely as possible. More precisely, and since we are concerned about facts that are to be found in papers, I suggest we quote and cite from these papers. Because, well, opinions are opinions, and when threads become about opinions, they all read the same.

    In a way, all I’m asking is basic due diligence.

    I hope that’s fair for everyone.

  86. RickA says:

    Just one more post. I read the other article that smallbluemike linked to. Between that and the original paper, I think I see what has happened.

    This claim is wrong:

    “Last week, a bombshell study confirmed that the oceans are warming 40 percent faster than many scientists had previously estimated.”

    What they confirmed is that the last IPCC projection of the amount of ocean warming was low, and now they have found that the amount of ocean warming they currently project is almost exactly in line with observations. The ocean is actually warming right on schedule, based on observations. Not 40% faster than we thought. The headline was misleading.

    It is not a fact that the ocean is warming 40% faster than we thought.

    Just saying – facts are slippery.

  87. Steven Mosher says:

    RickA

    Yes that was my reading of th paper and the graph.
    Ar5 OBSERVATIONS held that X
    CIMP5 Estimates held that x+40%
    New observational estimates hold x+40%
    thereabouts ( also see the errata)

    The slipperiness is in ‘what scientists expected or thought”

    If it is “worse than we thought” then I would expect evidence for this consisting of.

    1. A consensus science statement ( so the ‘we’ is valid) of some “it”
    2. A new consensus science statement of “it” being worse.

    In short, AFTER Ar6 we will have reliable science that “it” is worse than “we” thought. Or not.
    until then we gots single paper syndrome and such. As for what I see.

    1. Temperature rise is not worse than we thought.
    2. ECS, might be worse than we thought, but Gavin Schmidt is wisely withholding judgment.
    3. Marine cliff instability might be better than we thought, maybe SLR doomcasts will be lower or later
    4. Artic ice loss, seems on track with what we expected
    5. SLR seems on track with what was expected.
    6. extreme weather? seems on track

    I’d say everything seems on track, especially given all the “we told you sos” After Ar6 we will
    know if it is worse than we thought. Thats for folks who take the consensus seriously.

  88. Willard says:

    > The headline was misleading.

    Here’s how I’d do it, Rick.

    From the article:

    New, independent observations from ocean buoys and other data sources show Earth’s oceans are warming at a rate that’s about 40% faster than indicated in the 2013 U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

    That’s the first sentence of the article.

    Do you dispute that claim?

    If you do, you quote the paper.

    You did not quote anything.

    Here’s what you said:

    What they confirmed is that the last IPCC projection of the amount of ocean warming was low.

    I have no idea what you mean.

    Why?

    Because you don’t quote anything.

    Is the last “IPCC projection” in the “2013 U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report”?

    I hope so.

    Research and report.

    This time, bring quotes.

  89. Willard says:

    Nevermind.

    Here it is:

    Hope this helps.

  90. RickA says:

    Steven Mosher:

    Thank you.

    Willard:

    Got it.

  91. ecoquant says:

    It’s not clear to me from where referrals like RickA come. Perhaps Nihilists of America?

  92. Willard says:

    RickA is a regular at Lucia’s. Before that I think he commented at Keith’s. Like JeffN, me, Joshua, many others.

    RickA certainly has a point about facts. They’re what matters. One way to depolarize the debate (assuming this makes sense) is to focus on them.

    I’m working on finding contrarian models. The post should have been up this week-end. Distractions won.

    Meanwhile, let’s try to lead by example.

  93. izen says:

    @-SM
    “Ar5 OBSERVATIONS held that X
    CIMP5 Estimates held that x+40%
    New observational estimates hold x+40%
    The slipperiness is in ‘what scientists expected or thought”

    This seems about right.
    The IPCC consensus from observations was that OHC was ‘X’

    But models suggested the OHC was 40% larger.

    So some scientists MIGHT have expected the models to be more accurate than observations.
    But many would have thought the observations trump the models.

    Now the observations indicate OHC is X+40%
    So many scientists who prefer observation over models now accept the rise of OHC is larger than previously thought.

    This would seem to have parallels with the old dispute over modelled and satellite observations of LT temps when eventually the observations got corrected to match the models.

    Is this connected to that old Trenberth quote about the ‘missing heat’ ?

  94. Dave_Geologist says:

    RickA:

    Yawn.

    (I’m working on not being easily distracted.)

  95. Steven Mosher says:

    “Hope this helps.”

    yes precisely.

    Note the pea green. What the scientists doing modelling thought was happening.

    Original Question we are discussing

    ‘Sometimes just repeating the facts and hoping that the facts will convince others of the facts is seen as polarizing. Is climate change happening faster than scientists expected?”

    well is it? OHC was offered as an example. But there’s a complication that might be
    instructive:

    1. If a scientist believes the old OHC observations, then its worse they THEY thought
    2. If a scientist believed the model, then its about as bad as THEY thought.

    If a scientist DIDNT believe the modelling results, Then they probably should have documented
    this.

    HAvent read Ar5 on the discrepancy between modelling and observations to see which side they
    came down on, if at all.

  96. Steven Mosher says:

    Ah I see what they did. the chart shows OHC 0-2000 meters!! But the text talks about 0-700m
    which is what was reported in Ar5. Ar5 doesnt say anything about 0-2000. So they must have gone back to the orginal data to extract something not presented in Ar5.

    AR5 featured 5 estimates for the upper Ocean (0-700) Figure 3.2a pg 262

    The approach some of these methods used was to assume ZERO anomaly for missing data
    which of course will lower the trend . doh!

    ” Generally the smaller
    trends are for estimates that assume zero anomalies in areas of sparse
    data, as expected for that choice, which will tend to reduce trends and
    variability. ”

    For The Deep ocean Ar5 doesnt provide numbers for 0-2000m. A few scattered comments
    about 700-2000, 0-1500, and below 2000. But no figures for 0-2000.

    They write
    ‘Below 700 m data coverage is too sparse to produce annual global
    ocean heat content estimates prior to about 2005, but from 2005 to
    2010 and 0 to 1500 m the global ocean warmed (von Schuckmann and
    Le Traon, 2011). Five-year running mean estimates yield a 700 to 2000
    m global ocean heat content trend from 1957 to 2009 (Figure 3.2b)
    that is about 30% of that for 0 to 2000 m over the length of the record
    (Levitus et al., 2012). Ocean heat uptake from 700 to 2000 m likely
    continues unabated since 2003 (Figure 3.2b); as a result, ocean heat
    content from 0 to 2000 m shows less slowing after 2003 than does 0
    to 700 m heat content (Levitus et al., 2012). ”

    Following? TLDR; AR5 did not present a consensus view of OHC from 0-2000.

  97. Steven Mosher says:

    “Is this connected to that old Trenberth quote about the ‘missing heat’ ?”

    I think it may be. The problem with this as an example, is that there was no consensus on
    OHC from 0-2000m in Ar5. It was never presented. 0-700 was presented. Apparently
    the new work ( which includes the forgetable Resplandy, OUCH!) shows 0-2000m, so the authors
    went back to the papers that supported the consensus view of 0-700m and must have
    extracted the 0-2000m data. I’m not gunna dive into what they did because I trust Zeke’s
    work and there is not much more point to make other than this isnt a very clear example
    of things being worse than expected. There have to be better examples.

  98. Steven Mosher says:

    “New, independent observations from ocean buoys and other data sources show Earth’s oceans are warming at a rate that’s about 40% faster than indicated in the 2013 U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.”

    The innaccuracy is that Ar5 did not report ( chapter 3 on observations) OHC between 0-2000m
    which is the region the Letter covers.

    Maybe 0-2000m is highlighted in the modelling section.. Page 781.. looks interesting

  99. ecoquant says:

    @Steven Mosher,

    Ah I see what they did. the chart shows OHC 0-2000 meters!! But the text talks about 0-700m which is what was reported in Ar5. Ar5 doesn[‘]t say anything about 0-2000. So they must have gone back to the orginal data to extract something not presented in Ar5.

    AR5 featured 5 estimates for the upper Ocean (0-700) Figure 3.2a pg 262

    The approach some of these methods used was to assume ZERO anomaly for missing data
    which of course will lower the trend . doh!

    Interesting. Unless something is known structurally about the gaps to suggest otherwise, e.g., something physical, from a mean-squared-error perspective, y’don’t use zero, you use the mean of the rest of the observations. You can do better, with a couple more assumptions (e.g., correlation in space), using some of kind of interpolation, whether some kind of smoothing spline (I like penalized splines, but it depends) or kriging, which is what ZekeH at BEST introduced. (That said, kriging has long been known and used in oceanography, per and for example in Glover, Jenkins, Doney, 2011.) Getting fancier, such as improving estimates using some auxiliary predictions from satellite SSTs and such involves more computation and complexity, e.g., the McKean approach sketched in Chapter 7 of Reich ad Cotter, Probabilistic Forecasting and Bayesian Data Assimilation, 2015.

    It’s impossible to know motivation for assuming zero. Speculating, one could be doing science defensively, anticipating that if non-zero were adopted for gaps, the Severe Critics could claim these were choices putting a finger on the scale, so to speak. Still, using the mean is perfectly defensible and requires no additional assumptions.

    Or maybe it was just oversight.

  100. RickA says:

    I think there is a bit of advocacy and marketing here also.

    Compare the original statement smallbluemike quoted which I was skeptical of:

    “Last week, a bombshell study confirmed that the oceans are warming 40 percent faster than many scientists had previously estimated.”

    versus this later quote:

    “New, independent observations from ocean buoys and other data sources show Earth’s oceans are warming at a rate that’s about 40% faster than indicated in the 2013 U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.”

    The first statement is factually wrong, while the second is not. The first statement is more alarming and perhaps that was the point (I speculate).

    Although I still cannot figure out the calculation for the 40% faster claim, as it is not stated in that manner in the paper and it is hard to figure out what is being compared. But I don’t doubt there is a reasonable explanation – I was just unable to figure it out on my own.

    Still – there is no doubt that the first statement quoted by smallbluemike is not a fact – which is why some people don’t agree with it.

    Facts are a bit slippery.

  101. Willard says:

    > Note the pea green.

    CMIP isn’t AR5, Mosh.

    ***

    > I think there is a bit of advocacy and marketing here also.

    I think you are now moving the goalpost, Rick.

    Goalposts can be slippery.

    You said you got it yesterday.

    What did you get?

  102. Is it worse than we thought? Not to the general public, who’ve been reading dud predictions for 30 years in the popular press.
    In Salon ( a Washington Post publication), October 2001 an interview with the journalist who covered climate change for several major publications.
    https://www.salon.com/2001/10/23/weather/

    While doing research 12 or 13 years ago, I met Jim Hansen, the scientist who in 1988 predicted the greenhouse effect before Congress. I went over to the window with him and looked out on Broadway in New York City and said, “If what you’re saying about the greenhouse effect is true, is anything going to look different down there in 20 years?” He looked for a while and was quiet and didn’t say anything for a couple seconds. Then he said, “Well, there will be more traffic.” I, of course, didn’t think he heard the question right. Then he explained, “The West Side Highway [which runs along the Hudson River] will be under water. And there will be tape across the windows across the street because of high winds. And the same birds won’t be there. The trees in the median strip will change.” Then he said, “There will be more police cars.” Why? “Well, you know what happens to crime when the heat goes up.”

    And so far, over the last 10 years, we’ve had 10 of the hottest years on record.

    Didn’t he also say that restaurants would have signs in their windows that read, “Water by request only.”

    Under the greenhouse effect, extreme weather increases. Depending on where you are in terms of the hydrological cycle, you get more of whatever you’re prone to get. New York can get droughts, the droughts can get more severe and you’ll have signs in restaurants saying “Water by request only.”

    When did he say this will happen?

    Within 20 or 30 years. And remember we had this conversation in 1988 or 1989.

    Does he still believe these things?

    Yes, he still believes everything. I talked to him a few months ago and he said he wouldn’t change anything that he said then.

  103. Jeffh says:

    Seems like Jeffnails wants to see the planet literally turned into a smoldering carcass before he will believe that we are going in the wrong direction.

    Perhaps Hansen was wrong in his timing, but was he truly wrong in terms of what will inevitably happen if we don’t change course? No. All signs are that we are on a road to calamity. Spin it any way you like.

  104. Marco says:

    Actually, Jeff & Jeff, Hansen has pointed out that Bob Reiss’ comments in the Salon article are wrong – the book Reiss wrote, and in which he refers to his talk with Hansen, not only had 40 years as the timeframe, but also doubling of CO2: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2011/20110126_SingingInTheRain.pdf – footnote 1

  105. izen says:

    @-RickA
    “The first statement is factually wrong”

    -“the oceans are warming 40 percent faster than many scientists had previously estimated”-
    Is factually correct.
    The rate of warming in the IPCC as an agreed estimate by many scientists has been replaced by a new estimate based on new observational data and analysis that shows it is 40% faster than the previous estimate.

    The only part of the statement you could claim was factually wrong is the description of this research as a ‘bombshell’.
    Since AR5 there has been a steady trickle of indications that the rate of ocean warming had been under-estimated by the IPCC. Not least as a plausible explanation for the ‘pawz’ in land surface temperatures.

    I suspect that for most scientists and lay observers that follow this issue it does not come as a surprise. Their view has evolved with the accumulating evidence. So although it is worse than was thought THEN, it is just further confirmation of the increase in warming rate they recognise now.

    Perhaps it is only a ‘bombshell’ for those that were wedded to the lower figure because they resist the insight that it is getting ‘worse than we thought’.

  106. Not that it matters much, but this statement from October 31st is what set me off: “Noami Oreskes and Nicholas Stern have a New York Times Opinion piece called Climate Change will cost us even more than we think. Some are very critical, others are a little more circumspect. I, on the other hand, think that Oreskes & Stern are asking an interesting question; are we properly estimating the potential impacts of climate change? I will say, though, that I’m not convinced that they’re correct that the effects of climate change are appearing faster than scientists anticipated.”

    As I recall, our host indicated that he/she is only convinced that sea level rise is happening faster than expected. I am convinced that many effects of climate change are appearing faster than scientists anticipated.

    I would welcome a thread devoted to Oreskes and Stern are “correct that the effects of climate change are appearing faster than scientists anticipated.”

    The underlying piece is behind the NYT paywall and I have not located an open source for the piece yet, but I would like to see a discussion of that piece in some depth with explanations regarding whether these two professors are correct or incorrect about whether the effects of climate change are appearing faster than scientists anticipated.

    Cheers

    Mike

  107. ecoquant says:

    @smallbluemike,

    I continue to assert that the profile of climate-induced costs over time isn’t what should be watched to predict a moment of social cost. While that is significant ($25 billion per year from the federal till alone, more from other sources), and there are manifestations of it (a shortage of sand for rebuilding beaches on the East Coast), the moment to fear is when the investment markets price in these risks, whether to real estate and development, or to insurance, or to purchasing power when people suddenly lose a lot of wealth, or to earnings when investors realize that the only way of doing adaptation is through increased taxes, and that there will be a demand for more rapid decarbonization which will imply higher prices and taxes. These events may not coincide.

  108. “Seems like Jeffnails wants to see the planet literally turned into a smoldering carcass before he will believe that we are going in the wrong direction.”

    For the record, I agree with James Hansen on the solution set and his critique of policy discussions to date. I may not think NYC will be under water, but he’s right on the transition. Which I think is inevitable anyway, frankly, for a host of reasons including climate change.

    Marco- the interesting thing about the link I provided is that it was the second time the same story was published. The first time was in the late 1980s, and the link I provided was a discussion with the reporter in 2001, where he repeated it again, and said he confirmed it with Hansen again. I agree that climate scientists have been poorly served by an alarmist press, but they hold the key to stopping that and, according to the press, have been co-equal players in this problem.

  109. EQ says: “I continue to assert that the profile of climate-induced costs over time isn’t what should be watched to predict a moment of social cost.”
    Mike says: I agree with you that the important issue is not the cost, but the effects and impacts of AGW – which is to say, the pace and breadth of the sixth great extinction event. I realize that folks like Nordhaus and elected officials prefer to consider only the costs of bau and the idea of minimizing costs of change and adaptation per the large economic models that have so much sway in the world of public policy, but in the world of ecosystem protection and slowing the sixth great extinction, the measure is not the cost in dollars, but in our ability to alter the trajectory of CO2 buildup and reduce the pace and breadth of the sixth great extinction event.

    When a civilization collapses, I think all it’s economic slates are wiped clean. That’s the good news about civilization collapse.

    Cheers

    Mike

  110. ecoquant says:

    Not sure you get my point, @smallbluemike. Nordhaus and The Elected are not coincident with The Markets. Market behavior is a leading indicator of economic troubles. It’s not like the Minsky Moment will coincide with either ecological or civilization collapse, but precede it, by a lot. Accordingly, the event allows a response to the troubles. Whether or not that response will be mounted, or whether or not there remain sufficient assets to do something are open questions. I suspect there will be assets, even if underpriced, but the question will be if governance and “animal spirits” will suffice to bring people out of the shock of losing a bunch of wealth and getting them to deal with things.

    Right off, given the potential size of the bursting of the exponential growth bubble, there should be a dramatic curtailment in fossil fuel emissions. Unfortunately, renewable energy and EV companies could be casualties, too.

    And, as I’ve noted here elsewhere, while (a) there is an extinction event, (b) the beginning of that event preceded the onset of climate disruption, simply because of the efficiency with which humanity has destroyed ecosystems, (c) I don’t see it as being unadaptable by the biosphere, although there will be strong species rotations, and (d), granted, people might not be able to adapt.

  111. Yes, I missed your point. I agree with your a, b, c and d. and I think you are saying that following the economic impact, specifically watching for something like a Minsky Moment, makes more sense than I suggested above. I guess, to be more clear, I rather expect the Minsky Moment to be the beginning of this civilization collapse.
    https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190218-are-we-on-the-road-to-civilisation-collapse

  112. ecoquant says:

    @smallbluemike,

    … I rather expect the Minsky Moment to be the beginning of this civilization collapse.

    I don’t buy that. It might be an event on the scale of 1928-1932, but there was survival after that, and some people (e.g., Babson) even made some money.

    Moreover, the beginnings of civilization collapse will be about availability of food, and that will not develop overnight.

    Even the acceleration of climate change is going to take a long time to manifest as life threatening properties … Business threatening, perhaps, with supply chains disrupted, and people will whine a lot when they can’t get what they are used to getting, but not life threatening.

    I am no Guy McPherson and I don’t buy the Oreskes and Conway thing. I do agree with much of the late Professor Marty Weitzman’s points. And I think degrowth is the thing to do.

    I also find a theme of eminent collapse to be another kind of climate denial. I know of a set of environmental progressives around Boston who are so pessimistic about countering trends, they have given up, and are basically just ignoring it all and enjoying themselves. They can do what they want, but I find that kind of attitude irresponsible.

  113. I don’t give civilization collapse a lot of thought, so I am out of my element in much of this discussion. Degrowth would be wonderful. There seems to be some institutional resistance to that idea. I do think that Obama missed a bet when he decided to bail out banks instead of funding a green energy jobs transition program in 2009. That seemed like a bit of Minsky Moment, but oh, well, we saved banks and didn’t move in direction of green energy. That ship sailed out of port (dieseled out of port is probably more accurate).

    You would have to be more specific about your reservations with Oreskes and Conway. Just dropping the names is a bit of a broad brush. I will look up Prof Weitzman, cuz… I am old, retired and I have a little time on my hands now that the grandkids have been picked up.

    btw, I know Guy Mac a bit and he would not approve of your Boston friends throwing in the towel and choosing to simply enjoy themselves. That does not fit with his worldview or presentations. Of course, folks are free to do that, whether they are pessimistic or just living the good life and checking the boxes on their bucket list, but if they do it out of pessimism about the planetary situation, they have taken almost nothing away from the ideas put forward by Guy Mac.

    Cheers

    Mike

  114. Steven Mosher says:

    willard. cmip5 is reported in AR5. read tge paper carefully to see who they thanked and why. They are talking about ar5 and cmip results prepared for and presented in ar5.

  115. ecoquant says:

    @smallbluemike,

    The Oreskes and Conway to which I refer is not their scholarly work, but rather their work of fiction. I began it, got halfway, and stopped, thoroughly disgusted with it. It’s fiction, after all. But bad fiction, in my opinion.

  116. Steven Mosher says:

    “(I like penalized splines, but it depends) or kriging, which is what ZekeH at BEST introduced. ”

    Kriging was complete before Zeke and I joined. It was Brillinger and Rhode who suggested it.

  117. ecoquant says:

    @smallbluemike,

    To close out this particular discussion, I recommend: What does collapse mean?

  118. Steven Mosher says:

    “It’s impossible to know motivation for assuming zero. Speculating, one could be doing science defensively, anticipating that if non-zero were adopted for gaps, the Severe Critics could claim these were choices putting a finger on the scale, so to speak. Still, using the mean is perfectly defensible and requires no additional assumptions.

    Or maybe it was just oversight.”

    Ya I wouldnt want to judge their decision without seeing the rationale.

    My main point is this. The selected example does not present a clear case of “scientists” which I take to mean consensus believing X before and now believing X +y, where X+y is worse.

    But let me broaden this further
    1. In the past scientists have published many metrics.. say 100 for example.
    2. All of these metrics come with uncertainty.
    3. It is trivially true that in the future as we continue to look at those metrics that some
    will look “better” and some will look “worse”. Uncertainty is a bitch.kneel.
    4. For some metrics perhaps the uncertainty will shrink and the means/medians will be more
    stable. thats good. it will go largely unreported.
    5. what would be interesting is if we were “wrong” in one direction on a LOT of metrics
    if we got a lot of them “wrong” in the conservative direction. Something that was more
    than chance. For surely if its just chance we will get some that are “better” and some that
    are “worse”, so whats interesting is if we are SYSTEMATICALLY WRONG in one direction.
    6. Its also interesting when the new estimate is outside the prior uncertainty range. tells
    you something about the lack of attention to structural uncertainty and perhaps over confidence
    in “what we know”.

    Its also possible to look back through individual papers or individual scientists and make similar arguments. X thought the number was low, Y thought the number was high. Now we all agree it is
    high. I don’t find the arguments the NYT opinion piece made ( what scientists got wrong) very compelling nor do I find the arguments (it’s worse than we thought) compelling. Maybe? but
    I will wait until Ar6 to see the expert assessment of the advances in the best science. Perhaps the Letter we are discussing will be a feature citation in AR6. Or Not.

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