Climate sensitivity – narrowing the range

Since I’ve discussed climate sensitivity on a number of occasions, it seems worth highlighting the new paper that assesses climate sensitivity using multiple lines of evidence. The authors include many who will be familiar to my regular readers.

Credit: Sherwood et al. 2020

The key figure is on the right and shows that the likely range for the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS) is 2.6-3.9K, and the 5-95% range is 2.3-4.7K. Essentially, this now largely rules out very low ECS values (below 2K) and also makes the higher values (>5K) also somewhat less likely.

I don’t need to say much more, since this has been covered extensively elsewhere. I’ll provide links at the end of this post. What I thought I would briefly mention is why I think this illustrates the issue with the general narrative being promoted by people like Shellenberger and Lomborg. They’re essentially suggesting that although climate change is real, it’s manageable. We can deal with sea level rise, and disasters aren’t getting worse. The global economy is going to continue to grow, so people will be more capable of dealing with climate related events in the future than they are now. It’s important, but let’s not do anything too drastic.

Of course, it is possible that we will be able to effectively deal with the impacts of climate change. However, it’s also possible that it will be much more difficult to deal with than people like Shellenberger and Lomborg suggest. Given the results in this new paper, it’s clear that it will be incredibly challenging to limit warming to 2oC above pre-industrial levels. On our current trajectory, we’re probably heading for something like 3oC and that’s assuming that climate sensitivity isn’t on the high side of the range. Even on our current trajectory, we can’t rule out that we’ll end up more than 4oC above pre-industrial levels. There are also various carbon cycle feedbacks that could amplify this even further.

So, yes, we shouldn’t suddenly panic and turn everything off. However, we also shouldn’t – in my view – assume that we will easily deal with whatever climate change happens to throw at us (technically, since we’re doing this, what we’re throwing at ourselves). We actually don’t really know what a 2oC world will be like, let alone a 3oC, or a >4oC world. A key thing to bear in mind, is that once we get there, there is no easy way of going back.

Some amount of future climate change is unavoidable, but how much we experience is largely up to us. I can see why the optimism presented by the likes of Shellenberger and Lomborg is appealing; we’re innovative, we can deal with anything. However, rather than being optimistic that we can deal with any possible climate change impacts, why not be optimistic that we can do innovative things that limit how much climate change we will actually face?

Links:
An assessment of Earth’s climate sensitivity using multiple lines of evidence – Paper by Sherwood et al. 2020.
Back to the future – post by James Annan.
Climate Sensitivity: A new assessment – Realclimate post.
Just how sensitive is the climate to increased carbon dioxide? Scientists are narrowing in on the answer – Conversation article by Richard Betts, Jason Lowe and Timothy Andrews.
Guest post: Why low-end ‘climate sensitivity’ can now be ruled out – Carbon Brief article by Piers Forster, Zeke Hausfather, Gabi Hegerl and Steven Sherwood.
Global heating study rules out best and worst case scenarios – Guardian article about the new paper.

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95 Responses to Climate sensitivity – narrowing the range

  1. RickA says:

    If the narrowed range sticks, this is a major accomplishment.

  2. ATTP,

    When you suggest 2C, 3C or 4C is that in 2100 or long term (asymptotically)? TIA

  3. EFS,
    I was mostly meaning in the next century, but if we keep emitting, then warming will continue and we would eventually hit higher levels of warming even if we don’t do so by 2100.

  4. izen says:

    It will be a measure of how skewed this issue has become if there is a push-back against the lower credible bound for warming from a doubling of CO2 being raised to 2.6K while there is little relief expressed that the upper bound has been reduced to 3.9K

  5. Clive Best says:

    P90 : “Our S is not the true equilibrium sensitivity ECS, which is expected to be somewhat higher than S due to slowly emerging positive feedback.”

    Here S is defined as the “effective” climate sensitivity, which is what you or I might deduce from comparing the temperature data compared to CMIP model projections. If I understand this logic correctly they are saying that there are very slow positive feedbacks which increase ECS over perhaps thousands of years. This is just a theoretical assumption because of course CO2 levels themselves cannot be fixed for thousands of years. They would naturally fall from 560ppm through weathering and greening and resultant carbon burial.

    Maybe ECS is a meaningless number anyway but IMHO they should have simply left the lower limit at 2.3C

  6. Clive,
    As I understand it, they’re using “effective” to refer to the equilibrium sensitivity 150 years after a sudden change in atmospheric CO2 which they suggest is more relevant than full ECS that would be attained over a longer timescale. However, I don’t think this really refers to the very long timescale effects associated with the ESS.

  7. Clive Best says:

    Fine, but they use not have used this argument to increase the lower limit of ECS from 2.3C to 2.6C. They should have instead have left it at 2.3C because like this now leaves the suspicion of “unconscious” or “group think” bias.

    They were trying to narrow down estimates of ECS but went a bit too far.

  8. Clive,
    You’re, of course, welcome to write your own 166 page paper 🙂

  9. Clive,
    Where do they say they increased the lower limit from 2.3K to 2.6K because of the longer timescale response?

  10. Clive Best says:

    “Our Baseline 5-95% range is 2.3-4.7 K”

    We find that there is a 66% chance effective climate sensitivity is between 2.6C and 3.9C per doubling CO2, and a 90% chance that its within 2.3C-4.7C. Effective sensitivity is slightly different from equilibrium sensitivity, where we get 2.6C-4.1C (66%) and 2.2-4.9C (90%). 5/10— Zeke Hausfather (@hausfath) July 22, 2020

    https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  11. Clive,
    Isn’t that just the difference between the 17-83% range and the 5-95% range?

  12. izen says:

    @-CB
    “but IMHO they should have simply left the lower limit at 2.3C”

    In your humble opinion should they also have left the upper limit at 4.5C ?

  13. “They should have instead have left it at 2.3C because like this now leaves the suspicion of “unconscious” or “group think” bias.”

    Anyone can read what they wrote. It takes something left unsaid to envision conspiratorial ideation …
    The Social Determinants of Conspiratorial Ideation
    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2378023116689791

  14. Markr says:

    ATTP: I think a reasonable description is that the effective sensitivity is what you’d get if *feedbacks* stayed at their initial 150-year average, even if you then waited a thousand years. Does that make sense & seem fair? I’ve been trying for a while to come up with a single sentence that describes it without relying on Gregory plots.

    I’m working my way through the paper but the general arguments already seem pretty convincing to me and it looks like an important summary. Not really a surprise given the quality of the authors.

  15. you stake out this position that seems odd to me: “So, yes, we shouldn’t suddenly panic and turn everything off… We actually don’t really know what a 2oC world will be like, let alone a 3oC, or a >4oC world. A key thing to bear in mind, is that once we get there, there is no easy way of going back.”

    I wonder why you would not review all of this and say instead: So, yes, we shouldn’t panic, but we start turning things off as quickly as we can because we don’t really know… and one thing that seems certain is that once we get there, there is no easy way of going back.”

    Why so timid about recommending change to address the problem?

    Cheers

    Mike

  16. David B Benson says:

    aTTP — We really do have some idea of what the world looks like by using paleoclimate from when CO2 concentrations were so elevated in the mid-Pliocene. In particular, the sea stand was about 25 meters higher than now.

    That would effectively eliminate southern Vietnam, Bangladesh, etc. It would also make entrance to the second story of the White House in Washington DC by boat.

    Projections using paleodata do not depend upon the so-called climate sensitivity.

  17. Chubbs says:

    I skipped lightly through the section analyzing recent observations. An energy balance approach is used, like previous studies, but with updated parameter values and some new twists. Bottom-line, this study concludes that you can’t rely on “observations” to discount models or argue for low climate sensitivity.

    “In particular the historical observed climate change provides a strong constraint on the lower bound of S, effectively ruling out negative feedbacks, but only a very weak constraint on the upper bound. This latter conclusion, which differs from many previously published studies using the historical record, arises in part because the “pattern effect” could potentially allow even high values of S to be reconcilable with only moderate historical warming.”

  18. Chubbs,

    The whole paragraph is rather important …
    “Taking all the above factors into account we find that given the historical evidence, the maximum-likelihood value is S = 3.8 K , but values between 1.9 and 20 K and above can still be considered consistent with the evidence (likelihood > 0.2).”

    “In particular the historical observed climate change provides a strong constraint on the lower bound of S, effectively ruling out negative feedbacks, but only a very weak constraint on the upper bound. This latter conclusion, which differs from many previously published studies using the historical record, arises in part because the “pattern effect” could potentially allow even high values of S to be reconcilable with only moderate historical warming.”

    “The possibility of strong negative aerosol ERF also precludes setting a tight upper bound on S. Indeed our high-likelihood range for Shist (not accounting for the pattern effect) is consistent with most of those previous studies if we use older forcing and warming estimates, so the increase here is due to revised estimates rather than any difference in methodology. The Bellouin et al. (2020) aerosol ERF used here allows more negative tails than some recent estimates, especially those that implicitly match aerosol forcing to the observed warming. Previous studies that have not
    accounted particularly for the pattern effect produced energy budget constraints on S that
    were unjustifiably tight and too low.”

  19. mrkenfabian says:

    So after some more to and fro we get around 3 C per doubling? Nice to lose some of the tails – hate to think how things might go with higher sensitivity than that – but I think we are facing the same problem with expectations (extremely worrying) at about the same level (extremely likely). That this seems to be presented in major media outlets as some kind of backdown by alarmists tells me how skewed the public discussion has gotten.

  20. MarkR,
    Yes, that does sound right and is consistent with why I think they refer to equilibrium climate sensitivity determined by the method preferred by Nic Lewis as being an effective Climate Sensitivity.

  21. small,
    Yes, fair point. I wasn’t meaning that we shouldn’t doing something. I was mostly meaning we shouldn’t panic, but we should take this very seriously.

  22. David,
    Good point; paleoclimate does give us some idea of what a 2C world would look like. I should probably have said something more like “We’ve never experienced a 2C world, let alone a 3C or a >4C world”.

  23. MarkR,
    Thinking about this a bit more, I think that even after 150 years, we may not be quite at equilibrium even if feedbacks remained constant. This will probably be mostly due to there still being heat transfer into the deeper ocean. It may, though, be close enough that this doesn’t make a huge difference.

  24. Bye, bye luckwarmers. Thanks for coming out and being a (mostly) blinkered pain in the ass for the last decade. Based on deep insights like “I’ll take the under”.

    Looking at Table 10 in the paper, or Figure 24 (in ATTP’s post or again here), it seems to me it’s hard to any longer find meaningful room for a meaningfully lower ECS.

    I’d like to believe they’ll now be more like the punk in Dirty Harry, now even less sure about how many shots he’s heard, but expect a response more like Holy Grail’s Black Knight.

  25. dikranmarsupial says:

    Clive: “This is just a theoretical assumption because of course CO2 levels themselves cannot be fixed for thousands of years. They would naturally fall from 560ppm through weathering and greening and resultant carbon burial.”

    citation required. FWIW “The time constant for this climate stabilizing mechanism [weathering] is hundreds of thousands of years” – Archer “The Global Carbon Cycle”, page 123. I’m skeptical about the greening part because you would need to forest a large proportion of the planet’s land mass to take up the CO2 we produce annually, and increasing temperatures seem likely to increase soil respiration*.

  26. dikranmarsupial says:

    AIUI mature forests are more-or-less carbon neutral, it is mostly the increase in forest area that takes up the CO2. IF CO2 is the rate limiting factor, as levels fell back to normal, wouldn’t we see de-greening (because of die-back of the forest dependent on the additional CO2), and hence an increase in natural emissions, rather than uptake?

  27. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Maybe ECS is a meaningless number anyway but IMHO they should have simply left the lower limit at 2.3C”

    one wonders what the relevance to policy that would have (compared, say to a reduction of the upper end of the range). Of course it is always nice to be able to claim that something specialists in another field use is meaningless…

  28. David B Benson says:

    dikanmarsupial — Tree growth depends little on carbon dioxide concentration and muchly on precipitation. That is temperature dependent.

    A good illustration is of the world’s vegetation during the last glacial maximum.

  29. Chubbs says:

    It is interesting how Paleo and recent temperature observations tell a different story in the updated analysis. Paleo makes the worst case better, while recent observations guarantee the best case isn’t that good. “Obs vs models” was effective rhetoric, but that is not the way science works. Observations inform models and vice versa.

  30. Dave_Geologist says:

    They would naturally fall from 560ppm through weathering and greening and resultant carbon burial.

    Yes Clive. Over thousands to hundreds of thousands of years. Now that’s what I call meaningless, or rather irrelevant to us and to any descendants we can meaningfully visualise.

  31. Dave_Geologist says:

    this now leaves the suspicion of “unconscious” or “group think” bias

  32. angech says:

    “it now appears extremely unlikely that the climate sensitivity could be low enough to avoid substantial climate change (well in excess of 2°C warming) under a high‐emissions future scenario.”
    Presuming this is RCP 8.5 it seems to suggest, in a back hand sort of way, that non substantial climate change , 2 C say, is still a reasonable possibility under the other scenarios?

  33. angech,
    Yes, limiting warming to 2C is going to be very challenging. We’d probably to start reducing emissions soon and get to net-zero sometime in the second half of this century. The carbon budget for remaining below 2C is about 650 GtCO2 (and that is for a 66% chance of staying below 2C). Current annual emissions are about 40 GtCO2. So, at current emission levels, we’d use up the carbon budget in under 20 years. If emissions keep going up, it will be sooner, if they start to go down then we’d have longer to get emissions to zero. Still going to be challenging.

  34. David B Benson says:

    aTTP — “We’ll probably start reducing emissions soon.” Optimistic of you. So far the Keeling curve keeps moving up at a rate possibly greater than linear.

    China’s electricity is 53% coal powered. Vietnam is going to build more coal burners, assisted by Japan. And then there’s India…

  35. David,
    Yes, I may be being overly optimistic.

  36. angech says:

    Agree.
    Is there a fourth or fifth way of improving the estimate and it’s range?
    “This evidence includes feedback process understanding, the historical climate record, and the paleoclimate record.”

    Paloclimate. Ok large range of uncertainty but not unbounded as we are still here.
    Historical climate. Very limited evidence and poor agreement on the evidence.
    Feedback process understanding.
    This is simply science. Why do we still struggle with such large uncertainty ranges?
    It leaves the door wide open for disagreement.
    The scientists who do this work should openly publish the ranges of the main variables they work with, and justify, harsh words, justify scientifically why they have reached those ranges.
    This would give all of us a chance to nitpick, or not if the figures are robust.

    The wide range suggests that the science is having a hard time in justification.

  37. angech,
    That doesn’t make any sense. The paper is 166 pages long. It’s hard to imagine what they might have left out. They’ve specifically tried to use all the available evidence to estimate the range. What are you expecting, an exact number with no uncertainty?

  38. Dave_Geologist says:

    angech, palaeoclimate is not unbounded. But the bounds are well beyond what we could survive as a civilisation, and while we may not have been extinguished, we’ve never been through this before. Even Paris will take us to temperatures last seen three million years before modern humans evolved.

    All but the asteroid-strike mass extinction were caused by global warming (one or two an Ice Age followed by warming, including perhaps the biggest… hmm, haven’t we just had an Ice Age?). Lots went extinct.

    After the Great Dying, tropical temperatures were so hot that reptiles and fish were restricted to temperate zones. How do you reckon mammals would have coped? Mexicans? Nigerians? Queenslanders? Cockroaches would be fine I expect.

  39. The other part of ATTP’s “optimism” that bothers me is that emissions are not the ballgame. The ballgame number is accumulation in the atmosphere and acidification of the oceans. There are no straight line calculations leading from our emissions to a balanced point of accumulation and acidification. There are a lot of complex factors that will determine how the planetary carbon cycle responds to our amazing injection of emissions into that system. I lean on ATTP occasionally to be less sanguine about our situation, but I am not sure he is capable of this change. I strive to be a realist and that means I have to assume there is a risk that our species is simply not capable of reducing its emissions to prevent catastrophic warming. ATTP does acknowledge that once we have the ghg accumulations in the atmosphere it is going to be exceedingly difficult to get them back out.

    I don’t think that global warming is a problem that we can fix too quickly. I am more concerned that we cannot fix it all except through the ten million year recovery process of an extinction event. I am optimistic about the ten million year recovery process that follows an extinction event. I think we can count on that. I think it would be fabulous if we could reduce our emissions and slow the extinction event and buy ourselves (all the species on the planet today) a little more time in the sun.

  40. small,

    The other part of ATTP’s “optimism” that bothers me is that emissions are not the ballgame. The ballgame number is accumulation in the atmosphere and acidification of the oceans.

    Except there is a relatively straightforward relationship between emissions and warming (TCRE) and, hence – if we think the impacts scale with temperature change – a relationship between emissions and impacts. I quite like the carbon budget framing, since it gives us an indication of how much more we can emit if we want to have a reasonable chance of meeting some target.

    The reason I’m possible somewhat more sanguine about things is partly because I’m not sure how being less sanguine would help, partly because I don’t have the energy to be constantly worked up about this, and partly because I do think there have been some positive changes in the last few years. Not enough, I will admit, but somethings have – in my view – got slightly better. Of course, the latest Lomborg and Shellenberger sagas have made me wonder if these are more form than substance.

  41. I understand not wanting to be constantly worked up over global warming. I think that’s pretty hard if you are a realist. My take on that is to approach it in Buddhist fashion, I will work for the good of all beings, and at the same time, I won’t be attached to the outcomes.

    The problem that I see with TCRE is that the calculations are based in part on observations of changes in the paleo record. There’s not much there to observe that shows a sudden input of emissions into the system like our species has produced over a couple of centuries – the blink of an eye in geo time.

    The one thing in the paleo record that is sort of similar is the great dying about 252 million years ago. https://phys.org/news/2019-04-evidence-volcanoes-biggest-mass-extinction.html

    It’s fine and sensible to want to be optimistic, but I think it’s irresponsible if that optimism is linked to statements about our situation that fail to convey the urgency we should feel about reducing emissions as quickly as we can. The responsible frame of discussion imho is: we need to wake up to this situation and turn everything off as fast as we can to limit the damage and suffering that will follow from our emissions.

    I have suggested this kind of frame repeatedly and you continue to bring the “we shouldn’t panic and turn everything off” frame of reference. That seems strange to me when you admit, as you did above, that the request for a more responsible frame of reference is a fair point. Wake up and convey the urgency responsibly or don’t. Your internal thinking is not something I have control over, but I will continue to suggest that we should now turn things off as quickly as we can. That is the primary idea that comes into my head when I think about global warming. I don’t worry about panic. I worry a bit about complacency, but, hey, if you think we are turning this thing around and you are not concerned about complacency, I am happy for you and I hope you are right.

    Cheers, keep up the good work

    M

  42. BBD says:

    The problem that I see with TCRE is that the calculations are based in part on observations of changes in the paleo record. There’s not much there to observe that shows a sudden input of emissions into the system like our species has produced over a couple of centuries – the blink of an eye in geo time.

    The one thing in the paleo record that is sort of similar is the great dying about 252 million years ago.

    The PETM might be a better analogue, although it is far from perfect. The ‘run-up’ to the end-Permian extinction may have been quite long whereas the pulse of GHGs responsible for the PETM perhaps occurred within a few thousand years.

  43. I don’t think the TCRE is based in part on observations of changes in the paleo record. I think it emerged from Earth System Models.

  44. I have been taking time off from the climate discussion for several months, so I find I am getting things wrong. Could just be aging. Thanks for better analoguem, BBD. I agree with ATTP that getting all worked up or in a panic is not a pleasant way to pass the time. Don’t panic and start turning everything off, that’s just silly. Keep your towel handy and be ready to hitchhike off this rock when the time comes, if you can catch a ride.

    PETM, or the great dying 252 million years ago? I think the fact remains that the planet has not had an input of ghg on the scale and timeframe that our species has produced over the past couple centuries. I still have that right, don’t I? No worries.

  45. I think the fact remains that the planet has not had an input of ghg on the scale and timeframe that our species has produced over the past couple centuries. I still have that right, don’t I?

    We’ve certainly seen it at a much larger scale.

    The PETM is estimated to have experienced an emissions pulse of ~12,000 GtC. We are at about 700 GtC and trying to limit cumulative emissions to about 1,000 GtC. Yes, because the PETM pulse occurred over thousands of years, even that order-of-magnitude larger absolute quantity happened at a pace significantly slower than present day. But as ATTP alluded to above, the TCRE is pretty robust as a linear relationship to cumulative emissions. It does not appear to to matter (much) what path we take to get there, as I understand it anyway.

    Anyway, this was about sensitivity.

  46. Steven Mosher says:

    “This would give all of us a chance to nitpick, or not if the figures are robust.

    The wide range suggests that the science is having a hard time in justification.”

    Nitpick? err no. The job is not to merely nitpick. you can always nitpick, always find an opening for doubt. what distinguishes science from lawyering and philosophical skepticism is working to REDUCE DOUBT, not merely finding nits. Removing nits, improving understanding is the task.

    The wide range suggests Nothing about the justification. If anything it suggests a conservative judicious application of doubt, it suggest a rigorous application of rules of justification.
    you think you can judge the justification by the “wide” range. what makes you think the range is
    wide? how “wide” does an uncertainty have to be before you can say “justification was easy?”
    you have no metric, you just made up that argument. if the range was 10% 3C +- .3C
    you would still say its wide.. Look 10% ! our estimate of planks constant is much better, thats real science! You would always have the argument because you never had a criteria to begin with. you never establish a criteria of “too wide”, you never tested a criteria of “too wide”.
    you made it up. after the fact. Because you need to nit pick, because you think science is merely objecting to knowledge claims and not improving them.

  47. BBD said:

    “The problem that I see with TCRE is that the calculations are based in part on observations of changes in the paleo record.”

    Several years ago, I provided an explanation of set-points for temperature extremes, useful for deriving glaciation extremes or the snowball earth concept. In a comment at the time, BBD said it was “tidy”. Curious why I don’t see this in any texts. Perhaps BBD has come across something since, as I may be missing something?

    https://geoenergymath.com/2013/03/05/climate-sensitivity-and-the-33c-discrepancy/

  48. I suspect that a lot of living things that function to some degree in the carbon cycle will perform less well in the rapid increase of CO2 in atmosphere and ocean than they have when the increase takes thousands of years. Think of tree lifetimes, the timeframes that forests take to develop, change in response to a change in basic conditions. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe we have no reason to act quickly or dramatically as ATTP suggests because we can rely on the TCRE?

    I am so far unconvinced that there is a downside to addressing and correcting for the problem of atmospheric accumulation of CO2 and increase in ocean acidification. Should we panic and turn everything off? Well, no… but is that a risk? Anybody seen that happen on a scale that has created a problem?

    I follow the arcane discussions of things like TCRE with mild interest. It’s not that different from arcane discussion about ECS and the importance of narrowing the range of ECS. Yes, that’s interesting.

    But, the most important thing we need to do is to stop the rise of CO2 in atmosphere and ocean acidification and that almost certainly involves turning some things off and maybe turning things off as quickly as possible. Is that rocket science? How hard is it to keep our eye on that prize?

    I think that needs to be our touchstone for discussion. What can be changed that can reduce emissions and how fast can we change it? When framing discussion if there is any other reference than that one (say, for instance, we should not panic and turn everything off), then the discussion if framed in a manner that supports complacency and inaction. That seems quite irresponsible to me.

  49. izen says:

    @-sbm
    “I am so far unconvinced that there is a downside to addressing and correcting for the problem of atmospheric accumulation of CO2 and increase in ocean acidification. ”

    Fossil fuels generate around 80% of the global energy production and nearly 100% of transport by ship, aircraft and road vehicles.
    The fossil fuel extraction industry is a little under 10% of the world economy, and the power generation, transport and any manufacturing that involves plastics or significant energy use probably makes up a large proportion of the rest. Even the service industries and finance are built on the back of the energy and products that are largely dependent on continued fossil fuel use.

    The idea that this deeply embedded and crucial element of the world material economy and financial system could be easily shut down or quickly replaced not only faces enormous logistical problems, but poses am economic cost on entrenched political power structures that will oppose and fight any move to diminish their influence and profits.
    It is naive to presume otherwise.

  50. You are being realistic, izen. I agree with you. The entrenched political power structures want us to be realistic and allow them to come up with the proper solutions to this problem They want us to embrace a mantra like, “don’t panic. There is no way we can just shut everything off.” That is a mantra and political agenda that serves the powerful.

    I am naive enough to think that if lots of us embrace a radically different mantra, like “what can we turn off? and how fast can we turn it off?” that something good could come from this reframing.

    Covid and the way the various national economies have addressed that crisis and tried to find balance between safety and economic stability is a perfect example of what we should be demanding as we get serious about reducing emissions now. We were able to close down economies and make many hard economic choices to flatten the curve of covid. Why should we not demand/use that exact approach to flatten the curve of CO2 accumulation and ocean acidification?

  51. probably should read “what we should be demanding if we were to get serious about reducing emissions now.” We are not currently serious about reducing emissions for a number of reasons. The data I rely on to support this statement is the Keeling curve. Have we flattened that curve? Do we need to? and if yes, when should we do that?

    I think the covid response and recovery that we are trying to make to that emergency is exactly the model we should now extend to address climate change and global warming. Do we think that the entrenched power structures are going to agree and say, sure let’s do that. I don’t think that, but if we won’t even embrace the idea that this level of change would be beneficial and state that clearly, we have zero chance of success.

    It’s like if Patrick Henry had said, oh. hey, give me liberty… or give me a little more time and let’s discuss this some more.

    I don’t think we have to be worked up emotionally by embracing these simple aspirations. We just need to decide if they make sense to us from an intellectual standpoint and present them clearly and repeatedly. I have read that Rome was not built in a day, and I think it didn’t collapse in a day, either. I think a soft landing for our way of life would be a good thing. Quite naive. Nothing to get worked up about.

  52. izen says:

    @-sbm
    ” Why should we not demand/use that exact approach to flatten the curve of CO2 accumulation and ocean acidification?”

    We should.
    The Nations that have contained the epidemic did so with a mix of social cohesion, or coercion, strong social welfare systems and a willingness to suffer economic damage in return for less death.
    I suspect the same features are required to abandon fossil fuels and turn stuff off as quickly as possible.

    Otters complained that the cure must not be worse than the disease, and to paraphrase the press secretary, ‘The science should not stand in the way of opening new oil and gas fields…’

  53. izen says:

    The paper on the new limits on ECS is slowly filtering into the mainstream media. Here is a opinion piece with a sober assessment of what it means, and how the US government is travelling in the opposite direction.

    https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/509027-latest-climate-study-predicts-disaster-for-oceans-coastlines-and

    Yet, right now, in the face of this clarion call to quickly scale back carbon pollution, Big Oil and the Trump administration are stubbornly trying to take us in the opposite direction. They’re actively trying to expand oil drilling on the northern Alaska frontier and to allow drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge for the first time. The Trump administration is also quietly signaling plans to revive its stalled offshore drilling expansion in Florida and almost all U.S. oceans.

    ExxonMobil is trying to restart its dormant offshore drilling rigs off Santa Barbara, reversing the shutdown triggered by a coastal oil pipeline failure that has prevented 34 million tons of climate pollution over the last five years.

    In Louisiana, Formosa Plastics is trying to build one of the world’s largest petrochemical complexes, which would emit 13 million tons of greenhouse gases annually. Even more pollution would come from the fracking that precedes that manufacturing and the breakdown of plastics that follows.”

    If you look through the oil and energy company reports, and especially the businesses that promote investment in these sectors there is little hint that they see any radical change in BAU.

    https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/030915/what-percentage-global-economy-comprised-oil-gas-drilling-sector.asp

    “The Bottom Line
    The global oil and gas exploration and production sector makes up a large portion of the global economy, and the growth of this industry is only expected to increase in the future. It is predicted that global oil production will reach 100 million barrels per day in the next few years, up from the current 85 million approximated figure.

    Emerging economies have driven recent demand for the production of oil and gas. This is particularly true in the extremely populous BRIC nations: Brazil, Russia, India, and China. The E&P industry looks to have a bright future on the back of this demand. Furthermore, there are plenty of oil reserves throughout the globe, though some of these reserves are difficult to reach. As technology improves in the future, these reserves will become more accessible, as was the case with shale fracking in the United States.”

  54. And there it is, Izen! Thanks. You and I are in agreement. We don’t need to get worked up. We don’t need to panic. We should be clear and emphatic in our demands that we move directly from the new found economic wiggle room with which we (some of us more than others) worked to flatten the curve of Covid. To talk in any other terms about our situation with greenhouse gases is quite silly. We should be talking about the need to flatten the curve – in this case the Keeling curve. We should not talk in anything but firm, clear terms about the need to flatten the Keeling curve. The Keeling curve is every bit as disastrous as the Covid curve, probably more so.

    This is a moment when lots of folks understand that our global economic system actually has wiggle room, it is not necessarily all capitalism, consumption and austerity. The global economic system can be about survival and equity. I am not worried about the cure being worse than the disease. Global capitalism does not lay out a safe and sane path for the century ahead or even for the next couple decades. Come on, think it through and ask for what we really want, for what we really need. That is: We want and need to flatten the Keeling curve now. Flatten the curve now. That means that we don’t want new oil and gas fields. We don’t have to panic or get worked up, but I think we need to speak strongly and clearly: We need to flatten the Keeling curve now. New gas and oil fields send us the wrong direction. Are these rather simple calculations and statements hard to grasp? Would it break our teeth or bruise our tongues to say these things over and over now?

  55. Jeffh says:

    Angech writes, ‘non-substantial climate change, 2 C say…’.

    On what basis do you claim that 2 degrees of warming across the biosphere is non-substantial? This is a purely anthropocentric value judgment. It is the kind of piffle I usually associate with climate science deniers. No mention of time scale or attempt to place it within the framework of a largely deterministic system. It is a throw away comment, essentially worthless. To set the record straight, 2 degrees of warming in two hundred years is profoundly significant. It is well outside of the range of most forcings and most importantly it will have (is already having) significant environmental and societal consequences. Massive disruption and huge costs.

  56. Joshua says:

    Steven –

    7/24, 2:40 AM comment. +1

    Although I think you undersell the value of nit-picking, perhaps.

    What is the line that divides a nit from a problem? Did you just pick where you wanted to draw a line and that’s it?

  57. Joshua says:

    jeffh –

    > It is a throw away comment, essentially worthless.

    Welcome to angech’s world.

  58. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “What is the line that divides a nit from a problem? Did you just pick where you wanted to draw a line and that’s it?”

    I would also give SM a +1 for that comment, in part because he DOES delineate the difference between nit-picking and legitimate scientific critique.
    It is this line; “what distinguishes science from lawyering and philosophical skepticism is working to REDUCE DOUBT, not merely finding nits.”

    That angtech once again finds a spurious reason to raise more doubt is clearly defined as their error.
    That science is the pursuit of improving our knowledge, not creating objections to the remaining uncertainty.

  59. Joshua says:

    izen –

    I’m not sure how that’s a clear line. Seems to me to likely be quite subjective.

    I have many times been accused of “nit-picking” (or ankle-biting) when I’m seeking to reduce doubt, by trying to understand, trying to address uncertainty, indeed by highlighting uncertainty (doubt) that has been overlooked.

    Does that not make any sense to you? If so, then how do we know where to draw the line? Is it just always subjective?

  60. Steven Mosher says:

    “What is the line that divides a nit from a problem? Did you just pick where you wanted to draw a line and that’s it?”

    as izen indicates I draw the line operationally. There is no ‘essence of nit’ to observe
    no “nitness” I use to draw the line . I suppose you could say the “materiality” of a matter is
    defined by the actions people take. The time they spend on it.

    Lets work by example to get at the difference I am talking about.

    A defense lawyer operationally has one goal: find or create the doubt. Their job is not to solve the crime or find out who the real killer is. Their job is done when they create the doubt or expose the doubt. In contrast a prosecuting attorney must work to resolve the doubt. Is that alibi sound?
    how do you know? check it, double check it? does the suspects phone location match his alibi?
    etc. One works to increase the doubt, the other works to reduce the doubt. So, without looking at or judging the centrality of the doubt or the germaneness of the doubt, or the impact of the doubt or its materiality, we
    can tell the two apart by their observable behavior. One works to increase doubt one works to decrease it. One tries to grow uncertainty, the other shrinks it. the intent and behavior is different.

    next example. Anthony watts.
    In the beginning Anthony got his start by raising a doubt about the paint on temperature stations screens. maybe old paint on shelters biased the temperature. Well, folks had not thought about that. what did he do next? he did an experiment to test his nit, because he hoped it wasn’t a nit
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2007/07/14/the-stevenson-screen-paint-test/
    THIS I would argue is the behavioral response we expect in science. have a doubt? find a way
    to remove it, or estimate its impact via sensitivity testing. The same with microsite bias. Anthony had doubts about station siting, some people called it a nit, he responded by doing citizen science. Going out and about trying to understand the impact of his doubt, quantify the importance of the doubt. I liked that.
    In both cases, however, the final results of both tests have not been released… for years.
    ahem… he almost did science.

    So it is not really anything in the character of a nit that distinguishes it, but rather it’s revealed in the behavior of the nit finder. Does the nit finder suggest a test to remove the doubt? did the nit finder
    attempt to justify the materiality of the nit? in any way?. I could say the nits are immaterial doubts, but that’s just a word game. Did you raise a doubt? did you suggest a way to resolve it? did you yourself try to resolve it and spend some time? Yes? well then you are dedicated to understanding and explanation. Looks like science. Did you merely raise a doubt? spend no time suggesting ways to resolve it? refuse to do any work to eliminate the doubt? Burden others with your doubt? Then you are probably picking nits. That probably looks subjective to you, but it works. In short, the community of folks doing science typically don’t waste too much of their time working on things they judge to be immaterial, unless the paper referee demands it that’s the best I can do for you.

    and yes in practice there are times when people in science miss “material” things
    and times when they waste time on immaterial doubts, being epistemically conservative.

  61. Joshua says:

    So then is there a difference between critiquing an argument or rebutting an argument and nit-picking?

  62. David B Benson says:

    When is “now” for climatologists? For archeologists it is 1950.

  63. David,
    For paleoclimate, BP (Before Present) is also defined relative to 1950.

  64. Willard says:

    > So then is there a difference between critiquing an argument or rebutting an argument and nit-picking?

    Mosh just wrote two comments explaining why so I’m not sure what you’re looking for, Joshua. Socrates would move to some kind of case analysis. First he’d reword what he just heard.

    Still, let’s scratch my own itch and do that.

    Nothing gets done with nitpicking. It looks productive yet it’s not. Which is the point: to mimic cooperation. The nit may or may not exist. It does not matter. There may or not be work by the picker. That’s tougher to judge. When do we decide that a text is finished? Certainly not when the audit ends. It never does.

    Therefore I’d say that criticism is constructive the same way we evaluate the effectiveness of any other kind of process. Your model is as good as mine. Some might use good ol’ OLE. I’d use a more theoretical model, which has the advantage of being very tolerant to finessing:

    Perhaps the best way to see if nitpicking is going on is to transpose into editing one’s own text. One could revise endlessly. At some point something needs to get published. Is my comment doing what it should? I’d say it fits my purpose of conveying the sociality of it all. Does it move the ball forward? Only time will tell. At the very least it helps me build my own ClimateBall playbook.

  65. dikranmarsupial says:

    “So then is there a difference between critiquing an argument or rebutting an argument and nit-picking?”

    If there weren’t we probably wouldn’t have a word for nit-picking (pedantic fault-finding)?

    The problem is that the difference between substantive and pedantic fault-finding has a subjective element to it (different have values/goals and different ideas of whether something is important or not). However nit-picking is often used as a means of evasion or obstruction of an “opponent’s” argument, so if you are seeking clarification it is probably best to explicitly agree with your interlocutor on the substance of the argument and explain the significance/importance of the fault from your perspective. Having said which, if someone is talking about something that is very dear to them, then nit-picking just for intellectual curiosity is probably not going to be appreciated. Science is easy compared to people.

  66. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Anthony had doubts about station siting, some people called it a nit, he responded by doing citizen science. Going out and about trying to understand the impact of his doubt, quantify the importance of the doubt. I liked that.”

    It is probably best though if you are circumspect about your claims of a fault until you have shown that it is more than a nit (I also like the surface stations project, apart from the non-publication part – if only Anthony had a friendly journal in which to publish it…).

  67. Bob Loblaw says:

    “In the beginning Anthony got his start by raising a doubt about the paint on temperature stations screens. maybe old paint on shelters biased the temperature. Well, folks had not thought about that.

    Not thought about that? Until Anthony did 2007? Give me a break. The Stevenson Screen goes back to the 1800s. There is lots of literature about how to design them how they compare to other radiation shields, etc.

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

    …and for station exposure/siting? The field of microclimatology had been around for decades before Anthony started to think that local effects alter local temperatures. Classic books in the field include Geiger’s “The Climate Near the Ground” (my copy of the revised edition is from 1965 – the original German version was from the 1950s), and Oke’s “Boundary Layer Climates” (first edition,1978). I was exposed to both those books as a student in the ’70s and ’80s.

    As I see it, Anthony ignored vast quantities of previous work because he either couldn’t be bothered to learn it, or he didn’t like it. His rejection of the BEST results after the study was completed strongly suggest the latter.

    Anthony was nit-picking at previously-picked nits. Very little of what he has done is constructive.

  68. Joshua says:

    dikran –

    > It is probably best though if you are circumspect about your claims of a fault until you have shown that it is more than a nit (I also like the surface stations project, apart from the non-publication part – if only Anthony had a friendly journal in which to publish it…).

    This helps.

    I’m still not understanding where the basic distinction.m is without subjectivity.

    But that’s a difference that makes sense to me. The difference is whether you’re smelling yourself. IOW, are you legitimately criticized for exaggerating the importance of your critique. Of course, there’s subjectivity there as well, but it somehow seems more clear cut to me. The way to deal with it is to wee on the side of circumspection.

    Effectively (imo) it boils down to (rule of thumb) whether there is evidence any expression of circumspection. Absent that, it is a nit not a critique. Maybe that doesn’t work for anyone else but it works for me.

    Anders is a good model.

    I was thinking of an example of Willis accusing Steven of ankle-biting. How would a Martian just arrived on the planet judge that exchange?

    Willis’ lack of circumspection seems like a good rule of thumb, even if complicated by Steven’s relationship with circumspection (but the one isn’t a function of the other).

  69. Joshua says:

    Social media re-defined: an ecosystem of nit-picking about nit-picking.

  70. Willard says:

  71. dikranmarsupial says:

    Joshua, it isn’t clear to me that there should be an objective definition of nit-picking any more than of pedantry.

  72. Willard says:

    Contrarians can be fun:

    Of course Archimedes knew about the scientific method. Of course Archimedes tested his theory by experiment. That’s obvious. His text doesn’t say that because he was too good of a mathematician to think that kind of kid’s stuff counted for much of anything. He only published the actual theory, not the obvious tests that any fool with half a brain could do for themselves.

    Galileo, though, was precisely that fool with that half brain. He spent his whole life spelling out those parts that Archimedes thought were too trivial to mention. People ignorant of Archimedes are readily tricked into thinking that this was somehow profound. But mathematicians know better.

    http://intellectualmathematics.com/blog/galileo-bad-archimedes-good/

    A series of podcast episodes of (mostly tongue in cheek) revisionist history of science? Now that’s something constructive.

  73. Steven Mosher says:

    Bob
    “Not thought about that? Until Anthony did 2007? Give me a break. The Stevenson Screen goes back to the 1800s. There is lots of literature about how to design them how they compare to other radiation shields, etc.”

    I am unaware of any literature on the issue of changing paint . But am happy to be corrected.
    I searched at the time and found nothing.
    The Larger point ( your nit picking aside) is that he thought he found a problem and did some work

  74. Steven Mosher says:

    “…and for station exposure/siting? The field of microclimatology had been around for decades before Anthony started to think that local effects alter local temperatures”

    That was not my point. my point was he actually went out and did surveys

    Now as to the literature on microsite bias , it is thin to non existent. I mean ACTUAL FEILD
    experiments.

    There are 2 in my database of literature. I am talking about actual site surveys and actual
    field measurements. One recently in the USA, and another in Japan.
    There is one modeling study . geiger’s book is one of my favorites.
    However, it has nothing on the question of the bias introduced by various artificial structures.

    Oke? don’t even start.

    Here is the point. He did something. he didn’t just raise doubts, he surveyed sites and rated them.
    and other people ( Menne) used his data.
    Thats the distinction I am making. Today 99.999 % of skeptics just raise doubts. They never
    try to quantify the doubt or remove the doubt. I raise the example of him to illustrate the difference.
    I like to use him because it illustrates to skeptics, using one of their own people, the difference
    between the behavior of someone doing science versus someone merely raising doubts.

  75. Steven Mosher says:

    “(I also like the surface stations project, apart from the non-publication part – if only Anthony had a friendly journal in which to publish it…).

    His 2012 results did not hold up after they fix the data error.. however I hear they are still trying.

  76. Steven Mosher says:

    Joshua
    “So then is there a difference between critiquing an argument or rebutting an argument and nit-picking?”

    Ya, I understand you might want to carve out a space for legitimate critique where you
    don’t actually do anything. A simple example would be the Stanford serology study.
    where everyone and his brother pointed out the issues with sampling. So, if you point that
    out and dont do anything (like your own study) are you just picking nits?

    The other way to ask this is “can you do arm chair science?”

    Dk has a good guidepost– are you circumspect in your critique. I will add 2 more
    A) are you consistent in your “rules of evidence”. Let’s take Willis, from my view he
    is rather inconsistent in his acceptance of data. Sometimes questioning sources
    sometimes blindly accepting them. so he would accept data from DOJ because
    “its DOJ” but would not apply the same rule of evidence to NOAA. ‘its NOAA”
    B) can you clearly lay out the conditions that would force you to change your position?

    I think B is really important because every study has holes, thats why audits never end
    Philosophically you could say that foundationalism is bankrupt

  77. izen says:

    @-joshua
    “I’m still not understanding where the basic distinction.m is without subjectivity.”

    You’re nitpicking.
    (does that help? 🙂

    Meanwhile, however tightly ECS can be constrained the ecological impacts of the current level of warming are beginning to be detectable.

    https://phys.org/news/2020-07-decline-bees-pollinators-threatens-crop.html

    “Crop yields for apples, cherries and blueberries across the United States are being reduced by a lack of pollinators, according to Rutgers-led research, the most comprehensive study of its kind to date.”

  78. Joshua says:

    izen –

    > You’re nitpicking.
    (does that help? 🙂

    No. Now it seems that you’re saying that trying to understand = nitpicking.

  79. Joshua says:

    Steven –

    > , I understand you might want to carve out a space for legitimate critique where you
    don’t actually do anything.

    Right

    > A simple example would be the Stanford serology study.

    Well, there’s different levels there. Gelman first critiqued the methodology, basically by applying a model for how it should be done/why it wasn’t done well. That’s kinda not actually doing anything. But he wasn’t criticizing the sampling process – in fact he kind of defended that.

    I carped online about the sampling process. That’s more towards not actually doing anything but still a similar beast.

    Then Gelman actually analyzed the data.

    Those folks at UCSF put together a tutorial on sampling and why the sampling in the SC study sucked.

    So there’s obviously a spectrum there that goes from nitpicking to contributing to the science. And what I did was obviously at one end of the spectrum.

    But I still like to think I wasn’t merely nitpicking – as I see nitpicking as having the connotation that the attempt or motivation is to distract from a larger valid point by focusing on irrelevancies. I don’t think I was doing that.

    And I think that there is a fairly large space for legit criticism, that doesn’t require “doing something.”

  80. Bob Loblaw says:

    “I am unaware of any literature on the issue of changing paint . But am happy to be corrected.”

    Yet back in the 1800s, they knew that white Stevenson screens were a better idea than black ones. Standard maintenance on Stevenson screens is periodic painting or replacement. Every one that makes some sort of radiation shield for temperature measurements (Stevenson screen, Gill Shield, whatver) knows that the radiative properties of the material (both visible and infra-red) are important. This is basic, undergraduate material, and basic information on operating a meteorological monitoring network.

    I’ll bet you won’t find any peer-reviewed publications that tell you it’s a good idea to periodically recalibrate your voltmeter, either. It’s that basic.

  81. Willard says:

    > I think that there is a fairly large space for legit criticism, that doesn’t require “doing something.”

    I’d say it goes from auditing to editing. Both concepts need to be taken figuratively. Auditing would be a formal review of the materials used to produce some research. Editing would be its critical review.

    The legitimacy of these practices could depend on what is being done, how it ends up being used, or if it can be used at all. I don’t think individual intentions matter much to settle these questions. There are things that work collectively, and there are things that don’t.

    Contrarians do something that work:`

    Purely disinterested auditors could feed storylines to the Contrarian Matrix. Vexatious litigators could advance human knowledge. Etc.

    Even nitpicking can be useful – think of reporting bugs. The problem is when this nitpicking gets inflated into something else.

    Ideally, we could make all our contributions useful. One way would be to use the kinetic force of our keyboard tapping. Contrarians all over the world would then work to create an infinite source of renewable energy.

  82. Bob Loblaw says:

    “Now as to the literature on microsite bias , it is thin to non existent. I mean ACTUAL FEILD
    experiments.”

    I call bull$#!^. The literature is extensive on how variations in surface conditions, upwind obstacles, fetch, changes in surface moisture, height above ground, etc. influence such things as temperature, humidity, and wind profiles. If you don’t recognize the significance of that material, and how it relates to the issue of station siting, then that is your failure, not the literature.

    I was personally writing microclimate models that incorporated those principles when I was a grad student in the 1980s, and there was extensive literature and previous field and modelling studies to guide me.

  83. Bob Loblaw says:

    “His 2012 results did not hold up after they fix the data error.. however I hear they are still trying.”

    To me, this sounds a lot like “I’ll only tell you about the results that fit my narrative”.

  84. jacksmith4tx says:

    izen,
    It’s the second order effects like insect population decline that really screw up the biosphere.
    How can we expect the pollinators to survive if we are feeding the plants they feed on toxic shit.
    https://www.metrotimes.com/detroit/toilet-to-table-michigan-farmers-feed-crops-with-toxic-brew-of-human-and-industrial-waste/Content?oid=25017830

  85. dikranmarsupial says:

    ” I think that there is a fairly large space for legit criticism, that doesn’t require “doing something.””

    I disagree, you have to do something before making legitimate criticism, namely making a reasonable effort to understand the thing that you are criticising and the reasons why something is currently done the way it is. Arguably thinking whether answering your criticism is a reasonable use of the subjects time is another thing that should be done; if the answer is “possibly not”, then it is quite likely that you are nit-picking.

  86. Joshua says:

    dikran –

    > Arguably thinking whether answering your criticism is a reasonable use of the subjects time is another thing that should be done; if the answer is “possibly not”, then it is quite likely that you are nit-picking.

    Also seems very subjective to me.

    I often read what I think are useful critiques only to see the subject respond by saying that paying attention to the critique would be a waste of time because the critique was mere nit-picking.

    And I would presume that in many of those occasions, the person offering the critique certainly didn’t think that their critique was a waste of the subjects time (even when I agreed that it was not a useful analysis).

    At any rate, I put “doing something” in quotes because the definition is vague.

    I think that my view is that criticism offered in good a faith, in other words that the person putting it forward doesn’t think its a waste of time, is not nit-picking. But that’s hard to judge from the outside.

  87. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Also seems very subjective to me. ”

    there is nothing wrong with subjectivity, when dealing with human beings it is inevitable.

    “I often read what I think are useful critiques only to see the subject respond by saying that paying attention to the critique would be a waste of time because the critique was mere nit-picking.”

    This is because the critic and subject have different ideas on what is important. Say the subject wants to communicate a basic understanding of the greenhouse effect to a non-specialist (but scientifically literate) audience. Critic pops up and says “but you haven’t mentioned continuum absorption [for example]”. The subject may well consider this a nit-pick as it doesn’t change the basic message of the talk (and indeed discussion of it would be likely to derail further discussion of the main topic). The critic may well think that the subject is leaving out an interesting topic, and indeed she is, because she wants to focus on something she feels is more important.

    Whether it is a nit-pick depends on what you think is important, so unless you both agree on what is important, there will be a subjective element.

    “At any rate, I put “doing something” in quotes because the definition is vague.”

    There is nothing wrong with being vague sometimes, sometimes the point is making the receiver think about what you might mean by it (not something I would generally do, asking and answering questions as clearly as you can seems more efficient to me, but not everybody likes that).

    “I think that my view is that criticism offered in good a faith, ”

    Good faith seems an orthogonal consideration, you can nit-pick in good faith simply because you have a different view of what is important, you can nit-pick in bad faith to derail a discussion.

    ” But that’s hard to judge from the outside.”

    Hanlon’s razor? – interpret the words/actions of others in the best light that is consistent with the observations.

  88. Joshua says:

    > you can nit-pick in good faith simply because you have a different view of what is important, you can nit-pick in bad faith to derail a discussion.

    Yah. That’s the difference. I see “nit-picking” as having the connotation of deliberately raising irrelevance to distract from a larger, valid point.

    I think that explains our differing viewpoint here.

  89. Izen says: “… however tightly ECS can be constrained the ecological impacts of the current level of warming are beginning to be detectable.”

    JS says: “It’s the second order effects like insect population decline that really screw up the biosphere.”

    and, of course, it’s not just insects, the living things in the oceans are experiencing losses and stress as well.

    All of these, and more, lead me to think that “our” understanding of ecosystem stability is really insufficient to justify the lack of urgency many folks appear to feel and express about the stability of climate and ecosystem.

    If it was just ghg, and we were just working on the physics of that increase, it would be one thing, but we have thrown everything and the kitchen sink at the environment: ghg, heavy metals, biocides, plastics and non-biodegradables, harvest processes that destroy the benthic layers of the oceans and shores, etc.

    We don’t need to panic or get worked up about this, but we might want to recognize the predicament we have created and speak clearly and with appropriate urgency about how to change our trajectory.

  90. “We don’t need to panic or get worked up about this, but we might want to recognize the predicament we have created and speak clearly and with appropriate urgency about how to change our trajectory.”


    Could not help myself … gone in … three … two … one … KABOOM!

  91. David B Benson says:

    smallbluemike — I opine that we do “get worked up over this”. So far the Keeling curve keeps rising despite the minimal efforts applied this century.

    Here are over 200 links to articles making some point related to excessively fast temperature change:
    https://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/thread/159/climate-change-emergency

  92. Steven Mosher says:

    “To me, this sounds a lot like “I’ll only tell you about the results that fit my narrative”.

    yes that is why I mock him on the july 12 anniversary of my prediction that he will never
    release his data.

  93. Steven Mosher says:

    “So there’s obviously a spectrum there that goes from nitpicking to contributing to the science. And what I did was obviously at one end of the spectrum.

    But I still like to think I wasn’t merely nitpicking – as I see nitpicking as having the connotation that the attempt or motivation is to distract from a larger valid point by focusing on irrelevancies. I don’t think I was doing that.

    And I think that there is a fairly large space for legit criticism, that doesn’t require “doing something.”

    Yes I get that. from my own perspective since I had the same reaction to the study I’d like to say
    that I wasn’t merely picking nits. But I also knew that finding the types of issues I saw
    was child’s work. Gelman actually did something. I mean seriously if you can’t spot a problem
    in any piece of science on the first read, you haven’t read hard enough.
    so finding an epistemic hole in anything is easy. that doesnt mean I get to reject the science
    Also, not finding a hole doesn’t mean I am compelled to accept it.

    I sat an thought about how I would randomize a study and it turns out to be really hard.
    Why? because we dont know the factors that contribute to increased susceptibility and so you
    can stratify or correct post hoc for them. that means I can always raise this objection. its too easy.

    any way, hard question. Lets see if we can agree on this: we know when you are not picking nits
    by looking at what you do. gelman did some work, other did their own serology tests. They are not
    picking nits. As for you and me who raised the same issues and did nothing? it’s less clear.

  94. Bob Loblaw says:

    “To me, this sounds a lot like “I’ll only tell you about the results that fit my narrative”.

    yes that is why I mock him on the july 12 anniversary of my prediction that he will never
    release his data.

    Something tells me that you’ve switched who “him/he” is here, and you’re not talking about Anthony Watts any more.

    …and if that is what you are doing then it makes it pretty clear that you are pretty selective about what principles you apply to what individuals. There is word for that.

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