Climate story telling angst

by Judith Curry

There has been much discussion in the climate blogosphere this past week on scientific story telling and communicating with the public.

Randy Olson

Randy Olson has been trying for years to get scientists to understand the value of storytelling in sharing research, see especially his blog The Benshi. In an article in the Solutions Journal, Olson writes:

Right now, the field of climate science is struggling to generate support for predictions of environmental calamity that have not yet been realized. Climate models indicate a dire future, but because the predictions are not 100 percent certain, opponents have an easy time attacking and undermining their credibility. And yet, if climate scientists were to use their past accomplishments to bolster their current claims, there would be less controversy, as it’s more difficult to undermine the credibility of established achievements.

Let’s take a look at one of the greatest climate science accomplishments of the past two decades—understanding the El Niño phenomenon. In 1998, in a questionnaire given to students on the first day of my introductory marine biology course at the University of Southern California, I asked, “What is El Niño?” Out of roughly fifty students, not a single student could answer the question.

Today, I guarantee that just about every student would immediately answer that the phenomenon refers to a year in which the weather gets wacky with massive rainfalls, mud slides, and wildfires. A significant number would be able to add further details about the ocean being exceptionally warm and fishermen catching strange fish from the south, and a few would even be able to tell you it’s caused by ocean currents slowing down. More important are the benefits of this broad knowledge to the state of California—every industry, from fishing to farming to transport, benefits from our understanding of “an El Niño year” and, especially, from the ability to predict its approach nearly a year in advance.

All of that is the result of climate science. Now imagine if a positive public relations campaign were launched, pointing this out to the general public. Think of General Electric’s old ad campaign: “GE: We bring good things to life.” Imagine something similar: “Climate science: We help make sense of your world.”

The elements for building public trust are there. The only thing lacking is the large-scale instincts to take advantage of them—to use past accomplishments to build trust rather than pointing to future threats in a gambit of hope and fear.

In a world of antiscience movements, winning the public’s support for science is more difficult than ever. It is essential that scientists recognize two things: (1) There is no more powerful form of mass communication than the telling of good stories, and (2) support for science will come not from the promise of future solutions but from telling stories about solutions achieved in the past.

In a comment at Collide-a-Scape, Olson further elaborates:

And by the way, all of my essays, comments and my book are directed at trying to reach the general public, not the hard core aficionado crowd you get on serious climate blogs — it’s two different modes of communication.

The science world has never had a need to engage in large scale public relations, but that’s because the world has never been like it is today.  This is not your father’s science world.  This is not just the world of Twitter, it is also the world of magazine articles written last fall by journalists (Andrew David H. Freedman in the Atlantic, Jonah Lehrer in the New Yorker, you can Google them both) who have nothing against the science world, but are pointing out there are major psychological flaws in the brains of all humans, including scientists, that lead to high levels of false positives and other significant sources of noise.

All of which means the time has come to take a deeper interest in understanding these basic dynamics of storytelling that we are all burdened with.  And that is the key point of my essay on uncertainty [discussed on the neverending climategate thread].  Your audience is defective to begin with — we are ALL defective.  That’s what the two articles point out.  People don’t respond to “just the facts” in the way you wish they did.  But there are ways to deal with this that do not involve dishonesty or distortion.  One of which is making certain the public is aware of how much certainty you have provided them in the past.

Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor picks up on Olson’s comments  at Collide-a-Scape with a post entitled: “Why Scientists Can’t Tell Their Stories.” Kloor amusingly states: “One of his movies is called Flock of Dodos, which might best characterize his view of  the science community–with respect to their overall communication skills.” The comments on this thread are well worth reading, here are some excerpts:

Jay Currie states:

Absolutely right. But the key thing about understanding the oscillations and cycles in climate is that the data and methods were disclosed and intelligible. Moreover, climate scientists were modest in their claims to know what “caused” El Nino events and modest as to their claims as to being able to predict the magnitude of any given event. This transparency and modesty has meant that the climate science surrounding El Nino is trusted in ways which the CO2 conjectures are not. And, of course, when Climategate confirmed many of the suspicions surrounding some very prominent climate scientists and institutions that trust was eroded even further.

Stu says:

Climate scientists are always telling simple stories, mostly about their adversaries unfortunately… Whether it’s Kevin Trenberth, lumping all critics in with the ‘deniers’ or Michael Mann or Kerry Emanuel railing against ‘industry funded disinformation websites’ and the like. I guess that kind of thing works on some people, otherwise they probably wouldn’t do it. I guess I will invoke Henry Louis Mencken but appropriate slightly… “For every complex problem there is a story which is simple, neat and wrong”.  Modern society, 21st C society- I don’t think is going to accept simple stories as the basis for its understandings. Simple stories are things offered by religions and ideologues, with the purpose of collapsing the complexity of reality down to very simple ideas which are then used in order to manipulate people. Modern minds are rightful to be suspicious of such stories. We’ve had a lot of experience with these things.

Michael Larkin makes a statement that I suspect that many Denizens will resonate with:

Good grief. “Stories”.

Stories can be straightforward and accurate reportage, biased innuendo, outright lies, or anything in between.

They can be allegory or myth – fabrications in a literal sense, but underlying that, indicative of great truths (or, perhaps, lies).

What is the truth about AGW? I’ve looked as long and hard as I can and don’t know. I strongly suspect no one does. Those who feel certitude on either side spout volubly from soapboxes and spare themselves no efforts in sniping.

Whatever, I’m not interested in, nor can I be swayed by, stories that appear to me to be anything else other than accurate reportage. Sometimes I have to reconstruct what seems likely to be accurate through reading a number of accounts, often conflicting, of the same topic. This is often not possible, however, so that I have to shrug my shoulders and place the issue in the voluminous folder labelled “moot”.

This explicit talk of stories (or, sometimes, “narratives”) by those on the consensus side in and of itself causes me to lean towards scepticism, and sometimes, cynicism. Just the mention of them in relation to what is supposed to a scientific issue makes me wonder what the heck kind of animal we are dealing with.

Of course, we’ve always to some extent woven narratives about current scientific understandings, and often enough those have turned out to be incorrect or just naïve and simplistic. But where else than in reference to AGW is there open and explicit airing of such notions? In the context of how to get the public to accept a proposition?

“The public”. Ah yes, a collective noun, as if the public were a monolithic beast with one or at most a few varieties of thought modes. But actually, each person is his or her own universe, with many and complex reasons for holding the views they do, and for evaluating incoming information, be that in the form of stories or anything else. And quite a lot of them, I suspect, feel patronised when the righteous convinced attempt to vomit forth little stories, in the hope they will be accepted, and in frustration at the thought the audience may be too stupid or perverse or selfish to swallow them whole.

Well, maybe it’s the fact that “stories” are on the table at all that scuppers the whole enterprise. Maybe the so-called consensualists have created the opposition they deserve by the very ways they have chosen to act – being too often dismissive, insulting, patronising, closed-minded. That awakens the same characteristics in many of their intended audience, who have become every bit as obstinate as they are. There is no way to win these kinds of vitriolic argument. The idea of “winning” is part of the problem, and completely counterproductive.

Chris Mooney

Chris Mooney has a post on DeSmog entitled “Global Warming and Snowstorms: Communication Nightmare or Opportunity?”  He laments the challenges of getting the public to understand the counterintuitive idea of global warming producing more snowstorms.  IMO, there are good reasons for this counterintuition (e.g. see this previous thread plus summary from NOAA), but Mooney finds that “On a physical level, the case is sublimely simple.”  Mooney concludes:

I feel torn about this. On the one hand, winter snowstorms have drawn massive attention and have affected incredibly large numbers of people. They speak to everyone’s experience. Tying global warming to that would be incredibly powerful.

But at the same time, the hurdles presented are incredibly vast, and I’m not sure good scientific explanations, alone, can overcome them.

That doesn’t mean the UCS and Jeff Masters should leave this topic alone. Many people are open minded and want to know what’s going on with the climate system; and for the rest of the public, over time we may push them closer to a point where these ideas will go down more easily.

And that’s the ultimate takeaway: We need to move the public to a place where drawing a warming-snowstorm connection isn’t so challenging. I don’t think drawing the connection itself will get us there. Rather, I think other efforts, over time, will make people more willing to draw the connection.

Bill Hooke

Bill Hooke at Living on the Real World has two provocative posts entitled “Lets Change the Topic of Conversation!” and “Sparkling Conversation!”  Some excerpts:

But when it comes to talking about the Earth, the real world – the world as resource, victim, and threat – scientists and politicians often find that their conversation, which otherwise had been going well, founders.

But when it comes to the real world – biodiversity and the preservation of endangered species, air- and water-quality, natural hazards, climate change — scientists and politicians often clash. They disagree, and they get defensive. And they can’t seem to let go. Instead, both sides keep trying to justify themselves. It’s a snag and a snare – keeping them from getting on with the work at hand.

What to do?

  • Switch the conversation when you notice that it is getting old, boring, or difficult to talk about.
  • Look to segue into a better topic.

Specifically with regards to climate change:

In particular, we might contemplate putting aside the oft-repeated rehash of the basic science behind the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations, the concomitant global warming, and its human attribution. Even though these points are fundamental and even though our audience is not yet entirely on board, we need to move on.

Why? Because our audience, though not quite so informed and up to speed as we might like, is showing definite signs of tiring of this subject, when framed in this way. Surely we have many things we could talk about that would be far more interesting, to nearly everyone – politicians, business leaders, educators, journalists, children, even our life partners.

Prerequisite: engaging with level 2′s and level 3′s

The statement by Randy Olson: “And by the way, all of my essays, comments and my book are directed at trying to reach the general public, not the hard core aficionado crowd you get on serious climate blogs — it’s two different modes of communication.” when combined with Michael Larkin’s statement (coming from a hard core afficionado) brings to the fore the issue of epistemic levels that I raised on the Agreeing thread, where I proposed the following levels:

  1. Research scientist publishing papers on relevant topics
  2. Individual with a graduate degree in a technical subject that has investigated the relevant topics in detail.
  3. Individual spending a substantial amount of time reading popular books on the subject and hanging out in the climate blogosphere
  4. Individual who gets their climate information from the mainstream media or talk radio

What Olson, Mooney and Hooke are talking about is communicating with level 4′s.  It is my hypothesis is that effective communication and engagement level 2′s and 3′s is a prerequisite to effective communication with level 4′s.  Climategate was mostly about a failure to engage constructively and effectively with level 2′s and 3′s, and also skeptical level 1′s.

What are the ingredients for effective communication with level 2′s and 3′s?  Here is my take, I look forward to your other suggestions:

  • public availability of data, codes, and models
  • transparency in assessment methods, particularly expert judgment of uncertainty and confidence levels
  • blogospheric engagement with level 1′s (quick note: check out the latest level 1 entry into the climate blogosphere:  Isaac Held of NOAA GFDL).
  • others?

So why does this matter?  The level 2′s and 3′s probably number on the order 100,000 worldwide ( I would be interested in a better estimate of this number).  A small percent of the global population, but nevertheless a very important group in the context of the public debate on climate change.  The failure of the climate establishment to engage effectively with this group and only focusing on the level 4′s has arguably brought us Climategate and the loss of trust.  Further, the level 2′s and 3′s can play a potentially important role in the auditing and evaluation of climate science and assessment reports, and in some instances can be motivated to make primary contributions to climate in the form of journal publications.

The “noise” generated by level 2′s and 3′s who are fighting to get access to key data sets, metadata, etc. and are unconvinced by the IPCC assessments is heard by the broader public. The broader public listen to the level 2′s and 3′s. Therefore, in terms of public relations, you can’t just focus on the level 4′s and bypass the level 2′s and 3′s.  Chris Mooney seems to want to convert level 4′s to level 3 (not going to happen on a wholesale basis).

Most importantly, if level 1 climate scientists can’t convince the level 2′s and 3′s, then aspects of their argument are likely to be flawed, and they should actually listen to the level 2′s and 3′s to try to understand why they aren’t convinced; they might actually learn something.  Yes, particularly at the level 3, there are people that are politically motivated on both sides.  But it has been a huge mistake to dismiss all level 3′s as politically motivated.  And it has been a fatal mistake to dismiss the level 2′s.

New story lines for the level 4′s

Focussing squarely on the level 4′s, I think Randy Olson and Bill Hooke make important points.  We need to change the storyline, or the conversation, or whatever you want to call it.  The “consensus” story in particular is way past its shelf date.

Randy Olson’s idea of “Climate science: We help make sense of your world” is a good one.  Focusing on subseasonal, seasonal, and interannual climate variability would be much more effective in engaging the public (not to mention provide a better foundation for building confidence in climate models and helping to develop adaptation measures that make use of such forecasts.)

BIll Hooke’s idea of switching the conversation is also a good one.  The climate change story (greenhouse gases etc.) is getting boring to the public and political noise surrounding the subject is getting in the way of dealing with serious environmental and economic issues.  Some possible new story lines:

  • water, food and energy for a growing global population:  combine energy economics and security, environmental quality, agriculture, climate change/variability in the context of a discussion of global sustainability.
  • reducing vulnerability to extreme weather/climate events (e.g. floods, droughts, heat waves, tropical cyclones):  infrastructure, emergency management, better forecasts and warning systems (days, weeks, months).
  • others?

So does switching the conversation away from global warming mean that we should just give up on the idea of dealing with CO2 and energy policy?  Not at all, there are plenty of other reasons for addressing these issues  in the context of energy economics and security and environmental quality and public health.  By including climate change in the context of these broader issues, we might actually make some progress towards regional and global sustainability.

824 responses to “Climate story telling angst

  1. Here is my take, I look forward to your other suggestions:

    As a 3, I’d suggest – at least to those who are interested in building bridges – a balance in deconstructing how poor science is promulgated on both sides of the fence.

    When I read what seems to me as a non-expert, logical and well-constructed articles that analyze heavily promoted science of “deniers” and point out potential flaws, I am unable to intelligently assess those analyses scientifically. I’m left, simply, to formulating conclusions based on my political biases (yes, Virginia, we all have political biases) or on presumptions based on (1) perceptions about the value of traditionally earned qualifications or, (2) perceptions about the lack of validity in how traditionally earned qualifications are measured.

    The same holds true for what seem to be logical and well-constructed articles that analyze heavily promoted science of “warmists.”

    In the end, I need analysis, directed at non-experts, done by experts who clearly work as hard as they can to establish an objectivity that I can evaluate – an objectivity made clear by an even-handedness in their approach as opposed to an objectivity made clear by their technical analysis (which I am in no position to judge).

    What that all means, Judith, is that I’m still waiting for you to elaborate on the “dishonesty” on the “denialist” side, the obvious tribalism on the “delinalist” side, etc. I’ve seen your focus on the tribalism on the “warmist” side and see reason to give it merit. Please forgive me if I’m incorrect that you haven’t similarly deconstructed the potential of poor science on the “denialist side.” but without seeing such I find your description of tribalism to be problematically one-sided.

    • An interesting perspective.

      You’re 100% right- there is some shockingly bad science on the ‘skeptic’ side (and too of the warmist) and it can often be tricky to get to the truth of the matter. I’d class myself as a ’2′ and i readily admit i have issues on some of the subjects.

      To answer for Dr Curry, i’d imagine that she focus’ more on the warmist side as that is the current side ‘in power’, i.e. the establishment side that is putting forward the theory- as such in scientific terms, it is ‘right’ to ‘attack’ that view (with science, not slurs and insults).

      As for the analysis aimed at ‘lower levels’, it’s tricky. The theories and thier associations are complex and often, the disagreement can resolve around the handling of a single data set- or the methodology used, rather than a specific issue with the theory (though obviously everything stems out from the data and methods).

      You have to play to your strengths- you’re never going to understand every aspect of the issue, so confine yourself yo what you know and what you’re good at. I’m a methodology and data man; I can spot bad methodology from a orbit and can sniff bad data out with relative ease (both essential in my job)- so that’s where i tend to concentrate- but i’m also spending a lot of time in the literature too. Perhaps pick an aspect that interests you and read up on that specifrically?

      • i’d imagine that she focus’ more on the warmist side as that is the current side ‘in power’, i.e. the establishment side that is putting forward the theory- as such in scientific terms, it is ‘right’ to ‘attack’ that view (with science, not slurs and insults).

        In fact, Judith did more or less respond in that fashion when I raised a similar point earlier. But I don’t find that to be a satisfactory answer for two reasons:

        (1) Although Dr. Curry carries weight in the debate, her input is unlikely to appreciably affect any larger imbalance, to the extent that it exists. Given the magnitude of the debate, and the huge entities which aggregate larger numbers of individual players, any one individual scientist, no matter how credible or qualified, is going to effectively address any perceived imbalance, no matter whether she does so without resorting to slurs and insults.

        (2) A lack of balance in Dr. Curry’s approach to the nature of “tribalism” – a concept closely tied to how she conveys much of what she has to say about the science – affects my ability as (as a “3″ without scientific expertise) to assess her work. The existence (or lack thereof) of some imbalance external to her work does not really give me any window into understanding her input on its own merits. As I see it, it suggests that she may be an “activist” herself. Since I can’t evaluate the scientific merits of her work, I’m left to trying to evaluate her approach as an indirect means of evaluating her science. As a “3,” this is also true for me with respect to other actors in the debate. I’ll repeat what I’ve said before on this blog. A thesis must be arguable. In order to prove a thesis (in this case the role of tribalism in influencing the science of “warmists”), you need to make clear that you understand counter-arguments, and make that clear objectively presented analysis disproves counter-arguments. My understanding of Judith’s thesis is that she’s saying tribalistic behavior of “warmists” is derived from bad faith, a need to protect self-interests, a need to defend bad science. Assuming that the tribalism does exist in the first place (an assertion I find plausible), then an obvious counter-argument would be that that tribalism is motivated by tribalistic behavior on the part of “denialists.” Where is the evidence that disproves that counter-argument?

        When an obvious counter-argument is not disproven, it suggests either a weakly argued thesis or a biased perspective.

      • Joshua, a quick reply. The “warm side” has a clearly identifiable institutionalized “tribe”, e.g. the IPCC. On the skeptics side, they are all over the map and most subgroups don’t want anything to do with some of the others. One of the skeptics tribes can be described as the “sky dragons”, those that don’t think the greenhouse gas exists; I’ve taken on this group via several extensive threads. Another group is the technical skeptical blogosphere “auditors”, typified by Steve McIntyre and Jeff Id (whose words are sometimes intemperate but their analyses and arguments are scrupulously transparent); i don’t have any fundamental criticisms of this group (they respond personally to critiques and adjust their arguments.) Then you have the libertarian scientists (and level 3 types), such as at CATO and CEI. There are other groups that could be identified. But using these three groups, you have three different groups who don’t have anything to do with each other: the auditors don’t have anything to do with the sky dragons and dismiss them just as the IPCC group does (with some minor sympathy for the libertarians at least by Jeff Id). And then there is a whole host of level 2 type skeptics (from Freeman Dyson on down) that don’t affiliate themselves with any group at all and each of whom has their own particular issue of concern, other than occasionally to sign some sort of petition. So the two sides are not in any way analogous in this regard, IMO.

      • …..more of Holly’s reliable citations.

      • Holly Stick

        Facts are so inconvenient, aren’t they.

      • that’s pretty poor work even by your standards Holly…. do you get paid for holding the collection tins for RealClimate?

      • You perhaps do not even show upon JC epistemic scale, yet deem yourself worthy of countering JC. Tell you what, find the technical problems you have with Steve McI (no help from your mom or dad) and cite it, if not then Holly just Stick it.

      • Steven Mosher

        Funny, According to DC, Dave clark, Tom Fuller and I somehow make a claim about Mann and the TAR.
        Hmm, dont think so.

        As far as I know I made two errors in the book.
        1 pointed out by Gavin, which I acknowledged and accepted as being an error, giving gavin his credit.
        1 pointed out by arthur smith which I acknowledged and accepted , giving gavin his credit.

        If dave clarke (deep climate) thinks that Tom or I made a mistake about Mann and the TAR, I would gladly review his complaint, acknowledge the mistake if I made it and give him credit. He can even Post his charges against me at WUWT.

      • Holly,
        “scrupulously transparent” means they post their data, methods and code so others can run the analysis and see if they are telling the truth or not. This is the same standard the journals have but do not enforce for climate scientists. This is one of the issues Steve McIntyre has been most vocal about. To fail to archive your data, methods and code so others can check your work is pseudoscience.

      • Judith,

        I’m afraid that for me you haven’t done a sufficient presentation of counter-arguments.

        First, I think there is much more crossover than you suggest between “denialists” who present obviously flawed science and the “auditors.” For example, it is easy to identify clearly (scientifically, logically, rhetorically) flawed posts at WUWT, and a quick Google search returns McIntyre guest-posting at WUWT. I wouldn’t doubt that more extensive research would return many other links between those two and others who fall into their “camps,” respectively.

        As another example, the other day I provided you with a link to entirely plausible and logical arguments presented by Santer about how “denialist” tribalism motivated the behaviors you’ve qualified as tribalism in folks like Santer (e.g., charges that he, as a Jew who’s grandparents died in concentration camps, was performing “scientific cleansing”). You dismissed his arguments, first saying that Santer should just “get over it” (paraphrasing) and then saying that you weren’t entirely familiar with the arguments he made (again, paraphrasing). In order to buy your arguments about the roots of tribalism, I’d need you to lay out an argument that specifically identifies the flaws in Santer’s argument.

        In order to really argue your thesis thoroughly, IMO you need to present counter-arguments validly – in other words as the “naysayers” would present them – and then disprove their arguments with logic and data. I don’t see where you’ve done that.

        You seem to be basing your conclusions at least to some degree on the tone of your personal, anecdotal interactions with the different groups. No doubt, that is a valuable criterion – but others describe personal, anecdotal interactions that were quite different than yours.

        If you’re going to say that there isn’t significant linkage between libertarian ideology and the science of “denialists,” it isn’t enough for you to simply state that no such linkage exists. At your very blog, I read extensive and seemingly well-reasoned technical posts about the science of climate change and then click on the hyperlinks to related blogs of those posting and find a very high percentage of cross-over to ardent libertarians. It stretches credulity to think that that crossover is purely coincidental. A resentment about scientific “elitism” runs throughout much of the denialist blogosphere, and I’m sorry, while such sentiments have some validity IMO, as someone who has been inside academe and witnessed the elitism, and in fact spent much of my life as an educator striving to overcome how that elitism protects the solidification of social classes, it simply doesn’t hold pass the sniff test when someone tries to tell me that there isn’t a right/left political motivation to many of the argument used to substantiate those charges of “scientific elitism.”

        Granted, I can’t expect you to prove that there is absolutely no linkage between libertarian or other rightwing ideology and the science of “denialism;” that would be like asking you to prove a negative. But it does seem to me that to make a claim that there is no significant linkage requires a logical argument as to why/how the abundant evidence supporting a linkage is flawed.

        I’m not asking for analysis of the arguments of someone like Dyson, or even Lindzen. By using what information is easily available, I find their arguments credible just as I would someone like Kerry Emanuel, who in this MIT debate about “Climategate” with Lindzen and others identifies himself as a “small-government conservative” who thinks that GW is A

        http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/730/

        Folks like Dyson and Linzen and Manuel are more clearly located in the larger political context of the debate in such a way that I, as a non-expert #3, can see some space between their politics, their advocacy, and their science.

      • I have probably written a dozen posts on this general topic, which are easily found if you go back into the Climate Etc. archives.

      • Judith,

        You previous posts, as I’ve read them, focus on dismissing potential links between rightwing and/or libertarianism and funding for research. I don’t really agree with your conclusions, but that’s mostly irrelevant to my point as I’m talking about the connections between rightwing and libertarian ideology and funding in a more general sense and the degree to which they are connected to “denialist tribalism” and by extension, whether “denialist tribalism” plays a role in motivating “warmist tribalism” .

        Your contention is that “warmist tribalism” is wholly motivated by bad faith, bad science, “dishonesty,” and/or misperceptions about the influence of rightwing and libertarian ideology, yet as far as I can see, you have not done a good faith analysis of that question. How do you explain someone like McIntryre guest-posting at WUWT? How to you refute Santer’s arguments? You dismiss the contention of “warmists” about the motivations for their behaviors without presenting an accurate account of their arguments, let alone without refuting the details of their accounts. How do you explain the obvious overlaps between anti-AGW “denialism,” anti-AGW “skepticism,” and rightwing and libertarian rhetoric – when it exists in abundance at this very blog? That you casually dismiss any such connections to what you’ve described as “tribal” reactions on the part of “warmists” seems to be insufficiently comprehensive, IMO.

      • Joshua you haven’t been reading me very carefully. I have never contended that “warmist tribalism” is wholly motivated by bad faith, bad science, “dishonesty,” and/or misperceptions about the influence of rightwing and libertarian ideology.” Rather I have contended that there is a positive feedback loop spawned by the IPCC that reinforces the “warmist tribalism.”

        What does McIntyre posting at WUWT have to do with anything? I think he mainly posted there when climateaudit servers crashed because of high traffic during climategate, which WUWT was able to handle. Santer’s arguments have been refuted in other places. I don’t completely dismiss the connections that you describe. However, when someone rants on about them, I ask them to consider the connections on the other side, with the enviro advocacy groups. At the end of the day, I view all this to be a red herring in the scientific debate and in the serious blogospheric debate on the subject of climate change.

      • Come on, Joshua, I am sure that you are more of a realist than your comment suggests. In the political arena it is obvious that both sides’ tribalism feeds from the other. Judith has already pretty much answered your question. What do you want her to do? Wear sack cloth and ashes?

      • Sustainability is another word for economic central planning. Central planning is a proven failure for reasons well-described in “The Road to Serfdom”.

        The quickest way to efficiently adapt to changes in supply is through free market mechanisms.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Really? Someone here still has the oompaloompahs to quote Hayek? The Hayek who insisted that externalities be paid for? Climate Denialism exists to make sure that the externalities of carbon won’t be paid for.

        Ah, yes. Karl Rove #3: Be worse than anyone can imagine.

      • So Judy, when you pull out your shovel and you dig to find the root of the tribalism, you find something that can easily be described as the IPCC spawning the phenomenon and everything else to be feedback loops feeding off the energy created at that one point? You identify only one origin at that root – the IPCC?

        You brought up McIntyre as an example of a “skeptic” who is “unconnected” with “denialism.” Yet, he posted at WUWT, a site that has, along with what seems to a #3 as sound science, a clear political focus and which contains much that can fairly be categorized as “denialism.” And now after bringing him up you’re saying that his posting at WUWT isn’t relevant? Does it prove that his analysis is flawed? Certainly not. But certainly it proves that your categorical statements about a lack of connections doesn’t explain all the relevant information available.

        You obliquely say that Santer’s arguments have been refuted in other places, but you failed to comment on the Guardian article that explicates both sides of the debate. There is much information in the Guardian article which justifies an expanded picture of what “spawns” the tribalism, and without refutation of that information, your thesis remains incomplete. Santer makes charges that seem entirely plausible about why what McIntyre and others did motivated what you have described as tribalistic behavior from Santers and other climate scientists. How am I to trust your perspective when, basically, you’re saying that I need to trust your analysis based on faith? Where have you deconstructed what Santers said? I’m supposed to trust your arguments because Santer’s arguments have been “refuted in other places?” I’ve read those refutations and I’m unconvinced one way or the other. You are obviously trusting the refutations and not Santer’s arguments yet, (1) you didn’t objectively recount Santer’s arguments, (2) you said that you didn’t even read an extensive third-party report on the disagreements.

        Yes, I agree that the influence of environmental groups must be a part of the debate. Claims environmental groups make must be examined and verified or disproven: but your focus on the political elements of the debate seems to be one-sided. People who point to rightwing political influence are “ranting” but people who basically lay the phenomenon of “tribalism” at the feet of leftwing political influences are speaking truth to power? It is a “red herring” to talk about the potential influence of rightwing ideology on the roots of the tribalism, but yet you basically center your arguments about the roots of “warmist tribalism” in the advocacy of environmentalists and/or the political entities involved in the IPCC?

        I couldn’t quite tell if you were saying that I was ranting, although it seemed clear that you were saying that I’m throwing red herrings onto your blog. I’m optimistically going to allow for some room for believing that your characterization wasn’t mean as a categorical description of my posts: afterall, you have responded to a number of them and I would imagine that you’re too busy to waste time trying to catch flying fish. Baring a similar connotation to your responses to me in the future, I’ll continue to ask you these questions. But if that is how you feel, all you need to do is confirm. I’ll just go away. Posting on a blog is never the most productive use of my time, but it is even more useless if I’m exchanging opinions with someone who dismisses me out of hand.

      • Joshua, you do your argument no good by trying to harp about the links, if any, between the groups you have designated for “Unclimatic Activities”. Some of us in the 2/3 level find this substantially silly. You could easily knock down the auditors arguments without the “black helicopter” nonsense. JC has eminently done that without having to wear a tin foil.

      • Steven Mosher

        Joshua, Lemme explain posting at WUWT.

        I’m a believer in AGW.
        I have posting rights at WUWT
        If you have an article you would like to post, send it to me.
        If gavin wants to post there, he can
        If mann wants to post there, he can
        Walt Meier posts there, wadda make of that?

        Anthony and Steve are two completely different people with different audiences, different beliefs. They do share some common ideas. See if you can figure out what they are.

      • Steve Reynolds

        “I can’t expect you to prove that there is absolutely no linkage between libertarian or other rightwing ideology and the science of “denialism;” that would be like asking you to prove a negative.”

        We could replace rightwing with leftwing and denialism with warmism in your statement for an equally valid point. While political orientation should be expected to have a major impact on policy considerations, ideally it has no impact on the science.
        In reality, completely avoiding confirmation bias is impossible, but that is no reason not to expect everyone looking into the science to make their best attempt to be objective, and to be scrupulously transparent with all data and methods.

      • We could replace rightwing with leftwing and denialism with warmism in your statement for an equally valid point.

        I thought I made pretty clear that I think that is a plausible argument, and in fact that argument is made constantly in these threads and Judith falls in line. However, she exempts anti-AGW “denialism” from the same criticism. My questions ask her to address the apparent imbalance in how politics, bad faith, bad science, “dishonesty,” etc. affect her conclusions about “tribalism” on the different sides of the debate.

        I completely agree with your second paragraph – and that is why I’m asking Judith to do a better job of checking for her biases. I have never said that her science reflects bias – because I am not technically able to make that assessment. However, when she writes about “tribalism” being at the root of “warmism” she is simply skirting over obvious counter-arguments. When she adds justifications like that there are no connections between “skepticism” and “denialism” when clearly there are (e.g., the very person she uses to illustrate that division has guest posted at WUWT – a site which clearly aligns itself politically and has, on numerous occasions, posted scientifically bankrupt material) some problems with her argument persist.

        Judith has stepped away from the science and into the political dimensions of the debate – in order to build bridges. I applaud her for doing so, but in doing so she has to apply the same standards of falsifiability and replicability to the political elements of her thesis to the extent possible with non-empirical analyses.

      • Joshua,
        With respect, your posts have a hint of activism about themself. Dr Curry’s responded to your posts with what i think is a reasonable answer- yet you dismiss it out of hand and then go to lecture us on libertarinism and denialism.

        I’d take a step back and re-assess.

      • Yes, he’s getting rather boring too.

      • I don’t deny that there is a “hint” of activism in my posts. We’re all affected in this debate by our starting orientation, and so I think we need to acknowledge how our biases could potentially affect our conclusions and do our best to control for them. That’s what I’m asking Dr. Curry to do,

        I don’t dismiss Judith’s responses out of hand. I provide an explanation for why, IMO, her responses don’t solve problematic conclusions she has drawn about tribalism.

        I’m not “lecturing” anyone. You can choose to read my responses or not. You can also choose to actually rebut anything I’ve said, or alternately, write the kind of response you just wrote.

        And I can choose to draw conclusions about the choice that you make.

      • Well i wouldn’t know where to start.

        You make sweeping statments like:

        –”First, I think there is much more crossover than you suggest between “denialists” who present obviously flawed science and the “auditors.”

        –” I read extensive and seemingly well-reasoned technical posts about the science of climate change and then click on the hyperlinks to related blogs of those posting and find a very high percentage of cross-over to ardent libertarians”

        –”A resentment about scientific “elitism” runs throughout much of the denialist blogosphere,”

        –”doesn’t hold pass the sniff test when someone tries to tell me that there isn’t a right/left political motivation to many of the argument used to substantiate those charges of “scientific elitism”

        –”But it does seem to me that to make a claim that there is no significant linkage requires a logical argument as to why/how the abundant evidence supporting a linkage is flawed. ”

        All based on nothing but your own opinion (as you have provided nothing to back them up) and put forward as fact. There is actually very little i CAN actually respond to as your whole post effectively boils down to “i think this therefore you must respobnd to my questions”.

        Now i’m not trying to be combative or dismissive here- but you need to provide more substance.

      • –” I read extensive and seemingly well-reasoned technical posts about the science of climate change and then click on the hyperlinks to related blogs of those posting and find a very high percentage of cross-over to ardent libertarians”

        Try clicking on to the links at this blog to Richard Drake’s blog. Ms. Curry thought highly enough of Richard Drake to quote him in header of the “Hiding the Decline Part iii” post. For another examples, look at the “Harry Potter Theory…” thread, and read the comments relating arguments about global warming to von Mises and libertarian ideology on the categorical ill-advisability of government funding

        –”A resentment about scientific “elitism” runs throughout much of the denialist blogosphere,”
        –”doesn’t hold pass the sniff test when someone tries to tell me that there isn’t a right/left political motivation to many of the argument used to substantiate those charges of “scientific elitism”

        Here – have a look at this post by Willis Eschenbach – someone who posts comments here and guest-posts at WUWT – and the comments. Do you contend that resentment towards “scientific elitism” is not well-represented there?

        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/28/its-not-about-me/#comments

        –”But it does seem to me that to make a claim that there is no significant linkage requires a logical argument as to why/how the abundant evidence supporting a linkage is flawed. ”

        One quick Google search returned that Steve McIntyre has guest-posted at WUWT. Watts has been a speaker at Heartland Institute events. Even if you doubt that there is a direct link between entities like the Cato and Heartland institutes and the ICE and funding for research, do you really doubt that the funding from such sources is significant in the debate? I imagine that you’ve already seen this, but The ICE famously contracted with a PR firm which:

        identified “older, less-educated males from larger households who are not typically active information-seekers” and “younger, lower-income women” as “good targets for radio advertisements” that would “directly attack the proponents of global warming . . . through comparison of global warming to historical or mythical instances of gloom and doom.”

        There are politically-based organizations and that have actually spent millions on promoting rhetoric on the debate about global warming. Do you think that attacks on climate scientists – paid for by rightwing political activists – don’t call into question the contention that rightwing political activism is irrelevant to the“tribalistic” behavior of climate scientists?

      • Wow. You really left your impartiality at the door huh.

        Re- funding: It’s irrelevant- only the point a person makes is relevant- your attempts to malign via association, a typical pro-cAGW political technique falls flat on it’s face when you examine the funding on the ‘other’ side of the fence.

        Re- libertarianism: i’m not entirely sure what you’re trying to do here. I imagine you’re using libertarianistic ideals which seem at odds with cAGW mitigation to suggest that all sceptics must be libertarian, and therefore their opinionis are somehow worth less.

        Occasional guest posts and speaking at conferences/institutes is hardly what i’d call concrete evidence. Guilt via association, no?

        Re-scientific elitism: You’re using one persons personal position to tar the entire ‘side’ with. Can you not see how weak your arguments are??

        Play the ball, not the man.

        It’s almost like you’ve made your mind up and now rather than address any points made by an individual you are trying to find away to dismiss the person behind the point based on some arbitrary scale you hold dear.

        Incidentally, if you class the consensus-climate-scientists as the ‘elite’ then you’re in deeper trouble than i thought.

      • Joshua:

        Try clicking on to the links at this blog to Richard Drake’s blog. Ms. Curry thought highly enough of Richard Drake to quote him in header of the “Hiding the Decline Part iii” post.

        I tried doing this and found nothing objectionable at all!

        But in any case, Joshua, this is scraping the barrel as far as trying to make some kind of dirt stick to Judith Curry. She only mentioned my name because she was quoting John Nielsen-Gammon and John had used a statement of mine to represent one possible point of view on Hiding the Decline. If this proves that Dr Curry thinks so highly of Richard Drake then where does it end? We all quote A quoting B, where B may be Hitler or someone really evil like Rush Limbaugh, all the time. It doesn’t imply we love Adolf or Rush. Get a grip, man.

      • Richard.

        I found nothing “objectionable” either. Sorry if what I said came across that way. You seem like a fine fellow to me.

        What I did find were politically oriented posts.

        I’m not trying to make “dirt” stick to Judy because she quoted you in her post – but to make the point that she thought highly enough of the opinion you presented to infer that it was representative of a not-so-infrequently held perspective on the debate. I am making no assumptions about whether agrees with your opinion.

        I’m suggesting that there are inconsistencies in her argument. I referred to you to show that there are connections between politics and “denialist science.” When Judy argues that they are unconnected, and then uses your opinion as a representative example of a “denialist” position, I find a flaw in her thesis.

        If her out is that there is a clear taxonimc distinction between a “skeptic” and “denialist,” then I am asking her to elaborate upon certain confounding information – for example, the “skeptic” she used as an example posting at a site where there are clearly, abundant examples of “denialism.”

      • I found nothing “objectionable” either. Sorry if what I said came across that way. You seem like a fine fellow to me.

        Steady on. Let’s keep this within the bounds of credible discourse :)

        What I did find were politically oriented posts.

        You’ll find all sorts of posts, including how to parse JavaScript using open source libraries for Ruby and an evaluation of Google’s new language, Go. It’s true I’m interested in politics, but I’d say I’m more interested in deeper things: for instance, in a recent post I show Uki Goñi of Argentina talking about how a whole society faces up to evil. Goñi is hard to place on traditional political spectra but I find what he says there compelling. This was as I struggled with the identification of ‘Big Money’ with evil in the climate debate and, even more so, in the DDT and Malaria debate. That’s something I’ve wanted to get a handle on for a long time. And I do so from within a nonconformist Christian framework, which I’m pretty open about. And my thoughts are exceedingly tentative.

        I simply don’t get the relevance of any of this to the fact that Judith quoted John N-G at length and that that block of text from John on a previous thread happened to use me to express the case that the people responsible for Hide the Decline should apologise. (In fact, I tend to go further than that: I think they should resign, which is one reason I put up my latest post.) There’s nothing in all of this that could possibly affect Judith’s consistency on anything she’s doing or saying.

        Anyhow, no harm done I’m sure. Take care now.

      • I found nothing “objectionable” either. Sorry if what I said came across that way. You seem like a fine fellow to me.

        Steady on. Let’s keep this within the bounds of credibility :)

        What I did find were politically oriented posts.

        You’ll find all sorts of posts, including how to parse JavaScript using open source libraries for Ruby and an evaluation of Google’s new language, Go. It’s true I’m interested in politics, but I’d say I’m more interested in deeper things: for instance, in a recent post I show Uki Goñi of Argentina talking about how a whole society faces up to evil. Goñi is hard to place on traditional political spectra but I find what he says there compelling. This was as I struggled with the identification of ‘Big Money’ with evil in the climate debate and, even more so, in the DDT and Malaria debate. That’s something I’ve wanted to get a handle on for a long time.

        I simply don’t get the relevance of any of this to the fact that Judith quoted John N-G at length and that that block of text from John on a previous thread happened to use me to express the case that the people responsible for Hide the Decline should apologise. (In fact, I tend to go further: I think they should resign, which is one reason I put up my latest post.) There’s nothing in all of this that could possibly affect Judith’s consistency on anything she’s doing or saying.

      • Richard,

        I’ll try one more time – just in case it was a matter of not seeing my point as opposed to seeing it and disagreeing.

        Whether an indirect quote or not, your comment was posted as an example of a “summarization of constructive examples.” When I visited your blog, I found that your perspective on the debate about global warming is very closely related to your political viewpoints. Your struggle with the “identification of “Big Money” with evil in the climate debate” was a very good case in point (btw, I left a comment for you on that issue – questioning whether you sufficiently examined the role that resistance to DDT – as the result of overuse for agricultural purposes – played into the decision in some countries to stop using it).

        I think that your comment that she posted is inconsistent with her above that various groups on one side of the debate, e.g., “skeptics” and “libertarian scientists (and level 3 types),” “don’t have anything to do with each another.”

        Anyway assuming that you understand my point and find it just wrong, no need to respond. Maybe it is. I’ll think about it some more.

      • Joshua, you’ve said something I almost agree with. The problem was this in the lead up:

        Ms. Curry thought highly enough of Richard Drake to quote him …

        As Oscar Wilde once said, we would worry much less about what people thought of us if we realised how little they did. What you put forward was not evidence of Dr Curry thinking anything about me. That I hope you accept.

        However, when I read that claim of hers

        But using these three groups, you have three different groups who don’t have anything to do with each other: the auditors don’t have anything to do with the sky dragons and dismiss them just as the IPCC group does (with some minor sympathy for the libertarians at least by Jeff Id).

        … the same doubt came into my mind as I think into yours. Jeff Id is not as much an outlier as this seems to imply. There is some overlap between the auditors and the libertarians. But the auditor Judith got to know first and best, Steve McIntyre, is very distinct from the libertarians. And he’s easily the most important of the auditors. So it’s a matter of degree and definition.

        But, as ever, correlation and causation are too different things. How do you know that my political stance has affected my view of global warming? How do you know it’s not the other way round? All I know is that I try my utmost to pursue the truth. I was more excited than most of my friends would think reasonable as I read Tomas on “Chaos, ergodicity, and attractors” over the weekend. Because my maths and physics background made me feel that at last someone was laying out the real scientific challenge of the global climate. Did my libertarianism cause me to feel that? I strongly doubt it.

        I did see your comment on DDT – the short answer is that I’ve looked carefully at how significant mosquito resistance is. Because DDT acts not just to kill but also to repel mosquitos it’s a very complex situation. The bottom line for me is that it has been scandalously underused since the early 70s. I will say more under your comment on my blog in the next day or so.

        But the DDT story is interesting for a libertarian localist – because anti-malarial programmes using DDT should always have been carried out at a central level, preferably by governments. This was one of the errors made in the 70s – trying to go local when it wasn’t going to work in the developing world. Here my politics goes in the bin, for the greater good. I was very aware of this as I got to this point in the book The Excellent Powder.

        Our political theories and abstractions should never for me prevent such insights and pragmatism, to save the lives of millions. But the science of dangerous man-made global warming is far too weak to justify the centralist policies proposed. That’s not a libertarian speaking – it’s the same humanitarian who makes the opposite judgement about anti-malaria programmes. Horses for courses.

      • Steven Mosher

        Joshua,

        Show us what you want Judy to do, by doing it with yourself first.

      • Richard, I agree that my “lead up” was poorly worded. Point taken.

        Your point about causality is also well taken. I am not asserting causality. I am asserting correlation, and asking that plausible counter-arguments be addressed – one way or the other – as to why certain correlations are, in fact, not causal.

        And more specifically (and ironically given your comment), I’m also asking for Judith to explicate her assertion of causality, i.e., that the IPCC was the “spawn” of “tribalism” in the debate about climate change.

        Please read the link I provided re: “scandalous underuse” of DDT. I’ll check your for your response on your blog.

        I accept the plausibility of “humanitarian” arguments on both sides of the AGW debate. I reject arguments that dismiss the plausibility of “humanitarian” arguments on either side of the debate. However, I also recognize that is extremely difficult to control for our confirmation biases with respect to our political orientation. That is why I would ask anyone, Judith or a “denialist” expert or a “warmist” expert to do the best they can to control for their biases by disproving plausible counter-arguments.


      • Show us what you want Judy to do, by doing it with yourself first.

        Actually, Steven, I try to do what I’m asking Judith to do. When you find that I fail in my attempt to pull it off, please feel free to point it out.

        Outside of that, I find “Mommy, mommy, they do it tooo!” comments to be rather lacking in impact.

      • Not worth building bridges to people like this:

        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/07/climate-ugliness-gets-personal/

        This also explains why your ranking system is extremely dubious. PhDs just ain’t what they used to be from some – too many – faculties and institutions.

    • Steven Mosher

      1. If more scientists would take on Judys role of questioning the tribalism on the warmist side she would have time to devote to the bad science from skeptics.

      2. there is all ready a cottage industry of sorts in debunking the crap served up by skeptics.

      • Holly Stick

        2. Yes, but the commenters here are afraid to read blogs that debunk the crap. Can’t bear to have their assumptions questioned.

      • Actually, i’m afraid very few blogs debunk anything; the vast majority of the sceptical arguments revolve around data and methodology inconsistencies- you can’t debunk that, it’s basic procedure (or is in any other science).

      • Steven Mosher

        How do you determine that they dont read the blogs?

        all you have evidence of is that they dont comment or their comments are blocked or they dont remember or understand what they may have read.

      • I post good links and they claim they never read such blogs, etc.

        Not that you can believe anything they claim.

      • They’re great links, Holly; it’s just they have a singularly political perspective that taints everything that is written there. But in truth you already knew that didn’t you?

      • And you prefere the singularly political perspective that taints this blog.

      • The sites you cite and this one are incomparable in terms of their openess to both sides of the argument. Perhaps I have a more open mind than you think.

      • I go to RC all the time to see the latest from the warm side and a few others. If my list is not same as yours, is that your proof? With that sort of reasoning, you are not a good referral for those blogs. I did go to Deltoid and found it a bit too breathless.

      • Steven Mosher

        really, and how many people have you asked. I’ve been doing this since 2007 and I’ll say my experience differs from yours.

        But for grins, please link to all the times you posted links and people responded that they refused to read it. that would be interesting.

      • Holly prove that point

      • Jeffrey Davis

        “she would have time to devote to the bad science from skeptics.”

        And it keeps getting funnier and FUNNIER every time.

      • Steven,

        1. If more scientists would take on Judys role of questioning the tribalism on the warmist side she would have time to devote to the bad science from skeptics.

        That point has been made repeatedly, and I have responded to it repeatedly:

        (1) That gives me no handle on ascertaining the objectivity of her critque on the roots of tribalism. I can only assess the validity of her critque if she objectively refutes obvious counter-arguments. To do so, she has to present an objective reconstruction of those arguments and then disprove them.

        (2) No matter how often or how much she posts about tribalism on the warmist side, given the magnitude of the larger debate, and despite her notable expertise, her views will not make a significant difference in the larger context. It is a simple matter of physics.

        2. there is all ready a cottage industry of sorts in debunking the crap served up by skeptics.

        First, see my answer to your first point. I’m not saying that she needs to debunk crap served up by skeptics, I’m saying that she needs to locate her arguments in the full context regarding the roots of the tribalism.

      • Steven Mosher

        “(1) That gives me no handle on ascertaining the objectivity of her critque on the roots of tribalism. I can only assess the validity of her critque if she objectively refutes obvious counter-arguments. To do so, she has to present an objective reconstruction of those arguments and then disprove them”

        That makes no logical sense. You seem to have a strange notion of the meaning of objectivity and how validity is determined. We will have a tough time discussing things since you have strange notions.

      • That makes no logical sense.

        Given that you just say that it doesn’t make sense but don’t explain your reasoning, I can only offer this response.

        That’s the same response that high school students give when they reach college and are required to write academic essays. They say that it makes no sense that they should have to disprove counter-arguments, and that all they need to do is present their argument and their evidence. I explain that standard academic rhetoric requires that their thesis is arguable, and that to prove that it is arguable, they must be able to frame plausible counter-arguments (plausible in the sense that they actually would be presented by someone they’re trying to persuade), ideally explicitly – or at least show that they understand obvious counter-arguments. Judith has not shown that sufficiently with respect to her critique about the roots of “warmist tribalism,” IMO. Interestingly, student interested in science tend to have the hardest time grasping the “arguability” requirement – despite that they often read in scientific journals, authors’ discussions about the limitations of their theses.

        You seem to have a strange notion of the meaning of objectivity and how validity is determined. We will have a tough time discussing things since you have strange notions.

        Fair enough. Since my perspective doesn’t rank sufficiently high in your evaluation to merit discussion, I won’t bother responding when/if you respond to my posts in the future.

      • Steven Mosher

        Sorry Joshua,
        Having taught rhetoric and argument at the university level, I’ll stick with my assessment. Your requirements to assess Judith’s objectivity make no sense to me. First off, I really dont care if she is objective. She cant be. What I care about is whether she is correct. She can, as you can be, totally biased, and correct.
        She can fail miserably to understand the roots of “denialist tribalism” and still have a better understanding of warmist tribalism than you or I do. Further, I question your ability to even determine if she were objective ( not that it matters) because you seem to think that McIntyre posting at WUWT is a salient fact that needs explaining. Unlike you, I get to see the inside workings of WUWT. So, when you see something in that fact, I get to laugh. You are deluded. Now I cant prove that too you, because youre deluded. But I get to see it from my vantage point and understanding of the last 4 years.

        Its like this. When people like Mann believe that McIntyre is backed by Oil money, we have a good clue at the genesis of that notion. That’s a part of the warmist tribe mythology. When you are steve Mcintyre, or when you know him very very well, you get to see the delusion of the other side. To be sure, you understand why they would be deluded, you understand why they might be mislead by certain things, but you do get to see that they are deluded.

  2. “And yet, if climate scientists were to use their past accomplishments to bolster their current claims, there would be less controversy, as it’s more difficult to undermine the credibility of established achievements.”

    Like the disasterous global cooling they forecast in the 70s!

    More seriously,

    I doubt that the more strident political environmentalists would support a change in the cAGW narrative as it suits their political objectives.

  3. Climatology became too much a matter of story telling, and the public lost confidence in the story teller when the story failed to match reality.


  4. Like the disasterous global cooling they forecast in the 70s!

    Judith – this statement would be a very good place to start. How do you break down the “tribalism” behind this ill-informed statement by someone who spends a lot of time reading your posts and arguing about “biased” science?

    How do I evaluate your objectivity if you don’t address in some measure of detail the myriad statements that echo back an forth in the “denialist” blogosphere – as so well exemplified by the statement I quoted above?

    • You need to lighten up a bit, Joshua. Have you never heard of humour?

      • And I have never argued about biased science.

        Oh, and I don’t believe I am a denialist. Luke warmer might be more accurate….if your blinkers allow you to tell the difference that is.

      • Use the farce, Luke Warmer.

      • You need to lighten up a bit, Joshua. Have you never heard of humour?

        Another logical flaw in your thinking: In fact, I find many of your comments quite humorous – just not intentionally so.

      • You read minds as well, Joshua?

        So talented, so impartial, and not a hint of smug.

    • Joshua –
      How do you break down the “tribalism” behind this ill-informed statement by someone who spends a lot of time reading your posts and arguing about “biased” science?

      I’m curious as to what you find “biased” about the statement.

      Global cooling WAS forecast in the 70′s. It WAS taken seriously, not only be the media, but by the military and other government agencies as well. And at the time, it WAS considered to be potentially disastrous.

      So… what’s your problem?

      • “Global cooling WAS forecast in the 70′s. It WAS taken seriously, not only be the media, but by the military and other government agencies as well. And at the time, it WAS considered to be potentially disastrous.”

        No it wasn’t. From http://www.skepticalscience.com/ice-age-predictions-in-1970s.htm

        “At the same time as some scientists were suggesting we might be facing another ice age, a greater number published contradicting studies. Their papers showed that the growing amount of greenhouse gasses that humans were putting into the atmosphere would cause much greater warming – warming that would a much greater influence on global temperature than any possible natural or human-caused cooling effects.”

        “The fact is that around 1970 there were 6 times as many scientists predicting a warming rather than a cooling planet”

      • Joshua and Louise,

        Catastrophic global cooling and a “coming ice age” were predicted in the 70s and prominently carried by many mainstream media outlets including Time Magazine, Newsweek, NYT and others. I know because I remember being worried by these articles. I was in high school and remember classroom discussion based on media reports about what our lives would be like by the time we became senior citizens. This was not a little blip. It was broad, pervasive, sustained and scary.

        Louise – your link about some scientists predicting warming when others were predicting cooling is beside the point, I only heard cooling, my teachers only heard cooling, my parents only heard cooling. The story that was published by the media was about the coming ice age. There was a similar lack of balance and discussion of uncertainty as there is today about AGW in the mainstream media.

        Today we have the inverse, some scientists predicting warming and some predicting cooling. The ones that get the traction and exposure in the media are the extremists with the most dire catastrophic predictions. The lesson of the “70s cooling false alarm” is not about warming vs cooling, it is that climate scientists can have false alarms that get widely reported and seem absolutely real – until they’re not. Was it the scientists fault or the medias fault? I’d say both, just like today.

        When you put that in context with all the flaws, retractions and admissions from pro-AGW scientists themselves (Himalayan glaciers by 2035, rain forests, Phil Jones’ interview etc), I don’t need to hear anything any skeptics say to undermine the case for immediate, economically crippling action on AGW. The words of AGW scientists themselves prove that the rational course is for mankind to take no steps that would harm economic growth, wait and see what happens. None of the extreme catastrophic scenarios are really credible any longer and many AGW scientists and proponents admit that they aren’t (eg 20 foot sea rise) and if some downsides do eventually happen, adaptation is far less expensive. A few of degrees of man-made warming are entirely manageable (actually probably negligible to net positive) compared to the tens of millions of human lives that hang in the balance if we shut down our energy economy before there is a complete replacement ready at equivalent cost. And even that hypothetical few degrees of man-made warming is very far from certain.

      • Holly Stick

        I lived through the 1970s and we were a lot more scared about nuclear war and about pollution. Maybe you are thinking of nuclear winter:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_winter#Early_work

      • Who’s this “we” you speak of?

      • Mark – I can’t evaluate how much of a public scare there was – but I can evaluate the disinformation about how many climate scientists promoted theories of global cooling, who they were, and the relevance to today’s debate:

        The answers are: not many, probably not anyone researching climate science now, and none – given the magnitude of technological developments in the science since then.

        If you evaluate the validity of climate science in the 70′s based on what you heard about cooling, to you likewise judge the science of the 2010′s based on what you hear about snowstorms disproving theories that the Earth is warming?

      • Joshua and Holly –
        This argument is nonsense, basically because neither of you has bothered to research the issue at all. The references are publicly available, and as I said downthread the reason you don’t already know the answers is because it would be “inconvenient” for you to find them.

        Holly – your sources are tainted because they tell only what they want to believe. Which then means that you only know what they want you to believe. Which means that you have less than half the story. If I had operated as an engineer on that basis, my career would have been VERY short.

        Mmm – downthread –

        http://judithcurry.com/2011/03/06/climate-story-telling-angst/#comment-53221

      • So prove you have researched it. Give us your links. You think you are not biased? It’s obvious to me that you are quite close-minded.

      • Don’t be silly, dear – of course I’m biased – toward truth and reality and actual data and honesty and several other important characteristics of real science. But closed minded is not true. Show me evidence and I’m perfectly willing to change my mind.

        As for links, your response indicates that you’re either lazy or incompetent wrt research. It took me less than 30 seconds to find these. There are more, including some that you won’t get cause they’re on a computer that’s in the shop.

        http://www.meteohistory.org/2004polling_preprints/docs/abstracts/reeves&etal_abstract.pdf

        http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00B11FB385B147A93C2AA178AD85F458685F9

        http://omniclimate.wordpress.com/2008/10/05/global-cooling-consensus-in-the-past-the-evidence/

        http://omniclimate.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/yet-more-evidence-of-global-cooling-consensus-in-1961/

        http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0006/000698/069895mo.pdf

        http://newsbusters.org/node/12137

      • Holly Stick

        Cut out the pompous patronizing, I am not your unfortunate wife. Explain what you think your links prove; the ones I checked are a hodge-podge and at least some appear “tainted” as you put it..

      • LOL -that’s rich, Holly.

      • My sympathies to your spouse.

      • Dear Holly –
        Cut out the pompous patronizing, I am not your unfortunate wife.

        Thank God.

        Explain what you think your links prove; the ones I checked are a hodge-podge and at least some appear “tainted” as you put it..

        I‘m sure the New York Times and NOAA would be disappointed to have you call them “tainted”. As for the others, follow the links. They lead to the pdf that I included, but also provide some direction for where in that 475 page document you’ll find what you’re looking for. In the NOAA document you’ll also find reference to a CIA document – but I’ll let you find that by your lonesome.

        That I had to tell you this simply confirms your ineptitude wrt research. Since you apparently can’t follow the bouncing ball even when given directions, I may well be finished with providing information that’s useless to you.

      • “The lesson of the “70s cooling false alarm” is not about warming vs cooling, it is that climate scientists can have false alarms that get widely reported and seem absolutely real – until they’re not.” – you might have added “and get away with their reputations intact, thus encouraging the next round of “psichosis”.”

      • Peter Wilson

        Global cooling WAS forecast in the 70′s. It WAS taken seriously, not only be the media, but by the military and other government agencies as well. And at the time, it WAS considered to be potentially disastrous.”

        No it wasn’t.

        Yes it was. (You don’t have to follow too many of skepticalscience’s links to realise just how partisan and unreliable they are). Of course, back then most climate scientists didn’t actually think it was their job to predictanything, so many of those who observed that temperatures were falling, failed to follow up with any prediction for the future (something modern climate scientists would do well to emulate. They didn’t feel compelled to declare a consensus, either)

        You only have to be old enough to remember that, at the time, the impending global cooling was far more prevalent in the public mind than warming (you never heard about possible warming until the early 80′s). Counting papers is as poor a method of deciding on science then as it is now.

      • I was in high school in the late 60′s and were definitely told that global cooling was happening. A lot of history has been re-written since then by people that weren’t alive at the time to suit their own agendas.

    • Steven Mosher

      why do you measure objectivity this way? Its rather odd, illogical, and off the point

      maybe what you want to say is that you want judith to be even handed. But clearly its her choice which to talk about. Others, Orestes for example, has written tons of words about the skeptic tribe. its been laid out over and over. Some self examination is always good. and better done by people who used to be members of the warmist tribe.

      • why do you measure objectivity this way? Its rather odd, illogical, and off the point

        Steven, I assume that comment is directed at me?

        I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “this way,” but is it illogical to assess Judith’s impartiality by how objectively she represents counter-arguments? That is a fundamental component of academic/expository analysis.

        Again, I am not attempting to directly assess the objectivity of her scientific analysis – I am not capable of doing so. The only way I have to judge the impartiality of her science, or any other “expert” science, is indirectly by locating her advocacy in the larger political debate. But even more to the point, she has deliberately stepped into the political debate and explicitly connected the political dimension to the scientific dimension in her attempt to “build bridges.” As such, she needs to clearly identify where, in the full spectrum, her political position is located. She can’t do that by only describing in detail one side of the political influences and obliquely dismissing the other side of political influences.

        I’ll try to explain my point another way since I don’t seem to be getting my point across. Judy has located the “spawn” along the “spacio-temporal” dimensions of the debate (about “tribalism” in particular) at on particular point: the IPCC reports.

        What I see is that there is a continuum of relevant events, some of which occurred well before the IPCC reports. By what objective criteria does she determine the origin? Where is the argument that distinguishes the IPCC reports from the preceding debate about AGW as being unrelated to the IPCC documents?

      • Steven Mosher

        Judith has already done this in some of her early pieces. you need to catch up on your reading. for example:

        “her political position is located. She can’t do that by only describing in detail one side of the political influences and obliquely dismissing the other side of political influences. ”

        she’s discussed that.
        I will tell you to do what I have done.

        1. read every post at climate audit. and every comment
        2. read every post here ( and all the comments you can stand)
        3. read every post at WUWT and all the comments you can stomach.

        That’s a good start. at that point you will be up to speed on things.

        And your criteria still makes no sense

      • How is what you or haven’t done, read or not read, relevant?

        I’m doing my best to “catch up.” But what I have seen fits the description I provided, IMO. If you could point me to a post where she deconstructed counter-arguments about the “spawn” of “tribalism” among “warmists” being singularly located in the IPCC, I’d appreciate it.

        Your point above about the insignificant of McIntyre posting at WUWT is relevant. I need to think about it more.

        I’m still interested in hearing why my “criteria still makes [sic] no sense.”

      • Joshua –
        Why do you expect Judith to be impartial. You’re not. Nor is anyone else who comments here – including me.

        More to the point why do you expect her to condone flawed science, unethical behavior, etc. in the name of impartiality? That would be dishonest and anti-scientific.

      • I think the point is that she is quick to point out the “flawed science, unethical behavior, etc.” on one side of the debate whilst ignoing that from the other.

        Nobody is asking her to “condone flawed science, unethical behavior, etc.” but to be even handed in her condemnation of it.

      • Oh I don’t know Louise. She gave the Dragon Slayers a good kicking.

      • Steven Mosher

        Its relevant to me. The comments you make indicate that you havent done much reading in the area. I will tell you the same thing I tell skeptics who want to question the science. I can and will devote time to our discussion when you show me that you are willing to do some of the basic reading. I’m telling you the same thing that was told to me when I started, get yourself up to speed on a few areas before you prattle on about every topic.

        What doesnt make sense is your criteria for objectivity.
        1. your notion that such a thing exists
        2 the idea that you can judge it without having read all the texts
        or met the people involved
        3. that it has any bearing of on the correctness of judy’s position on certain issues.

        In short, you are trying to reframe the discussion. If you want to make an argument about denialist tribalism, go ahead. Make it.
        that argument has been laid out by many people. its the foundational mythology. Its that mythology that played a role in climategate. But your goal isnt understanding that.

  5. There’s an expression used by scriptwriters in Hollywood about reworking a bad story or truly terrible script. “You can’t polish a turd”. On the Global Warming story, I look forward to seeing what it looks like when it’s been polished …

    Pointman

    • Pointman is right.

      The very best storyteller that I knew in space sciences reported two major discoveries. Both discoveries turned out to be wrong and this holder of a named chair professorship in a major university retired and left science.

      “Truthing”, on the other hand is a joyful way of living – seeking to better understand nature and always knowing that we will never have the whole truth.

      Unfortunately, “truthing” seems to have been absent from the campaigns waged by Al Gore, other world leaders, the UN’s IPCC, etc.

    • I saw an episode of the Mythbusters (6 mo. ago?) where they demonstrated that it is possible to polish a turd. :) Came out to a lustrous, but not mirror like sheen. Not sure what flavor it was tho’. Might have been Elephant.

    • Steven Mosher

      you can sugar coat a turd. powdered sugar works best Im told

  6. I’m an economist. (A political economist. I’m not an econometrician – the kind of people who in economics make the same mistakes as physical scientists – forecasting.) Whether economists are scientists is still open for debate, but we have a similar problem of credibility in our field, although economics and politics are more interdependent than are the physical sciences and politics.

    Regarding Past Achievements.
    If we study both the history of science, the history of political activism, and the history of marketing we end up with a very different conclusion than you state above, and storytelling wont’ cure it:

    1)Science is riddled with as many faulty conclusions as successful achievements – in fact, of necessity, far more faulty conclusions than successful achievements. (Everything from the notorious Phlogiston theory, to the Mathusian error, to the 70′s fascination with ‘global cooling’ and the upcoming ice age. Furthermore, Apocalyptic pronouncements are almost universally false if we look at the history of ideas across all fields. The universe is far more equilibrial than we are. Christendom in particular, is anti-apocalyptic because the apocalyptic vision is attached to ancient sentiments.)

    2) Far more than 90% of research papers that achieve public attention contain errors in reasoning that invalidate the premise. (Depends upon whose study you look at, but it’s bad no matter how you look at it.) But a random selection of papers from PhD’s and candidates from any number of fields from any university’s library will contain amateurish exaggerated conclusions from insufficient data. (First, because graduate ‘training’ work is publicized, and second, because the short form peer reviewed process for scientific achievement appears to be far less valuable than the long form book process for scientific achievement.)

    3) Nearly all research work that reaches the public contains overreaching editorial content that invalidates the research. This is a combination of the desire for attention by researchers and editorial license that seeks attention on the part of publishers.

    4) Good science is meticulous. Bad science is not. (I lost a quarter of a million dollars of my own money backing climate science, and the November 09 scandal was the reason for it. The field must take responsibility for the shoddy science.)

    5) It certainly seems that economics as a profession is more skeptical of it’s calculations than are the physical sciences, partly because economic variables are so complex that we are afraid to make pronouncements. We realize we can be descriptive of the past but we cannot be PREDICTIVE of the future in economics. The same applies for highly complex systems of all kinds, even the environment – the heuristics of which is not terribly different in intertemporal terms than are social constructs.

    And, as an economist I can observe that the physical sciences are reversing the accumulated prestige of the field for a single reason: the perverse incentives of the graduate training process in research universities.

    6) Movements need to be skeptical of their acolytes. For example, certain musicians who employ the compositional structure of hymns to rock music, must sometimes specifically eschew association with Christian groups because they know it will impact their credibility with the broader audience. The fact that the international communist movement has effectively co-opted the green movement means that the entire research program is now effectively discounted as a political movement. The global warming movement must associate itself with commerce if it is to succeed. And it is not impossible to do so. Moral arguments are UNIVERSALLY masks for wealth transfers. Without exception. Scientists are notoriously ignorant of economics and politics. Where science succeeds, is where it unifies with the pragmatism of commerce. Not where it aligns with religion and politics.

    In economic terms, science as a profession is discounted in the marketplace because of a record of exaggerated claims and faulty advertising. It isn’t that scientists need to tell better stories. It’s that science needs to produce better work, and be extremely cautious with public pronouncements. Scientism is a religion if it believes it has a lock on forecasting the future, even of simple physical events.

    The degree to which the academic scientific community in the west, since the 1970′s has undermined scientific credibility is not understood in the incestuous circle of academia. To counter this effect: Write books not papers. Falsify your own work. Seek to justify opposing views. Ruthlessly attack others who undermine scientific credibility in the public debate. Reduce the number of graduate students and hide their work unless it is extremely well argued. (this is a contrary incentive) It’s not about writing stories. It’s about doing good science. And right now, climate science is insufficiently articulated for human beings to justify paying the huge cost associated with the apocalyptic visions. Human beings are rational. They just need a rational argument and to understand the costs and benefits in relation to ALL THEIR OTHER COSTS AND BENEFITS.

    Why do I know that what I say here will not make a difference? Because researchers in the physical sciences have perverse and adverse incentives because of the economic structure of labor in academic research. Therefore, scientists will not change their behavior because it would cause them to pay the cost of that change, and that cost is too high in relation to ALL THEIR OTHER COSTS AND BENEFITS.

    In other words: People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    • Curt, thank you very much for your post. Unfortunately it got caught in spam, my apologies for the delay in its posting. I spotted this post also at your website. would you mind if I post this as the lead for a new thread tomorrow?

    • First this:

      ……..to the 70′s fascination with ‘global cooling’ and the upcoming ice age.

      Then this:

      Good science is meticulous

      And this:

      The fact that the international communist movement has effectively co-opted the green movement…

      And finally this:

      People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

      Could you elaborate what you mean by “fascination” with global cooling, and could you elaborate on your factual evidence for international communism co-opting the greens?

      • Joshua,
        Pretending that the ice age of the 1970′s was not a serious issue only makes you look really uninformed.
        Look, evolutionary biology moved past eugenics.
        Climate science needs to move past AGW fear mongering the same way.
        A great place to start would be to admit the 1970′s ice age scare was a mistake by leading scientists of the day.
        Another would be to admit that the cry of of impending doom from global warming/climate change/global cliamte disruption/etc. is a mistake as well.
        But this will be ignored by you and your fellow faithful, I am sure.

      • Holly Stick

        Hunter, name the specific leading scientists of the 1970s.

        You can’t of course, because you invented them.

      • Steven Schneider – you may have heard of him. From wiki:

        In 1971, Schneider was second author on a Science paper with S. I. Rasool titled “Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols: Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate” (Science 173, 138–141). This paper used a 1-d radiative transfer model to examine the competing effects of cooling from aerosols and warming from CO2. The paper concluded:

        However, it is projected that man’s potential to pollute will increase 6 to 8-fold in the next 50 years. If this increased rate of injection… should raise the present background opacity by a factor of 4, our calculations suggest a decrease in global temperature by as much as 3.5 °C. Such a large decrease in the average temperature of Earth, sustained over a period of few years, is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age. However, by that time, nuclear power may have largely replaced fossil fuels as a means of energy production.

        In fairness, he changed his mind shortly thereafter, but by then the coming ice age was splashed all over the media.

      • Holly Stick

        Thank you for confirming that hunter is making it up:
        “…Pretending that the ice age of the 1970′s was not a serious issue only makes you look really uninformed…”

        A media event is not a scientific consensus.

      • You asked for a leading scientist, I gave you one. I never claimed a scientific consensus. In fact it was only a minority of scientists that claimed forthcoming global cooling, but the fact remains the group included a number of highly respected individuals. You’re shadow boxing again, Holly. Take a chill pill.

      • Holly Stick

        I asked hunter to provide a name to support his false claims.

      • But his claims weren’t false, Holly. So are you going to apologize for falsely accusing him?

      • Holly Stick

        Rob, Stephen Schneider got his PhD in 1971, the same year he was coauthor on the paper about cooling, which he soon afterwards realized had overestimated the cooling.

        So it’s likely that he was not a leading scientist at that time.

      • Holly Stick

        False claim by hunter: “…A great place to start would be to admit the 1970′s ice age scare was a mistake by leading scientists of the day…”

        So what leading scientists of the day was hunter talking about? And even Schneider talked about cooling. Who specifically predicted an ice age?

      • Holly Stick

        Why don’t you read some real history instead of telling each other the same old denialist myths over and over again? Why don’t you take a good look at Weart’s innovative website and see how he tells the whole story?

        http://www.aip.org/history/climate/summary.htm

      • Holly Stick

        About the 1970s:
        “…Climate pronouncements like this were no longer always hidden in the back pages. In the early 1970s, the public learned that climate change could be an urgent problem. What aroused them was a spectacular series of disasters…”

        http://www.aip.org/history/climate/public.htm#L000

      • Holly –
        “…A great place to start would be to admit the 1970′s ice age scare was a mistake by leading scientists of the day

        If you knew the names, you still wouldn’t know anything. Notice the boldface in the statement. Note carefully – of the day.

        And yes, I knew some of them, most of them are dead and their names are publicly available if you look in the right places. But I doubt that you’ll look because it would be “inconvenient” to be proved wrong.

      • Steven Mosher

        Rob,

        That’s not predicting a cooling. That’s a prediction based on a HYPOTHETICAL.

      • John Holdren.

      • Holly,

        I personally love how the claim is made over and over that the “same scientists” who said the Earth was cooling in the 1970′s are the ones who are saying that GW is A now.

        I also love how arguing the significance of any such linkage ignores the technological advancements in climate science since the 70′s.

        I also love how at the very root of the argument is the logically flawed belief that because some scientists were wrong about something once, vast numbers of scientists must be wrong about something now.

        What I find truly amazing is that such ridiculous arguments are so unbelievably ubiquitous in the denialist blogosphere.

        What I don’t find amusing is how deeply such ridiculous arguments have affected the public’s perceptions on the debate about climate change.

        What I strive to do is to not make a false conflation of correlation and causation – by assuming that because some people who believe and promulgate such spurious arguments are also well-represented in the “denialist”blogosphere, therefore, all “denialist” science is similarly flawed.

      • Holly Stick

        My strategy as a non-scientist is to ignore denialist science until it passes peer review for a respected journal. But since much of it is just political, I sometimes will argue the politics.

      • Yeah – go team activist….high five!

      • Latimer Alder

        Just wondered.

        How do you know it is ‘denialist’ science?

        And if you like peer-review so much, why all your links to non peer-reviewed blogs? Surely they cannot be trusted!

      • Then should you not be going to the per reviewed journals’ web-sites. Oh wait that would do you no good, you would then have to go to Deltoid to get what that paper means.

      • I find desmogblog handy whenever I want to know why David Suzuki’s nose has grown a little longer.

      • Joshua –
        I also love how at the very root of the argument is the logically flawed belief that because some scientists were wrong about something once, vast numbers of scientists must be wrong about something now.

        You miss the point, which is – since scientists have been wrong in the past, they “can” be wrong. Period. Appeal to authority is thus suspect. As it should be.

        Doesn’t matter “which” scientists – or if it’s the “same” scientists. And only warmists or # 5′s talk about “vast numbers of scientists”. That just labels you an amateur – regardless of which side of the dance floor you inhabit.

        Fact is that the 70′s cooling story is true, was taken seriously by serious people and had data to back it up.

        Suck it up and stop whining.

      • Prove it.

      • Holly, I’m beginning to believe that you actually are paid by Big Oil to make “consensus” arguments a laughing stock.

      • John Carpenter

        Joshua,

        Speaking of storytelling… are you familiar with the story of the boy who cried wolf?

      • Remember that the wolf eventually arrived.

      • John – the version of the story that I’ve heard has that one boy keeps crying wolf falsely until he is no longer believable.

        In the story, people aren’t judging vast numbers of shepherds who say a wolf is attacking the flock, simply because a minority of shepherds, years ago, made false claims.

        What’s the version that you’re familiar with?

      • A consensus of shepards. Where did this thread take a wrong turn?

      • A consensus of shepards. Where did this thread take a wrong turn?

        lol.

      • John Carpenter

        Joshua,

        “John – the version of the story that I’ve heard has that one boy keeps crying wolf falsely until he is no longer believable.”

        Yes, this is the one. The analogy I was trying to draw was in reference to the role the media plays in communicating dire future climate consequences wrt to the 1970′s ice age scare vs AGW today, nothing more than that.

      • Holly, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” is a fable; a cautionary tale. The characters are not real.

        It didn’t need to be a wolf, and in some versions probably wasn’t. It could have been a troll, Rumpelstiltskin or the “Transylvanian Wispy Sheep-Nibbling Ghoul” for all that it matters to the tale. The boy cried that something, which the simple villagers believed to be real and dangerous, was attacking him and his sheep.

      • Holly Stick

        No Simon; the point of the story is that eventually the wolf did arrive, but when the boy cried wolf, the others ignored him and the wolf was able to kill the sheep. The story is not about a danger that does not exist; it is about being able to recognise danger when it does arrive.

        It is also about not being able to trust liars. Many deniers are just plain dishonest. Look at the posts by Mark and hunter on this thread; do you believe everything they write? You shouldn’t.

      • Err.. no, Holly.. it’s a story. The wolf never turns up because it isn’t real. The boy isn’t real. The village doesn’t exist. No actual sheep were harmed in the making of this fable. It’s a story; not a true story, but a cautionary tale.

        Yes, Holly, in this work of FICTION the wolf turns up. But just because, in the fable, the wolf turns up does not mean that, in real life, therefore CAGW is real. The two are largely unrelated. One is a cautionary tale and the other is the subject of an as-yet-inconclusive but vigorous scientific debate.

        While they are indeed largely unrelated, they do nevertheless share a common denominator: Both are stories told to children for the very specific purpose of scaring them into a particular course of action.

        As for your spiteful attacks upon those with whom you disagree, Holly, I have no truck with you there.

    • Michael Larkin

      Curt,

      “Moral arguments are UNIVERSALLY masks for wealth transfers.”

      This is new to me. Can you point me to anything on the Web that would explain further?

      Thanks

      • I would be interested too. It is the most interesting sentence of Curt post (which I think is very good btw.), and if I have doubts about “universally”, I think it have some merit. If you modify it into “Moral arguments are UNIVERSALLY masks for wealth and/or power transfers.”, it rings even more true. I have doubts about very direct moral arguments (the one linked to killing, or stealing, which are quasi universal and probably linked to biology imho). But the indirect ones, the one that vary a lot in time and space, the one that are linked to a particular society, religion, or human subgroup…There I think Curt have a very strong point.

      • Let’s create a corollary: Sanctimony is a cover for power seeking.

    • great post

    • Joe Lalonde

      Curt,

      I could not agree more.
      Many people believe the experts in the field of study must be correct due to the education backing they have.
      But if there are errors in that education and line of thinking, it will be passed down and incorporated into science.

      New “blood” is ignored as “they don’t have the education” to be able to have a brain to think.
      I really do not want todays current science education as it has massively corrupted the purity of science.

    • “I’m an economist.”

      excellent post.

    • John Whitman

      Curt Doolittle,

      You have my thanks for expressing your comprehensive ideas.

      I essentially agree.

      Your follwing statement really struck me, “Moral arguments are UNIVERSALLY masks for wealth transfers. Without exception. ”

      John

  7. Storytelling is very nice. And is true it is the best way to convince children, a crowd, and other brainless entities. But when you want to know, and not just be convinced, you organize a debate. And then, the first thing you look at is who is avoiding the debate and trying to keep on storytelling.

    Winter storms is a very simple problem. You can’t say they are something of the past, and some years later try to convince anyone they are an obvious result of global warming. This is really bad storytelling.

    Addressing levels 2/3 vs 4. It is not just the “noise” of levels 2-3. People delegate knowledge. Some know about cooking, others about sports, others love mechanical stuff, and so on. And they tend to be very much influenced by the closest person knowing something about a subject. Addressing directly level 4 is plainly wrong. They will listen for some time if the media loudspeaker is strong enough. But they will stop their attention in a short while, and delegate.

    I think with levels 2 – 3 you have only one option. Make a good case, and behave as you are supposed to. And in case you don’t succeed, try to accept the possibility your case is not so good, or your behaviour could be improved on.

    • It is not just the “noise” of levels 2-3. People delegate knowledge. Some know about cooking, others about sports, others love mechanical stuff, and so on. And they tend to be very much influenced by the closest person knowing something about a subject.

      Exactly.

      If you climate change folks are so determined to see this as a message-shaping problem, you might want to consider how advertisers go about their job. They are not targeting everyone equally. Above all they are targeting the “taste setters,” “mavens” and “early adopters.” Once you bring those folks aboard, word of mouth does the rest.

      In Dr Curry’s food chain, I’m a solid 3. My friends know me as a pretty bright guy and when they want information about technical stuff they ask me. After Climategate I flipped against climate change. If anyone asks or is within earshot when climate change comes up, I tell them you are not trustworthy.

      If you want me back, you’ll have to clean up your act. If you think you can do without people like me, if you think you can just call us names, censor our posts and complain that we exist, good luck.

      • huxley,
        I’m confused. Who are you saying is untrustworthy?

      • i was hornswoggled by gore’s movie and the hockey stick. I was a believer. ready to pay at the pump. read the climategate emails, tried to ask questions on RC, was called a denier. convinced me. told everyone, most were believers at the time. few are today. call folks names, censor them for speaking out. that isn’t science. real climate maybe, but not real science. expect many have the same story.

  8. second to last para has a good point, adding this to the main post.

  9. Pure propaganda:”… but because the predictions are not 100% certain …” Nobody has the foggiest notion of the accuracy of the climate projections into the distant future and that is a fact.

    Using past accomplishments is a hardly a sound method for attempting to steamroll over those with whom you disagree. If your argument can not stand on it’s own two feet, then perhaps your position is a load of crap.

    • ferd berple

      that is the problem with predictions. my climate model predicts July 1 this year will be sunny. If July 1 turns out sunny, does that mean I have an accurate climate model? no. If enough models make predictions, odds are some of them will be right simply by chance.

      what is puzzling about the IPCC models is that the post 1999 predictions have been so spectacularly wrong. what are the odds they would all fall on the high side? 50/50 odds, 10 models. 1/2^10. 99.99% probability not due to chance?

  10. Alexander Harvey

    I doubt whether there can be many people who haven’t heard of climate change or do not know its braodest implications. The message is out there, a good job has been done in terms of public recognition.

    I do query how much people know about geography which is a natural framework in which climatic changes, of all sorts, and many other natural and man made variations play out.

    I do not see why or how, anyone with little knowledge of geography, which does or used to contain a lot of emphasis on climate, topography, native plants and animals, cities, farms, industries, etc., should see the relevance of the otherwise somewhat abstract concept of AGW.

    I am NOT saying that we should rewrite geography to spin AGW, quite the reverse. If people are going to be asked to do something for the sake of the planet it would seem to be a good idea to inform them well about the planet.

    Niether am I saying we should fail to emphasis the fragility of some eco-systems, due to both natural and man made causes.

    I do not know how much people know about geography, I am fortunate to be fairly widely travelled and I have taken an interest in the subject and I do think that this makes for a more stable basis for my concerns. I am unlikely to be swayed by the next story to come around. There is much that concerns me and much of that the way we have changed this planet.

    I very much doubt that anyone would teach the matter squarely, as from an AGW point of view it is a very mixed picture, but where climate change is, and has been having an effect, it is not beyond the wit of most to make the connection themselves without having it stuffed down their throats.

    Alex

  11. The problem with stories is the same as the problem with nicknames.

    You can’t pick your own nickname, you can only set the initial conditions for it to be picked for you. Yet this stops too few from trying.

    One can never anticipate with certainty which story will take, or when, or how it will spread, or what nuance the broader view will take of it, if at all.

    This is why false logic is so popular among those hoping to be heard, why pious frauds are committed by the sincere and self-righteous.

    Argumentum ad nauseum, the ‘Big Lie’ will flourish where the medium is the message, where the story or soundbite is the start and end of the value communicated.

    Cherry-picking runs riot, because we know the public doesn’t have time to judge the whole truth, so many are tempted to disclose only the half-truth they think will show their case in its best light.

    Straw men pop up over and over again in storytelling culture, and why not? Why let the agenda be framed for the audience by someone who has concluded other than you conclude? Clearly, if they’re wrong at the end of their reasoning, they can’t be allowed to infect the system with anything that might lead others too to disagree with your correct opinion. Best to restate the terms in a frame more to the liking of your conclusion, then not only do others not have to consider what your opponent says, but you don’t have to think about it either.

    Valid arguments that might seem at the outset to make easy, obvious clear stories (to their originator) can — and generally do — plink off the shell of apathy and incomprehension, just as often as they are more validly rejected as untrue or of too little use.

    Previous stories — initial conditions of the broader system — also are an issue. Into a world where the dominant story is one of distrust of authority, then anyone who is painted with the same brush of authority (even those arch anti-authority green scientists) is suspect.

    AGW became such a story, and in turn poisoned the well for better stories. It includes the word ‘warming’, so any cold event will instantly invalidate the story at a gut level. What logic can overwhelm the gut? cAGW is such a story with this fault redoubled. We’ve had catastrophe before, and we often have non-catastrophe.

    And here’s the problem of being painted with a story unconnected to one’s own story. Take my position for example: I do not assert, nor see the need to assert, AGW or cAGW are necessarily true (though they likely could be, they almost as probably won’t be satisfyingly provable ever); yet by asserting that CO2 level rise in and of itself is sufficient issue to respond by dropping CO2 emission I will inevitably be linked to those other unrelated stories.

    Those who dismiss stories that have nothing to do with my story will dismiss my story too, very likely. After all, who has time for the whole truth?

    Stories are a minefield.

    All a good scientist, in the face of this, can do is to resort to the lesson of Desiderata: Speak your truth, quietly and clearly; and then listen to others’ stories, generally with horror at how they have twisted your best work.

    Eventually, by dint of overwhelming quiet and clear true statements, the stories will find their own level.

    • George Costanza

      The problem with stories is the same as the problem with nicknames.

      You can’t pick your own nickname, you can only set the initial conditions for it to be picked for you.

      Like that time I decided I wanted to be nicknamed T-Bone and they called me Koko instead.

  12. A picture tells a thousand words, and even WUWT posted this one today, not to criticize it, but in an accepting way. It is the updated (bent) hockey stick.

    Can people look at this and say nothing unusual is happening now compared to the past millennia? The skeptics would say that this is just a natural perturbation, nothing to do with CO2. Hard to defend when looking at this graph.

    • I understand the black line is thermometer readings, and the colors are proxies. Do you see something unusual comparing proxies to proxies? How do you know what a thermometer would have read, say, in 1100?

    • Wow, talk about poor messaging….

      “A picture tells a thousand words, and even WUWT posted this one today, not to criticize it, but in an accepting way.”

      In an accepting way?

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/06/briggs-on-berkeleys-best-plus-my-thoughts-from-my-visit-there/

      The whole point of showing the graph is to warn that the lead scientist for BEST team”is a serious AGW proponent.” The comment that the graph (and others prepared by Rohde) “represents the data at hand,” merely acknowledges that he has not tried to “hide the decline” in proxies. (Although the use of a thick black crayon line for instrument records does tend to obscure, albeit not completely, the decline in temp in the proxy data. Though I am sure that is just an accident.)

      • Watts certainly seems respectful of Rohde to me. Read it. He didn’t say “Get this person off the BEST team”, but that he has some good and clever methods of addressing the temperature record problems of previous efforts.

      • Your comment that I criticized was not about Rohde personally, it was about the graph. “A picture tells a thousand words, and even WUWT posted this one today, not to criticize it, but in an accepting way. ” Watt’s subsequent positive comments were about Rodhe individually, not the graph. The graph, as I wrote earlier, was just used to show that Rodhe is an AGWer.

        Thanks for the condescending advice to “read it,” but let me suggest that you re-read it. If you think Watt’s was endorsing that graph as an accurate depiction of the actual historical climate record (as opposed to the proxy data) you are gravely mistaken.

        Saying that someone has not misrepresented the proxy data is not the same as saying that the proxies are actually reliable as proxies. Saying that someone appears to be honest and open to argument is not an endorsement of the correctness of their prior conclusions. Those are two entirely different issues.

        It’s heartening that Watt’s personal impression of Rohde, and the whole Best process, is so positive at this stage. But I don’t see anything beyond that in the post.

    • ferd berple

      when you look at the hockey stick graph, plot it against the annual temperature range at your house, the place where you live. what you will find is that the graph of temperature at your house will overwhelm the very small change in temperature over the past 2000 years. Unless you use a very fine pen, in scale the hockey stick will appear a flat line, with no upturn at the end. the hockey stick is propaganda. it only tells part of the story.

  13. This nails the issue. Dr C -> you are better than those with communication degrees.

    It is my hypothesis is that effective communication and engagement level 2′s and 3′s is a prerequisite to effective communication with level 4′s.

    Not engaging with the 2′s and 3′s becomes a form of double deception. The 2′s and 3′s remain unconvinced by the scraps thrown at them and they become anrgy at the mass media efforts expended at convincing the 4′s.

    Whether climate science as an establishment wants to satisfy the 2′s and 3′s is a moot issue, but to constantly resort to the refrain that the 2′s and 3′s are Holocaust deniers and psychologically defective human beings (Olson) is a public relations disaster.

    If you read Frederic Bastiat’s essay – The Law – one can perhaps see why the climate communication establishment thinks of its audience as a vast, undifferentiated mass of brainless protoplasm.

    • Not engaging with the 2′s and 3′s becomes a form of double deception. The 2′s and 3′s remain unconvinced by the scraps thrown at them and they become anrgy at the mass media efforts expended at convincing the 4′s.

      Isn’t that at least partly why many of us are here?

  14. Stories. For god’s sakes.

    The climate change movement seems to operate entirely as bad parents trying to scare, cajole, patronize, threaten, or punish children.

    Like bad parents they also forget the times they got liquored up and behaved badly. Like bad parents they deeply resent being reminded of their transgressions and pretend nothing of the sort happened. Like bad parents they are only a few moments away from a good cry about how hard their jobs are and how ungrateful their children.

    My message for climate change scientists: Grow up. We’re not your children. Talk to us like adults. Take responsibility for your mistakes. Admit you’re fallible. Trust us and give us a chance to trust you.

    It’s a drag that you have to convince us, and not just fall back on parental authority and demand that we believe you, but if you want us to do something about climate change, you have to convince us.

    What you are doing is not working. Finding slicker PR and “stories” is more of the same.

    • Michael Larkin

      Very much in accord with my sentiments, Huxley, but put more poignantly and memorably than I managed.

      I’m irritated that the awareness of the presence of stories (which are now being explicitly touted) means I have to be even more careful in evaluating what is said.

      There used to be seven veils between me and the truth, and I suspected some of those were intentionally created to stop me getting at it. Looks like there’s now an eighth, with no doubt whatsoever that it’s there for that very purpose.

      • The fact that ‘stories’ are needed at all worries me deeply. How bad is the science if PR is the only way they can ‘get their way’?

        It galls me to think this is what science is coming too.

        I’m deeply worried that once this all hits the fan- all science is going to be tarred with the ‘climate science’ brush, it’s, disheartening to say the least.

    • I agree with this. The advice from PR types to the contrary makes me angry.

      • Michael,

        I’ve disagreed with you about things in the past, but I have to give you your due. Your position on this, particularly as stated over at Collide-a-scape is commendable.

      • Steve Reynolds

        I also commend Michael for this position.

      • Michael Larkin

        Michael Tobis,

        I’ve often disagreed with a great deal of what you say, but am gratified that we can at least agree on this :-).

        I suppose the main point of difference is that you think the truth is “Plenty scary enough” (in your C-a-S posting), whereas, though I look as hard as I am able, I can find hardly a scintilla of truth anywhere. I don’t mean “truth” as an antonym of “lies”, but as something one can rely on as being really so.

  15. Not to rehash something from another thread, but I think this:

    1. Research scientist publishing papers on relevant topics
    2. Individual with a graduate degree in a technical subject that has investigated the relevant topics in detail.
    3. Individual spending a substantial amount of time reading popular books on the subject and hanging out in the climate blogosphere
    4. Individual who gets their climate information from the mainstream media or talk radio

    may be fine in terms of ranking understanding, but you’re leaving out an important group of actors, and that’s the activists, who get their information primarily from within their own tribal organs. Without naming names (they exist on both sides of the debate), there are people who make livings as activists, with little to no science training, and while they may resemble level 3 in terms of knowledge, their position in this drama makes them both more significant, and at the same time less useful to a conversation.

    From what I’ve seen, here and at other technically oriented blogs, the level 3s and 4s are hard to distinguish from the activists, because it’s hard to distinguish unsophistication from faith sometimes. I wouldn’t even point this out, except I think these people are gumming up the works more than any other. The level 4s usually don’t come here or to Climateaudit, or other such places. The activists do, IMO. But it’s hard to tell the difference.

    Back on the essay from Olson, his premise begs the question. As did the piece by Serreze. What they don’t seem to grasp is that if you insist that the conclusion is forgone, there’s nothing left to communicate but that the foregone conclusion. That’s what got everybody in trouble in the first place.

    This is going to sound sarcastic, but I mean it seriously. Some scientists would do well to go to law school. Not that the law matters, but the logic and rhetoric do. If more scientists thought like lawyers, I don’t think we’d get these train wrecks like Climategate.

    • Without naming names (they exist on both sides of the debate), there are people who make livings as activists, with little to no science training, and while they may resemble level 3 in terms of knowledge, their position in this drama makes them both more significant, and at the same time less useful to a conversation.

      Good point. These also seem to be the source of the lightning rod statements that cause people to spend more time talking past each other than to each other.

      • Sure. It’s hard to tell when someone is saying the talking point, for example, that CO2 is a trace gas and therefore incapable of any effect, or on the other side, that CO2 is “dirty”, “pollution”, etc., whether that’s ignorance or disingenuous chicanery. This kind of talk isn’t helpful in any way, shape, or form. I could probably furnish a few hundred other examples if I wanted to.

    • Michael Larkin

      Yes, ChE, you make a good point. Judith’s list misses out the activist factor per se, but for all that, I think one will find activists with axes to grind in all four categories. And I would very much agree that they’re the ones who have created the most chaos.

      • Yes, absolutely. They exist in all four categories. Which is part of the problem. People expect that when a level 1 is wearing his/her expert hat, that the activist hat is on the rack. If not, how is one to trust that what’s being said is purely expert advice, and not tainted by ideology? This is why there’s distrust from the public. When a James Hansen says something hyperbolic about coal cars and the Holocaust, is it hard to understand why people may suspect his science?

      • A quick way to spot a ’1′ or ’2′ who’s not being objective??

        -Someone who’s happy to let someone falsify their work. If they’re not, then they’ve got their activist hat on and cannot be trusted. Simple as that.

      • damn and/or blast- should read:

        “who’s BEING objective” – no ‘not’.

      • also, willingness to debate people on the other side

      • I agree with all resistance allowing someone to falsify their work and unwillingness to debate would be indications of bias in a “1″ or a “2.”

        And so would imbalance in how various aspects of the debate are framed.

      • Very true. However. When you get into the general public (i.e. level 4) kinds of blogs, and somebody starts spouting off about perpetual motion machines (and you’d be shocked at how many people out there believe in perpetual motion), you have to draw a line, and just shut off the discussion. There are some things that simply aren’t worth debating. And yet, if you try to argue the First Law, you get accused of arguing to authority.

        There’s no easy answer to that one. I just walk away shaking my head whenever I hear about the carburetor that gets 300 miles to the gallon of water, and ExxonMobil is sitting on the patent.

      • Michael Larkin

        Yes, Judith. I think your emphasis on debate is more even-handed than Labmunky’s. Mind you, maybe part of the reason for the non even-handedness is that skeptical papers have always had to leap over a higher bar.

      • It’s certainly important i agree Michael- i also agree with ChE- you have to know when to stop debating- as was said in another thread (by i forget who and i paraphrase poorly- apologies):

        “Never get dragged into a conversation with an idiot- they’ll pull you down to their level and beat you with experience”

        ‘My’ rule of thumb above (willingness to be falsified) is harsh- but it really does seperate the wheat from the chaff. I am probably perculiar in this regard, but i’m more than happy to be proven wrong- it furthers my knowledge and (more than likely) saves me a hell of a lot of time (i.e. not researching down a blind alley).

        I think this ‘rule’ applies more to the ’1′s though- they are the ‘authority’ as it were, so should be subjected to the toughest standards. The willingness to debate probably matters more for ’2′s and ’3′s.

      • I agree actually- to a point.

        The ‘willingness to allow falsification’ test is more suited for the ’1′ and ’2′s than the other levels, as they are the main debators in this, erm, debate. I think it’s important to know if who you are talking to is actually acting impartially- now i of course know that human nature affects us all to some degree and that true impartiality is impossible- but you can easily spot those who are trying to be as impartial as possible and those who are not.

        In such a polarised debate with such high political stakes, impartiality is vital. Those who don’t have it skew the debate, often for political/personal reasons/goals and make the job harder for everyone else.

        Any scientist who, on a challenge to their work (a considered challenge, not just an attack) defaults to ‘attack’ position and doesn’t actively engage and welcome the challenge is not worth their pay-check.

        You will NEVER get anywhere working with these kinds of people, i know from bitter experience just how badly they can derail projects.

        So- as the ’1′s are arguably the most important members of this debate (as due to the political wheels in motion, only a significant group of ’1′s can bring this mess to a quick conclusion) they should be held to this ‘rule’.

        If they don’t pass it- then i’d just ignore them (unless their work turns out to be stellar).

        As for the willingness to debate- i agree, again upto a point. I sympathise with the point some make about trying to debate with the sceptical side- it must be like trying to catch buckshot- you’ll get most, but lots will fly over your head.

        As long as people are willing to debate (despite the logistical and practical problems this may land on the individual) i’m happy. They may not be successful all the time- but it’s the willingness that matters to me.

      • ferd berple

        “Someone who’s happy to let someone falsify their work. If they’re not, then they’ve got their activist hat on and cannot be trusted.”

        Why does the name Phil Jones come to mind?

    • “If more scientists thought like lawyers, I don’t think we’d get these train wrecks like Climategate.”

      Regrettably, lawyers are just as pedantic and liable to suck at logic as anyone in the population, despite all the supposedly Socratic training. Remember, the EPA is chock full of lawyers, and 45% of the members of Congress are lawyers. Lawyers in this case are a big part of the problem.

      I agree that better logic and rhetoric would help the debate, I’m just not sure lawyers are an illustrative example. If you said “If more scientists thought like lawyers [are supposed to], I don’t think we’d get these train wrecks like Climategate,” you would be on target.

      • gary think about it…you hire a lwyer to argue your point of view. The lawyer is not interested in validity. The lawyer wants a fee from a satisfied client. This implies rhetoric, which the cAGW side has used very successfully up until now. The spin of Gore, the marginalisation tactics of RealClimate etc.

      • I disagree that it has been that effective. If it were, we wouldn’t be having this thread.

      • Very well put, as the current governing philosophy of the legal profession. Which exactly demonstrates my point. Legal practice (in litigation at least) has come to be dominated by scorched earth, win at all costs rhetoric. Flame war litigation bankrupts clients and enriches lawyers. That type of advocacy/rhetoric is mirrored in the climate debate, in part because of the already substantial involvement of lawyers at all stages of the controversy.

        If your only goal is to win, and the fate of your own client be damned, then it is a great way to practice. If, on the other hand, the overall interests of your client (and some fidelity to something called truth) are equally important, than you need something different.

        The most popular gauge of a (litigation) lawyer’s success is the percentage of trials he wins. A better metric would be the percentage of cases he resolves favorably to his client, with the least damage to that client, and the system, in the process.

        You don’t have to blind yourself to the other side to be a convincing advocate. My experience is quite the opposite. The more you understand your opponent’s position, the better equipped you are to avoid all out war. And in the bargain, when if it does come to that, you are much better prepared to win.

        Your examples of Gore and RealClimate are cases in point. All their scorched earth rhetoric came to nothing when confronted with reasoned, clear skeptical arguments about the uncertainties and cost of what they were proposing. And think of all the billions wasted in the meantime.

      • ferd berple

        How did the word lawyer originate? Is it an accident that liar and lawyer sound the same? Isn’t the definition of lawyer a professional liar?

        Most lawyers would have known better than to put anything in an email they wouldn’t want made public. They would have used the telephone.

      • Fred, Peter Cook, as publisher of Private Eye was for ever defending defamation suits against his organ. He once said of his nemesis, the celebrated defamation QC Peter Carter-Ruck: “The man’s a proven lawyer!”

    • ChE –
      If more scientists thought like lawyers, I don’t think we’d get these train wrecks like Climategate.

      Don’t think so. There’d just be different kinds of train wrecks.

      Somewhere in the distant past, I sat through a seminar on the difference between lawyers and engineers. It was truly a revelation that lawyers ore NOT generally logic trained, nor do they need it. The LAW unfortunately is not necessarily logical. If it were, there’s be fewer laws beause they’d be better and more carefully written. Lawyers, however, ARE trained in theatrics (no joke).

      Lawyers don’t operate within a logic system, but within a system of laws that may or may not be logical.

      • Don’t want to beat this to death, but…
        For every billable hour of courtroom theatrics, there are a couple of hundred of strategizing, reading through mountains of papers, writing mountains of papers, and by the thing gets to court, especially if there’s no jury involved, the issues are always very, very focused. Forget OJ, and the business with the glove. That’s not what most of it’s about. Most of it is meticulous, to the point of being anal. I think these climate types would be a lot better off if they could be more like that.
        Disclamer: I am not, and never have been a lawyer (though I share a bed with one). I’m not sure if I’ve ever stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, either.

      • I’m guessing that the seminar that taught that engineers are taught to use logic, and lawyers aren’t, was taught by either engineers, or by government/public interest lawyers? Only the progressives in the legal profession, who call themselves “legal realists,” argue that there is no logic to the law, that it is all about power. Like most progressives on most issues, they are wrong.

      • Nope – taught by a private practice lawyer who “had been ” an engineer.

        Know about the theatrics thing only because my wife was a legal secretary for a while and worked for one who did the “continuing education” theatrics course.

  16. I look forward to the day when climate science helps us make sense out of our world, as opposed to the present day condition where it asks us to believe three impossible things before breakfast.

    1. Everyone who opposes us is evil or misinformed.
    2. We are never wrong.
    3. Scientists should be in charge of public policy

    These are only slightly exaggerated for effect. They do not help anybody make sense of the world. Instead, it makes nonsense out of reality.

    But they are not trying to make sense of the world. They are trying to win a political battle using whatever tools are at hand.

    And they are damaging science in the process–I hope not irreparably.

    • Tom,

      FWIW, I’d ascribe these to climate activists than climate science. And I’d rewrite number three to read “We should be in charge of public policy because The Science says so (trust us, it does and only an evil denier type would want to verify that).”

    • Would you like to cite a source for those assertions, Tom? Because it sounds an awful lot like a straw man.

  17. I’ll take an alternative view.

    Level 4 people invariably have a family income of less then $50,000/yr and more then likely less then $50,000 a year.
    They don’t have the ‘luxury’ of spending an extra couple of thousand dollars a year of disposable income on increased energy cost.

    Whether or not there might be floods in a hundred years doesn’t make any difference to them if they end up being evicted in the middle of January and freezing to death.

    All they want to know is ‘how much’.

    Climate communications are like the Doctor who says ‘don’t concern yourself about the cost’ then turns around and forces people who can’t afford to pay into bankruptcy. (Not that doctors shouldn’t be paid, but if they tell people ‘not to worry about the cost’ then they should be prepared to ‘not to worry about ever being paid’)

    Level 4 people aren’t stupid, if ‘addressing climate change’ was only going to raise their electric bills a few dollars a month everyone would say so.

    A $10/month ‘climate action fee’ would get tacked onto our electric bills, we’d grumble a bit but the problem would be solved.

    Since no one is willing to discuss costs it’s likely to end up costing more then most people are willing to pay.

    • harrywr2

      I’ll start from your same baseline assumption (though it does not match reality, it averages out about right): “Level 4 people invariably have a family income of less then $50,000/yr and more then [sic] likely less then $50,000 a year.”

      With a revenue-neutral* version of a McKitrick-style Carbon Tax, 70% of all people would be better off, most especially those at or below $50K (US)/year.

      (* Redistribute every penny collected back to the people per capita. The story that would be told if the government kept the carbon tax revenue, that would be chilling indeed, as it would imply the government owns the very air. How abhorent a story is that?)

      It’s the 30% of Free Riders who emit the most carbon who drive prices up for the rest of us.

      Fossil energy prices on the LRAC (long run average cost) curve appear in the USA to be past the median, on the rising portion of the curve. This means paradoxically that the more carbon tax is charged on fossile fuels, the lower the overall price of energy and the more efficient the market overall.

      Telling the poverty story has the opposite meaning of its face-value.

      You want prices lower and energy cheaper? Make carbon more expensive.

      • Two words, Bart — unintended consequences.

        Which are usually just unforseen consequences.

        Or consequences which others have forseen but you don’t want to believe.

        But I’m not here to expand on that. Later maybe.

      • You want prices lower and energy cheaper? Make carbon more expensive.

        Please show all work.

      • ChE

        While it’s a great idea, I think we can count on Jim Owen to be at least as detailed in his work as my short remarks, though I agree with you that harrywr2 could at least attempt to flesh out his extraordinary and unsupportable claim.

        One suggests reference material at least as qualified as http://ideas.repec.org/a/cpp/issued/v23y1997i4p417-438.html by Dr. McKitrick (peer-reviewed). Of course, this particular link supports my argument, not harrywr2′s ludicrous remarks, but if he can find one its equal, I’d want to read it.

        Also, real life examples with as much documentation as http://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2008/backgrounders/backgrounder_carbon_tax.htm .. which also supports my claim and trashes harrywr2′s, but that’s his problem.

        And maybe some links to a little bit of light reading on LRAC, LRIC, the economics of the energy sector and the cost of subsidies from government to the fossil and vehicle industries found by using Google Scholar? Oh. Wait. Those would again support my claim and dis harrywr2′s ill-considered ploy.

        Is that what you mean, ChE?

      • No, I was thinking of some calculations, you know, like how to you make something cheaper by making it more expensive. There are ways to do that, but they all involve rationing in one form or another.

      • ChE

        “All” is a word that makes a skeptic suspicious. It’s like “Impossible” or “Never” or “Trust me.”

        Why should I trust you?

        And why do you dismiss any intention of entertaining Dr. McKitrick?

        It’s a good reference. There’s no rationing. It makes something cheaper (everything in the economy overall) by making something (fossil fuels) more expensive. And it’s just chock full of calculations, either directly or by reference. It’s also withstood fifteen years or more of review and commentary.

        It more or less disproves your statement on its face, and yet you don’t even acknowledge it.

        Did you want bold, underline, or all caps?

      • I looked at the McKitrick paper. It’s late, and I may have missed it, but I didn’t see where he was talking about making fuels cheaper. The paper starts out by talking about comparative costs of a tax vs a cap-and-trade system. I didn’t see where he said that the price of the fuels would go down.

      • ChE

        That part is sort of true.

        McKitrick didn’t specifically say fuels would go down in price.

        Nor did I.

        I said energy.

        McKitrick said reduced distortion in markets.

        But you said “All.”

        Fossil fuels are mispriced, largely due to subsidies so engrained into the infrastructure our nanny states have built that we cannot see what they’ve done to us and how screwed up we are by it.

        For the same reasons and in the same ways, but in a larger scale, we’re at the same point with fossil fuels now as we were with landline phones half a century ago.

        The cell phone revolution that raced past America in that span of time did so because of the subsidized and coddled landline infrastructure.

        We’re choking on the dust of the _more_ technologically advanced (in terms of choice, suitability of options, adaptability of market to demand) Third World in cell phones and struggling to catch up, in some of the most overpriced cell markets in the world.

        Claim fossil is cheaper?

        Really?

        Fully costed, counting freebies from the public purse and favorable deals allowed to keep the prices down by little more than optical illusion?

        That’s just state-backed fraud.

      • ferd berple

        “You want prices lower and energy cheaper? Make carbon more expensive.”

        By this logic, the more expensive we make carbon, the cheaper our energy will become. $100 in gas to fill the car, plus $900 in taxes for carbon. At a $1000 a tank few will be able to fill the car and gas prices will fall to near $0. With gas at $0, a tank will only cost $900, and if you are poor (and who won’t be at $900 a tank) the government will then pay you back the $900, and you will get your gas for free. Where do I sign up?

  18. I love the way we’re all being assigned numbers. It somehow packages us up and pidgeon holes us all quite neatly. The problem of course is you have to agree on the validity or not of any such taxonomy. Personall, I don’t agree and I would therefore make my own ones. For instance, this storytelling inititive I would categorise as stage 3 behaviour. For that means, see

    http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/the-death-of-the-agw-belief-system/

    Pointman

  19. Global warming activists had no interest in ‘telling stories’ until the collapse of international treaty efforts – and in the United States, the failure to get Cap and Trade through Congress. Now, suddenly, they need – in Andy Revkin’s term – ‘better communication.’ In other words, better propaganda. It’s like they’re working their way through the stages of grief. We’ve seen denial, and now we’re at retrenchment – reframing the issue.

    I like the first line of attack – we figured out El Nino, so don’t worry your little heads and trust us. As if the observation of El Nino is analogous to the predictions of GCMs. This demand – give us the respect we deserve – is interesting coming from a scientific discipline that was a backwater (sorry Judy) just a few decades ago. For a science that is still in its adolescence, the hubris is remarkable.

    And by the way – they STILL can’t predict when an El Nino will start or stop – but they want to reshape the entire modern industrial civilization on trust. No thanks. I’ll wait for actual science to be done. You know – that falsifiability thingie? GCMs are not falsifiable, therefore they are not scientific.

  20. @Judith

    As a level 2 myself, I must agree that your suggestions for effective communication of climate science to level 2’s and 3’s must include:

    - public availability of data, codes, and models
    - transparency in assessment methods, particularly expert judgment of uncertainty and confidence levels
    - blogospheric engagement with level 1′s (quick note: check out the latest level 1 entry into the climate blogosphere: Isaac Held of NOAA GFDL).

    But they should also include:

    - independent audits [this may be an extension of your first bullet]
    - complete openness in reporting all sides of the story, not just those aspects which support the IPCC or “mainstream” message
    - an open recognition of all the many uncertainties in the nascent field of climate science today, with a clear statement of how these uncertainties could impact the projections for the future [this goes beyond your statement on “uncertainty” in the first bullet]
    - pro-actively engaging in open debates with level 1 scientists, who do not support the IPCC or “mainstream” position (Spencer, Lindzen, etc.)
    - concentrating on “climate science” and not getting involved in policy discussions
    - avoiding, at all cost, hyperbolic predictions of future disaster (fear-mongering or doomsday predictions simply turn “level 2’s” – and most other people – off)

    Just my thoughts, Judith.

    Max

    PS Communicating suggested “mitigation” steps is a separate topic, which needs to be discussed separately

  21. Past accomplishments? Story telling? Give me a break. All this bantering amounts to, is some, realizing they are entirely ineffectual in convincing the masses to seeing things their way, are arguing for a different style of propaganda.

    Now here’s something to consider. Apparently these mental giants don’t understand something so basic, I’ve a difficulty lending any validity to any other statements they may make. While I’m much chagrin to reference these arbitrary epistemic levels, I will acknowledge there are many(most) that would generally fit in the #4 level of understanding, an Individual who gets their climate information from the mainstream media or talk radio.

    Do anyone care to venture a guess as to why many, if not most, people fit into this level? There’s no compelling reason for it. One can simply fire up the PC and Google more information about climate than one could possibly come to an understanding in a life time. Blogs a’plenty. There’s probably more publicly available information about climate science than any other science discipline, ever!

    The reason there are “4′s” out there is because they don’t care. And after 30 years of jumping up and down and screaming about our impending doom, no amount of story telling is going to make them care. I don’t know why this is so hard to understand. They’ve rejected the alarmist message at the most base level. I’ve children that has been subject to the alarmist indoctrination from the earliest days of their scholastic careers to the very end. From the very first “earthday” birthday coloring picture to the senior biology instructor ranting and raving about how we’re all guilty of crimes against the earth. My youngest, btw, holds the antithesis to my political leanings. She doesn’t care about the doom and gloom fairy tales. She was inundated with inane environmental issues her entire life and it continues today. Here’s a message from her and the rest of the “4s”— to the alarmists. You’ve been tuned out. You’re little more than a source of humor. Have you ever brought up warmist talking points in a neutral social setting? You wonder why people are rolling their eyes? THEY DON’T CARE!! They’ve heard your spiel their entire lives and nothing has happened. You’ve invalidated yourselves. Sadly, because they’ve tuned out, it is impossible for them to distinguish alarmist propaganda from real climate science. As a result, in their view, they all get lumped into the same pot of invalidated extreme alarmism. The blame for this lays solely at the feet of the scientists that did not distinguish themselves from the propagandists. People are 4′s because they simply have other things to do that are more important to them. They take climate change about as serious as the Mayan calender.

    There, how’s that for some story telling?

    • Michael Larkin

      suyts,

      You make an interesting and quite persuasive argument.Come to think, most people I come across don’t think about global warming at all. It doesn’t fire them up the way that, say, immigration or economic crisis does. I guess it’s mainly nerds like me (I’d guess level 3) who get their knickers in a twist.

      Which made me fleetingly wonder whether level 3′s matter because they might actually be quite a high proportion of those who are still remotely interested in the issue.

      • Thanks Michael,

        Yes, level “2-3s” are the ones(some have jumped to level 1s) that have carried the argument. And, it is only us “nerds” that get our “knickers ins a twist” when something seemingly irrelevant is stated with questionable authority. The Himalayan glacier melt, for example. The masses don’t care whether they are melting or not. And they really don’t care if it did or didn’t meet IPCC standards. They don’t wish things to be misrepresented, but that’s about the only thing that will pique their interest. The only time we’ll see an active engagement towards climate science from the 4s, is when policy or laws are about to be enacted that directly effects them. See the EPA’s recent foibles. Or cap and trade legislation. They just want to be able to go about their life and various pursuits without being encumbered by thoughts of doomsday.

        As to playing toward science’s recent accomplishments, an impossible task. Public sentiment is fickle. What will always be in the forefront of their minds is the most recent events. Not that science really wants to revisit some of the past issues, anyway. Many of them would not survive the illumination. As to the most recent accomplishments, one only has to look at the emblematic scientific institution, NASA………..GLORY…….were I an alarmist with a message, I wouldn’t go there.

      • But when the issue does come up, people will spit out talking points. Why? Simple. Human nature. Nobody wants to say “I don’t know”. Not the 4s, not the 3s, not the 2s, and most of all not the 1s. The hardest three words in the English language for most people are “I don’t know”. There’s a PhD dissertation in social psychology to be had there.

      • Stories are not going to help the situation. Stories are only as good as the information contained in them.

        If you want to get people to recognize ‘climate scientists’ as experts then the experts need to have stories based upon fact.

        - Tell folks when the current La Nina is going to end, within days.
        - Tell folks when the next El Nino is going to start and end, within days.
        - Tell folks how powerful the next El Nino is going to be.
        - Publish what the GCM’s from 5 years ago showed the global temperature was going to be.
        - Publish what the current GCM’s show the global temperature doing.

        Part of the current skepticism is based upon the lack of willingness for climate scientists to make any predictions on the record. Without these, ‘stories’ are not going to help, they are only going to reinforce the belief that the ‘scientists’ don’t know enough to make accurate predictions. Let’s face it, the Farmer’s Almanac and private weather forecasting companies put their reputations on the line, why won’t climate scientists?

        Now, don’t kill the messenger. I am a lukewarmist that is an agw skeptic. We are in an inter-glacial and who knows with or without man, just exactly how hot it will become before the tipping point to the next ice age? The past records seem to indicate the earth will survive, but will humans? I don’t know either.

        I do know this. Many of the paleo-climate papers from climate scientists would be much more believable if they also included, as co-authors, experts in history, geography, archeology, etc. who could verify the temperature reconstructions from research in their own fields. Dr. Mann’s hockey stick is a good example. Can you imagine the arguments he and a history or archeology co-author might have had over the MWP or Little Ice Age? How about the claims of unprecedented arctic sea ice melting? You think some history experts might have dampened this a little had they been co-authors or at least consulted? Climate scientists can’t be experts in everything. Loosen up and let some other disciplines temper some of the conclusions. It will help the ‘story’!

    • ferd berple

      “She was inundated with inane environmental issues her entire life and it continues today. Here’s a message from her and the rest of the “4s”— to the alarmists. You’ve been tuned out. You’re little more than a source of humor. ”

      That hits home. In Canada we get daily (hourly) programming on the CBC about polar bears dying due to global warming. The kids get it. It isn’t that they don’t care, rather that they know hype when they hear it. To them it is just TV ads, someone trying to sell something. If the message was true, why are we hearing it so often? Only ads get repeated over and over. Real stories come and go.

  22. Also, at the risk of being Captain Obvious, elucidation of El Nino didn’t recommend any policy. That not only changes the way the public perceives the scientists involved, it also changes the way the scientists see their relationship with society. The AGW issue not only has affected the behavior of the public, it’s affected the behavior of the scientists, as well.

  23. There are blogs here equating the term “storytelling” with “fabrication” or outright “lying”.

    Of course, this is bad and should simply be avoided.

    Almost always it eventually gets exposed anyway (viz. climategate and the revelations of IPCC fabrications and exaggerations).

    But I believe the term was being used here by Judith to mean “communicating” the “story”, specifically the “story” of “climate science” , rather than “selling a bill of goods” [correct me if I'm wrong, Judith].

    Max

  24. Climate Storytelling = Doing the same thing they have been doing.

    Andrew

  25. People who do not understand the situation are unlikely to resolve it. Olson and the others who think climate skepticism is due to scientific ignorance are simply victims of their own errors. Their stories will not prosper.

    Level 4 is the political level. The rhetoric is brutal and the science is simple minded. But the reality is that if you take the scientific debate and boil the issues down to level 4 the results are pretty much what we have now. In other words, the level 4 science is accurate for that level. (I study this a lot.) Put another way, if you start at level 4 and then add knowledge to refine the arguments you will wind up at level 1, where the debate also rages.

    My conclusion is thus that ignorance is not a significant factor in this debate. Each side claims it is, that the other side’s supporters are ignorant, but the symmetry is telling. This debate has a strong factual basis. Reasonable people can simply disagree. Communication is not the issue, except that both sides have to stay in the game.

    For example, look at http://www.skepticalscience.com/. They take lower level (simple minded?) versions of skeptical arguments and provide higher level pro-AGW counter arguments. It seems compelling until you realize that there are strong skeptical counter arguments to every one of their AGW arguments. Their claim to speak for science is ridiculous.

    • That’s an interesting variation on the straw man argument that you’re talking about. If you refute the level 4 claims with level 3 arguments, or for that matter refute level 3 claims with level 2 arguments, you are, in effect, arguing with straw men. Because the only scientific debate that matters is the level 1 debate. And, as you point out, the only political debate that matters is the level 4 debate. So here we are.

      Interestingly, Olson is arguing that his side should counter level 4 talking points, not with level 1 arguments (which would be fruitless), but with argument to authority, which is equally fruitless. They took a wrong turn in Albuquerque when they decided to insult the public’s intelligence in the first place. Now, I don’t think there is any way to put that toothpaste back in that tube.

      • Michael Larkin

        ChE,

        “Because the only scientific debate that matters is the level 1 debate.”

        Strictly speaking, yes. But that isn’t to say that it is impossible to get across substance reasonably accurately for consumption by lower levels. Alas, as an opinion there already seems to be some support for in this thread, there exist in all levels those with vested interests.

        They are the ones who want to spin the message, who don’t want to tell it the way it is, warts and all. And unfortunately, in the way of activists, they are often dab hands at obscuring the full, unvarnished truth insofar as it is actually understood.

      • After thinking about that, let me backtrack. A 2 can challenge a 1 when it’s in the 2′s field, and the 1 is out of his field. Case in point: M&M. McIntyre and McKitrick were more than Mann’s equal when it came to statistics. So I would define that debate as a 1 on 1. If (hypothetically) McIntyre tried to argue the greenhouse effect with Mann, then he’d be a 2 on a 1.

        So what number you get in any particular controversy has to do with the specific issue in controversy.

  26. I’m not sure that “engaging with the 4′s” (well done by the way in amending that level to be less…shall we say…partisan) is what led to the the loss of credibility of the climate science consensus. The AR4′s summary for policy makers was aimed at…makers of policy. One would assume they (at least some of them) would have to be classified as at least level 3′s.

    The consensus already had a “simple story” that it has been trying to sell for decades. To quote RealClimate: “1. The earth is getting warmer; 2. People are causing this; 3. If GHG emissions continue, the warming will continue and indeed accelerate; 4. (This will be a problem and we ought to do something about it).”

    The basic PR ultimately used to sell this message included the hockey stock, the vanishing Himalayan glaciers, the desertification of the Amazon rain forest, etc. Simple concepts with simple and highly effective iconography. A great story. No matter how many ways they try to repackage it, the problem was not the messaging, but the message (of overinflated certainty).

    I read some scientists claiming they should be more vague about the issue of certainty. others claiming they should claim to be more certain, and still others, like here, claiming the key is to change the issue from certainty to something (anything) else. It’s not just the certainty. It’s not just the message. It’s not just the delivery.

    I like the concept of El Ninos as a comparison to the overall consensus, but I think it shows the opposite point. One is localized and short term, the other encompasses the entire climate and predicts climate 100+ years from now. One has been measured and shown to recur, the other has not yet happened, ever.

    No one tries to predict El Ninos (that I have seen), three, five or ten years in the future. Consensus scientists claim to kn0w the future average temperature of the entire Earth within a degree or two 100 years from now (and to know that same figure going thousands of years in the past, within tenths of a degree change per year).

    More importantly, the effects of El Ninos are confirmed by people’s actual experience. For years, when scientists have said “an El Nino is under way,” the weather has followed noticeable consistent patterns at that time (for instance, blessedly warmer winters where I am located). There is no longer any corollary for the consensus.

    When temperatures were warming significantly in people’s personal experience, they were receptive to the claims of potential catastrophe. ” It has been warming for years, and scientist say it will continue, so maybe….” That’s how we got Kyoto. But then the serious (experienced) warming ceased for years, and Copenhagen failed accordingly.

    The climate consensus was selling the simple story that temperatures were rising, and would continue to do so, inexorably, leading to catastrophe. It wasn’t messaging, or Steve McIntyre, or James Inhofe that killed Copenhagen. It was 10 years of “no statistically significant warming.” It was this lack of temperature rise over a sustained period that killed the impression of certainty the consensus had built up so painstakingly over the years.

    To return to the El Nino comparison, if twice in a row the scientists said a powerful El Nino is underway, and things are going to be much warmer, but there was instead significant cooling, imagine how many would decide the science was not as settled as it seemed.

    • Gary M –
      To quote RealClimate: “1. The earth is getting warmer; 2. People are causing this; 3. If GHG emissions continue, the warming will continue and indeed accelerate; 4. (This will be a problem and we ought to do something about it).”

      My #5 – The earth has been warming for at least 15,000 years (since the last Ice Age). Since before “people” were capable of causing warming.

  27. Judith

    Back to my earlier posts (and those of many others here).

    If the primary objective of more effective “storytelling in sharing research” is “to generate support for predictions of environmental calamity that have not yet been realized” (as is stated in the lead-in paragraph), then it is part of a “sales pitch” and inherently bad.

    If, on the other hand, it is simply more effectively communicating the “story” of “climate science” (i.e. what we know, what we do not know, what we hope to find out, what we are working on, etc. -leaving off any long-term projections for the future, as these are speculative, by definition) then I see no problem.

    As an example, the IPCC AR4 SPM report falls into the first category. It is essentially a “sales pitch” for the premise that AGW is potentially alarming. Had the report avoided any projections – especially ridiculous projections going many decades or even centuries into the future – it would have been OK. But it overstepped the bounds.

    I believe you are referring to the second definition (although this is not clear from the comments by Randy Olson, who appears to be thinking of the “sales pitch” type of “storytelling”).

    I think it would be good to clear this point up, since bloggers here seem to be confused about what is really being discussed here.

    Max

    • Max, good point. Given what I know about the individuals that I cited in the post, I think Randy Olson is referring to the 2nd category, and that is certainly the one I am interested in.

      • Michael Larkin

        Really glad to see you appreciate the distinction (though I’m unsure whether I’d agree Olson is a 2nd category example) – I was in fact puzzling over what you meant. I thank Max for helping us tease this one out.

        All the same, maybe we should have different words for the two things. The first could be “PR” if we insist that the second be called “story” – but I’m sure there must be a better word for the latter. Mind you, if there is, it doesn’t immediately trip off my tongue. I keep coming up with the cliched but nonetheless apposite “Telling it like it is”.

  28. Some really good comments here. In response to the dialogue, I’ve added the following paragraph to the main post:

    Most importantly, if level 1 climate scientists can’t convince the level 2′s and 3′s, then aspects of their argument are likely to be flawed, and they should actually listen to the level 2′s and 3′s to try to understand why they aren’t convinced; they might actually learn something. Yes, particularly at the level 3, there are people that are politically motivated on both sides. But it has been a huge mistake to dismiss all level 3′s as politically motivated. And it has been a fatal mistake to dismiss the level 2′s.

  29. Olson notes how the communication camp bore us to death with their ‘Russian Roulette’ and ‘loaded dice’ metaphors.

    They have perhaps yet to wake up to the Ralph Waldo Emerson’s fact – “Oi chusoi Dios aei enpiptousi”.

    The dice of God are always loaded.

  30. Hi Judith-

    Thanks for this post. I agree with you that a big part of the problem here has been the way in which level 1 types have interacted with 2s and 3s, as you’ve defined them. The 3s (of which I am one) watch the 2s as some of them struggle to engage with scientists who do not want to accomodate them. I think that you would find that the vast majority of 3s are much more sympathetic to the 2s than we are to the 1s. While the 2s themselves receive almost no support in the mainstream media, were not invited to give their side in the climategate investigations, etc- they do have large influence and they do have a voice. It’s not a wise thing to turn your back on a 2, as climategate has shown.

  31. The bottom line is that the focus on story telling is in itself evidence that even the hardcore know they do not really have the facts on their side.
    AGW has always been about marketing and sales, not about laying out facts.

  32. “Yes, particularly at the level 3, there are people that are politically motivated on both sides.”

    I wonder, Judith; if you think ideological blinders are less common at level 2 than level 3, would that not also imply that level 1s are the least biased of all?

    • I would say that mosts scientists (level 2) are probably motivated to look at this issue primarily because they see something in the science that interests them, whereas most level 3′s are probably motivated by a concern over the environment or energy policy (possibly citizen scientist motivation as well). So I think that while there is overlap in the distribution of motivations for 2′s and 3′s, the center of mass is probably well separated. This is my take anyways, would be particularly interested in hearing from the 2′s on this.

      • I think there are some other dynamics, too. I think some 1s are deliberately recruited by activists groups. Many 2s are engineering types who are looking at the downstream ramifications of the policy recommendations, and asking themselves, “are we really sure this is necessary and urgent”? This is at the heart of what motivates Steve McIntyre, I believe. The IPCC process skipped a step. What the IPCC did was like the South Park underpants gnomes:

        1. Study climate science
        2. ???
        3. Stop burning carbon.

        A lot of level 2 people want to make sure that step 2 is as rigorous as is humanly possible, and all the “i”s are dotted and all the “t”s crossed, and this means a frank assessment of uncertainty. Many 2 people believe that the IPCC ARs are sloppy by industrial and commercial standards. this can’t be overly stressed. A lot of 2 people are less convinced that the science is wrong as they are that it just wasn’t done as well as can be.

        This is not exactly the same thing as saying that the 1s are wrong; it’s more like saying that they need to operate more like engineers, and pay more attention to detail, and not be content with the kind of sloppy paperwork that we saw in the Climategate correspondence.

        IOW, it’s a cultural thing. And cultures don’t like being told by outsiders that they have to change.

      • Linking climate science to the South Park underpants gnomes is brilliant and spot on!

      • Steve Reynolds

        “…most scientists (level 2) are probably motivated to look at this issue primarily because they see something in the science that interests them…”

        For myself (I’ll claim to be level 2), while the science is interesting, I think my main motivation is civic duty. Given the potential consequences either way the science and policy debate goes, and as someone who claims to be able to follow the science debate reasonably well, I believe I have a duty to be informed and to give my (hopefully objective) opinion to others. I and some other level 2 people in my community (who appear to have also worked hard to be objective) have likely had some influence by participating in various panels and other discussions.

      • I would agree with you. I guess I am level 2 (PhD in numerical simulation (CFD/composites)), and while I think climatology is an interesting science (as practically all sciences are), it is the political aspects that motivated me: It is clear, from a citizen point of view, that the green worldview is rising fast and on the verge of dominating the West, in a way similar to christian religions before, and mechanistic rationalism recently. It is also clearly emphasising collectivism instead of libertarianism (contrary to the previous main worldview of mechanistic rationalism).
        This is something I strongly distaste, so I was interrested in looking more deeply into the science behind the posterchild of the movement (AGW). My reasonment was that the more the science was founded, the less the movement was dangerous, as I expected it to remain rational, with a cost/benefit analysis and a path of minimum coercion/maximal liberties compatible with the scientific findings. On the other hand, the more the science was shaky, the more the movement will be a totalitarian one, one focussed on maximum societal control with AGW a pretext among other to promote a new coercitive ideology in the West. I found the science to be on the shaky side, and the green movement looking more and more like a semi-religious movement and less and less like rational environmentalism.

        At this point, I am a soft skeptic – lukewarmer? Basically I believe mainstream climatology in the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, that the sensitivity is positive and that the CO2 concentration has increased mainly from fossil fuel burning. How much of sensibility? Appart from that, I don’t know much, except that the GCM which are used to justify large sensitivities are not validated properly and highly suspect given the kind of physic they are attempting to model, and that the link between warming and consequences for ecosystems (and human populations) is evaluated in a very biased way.

        On the green movement (political and philosophical), on the other hand, I am not skeptical or agnostic anymore. I now consider they are one of the worst belief system there is, on the same level as other religious fundamentalisms, and as such will oppose them everytime I can (when voting, or discussion political matters with friends)

      • John Carpenter

        Dr Curry,

        I am a level 2, who works in industry/engineering. My main interest in climate science started from the oft repeated claim “the science is settled”, “the debate is over” and the overall “consensus” argument. Though my research is in the rather dry field of engineering coatings process development, I am experienced enough to know the more we think we know of a process, the more questions and new problems arise that challenge our knowledge. Current climate science is so fixated on CO2 as the problem, I can’t help but think we are missing a bunch of other puzzle pieces. In my line of business, you get one chance to show what you got is true and if you miss, well you better hope no one else saw it. If you miss a couple times, you are no longer taken seriously.

        When I look at the field of climate science, I know a lot of work is being done, but to what end? I can’t get over the arrogance, especially from the climate modelers, that they have a complete understanding of such a complex problem as our climate. I have a real hard time believing the results of complex mathematical constructs, filled with assumptions, that cannot be verified until the distant future. I further get worried when I see these results (predictions) being used as hard science and proof the climate is running head long toward disaster. Policymakers/politicians, with their own agendas, grasp on these types of studies to bolster their ideological arguments on their way to seeking more power. Witnessing Climategate, as it unfolded, further discouraged me that much of the science being produced was terribly biased and somewhat colluded. This further fed my skepticism that everything was not on the up and up.

        Over the years I have satisfied myself that the science is far from settled, that there is a debate and there is not nearly the consensus I was originally lead to believe. I have now shifted my interest in climate science to communicating/debating with others about the certainty of climate science. Climate etc… has become one of my regular visits as the discussions here are quite on target wrt the problems climate science faces as well as intelligent discussions about climate science.

        Thank you for putting together this forum.

      • Though my research is in the rather dry field of engineering coatings process development, I am experienced enough to know the more we think we know of a process, the more questions and new problems arise that challenge our knowledge.

        This needs to be said again. I too have spent considerable time in that kind of environment troubleshooting things that stump smart people, and when you do enough plant troubleshooting, you begin to see the similarity between troubleshooting and unraveling a murder mystery. I’ve been watching several of the British Cadfael series lately, and they, like most murder mysteries, show that a given pattern of facts can often support a lot of different hypotheses, and the one that turns out to be true is often not the most obvious.

        And so you learn, if you’re capable of learning, that as you gather clues, you consider all clues to be suspect. Because if you don’t, you end up where I ended up several times – with an impossible set of facts. The experienced investigator learns to never be completely sure of anything, because certainty will lead to a dead end. and than, once you lay all the facts out on the table, you can start asking what if this one is wrong, and what if that one is wrong. And only through that kind of a process do you ever have a hope at finding the real answer.

        The people who are too sure of themselves too soon end up swearing a lot.

      • James Evans

        I’m a mere level 3, but I became interested in this issue because of Climategate. I’m STILL here all this time later, mainly because I’m utterly astounded at the lack of response to Climategate (and other examples of appalling scientific behaviour), from the level 1 and 2s.

        I find the whole situation utterly fascinating. In particular, the incredible reluctance of so many intelligent people to admit the blindingly obvious – that Climategate pretty much destroyed the idea that we could unquestioningly trust climate scientists.

        If you want to talk stories – for me, by far the most interesting is what story the history books will tell. I have little doubt that eventually the story that will be told will be one of a huge failing of science. And where will that leave us? I think we’ll be looking very hard for a paddle.

  33. Tom Fuller just posted this gem on the collide-a-scape thread:

    “At the end of the day, the fatal flaw of those on the consensus side is that they conflate ‘getting the message right’, ‘telling the right story’ and ‘communication.’

    They are all different. They need all three. But the key point is, without engaging those on the other side of the fence, they cannot do any of them effectively.”

    • Michael Larkin

      I think “telling it like it is” is something else again, and with just that one thing, the other three are totally redundant.

  34. Dr. Curry,
    Good, stimulating post. One of the questions this raises in my mind is what is the hook that grabs someone’s attention and causes them to move from a #4 to a #3?

    I think one of the issues which causes people to look into the data more closely is the attitude displayed at RealClimate. They do not respond like professional scientists. They are insulting to people who ask challenging or embarrassing science questions. It causes people to wonder why they act that way and what they are trying to hide, especially when they learn enough to ask a challenging question themselves and the question doesn’t get through moderation.

    But there are other causes. Let’s look at some real life examples. Steve McIntyre was #4 when he saw the hockey stick chart and wondered: “How do they know that?” It started him on a quest for information and now he is a leading #1. Steve’s blog ClimateAudit caught the attention of a number of other #4s, some of whom have gone on to publish in the peer-reviewed literature or start important science blogs, including Jeff Id, Ryan O’Donnell, and Hu McCulloch among others.

    Steve’s paper refuting MBH98 also had a big impact on Richard Muller. Prior to MM03, I think Muller was a believer in AGW but had not really looked into the science that much himself. (I could be wrong on that point.) Now he is leading Berkeley Earth System Temperature project.

    In fact, I remember when you first started commenting on ClimateAudit. In the beginning, you used to leave cryptic remarks like “Be skeptical of your skepticism.” But eventually, you saw the scientific arguments presented by Steve and his disciples had merit.

    Then Climategate hit and we got to see behind the curtain. It turned out that everything we feared about gatekeeping, lack of transparency and fudging of data were true. This caused a great many scientists in other disciplines to look into climate science more closely. Hal Lewis, a leading physicist and former proponent of global warming, joined the ranks of the skeptics.

    It might be interesting to ask the #2s and #3s here to tell their story about what got them interested in climate science and especially what may have caused them to change their opinion of the science (if a change occurred).

    One other point, Dr. Curry. I think the emphasis on “story” may backfire on the proponents of AGW, because many of the skeptics have interesting stories too.

    • Ron, I would define even visiting Realclimate as a level 3. The true 4′s don’t spend any time at all on the climate blogs.

      • I meant first time visitors. I’m not sure a one-time visitor to RealClimate is a #3. My guess is 50% of the posts at RealClimate (and the moderation) leave first time visitors with a negative impression of the proprietors of that blog.

      • Oh yes, they do, Dr C. Google brings everyone to everywhere.

        Why do you think they delete comments from the 2′s and the 3′s?

        They don’t want the 4′s reading them.

        At least not in their backyard.

      • >Why do you think they delete comments from the 2′s and the 3′s?

        They don’t want the 4′s reading them.<

        It is this point that Judith C misses. Not because she doesn't know it, I suspect, but because it's insoluble. The demographic numbers are compelling: Level 4's outnumber Level 1's + 2's + 3's by an enormous multiplier, so the crudity of swamping informed criticism (2's and 3's) with huge numbers of panicked Level 4 votes remains

        This issue is avoided here every time it is raised – because it is shameful

      • well actually i would call these level 3.5′s. true level 4′s (who Randy Olson is targeting) don’t hang out at all in the climate blogosphere or otherwise seek out info on climate, they only get what they get because they passively encounter it in whatever mainstream media or talk radio source they pay attention to.

      • You are correct, Dr C.

        But that is a section that is “out of reach” in any case. If Olson says that the 4′s in that (vast) section have no exposure whatsoever to Climategate, for example, the same 4′s are impentrable to anything else about the climate, despite years and years of saturation coverage.

        The way these 4′s are courted is funny. It is apparently a right thing to scare them by talking about catastrophe. It is at the same time, taboo, to tell them that the overall objective is to get them to open their wallets and purses and spare a bit of cash to save the world.

      • Again you’ve evaded the issue – this time by making up a “new” category of knowledge level – ie. “3.5″

        Colour me surprised :) :)

    • Michael Larkin

      Ron,

      My switch from 4 to 3 could be said to have started with Climategate – you can check out my entry in the Denizen’s thread for more detail if you like. I’m sure the switching of many others was likewise sparked by Climategate.

  35. Scary stories sell better. This AGW research-industrial-financial complex sells fear exactly the same way the military-industrial complex does. And AGW = Iraqi WMDs.

    There is no bridge between the truth and a deliberate Big Lie.

    The scientists who fell for this groupthink are in the same league as the ‘good Germans’ of the 1930′s, or Lenin’s useful idiots. The leaders of this project are like the leaders of Germany in the 1930s. They know they are lying.

    As for the ‘good German’ AGW worker bees, as Jesus allegedly said, ‘forgive them, they know not what they do.’

    • Well done Al: “Climate Scientists = Nazis”

      I’d like to know if anyone else reading these comments is offended by Al’s characterization. As a number 2 on JC’s scale, I’m also offended at being a typecast as a brainless “German worker bee”. I know exactly what I’m doing when I weigh the evidence for and against AGW.

      If you think about it carefully Al, maybe you’d realize that this sort of rhetoric really doesn’t help build bridges of any kind.

      • Holly Stick

        Presumably he doesn’t want to build a bridge. Does anyone here?

      • Actually most ‘good Germans’ were not Nazis. They were just stuck in groupthink, and dared not go against the flow. Many of them convinced themselves of the righteousness of the cause, but they were all just used by the real Nazis, their leaders. Just like Lenin’s ‘useful idiots.’

        So, don’t get mad, wake up.

      • I’m wide awake here, Al, and I’m not an “idiot” being “used” by anybody.

        Hmm, anyone else objecting to the Nazi references? Bueller? Bueller?

      • Well Joe, I suppose I could have picked a historical analogy that wasn’t quite that provocative… which is why I also mentioned Lenin’s ‘useful idiots’ (his term).

        How about Mao’s Cultural Revolution cadres? Or any of an endless string of historical examples where groupthink combined with some missionary style zeal led to irrational outcomes?

        In any case, all humans are political and economic animals, with a tendency to groupthink, including those trained in science.

      • Nazi references? You mean like the term denier?

      • joe,
        You should learn to read more closely.
        But you do get an ‘a’ for effort in trying to pretend like Godwin’s law was invoked.
        But you still fail.

  36. One thing I have noticed about the positions of the two camps is that the warmists seem to be very deeply invested in defending every scrap of the science they have generated even when that science is demonstrably wrong or significantly uncertain. In so far as the skeptics raise questions – which is pretty much all they do or need to do – these seem to provoke a remarkably “over the top” response from the warmist community.

    That reaction is a bit of a “tell”. And it explains some otherwise very puzzling conduct. My understanding of how normal science works is that papers are published and often criticized or directly contradicted by other papers using different data or methodology. While no one wants to be wrong, most scientists recognize that they, personally, do not have all the right answers and that their field will move forward as better answers are found.

    This process does not seem to be the norm in climate science. I suspect, but cannot prove, because of the artificial hothouse atmosphere which has been created by its politicalization at the hands of the UN and various national political parties. I very much doubt that Jones writing about adjusting for the UHI ever thought his result would be a political football nor do I think Mann’s initial examination of tree rings was designed to put paid to the MWP. In more normal sciences these papers would have been treated as preliminary approaches to real problems to be superseded when better data and methods were brought to bear.

    However, once politics became involved these papers were accorded iconic status as “peer reviewed” means of countering the UHI objection and the MWP objection. Which, in turn, meant that they were attacked with far more force than would normally be encountered in strictly scientific circles.

    This enhanced scrutiny, often by lay people, arose because what would normally be relatively out of the way papers were being used as the scientific underpinning for massive (and often ill-considered) economic and social intervention.

    When it comes to telling a particular story – whether warmist or skeptical – the science quascience is almost never communicated. There is no story telling value in recounting the hits and misses of climate scientists. Instead , on the one side, you have the story tellers – professional politicians for the most part – grabbing catch phrases like “peer reviewed”, “consensus”, “settled”, “IPCC”, “manmade” and attaching them to claims of assorted plausibility “5 degrees”, “ice free Arctic”, “no polar bears”, “20 foot sea level rise”, “no snow”, “endless drought”. For the skeptic, this warmist rhetoric leaves plenty of lines of attack, almost none of which require much knowledge of the science per se: a good snow storm, flood, Arctic ice accumulation are all talking points which can be used to counter the warmist narrative. (And yes, I do know those are just weather but they are also exploitable opportunities for both sides.)

    Judith, I think you taxonomy of epistemic levels makes good sense; but I would add a second axis namely rhetorical intent. Your taxonomy recognizes “who” we are attempting to communicate with, mine would attempt to define the rhetorical purpose of that communication. Scientific communication needs to be distinguished from consequential and/or polemical communication. And we should recognize that the rhetorical purpose can very quickly shift.

    We tell stories for different reasons and our reasons influence our stories as much or more than our audience does.

    • Holly Stick

      Might be a response to deniers claiming that one private email taken out of context, with its meaning warped beyond recognition is proof that all of climate science is wrong. As commenters here argue again and again.

      • Whoever claimed that?

      • life is tough at the top Holly…and you are out of your depth….(mixing metaphors like a cocktail)

      • I hope you do not acquire an allergy to straw, because if you had to quit using straw man arguments, you would have little at all to say.

      • Advice for “strawman” arguments: be sure to use fresh “straw”

        (Although it sounds that way, this is not from Confucius)

        Max

      • Serious challenge: Explain what decline was being hidden. Pretty much all of the level 4s on both sides of the issue get this wrong, and when I hear about “context”, I get suspicious about the person’s understanding. So please tell me, in your own words, what exactly “hide the decline” refers to.

    • Jay,
      That is an interesting observation.
      No variance at all is allowed in AGW land.
      Paleontology, medicine, astronomy, all make major changes as evidence comes in to warrant it.
      AGW? It is settled and only denialist scum working for the Koch death family, or creationists hoping for the end of the Earth to get Jesus back sooner are questioning it.

  37. Judith,

    I notice some hostility within the comments towards the concept of story or message. I believe this ire is misplaced. After all, what is a hypothesis or theory other than a compelling story that is consistent with all known facts meshed with the natural laws that we have discovered.

    The problem with the consensus story is not that the consensus scientists cannot present their stories, it is that other competing stories exist and those stories tend to be more compelling and believable. Try as they might, the consensus viewpoint has all the plot consistency of a Dan Brown tale.

    When telling any tale, your audience being naturally curious is going to ask questions about your story. These question will be natural things that arise such as “How did the poison get in the bottle ?”, “Why didn’t he fall off the cloud when he stepped off the beanstalk” or even “If the climate scientists is subjectively spinning the data, how do I know he/she will actually tell me the truth if counter evidence appears ?”. If it is a good story, it needs to actually address these issues in a way that satisfies the reader. In the case of the consensus story, when the listener asks about subjective spin, the storytellers need to write a passage more convincing than: “Don’t look at the subjective manipulation behind the curtain, instead pay attention over here where they screwed up their quotation marks!”. Honestly, that is not a very good story telling plot device.

    They fail because alternate stories exist that actually discuss and explain events that the readers know occurred and these stories tend to be more consistent and believable.

    • True. Trying to make the MWP go away wasn’t one the brightest ideas.

      • Steven Mosher

        yup. AGW is correct with or with the hockey stick.

      • I think you meant “with or without”?

        However, I object to your framing AGW as a yes/no proposition. It’s a question of degree (no pun intended). Or put another way, accepting the greenhouse effect still leaves a lot of wiggle room in the climate sensitivity. Aside from the dramatic graphic pitch to the level 4 crowd of unprecedented warming in the original stick, making the MWP go away was important for the high CS argument, or Hanson’s tipping pints. It’s a lot easier to claim a high CS and tipping points if the earth has never been this hot before.

        So I don’t think it was for no reason, just that it wasn’t very smart. The flat HS just looked too fishy. They brought the scrutiny on themselves. And it seems like Olson still hasn’t learned the painfully obvious.

    • Holly Stick

      And many people prefer junk food.

      • Exhibit “A”. This is the kind of condescending contempt for the public that is at the root of the problem.

      • Holly Stick

        No, I have contempt for people who prefer denialist lies.

      • If you refer to anything you disagree with as a “denialist lie”, I dont think even a “4″ will take you seriously these days.

    • Artifex

      Possibly we have a semantics problem here.

      In some parts of the USA a “story-teller” was simply the polite form of describing a “liar”.

      I’m sure Judith can confirm this, based on the part of the country in which she lives.

      That’s why it is so important to make sure we know what kind of “story-telling” we are talking about here.

      Max

  38. Steve McIntyre

    <blockquote?What are the ingredients for effective communication with level 2′s and 3′s? Here is my take, I look forward to your other suggestions:

    * public availability of data, codes, and models
    * transparency in assessment methods, particularly expert judgment of uncertainty and confidence levels

    Judy, I think that this is an excellent and important issue. I’ve more or less aimed Climate Audit (particularly pre-Climategate) at readers who are professionals or who have PhDs in other fields – your 2s and 3s – who are starving for relevant expositions of how doubled CO2 leads to 3 deg C and problems. Climate scientists often direct such inquiries to IPCC AR4, but IPCC AR4 does not provide the sort of exposition that meets the needs of this audience.

    If one wishes to talk to this sort of audience, one has to treat them like adults. They are not interested in being yelled at or being condescended to – voices which, unfortunately, are too prevalent on the “warmist” blogs (a term that I dislike but use for now).

    I think that the population of 2s and 3s were highly relevant to the failure of the Muir Russell and Oxburgh inquiries to dispose of Climategate. Hundreds, if not thousands, of readers were familiar with nuances of the debate and unconvinced by the “inquiries”. Thus, climategate lingers on.

    This audience is also very capable of assessing institutional mendacity. Whenever an institution provides a dishonest or evasive answer on something that can be checked e.g. excuses for FOI refusals, it is corrosive to the institution’s credibility with the audience of 2s and 3s (and others).

    IN my opinion, more”stories” is very near the bottom of the priorities for “warmists”. My own recommendation is an “engineering quality” exposition of how doubled CO2 leads to 3 deg C and to problems. Such an exposition is not a short little article (I’m familiar with these) but a ground-up exposition of the physics of clouds and their parameterizations in GCMs – the way that an engineer would write the report, not a scientist writing an article for Nature. This concept has occasionally been mocked by climate scientists – Gerry North sneered at it in a post-Climategate interview, but nonetheless, I still think that it’s what’s needed to improve communications with 2s and 3s and would be tremendously healthy.

    • If one wishes to talk to this sort of audience, one has to treat them like adults. They are not interested in being yelled at or being condescended to – voices which, unfortunately, are too prevalent on the “warmist” blogs (a term that I dislike but use for now).

      Hear, hear. And the general public doesn’t care for that, either. It’s possible to talk to the 4s without being a condescending ass.

      • ChE – will you wait with me until Fred and Pekka reply to Steve or Kip or Sean?

        Reply here if you doubt they’ll come anytime soon.

      • Hi Kate – I wouldn’t have replied at all except that I happened to be browsing and noticed a comment about this in the other thread. I typically don’t engage in many exchanges, but I try to respond to someone who cites me.

        I don’t always agree with Steve McIntyre, but I respect him. I wonder how many of his admirers are aware of his perspective on anthropogenic warming, which if I’m not mistaken, is one that gives the climate experts the benefit of the doubt on basic principles. He presumes they know what they are talking about, so that he is not trying to refute them so much as to require that they prove themselves with cogent explanations. His skepticism relates to faulty data manipulation, intentional or inadvertent, and not to climate science as a discipline. If he reads this, he can correct any misimpressions I’ve expressed.

        Having said that, I believe he is being somewhat unrealistic in how much to expect in the way of blogosphere explanations of doubled CO2 climate sensitivity and related issues. These issues are quite complex, and the relevant data are widely disseminated within many different categories of scientific reporting. Even though not a climatologist, Steve is undoubtedly smart enough to acquire a sufficient background in the physics to add to his existing knowledge, wade through the details, and arrive at his own conclusions on the subject. However, there may be too few others willing to do that for any of the experts to sit down and condense the material into a blog-ready format of the “engineering quality” Steve demands.

        If Steve wants to understand climate sensitivity, he should know that appropriate sources exist, but mainly in the form of extensive textual material combined with a large set of references designed to document that material. One example is the Nature Geoscience review by Knutti and Hegerl. Another consists of chapters 8 and 9 of AR4 WG1, but for the level of documentation Steve demands, it is the references more than the text exposition that are critical. Since those chapters, additional references have appeared, including recent work by Lindzen/Choi, Spencer/Braswell, Dessler, Lauer et al, Clement et al, and others. Steve may already be familiar with some of the work by Annan and Hargreaves involving the choice of appropriate pdfs as priors for a Bayesian analysis of paleoclimatologic data. If all this is collected into one huge compendium, I’m unaware of it, but these disparate sources certainly treat their readers “like adults”. The problem is that it’s impossible to do that and also condense the information into a quick read for an intelligent person to assimilate in only a few hours. It’s also impossible for all the relevant authors to get everything right, and so the ultimate conclusions about climate sensitivity are those that emerge after the various imperfections are filtered out. I’m sure Steve understands that strong evidence can emerge from a composite of data sources that are individually weaker – that’s a Bayesian
        principle in its own right.

        I guess I’m saying that I don’t know what Steve is really complaining about, because what he asks for is available. So is the abundant blogosphere material of lesser stature that one might consider “A Child’s Guide To Climate Sensitivity”, but that is aimed at audiences who like that sort of thing.

      • Fred,

        Since climate scientists never bother to check each other’s work, you are probably unfamiliar with the concepts to which Steve is making refernce. The engineers, PhDs, and very bright folks in lots of other professions who work in the real world are used to having their work checked and rechecked. Studies with findings that completely change well-accepted notions are not simply accepted without explanation in the real world. Failure to check can get people hurt and put your employer out of business — not a good thing for people who wish to remain employed. It must sound so strange.

        So when Steve refers to information that is not available, he’s not talking about the “literature”, the studies as published. He’s talking about all the information behind the studies — the stuff that Mann, Jones, Briffa and their friends at the journals have worked so hard to keep secret for so many years.

        Steve is one of those creatures that climate scientists have never understood — he actually checks stuff, like out we do out here in the real world. I know, sounds crazy, but for real. That’s what he does.

      • We’ve discussed this before, Stan. Please see my earlier comments on how science advances through a process of evidence-gathering and self-correction. The essence is reproducibility of results, rather than checking up on each other. It’s orders of magnitude more efficient than an exclusive reliance on checking.

        I would add, though, that checking is also standard as part of peer review of grants and papers. The examples critics cite in the blogosphere represent the failures of the process. The successes, which are far more numerous, don’t get their attention.

      • The failure represent the most cited scientific studies in the history of the world in terms of journalistic references. Scientists didn’t bother to replicate them. If climate scientists can’t be roused from their slumber to check/audit/replicate the hockey stick and ‘worse than we thought’ despite the world-wide attention and their use to support the most far-reaching impositions on the life, liberty and property of billions of people, it is fair to question when they will ever bother to replicate someone else’s work.

        Steve Mc didn’t pick the hockey stick to check because it was obscure. He picked it because politicians and scientist/activists around the world were using a bullhorn to announce its findings.

        I find your contention that skeptics have only found errors in a few studies to border on the truly bizarre. The studies exposed were the most trumpeted studies in history. If they were so minor, why the massive publicity push? Are you telling us that the scientists behind the PR push aren’t smart enough to know what is important?

        As for the other studies, requests to be provided the data to check/audit/replicate these other studies have been routinely stonewalled. Hiding behind successful stonewalling isn’t a very becoming trait for anyone who is supposed to be about spreading the truth.

      • Please see my earlier comments on how science advances through a process of evidence-gathering and self-correction. The essence is reproducibility of results, rather than checking up on each other. It’s orders of magnitude more efficient than an exclusive reliance on checking.

        I’m not sure if I’m understanding this correctly. Are you saying that 1) a non-adversarial system is as reliable, and 2) more efficient than an adversarial system, like we have in our courts?

      • ChE – A system that is primarily adversarial is a very inefficient way for science to operate, but some degree of challenge as a component is valuable. Most scientists, unlike lawyers, are working on their own projects rather than addressing what’s right or wrong with someone else’s. They don’t have the time to do both thoroughly. However, throughout modern scientific history, the road to an accurate understanding has resided in the principle that valid conclusions are reproducible, and that concept is a cardinal principle of climate science as well. The challenge is not to find fault with another’s work, but to see whether one can get the same results. This is far more efficient than an attempt to devote most of one’s time to fault-finding.

        Even so, the process of peer review is the adversarial element, and one I’m very familiar with, both as reviewer and reviewee. As reviewer, I’m aware of how successful this process has been in weeding out material that doesn’t meet the critical standard of a valid report – the data must support the conclusions.

        Because humans are fallible, sometimes it fails, but as I mentioned above, the failures are the exception, although they have been elevated to almost iconic status by critics to the point that one sometimes get the impression that the cited articles are considered the center of climate science within the scientific enterprise itself. An example is the “hockey stick”, which is rather peripheral to mainstream climate science conclusions, but has become a cause celebre because of the conflict between critics and defendants. If you read the literature, you will find that studies of that type occupy a small niche rather than a foundational role. In the case of the hockey stick, both proponents and critics share responsibility for the undue emphasis.

        The only way to arrive at an accurate perspective on both successes and failures is to become familiar with the broad scope of the climate science literature. To rely on the media or the blogosphere is to acquire a perspective distorted by the selected citation of examples designed to make a partisan point. It’s not a good way of understanding what is good or bad in any field of science.

      • Fred, that was a very clear response. And the question was rhetorical, and I expected something along the lines of what you said. Now let’s move on to the next question: if we’re talking about a question that the future of the earth hinges on at worst, and trillions of dollars hinge on at best, is efficiency even relevant?

        I’ll let you know where I’m headed with this. I tend to think that the research to date has in general been very poorly focused, but part of that is due to the incoherence with which the funding is handed out. It would seem to me that we should care less about efficiency than about getting it right to the best of our abilities, even if that means a lot more research funding.

        The situation is somewhat like a murder trial where the prosecutors are asking for the death penalty. You don’t want to execute an innocent person, but you don’t want to let a murderer walk, either. And if the trial costs the state millions, that’s life.

        I just don’t get the sense that the overarching apparatus is treating this issue like it’s serious enough to demand the finest. They seem to be happy with research methods that may be suitable for studying the mating habits of the Uranian dung beetle, but not a question of this gravity. And then they want to skip on to policy recommendations that are historic in their breadth.

        A more rigorous and transparent approach would be more expensive, but how can you argue that it’s not warranted? Shaking the money lose in this economy would be tough, but I think you may be misreading the critics, such as Steve. The criticism isn’t that the science community has done too much, it’s that they haven’t done enough.

      • As someone who does climate science for a living, Judith Curry is in a better position than I to address both the availability and focus of research funding. I’d be interested in her perspective.

      • I started a post on this topic a few months ago, it is on my list, will eventually get to it

      • Fred

        “Most scientists, unlike lawyers, are working on their own projects rather than addressing what’s right or wrong with someone else’s.”

        That may be true in other sciences, but I think that virtually all government funded climate research can now be said to be “someone else’s” (the government’s) project. With the same result of advocacy impacting the content of the rhetoric.

        Can anybody point to a recent, government funded, peer reviewed paper that dissented from the consensus?
        Or name a government funding agency that is not solidly on board with the CAGW hypothesis?

      • Gary,
        Check the contents of the current issue of the Journal of Climate, or check any regular issue of any journal publishing climate science.

        How many of these papers are likely to take a stand on the global warming making the judgment just from the title – or from the abstract, if you wish? Only few.

        There is still a lot of normal climate science; most of the scientists do normal science. The do not promote AGW. Their results may or may not have some implications concerning AGW. The situation is not as different from other sciences as your comment states. There is certainly a difference, but it is not that dominating, and there are also other sciences that are equally connected to decision making.

        Looking only papers that have been accepted to Science or Nature, the situation may look different, but that has more to do with these journals than with climate science.

      • Pekka Pirilä,

        First, my question was not whether there is any “normal climate science” in the peer reviewed literature, it was whether there are ANY government funded, peer reviewed, published papers that dissent from the CAGW consensus.

        Second, I did as you suggested, and looked at the online January issue of the Journal of Climate. After looking at the abstracts of some of the papers, I came away with a different impression that you suggested.

        From the second: “The temperature rise for a doubling of the CO2 concentration from LGM conditions is 4.3°C and thus notably larger than in the modern case (3°C).”

        From the fourth: “It suggests a hysteresis behavior that is consistent with nonlinear convective adjustment to changes in deep-water formation in the North Atlantic and with the meridional overturning circulation bistability associated with two distinct configurations of the North Atlantic subpolar gyre, simulated in response to idealized carbon dioxide increase. ”

        From the sixth: “The anomalies grow as a result of a conversion of mean available potential energy into potential and kinetic energy of the perturbations, reminiscent of baroclinic instability.” (I am assuming that “mean available potential energy” refers to the rise in global temperature, but not having access to the article, this is just my layman’s guess.)

        From the seventh: “Therefore, coupled climate projections that use CAM4 will underpredict Arctic sea ice loss only when dry and stable summer conditions occur.”

        I stopped after 7 as it is early and it was giving me a headache. I do n ot pretend to be a scientist, but the I did not see a single article that presented what could be called a dissenting view, and four of the first seven seemed to fall right in line with that consensus.

        Clearly dissenting views have been published, McIntyre, O’Donnell, etc., but I know of no government funded research that has resulted in such a paper. I am fully prepared to be told that the articles are not as they seem to me, the technical jargon was enough to make me feel like a 6 on Dr. Curry’s scale. But that was why I posed the question in the first place, and will pose it again.

        Can you point to a government funded, peer reviewed, published article that has dissented from the consensus view of anthropogenic global warming and/or its predicted severe consequences?

      • And research funded by Russia, China or India doesn’t count. I mean funded by the U.S., the UK, the UN or the EU.

      • Re: Dr. Moolten’s: ‘Please see my earlier comments on how science advances through a process of evidence-gathering and self-correction. The essence is reproducibility of results, rather than checking up on each other. It’s orders of magnitude more efficient than an exclusive reliance on checking.’

        Coming from medical research, I’m sure you are familiar with the historic examples of what happens when a medical researcher has produced a fallacious result (by error or intent) …..it is assumed to be correct, after-all it was peer-reviewed and appeared in JAMA (or whatever). Other researchers spends gobs of tax-payer provided grant funds following up, and finding what they would expect to find based on the assumption that the original research was valid. When the original research is finally invalidated, years later, the whole house of cards based on it falls, because it was used as ‘given’ in the later studies.

        How much of this do we have in CO2-driven climate science?

      • OMG.

        You. just. really. don’t. get. it.

      • Kate,
        I have to admit, I find it very difficult to craft an intelligent response to your comment.

      • I apologize. My response was directed at Fred. It was an outburst at his verbiage.

        Spence was right:\]. He wrote “I understand why you [Fred] don’t answer – because there is no answer. Your position is not defendable.”

      • Fred –
        I guess I’m saying that I don’t know what Steve is really complaining about, because what he asks for is available.

        Nope – not at all. I’ve also been looking for it and it’s not there.

        1. Basic climate science – is always shrouded in either uncertainty or total certainty. You can’t have it both ways – that doesn’t meet engineering standards.

        2. Something as vital as sensitivity is given “ranges”, most of which are demonstrably not valid just given the most obvious and elementary knowledge/data. And that is backed up by the sheer NUMBER of estimates and the variations in the ranges. Do you know what would happen if, for example, a Shuttle (or any orbital payload) were launched into the wrong “window”? Do you find that kind of sloppiness acceptable? I don’t. So why should I accept it from climate science?

        3. But to get back to the point, there are few, if any, “engineering grade” data sets, reports, studies or other information available to anyone who’s not a level 1. And by observation, not much even there.

        4. Nor has the demonstrated behavior of climate science been of “engineering grade”. No engineer would dare turn in a report without including the data (and code ) on which it was based. Withholding those would automatically invalidate the report – and get the engineer fired. As would refusing to honor an FOIA request.

        5. As was repeatedly pointed out in recent posts, if climate science wants to dictate the rearrangement of the financial affairs and lifestyle of everyone on the planet, then the whining about “being held to unfair standards” is just too dumb for words. If they want that authority, then it comes with automatic responsibility to meet the highest standards. Higher, in fact, than the standards used for something like the Shuttle or the Space Station. Those things would only kill a few people if the standards were sloppy – climate science has the potential to kill millions – or billions.

        Sorry, Fred, but climate science is not engineering grade. And I’ve several times wondered aloud how many climate scientists could make the grade as engineers. Some certainly, but for many…….?

      • I believe he is being somewhat unrealistic in how much to expect in the way of blogosphere explanations of doubled CO2 climate sensitivity and related issues.

        Fred, you misunderstand my point entirely. Blogosphere explanations are not “engineering quality” reports. An engineering study(report) of a mine would probably cost about $10-20 million and take many man-months of work.

        IMO something like this would be far more useful than another literature assessment.

        Unfortunately, scientists apparently do not understand what an engineering-quality report is. The responses that I’ve received to date are not engineering quality reports.

      • I’d settle for a full audit of the data.

        But an engineering report would be damn nice.

      • Steve – We agree that blogosphere assessments are inadequate. I thought I had made that point, but maybe I wasn’t clear. Based on my own familiarity with the literature, I would say that the information you seek is out there, as I mentioned, but must be compiled. If you or someone else has the 10 to 20 million dollars to contract out the effort of doing that, it could probably be done, but why would anyone want to do it otherwise? The climate scientists whose work is impacted don’t need it, because they have already gleaned their information from the multiple sources. As for others, you are probably open-minded enough to respond to such an effort, but most of the interested parties are not, and the politicians assuredly are not.

        I’ve also noticed that Pekka has mentioned some differences between the goals of engineering and science, including climate science. These are epitomized in the observation that the science has arrived not at an exact climate sensitivity figure, but rather a range encompassed by a confidence interval – e.g., 2 to 4.5 C per CO2 doubling. That would be inadequate for an engineering project dependent on narrow tolerances, but as an accurate description of our current knowledge and uncertainty, it’s very informative in estimating the likely impacts of future CO2 increases, even as we struggle to narrow the range. If you expect more, you are expecting something that only the future can deliver, but what we already have shouldn’t be belittled – it’s highly useful information that has been gathered at the expense of considerable skill, dedication, and effort.

      • Sorry, Fred, it sounds like you’re waffling.

        Steve wrote (pretty clearly):

        My own recommendation is an “engineering quality” exposition of how doubled CO2 leads to 3 deg C and to problems. Such an exposition is not a short little article (I’m familiar with these) but a ground-up exposition of the physics of clouds and their parameterizations in GCMs – the way that an engineer would write the report, not a scientist writing an article for Nature.

        And Steve is right.

        Double-talk about the enormous complexity of it all doesn’t get around what Steve is telling the climate science community: keep it straightforward, justify the conclusions reached based on a logical step-by-step process taking all factors into account, acknowledge uncertainties in the data and the conclusions and, above all, keep it completely open and transparent.

        That’s what I would call the basis for an “engineering quality” study.

        And Steve is absolutely right in asking for such a study to justify the conclusion that 2xCO2 CS is 3 deg C (and, believe it or not, it’s not to be found in AR4 WG1).

        Max

      • Since you seem to know a lot about it, can you advise where I can find discussions on:

        1) Water Vapour amplification (and saturation), since WVA is supposed to produce +50% of the warming.
        2) What implications that missing hot spot has for WVA, (looks serious to me).
        3)Whether there is good evidence that low cloud cover increases or decreases in a warming world. (I have seen some evidence for both, but it didnt seem like good evidence).

        (I wouldnt try asking RC because they just wouldnt answer, I’ve tried in the past).

      • Kate,
        Living in Europe, my schedule is out of sync with the most active discussions.

        After a period in basic research, I have worked mostly with engineers and the last 10 years before retiring I was teaching at the Helsinki University of Technology (now part of Aalto University) engineers mainly at the master level but also doctoral students. I see well the points than Steve McIntyre made, but I am also worried about them.

        The climate science is partly basic science, but now it is also research, whose results are used with little delay. This latter aspect of climate science brings part of the work closer to engineering and provides a strong justification for requiring quality controls and procedures similar to engineering analysis. The conflicting criteria of excellence have been an issue that I have been forced to ponder a lot as a professor of a Technical University aiming to combine engineering with academic science similarly to the the best schools in U.S., like MIT or Caltech.

        The basic science has different criteria of excellency. For the basic science the novelty of the results and the efficiency of producing new knowledge has a very large weight, and this aspect is contradictory with strict quality control and well defined procedures. Good quality is of course essential also in basic science, but not to the point, where is restricts creativity.

        Many climate scientist have been educated in the basic science community and have learned its criteria of excellency. Much of the climate science has been done in the world of basic science, but afterwards taken to the world of rapid use to support decision making, i.e. to the world similar to engineering. This fact is likely on reason for the large number of skeptics among engineers – and not only in U.S., where the skepticism is stronger, but also here in Europe, where the status of skepticism is much lower.

        I see a serious dilemma in this situation. Applying two different sets of criteria to the same knowledge and to the same research has contributed very much to the present situation, where critics find concrete support for their criticism, but the scientists believe that they are attacked on false grounds and that the critique is misguided.

        The conflict that has been built on these different views has expanded the disagreement to areas, where none should exist based on the present level of understanding. Scientists are unwilling to discuss uncertainties openly even, when the issues are the same that they are happy to argue about in their closed community. The level 3 and 4 participants have expanded the skeptical claims to issues, where the most knowledgeable skeptics of level 1 (and often 2) agree fully with the main stream scientists.

        I do not believe in storytelling as a solution to this situation, at least I do not believe and any scientist should participate in storytelling with his own name and trying to use the authority of a scientist. By now there are all too many – valid and false, but popular – arguments against these stories. Storytelling may work in informing about an unknown threat, but it doesn’t work in argumentation on a well known and controversial issue. Here the only way for the scientists to get their word through is to explain facts time after time honestly. Trying to explain them as clearly as they can, but without defaulting to unjustified simplifications.

      • Pekka, I would add that there is another feature of climate science that has moved it towards engineering: the construction of GCM and attempt to use them for attribution/prediction. Those are based on equations that are not under active research, and on approximations needed to obtain a tractable model. It is very close to my field (numerical simulation using FE), where the limit between scientist and engineer is extremely porous (if it exist at all). State of the art codes are produced by academic research department attached to hard science or engineering (or both), as well as spinoffs or well established private commercial companies (that often fund or work together with academic research groups)…There is no real difference, apart maybe from the focus to new class of problems or old problem solved in more efficient ways…and even that is not clearly separated.

        The fact that climate science is so engaged in numerical simulations, but seems to insist in a divide between scientist and engineers is extremely strange. I am not sure such divide exists in general (maybe along the line of fundamental versus applied science, or academy versus private? It is not clear exactly what is meant), but for building numerical climate model, such separation makes absolutely no sense imho.

      • Kai,
        I agree – in part.

        In the case of climate science the models have an important role both in producing data for outside the climate science community itself. For that part your comments apply well. The models are, however, also an important tool in learning more about the relevant physical processes. That part is mainly normal basic science. In that use the models may, e.g., help in separating a specific detail from the other influencing factors or in learning about the dynamical behavior of some important subsystem.

        The complexity of the models is an additional consideration. Understanding the models and their relationship to the physics that they are supposed to represent has certainly become very complicated. That leads to a major need in research on numerical modeling in ways not bound to any particular field of application (although certainly affected by the system being modeled). This research is in many ways close to engineering research, and solving similar problems is very important in many engineering applications of large models.

      • Pekka, you said:
        “The models are, however, also an important tool in learning more about the relevant physical processes. That part is mainly normal basic science. In that use the models may, e.g., help in separating a specific detail from the other influencing factors or in learning about the dynamical behavior of some important subsystem.”
        I agree, but again, this is not different from the way other numerical models in fluid or structural dynamic are used. Sometimes, it is during the design phase of a product by engineers, and I guess this is what people usually have in mind when thinking about numerical models.
        But sometimes, the CFD or structural numerical model is used to understand better a phenomenon which is difficult to directly investigate experimentaly. In those case, one can call the user of the simulation code a scientists instead of an engineer, but the model used are of the same class, in fact they are often exactly the same. And the user can even be the same person, just doing different projects.

        In both case, the numerical models should be uses with the same expertise and skepticism, looking for limits and validation against as much experimental data as possible, cross-validating, and remembering at all time that the model is not the reality, and that reality can behave differently if any assumption used in building the model is not valid.

        The penalty for overconfidence in models may be different: either a product that possibly do not meet requirements, or an explanation/theory/hypothesis/prediction that is possibly false and may be debunked by subsequent experiments.

        In both case, it can have dire consequence, and it is not necessarily the first that is more critical: I would prefer to have a tennis racket with a lower than expected fatigue limit (or higher than expected, if you are really cynical about product obsolesence ;-) ) than an overestimated (or underestimated) T/ln(CO2) sensitivity…

        Again, maybe it is just a different understanding of what words means, but I have the feeling that engineer/scientist dichotomy is exagerated. An engineer designing a new class of product have more in common with a scientist investigating a new theory than with an engineering drone checking the same pressure drop abaque for the nth iteration of a release valve, which himself is closer to a PhD student checking for a significant correlation between this medical condition and that genetic marker using the lab genome database…

      • Latimer Alder

        Because engineers are very accustomed to really testing things to see where and why they break?

        Climatologists would not like such detailed and experienced scrutiny. Their case is based on shoddy data, bad statistics and wishful thinking and they know it. The last thing they want is bloody engineers poring all over it trying to find the holes.

        Just believe in it!

      • Latimer,
        How much you know in support of your claims about climate science, how much you guess, and how much you just claim, because it suits to support, what you wish to support?

      • Latimer Alder

        @pekka

        It it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck……….

      • It’s in the eye of beholder.

  39. I speak as an obvious ‘#3′ — Good general university level science education, a lot of experience in a long life of shifting professions, paralleling the computer revolution, lived past many of the outrageously hyped doom-and-gloom projections, and sharp with numbers.

    I must be shown the following:

    1) The hypothesis, which must be falsifiable.
    2) What experiment has been done and that it has been carefully laid out well enough to falsify your null hypothesis (and thus support your original hypothesis).
    3) What you did exactly, all the nasty details, how you controlled for every possible confounding factor (or didn’t control for this one and that…and why not, and how that might affect your findings).
    4) Your conclusion and how it follows from your data (and not your beliefs, feelings, hunches, or desire to please your funding agency or university tenure board).

    Then, and only then, will I listen to your opinion about what it might mean.

    But now, you have to answer all the questions and all the challenges raised by your peers and serious critics. Answer them thoroughly and honestly, admitting when you don’t know, admitting errors or oversights, calling for specific further actions to fill in the holes pointed out.

    When you’ve done all that, publicly and openly, then with some follow-up experiments, we will have one useful, mostly nailed-down little piece of the puzzle (subject to change as new data and ideas come down the pike).

    Without all that, you’re wasting your own time, a lot of paper (in journals still being printed on dead trees) or server space, and a lot of your peer’s and everyone else’s time going down false trails and chasing down elusive imaginary butterflies.

    There has been precious little of this type of dedicated science in the climate field – at least very little that has reached the general (or even the interested amateur) public. What makes the press is so obviously hyped and slanted, with conclusions and opinions stretched far beyond anything supported by the data. I refer mostly to the press releases from universities and government agencies about studies, but often the original papers and authors are just, if not more, guilty.

    What I don’t want to hear is: “Because I say so and I have a PhD”, “Listen to the experts”, “If you don’t like it, prove it isn’t true”, “What would you know?”, “Who do you think you are to question me?” and the thousands of variations we read in the popular press from a certain segment of ‘Official Climate Science’. I don’t want to be force-fed ‘conclusions by consensus’ (or ‘conclusions-by-funding’).

    And don’t put it all behind a paywall intended solely to keep out the intellectual rabble, especially if I have already paid for the research with my taxes.

  40. There is so much talk of storytelling but I can’t get past the example of understanding el nino and predicting what will happen in 100 years with the climate. I am aPhD chemist and have seen my share of data that is difficult to interpret or understand. The one thing that I have always been careful about is extrapolation vs. Interpolation. If you are running a process and have experimented two extreme conditions then you can make a pretty good prediction if you have a new set of conditions that falls between the extreme. Predicting what will happen in the next el nino / la Nina cycle generally falls in the category of interpolation so is often skillful. Predicting the weather in 100 years with more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is a completely different and an extraordinarily bold extrapolation even if the climate models worked really well at making shorter range predictions. But as the UK Met office have shown with their seasonal forecasts for the UK, they are not skillful 3 months out. Add to that there is does not even seem to be consensus on something as fundamental as wether or not clouds warm or cool the climate and it’s clear that climate predictions are on not yet on firm ground. Climate science does knot need better stories as communication tools, they need much better understanding of the phenomena in the climate.

    • Are you really saying that you think the Met Office should be able to predict the weather more acurately three months into the future before you think their predictions for 100 years into the future are believable?

      That just doesn’t make sense.

      I know that my grandson will probably be over six foot tall when he is 20 because both of his parents are tall but I have no idea how tall he’ll be on his sixth birthday.

      See the parallels?

      • I bet you you know how tall he’ll be next month though.

      • which is the equivalent of the Met Office knowing that it’ll rain tomorrow or that it’ll be warmer in August than in January.

        I still wouldn’t expect them to find predicting the weather in three months to be easier than predicting the climate in 100 years.

      • Do you think it’s harder making a seasonal forecast three months out using GCM’s? Long range forecast meteorologists using analogous ocean and atmospheric set ups usually do better. By using GCM’s where they are not appropriate, the models are shown not to be skillful and the judgement of the modelers comes into question as well.

      • Louise,

        The relationship between the adult height of parents and that of their children has been pretty well recognized since the neolithic, we can imagine. If climate science relationships and derived predictions are as well as demonstrated as your height parallel, then your point is well made.

        On the other hand, a better parallel might be a prediction of your grandson’s annual income at age 35 based on his parent’s current annual income with appropriate consideration of inflation/deflation among other factors.

        Of the two parallels offered above, why do you favor the height parallel over the other? In other words, are climate science predictions more like those of the science of genetics or the “science” of economics–especially on a multi-decadal basis?

      • Louise,
        You say that your grandson will be over six foot because it is in his genes. I do accept that is likely. My four children are all taller than I am. Let us take that idea and run with it. In the past ten thousand years, the warmest time was during the Medieval Warm Period and the coldest time was in the Little Ice age that followed. For the past ten thousand years, stable temperature was in the earth’s genes. We will most likely stay in this very wonderful, very stable, temperature range for many years to come. Climate Theory and Climate Models that say different are most likely wrong. One Molecule of Manmade CO2 per ten thousand Molecules of other gases will not change that. You are saying what has happened will happen again. The Consensus Climate Scientists are saying that what has happened will not happen again. Thank you for this really good example.

  41. Judith states that:

    “BIll Hooke’s idea of switching the conversation is also a good one and suggests some possible new story lines:
     water, food and energy for a growing global population: combine energy economics and security, environmental quality, agriculture, climate change/variability in the context of a discussion of global sustainability.
     reducing vulnerability to extreme weather/climate events (e.g. floods, droughts, heat waves, tropical cyclones): infrastructure, emergency management, better forecasts and warning systems (days, weeks, months).
     others?
    So does switching the conversation away from global warming mean that we should just give up on the idea of dealing with CO2 and energy policy? Not at all, there are plenty of other reasons for addressing these issues in the context of energy economics and security and environmental quality and public health.”

    I would extend her argument further and state there it is not necessary to deal with CO2 and energy policy as coupled issues. It seems clear to me that political events in the past few weeks have shown as crude oil price increases above $100/bbl and gasoline prices in the US approach $4/gal, the events have nothing to do with GW. Therefore, IMO, water, food and energy for a growing global population issues should be addressed as separate but very important issues. Likewise, reducing vulnerability to extreme weather/climate events is an issue that can and should be addressed as a separate but very important issue.

    Climate scientists can and should provide their insights to some of but not all of these issues.

    • However, when you take concerns about carbon and climate off the table, the “alternatives” left on the table include such things as Fischer-Tropsch coal liquefaction. So concerns about energy security don’t automatically lead to the same carbon policy that climate concerns lead to, in fact in the US, they lead to the opposite. The quickest, surest way for the US to become more energy independent is to exploit domestic carbon and hydrocarbon resources more.

      • “…when you take concerns about carbon and climate off the table, the “alternatives” left on the table include such things as Fischer-Tropsch coal liquefaction. So concerns about energy security don’t automatically lead to the same carbon policy that climate concerns lead to, in fact in the US, they lead to the opposite.”

        IMO, ” taking concerns about carbon and climate off the table” does not limit the alternatives “left on the table” in any waym shape, or manner. e.g., nuclear power generation.

      • Except that the comment was specifically aimed at the short-term. If you’re going to talk about the likelihood of viability of any given technology, you have to do that in a time bracket. The nuclear electricity/electric car paradigm might (emphasis on might) start to gain serious penetration starting in 2030. That time frame doesn’t do any good for the present national security or balance of trade issues.

        Even taking Obama’s million electric cars by 2015 at face value, that’s what? 1%? That’s nonresponsive to the national security and balance of trade issues, which are immediate.

      • I didn’t interpret Judith’s comment to be aimed at the the near-term. My focus is certainly on the long-term. I’m suggesting that it might be helpful to decouple CO2/AGW from what I consider to be other important issues.

      • I was just responding to the idea that the other issues recommend the same action. They don’t. Decoupling is a good thing, but don’t be shocked if the set of solutions change when the concerns change.

        Anybody old enough to remember Jimmy Carter and the “energy crisis” of his era knows that the slate of solutions that were being discussed then were very different from what they call “green energy” now. the difference isn’t technology (which wasn’t really changed much in 35 years). It’s carbon.

        Which brings us to another issue. As Pielke Sr. keeps pointing out, not all anthropogenic warming is greenhouse. It would be a catastrophe of major proportions if the world jumped head first into a major decarbonization program, only to learn a couple decades later that the major forcings were land use and black soot and other things other than CO2. Getting this right isn’t optional.

  42. Ones, twos, threes, and fours, something tells me that this isn’t serious sociology, but I get the drift. As a lay person (I’ll take a five or more in this proposed caste system) I would like to read about a particular scientist with a particular accomplishment attached to his name. All I can think of in climate science is Keeling of the Keeling Curve. Maybe the twos and threes need to attach a particular accomplishment to whomever they are going to call a one. For better or worse, settled science is often something that has a particular name attached to it. As things stand now, when I think of climate science I think all the feet of clay revealed when the climategate curtain got pulled back. Would it be inappropriate for a mere 5 like me to remark that anyone in any way attached to a “hide the decline” statement is unlikely to become a hero of science. The other great icon of climate science is a peculiar fellow named James Hansen earnestly embarked on adventures in civil disobedience. Is he what you’re calling a one?

    In lieu of the number one scientist with the particular accomplishment attached to his name, I would also accept a top notch science writer who understands the misapprehensions of the lay reader and lays out the debate in a fair way. So far, the late Michael Crichton has done a lot better job expressing his skepticism that CO2 is a problem of dire proportions than anyone on the other side has done explaining to me why it is the sky is falling. The message coming from the sky-is-falling camp seems to be: trust me, the sky is indeed falling, but I can’t be bothered explaining it to you in civil tones.

  43. I don’t know if anyone has noticed, the climate paradigm has been changing so the message may need to change as well; a moving target. Tomas Milanovic has offered a framework for new thoughts and processes to describe weather/climate. For me, I have to try on the notion for a while to see if weather/climate is spatio-temporal deterministic chaos. I listen, read and re-read. It takes me quite a while to understand what I am trying to embrace. At this point, from the comments on STC I have read so far, I don’t think the “climate scientists,” your #1′s, are listening to new paradigms as such a paradigm mandates a rethink, that is, consider such a paradigm as plausible; hence, moves the 1′s out of their comfort zone. As for the other categories: 2′s, 3′s & 4′s the dialogue, such as it is, is usually from an experiential basis. As the Ground Hog poked its head out of the log and didn’t see its shadow forecasting an early Spring, and the snows, and in particular the cold just keeps coming 5 weeks later, the 4′s don’t put too much stock into a rodent’s weather forecast; the 4′s blow it off as a nice story, not to be taken seriously. Same thing for climate science trying to influence the 2′s & 3′s. If the science is not consistent with the knowledge base of 2′s and 3′s where it is applicable, then climate science, at least for this group, is dead in the water. So the message to all groups is different and the message receiver elects just how much energy they are willing to devote to understanding and fitting the message into one’s constructs & behaviors. Ignoring seems to be the populist paradigm.

  44. Sean, you forget that the extrapolations are not deterministic like a chemical model. They are scenarios with a very large acknowledged amount of uncertainty. Heuristics to enable planning for the future.

    I agree that uncertainty is substantial, especially regarding regional scale impacts. However I see this a a strong stimulous for following no regrets policies and pursuing a risk adverse robust methodology of planning a policy.

    • And praytell, who will you have enforce this policy, Mr. Chu?

    • The uncertainties at this state of the art in climate science are huge. But what would uyou call a no regrets policy? Turning 40% of the US corn crop into ethanol while grain commodities have reached record levels? Or folks in the UK looking at using electricity when its available rather than when it is needed? Anything we do or don’t do has consequences.

    • What no regrets policies do you have in mind? The way I see it, there is no such thing here. All policies that significantly reduce CO2 output have some very negative consequences to people.

  45. Judith, you say your “hypothesis is that effective communication and engagement level 2′s and 3′s is a prerequisite to effective communication with level 4′s. Climategate was mostly about a failure to engage constructively and effectively with level 2′s and 3′s, and also skeptical level 1′s.”

    Hmmm. I think what happened pre-Climategate was that a very select and corrupt group of #1s attempted to sell their story directly to the #4s. Not to make any credible ‘scientific’ case but simply to rally the political clout to push this project through. That is evident by what has appeared in the mainstream media. This has been about politics all the time, just using a facade of ‘science’ as their sales pitch.

    So all this talk about collegial discussions about ‘the science’ actually misses the point, at least in the past tense. Hopefully the discussion will get back to that, but that will first require purging of the political advocates who have been masquerading as scientists. There is no point trying to build bridges to those people now. These people use Machiavellian methods and the only logical counter to this is more of the same.

    Moreover, your hierarchy which puts PhDs who are publishing at the top ignores what we did learn from Climategate about the corruption of the publishing process. It also ignores that in this field, a baboon can get a PhD if they go with the AGW groupthink. PhDs just ain’t what they used to be.

    So, while I appreciate you trying to play ‘nice,’ I don’t see the point.

  46. I’ve seem some attempt in this thread to equate story telling with making stuff up. One does not predict the other nor require it. One of the best science story tellers is James Burke (http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/james-burke-connections/). While he did not offer a lot of scientific depth in his Connections series, he developed a marvelous way of bringing together disparate objects from different times and places to form a continuous story line that, when seen in whole, explained a hell of a lot.

    It was with that method in mind I (I confess to being a store teller) slipped the bud of a story into another thread here recently by invoking a solitary erratic rock in Oregon that, when the entirety of its travels are known, leaves the audience and presenter with a broad range of climate, geography, natural forces, and the importance of considering time in any analysis. I don’t mean to drag this erratic out as Oliver does Eisenhower, but it is helpful to know and understand how a piece of sea floor from the time before multicellular life and when earth was considered a frozen snowball found its way to a hilltop in Oregon.

    Just as understanding the significance of the Cosquer Cave in France is critical to understanding the stunning difference between the scale of a climate change that reverses an ice age then and the current 0.4ºC temperature change over a 100 year period we are willing to destroy national fortunes to reverse. Understanding that cave provides perspective regarding climate changes the earth is capable of even when there are no SUVs around. It also demonstrates that people – very primitive people, coped, and went on to build nuclear bombs and Shakespearean theater.

    Well told stories that show how the world has changed in time frames meaningful to the lay audience can create or destroy belief for or against a scienctific hypotheses, and lay people vote. And if you don’t think votes matter, pay attention to the fallout from the last two general elections in the US. And to understand better how easy it is to impact votes ask a broad spectrum of people anywhere who it was that said she could see Russia from her house. That is a frightening poll.

    A good story teller can present an image like this: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f8/Ice_Age_Temperature.png and make it perfectly understandable by simply asking people “In this time line we are now here. The vertical presents previous climates. What do you imagine will happen next?” and people will state the obvious. It is going to get very cold. The right or wrong of it matters less than the easy with which a good picture and caption will get the desired results.

    And time matters! It was time alone that silenced the 1970s global cooling nutters and showed us we were witnessing a cycle just as we are now witnessing a cycle.

    So – seeing that image, what do you suppose is the next big thing in climate?

    • There’s nothing wrong in and of itself with a scientist “telling a story”. A brilliant example of that was Feynman’s cargo cult science talk. Which is quite relevant to the climate story today, if you really understand what he was trying to say.

  47. The solutions to your 2 priorities are obvious, Judith.

    1) Food: maximize CO2 in the atmosphere.

    2) Adaptation: do good civil engineering.

    Both of these are anathema to the Warmists.

  48. Arnold Schwarzenegger has just said:

    “I’m not a big believer in the guilt trip that has happened; in the Al Gore type of philosophy where you make people feel guilty,”

    Let’s just reframe it.

    Arnold must surely think his former state # 4′s as complete idiots.

  49. Jeffrey Davis

    Stories. Schmories.

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

    and

    “You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I’ll tell you what his ‘pinions is.”

  50. “Right now, the field of climate science is struggling to generate support for predictions of environmental calamity that have not yet been realized. Climate models indicate a dire future, ”

    This is another case of putting the cart before the horse.

    The Field of Climate Science should be attempting to understand climate. It is NOT the purpose of a field of science to generate support for specific predictions. Once you jump that line you are a politician or a lobbyist and are no longer operating as a scientist.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      Nonsense. Scientists are people. Not angels above the world and life.

      • Holly Stick

        And they have childrena and grandchildrem whose future they care about. They also have the guts to face reality that the climate is changing and this will have drastic effects on the lives of their children and grandchildren.

      • And the implication is that other technically knowledgeable people who demand a higher level of proof are knowingly sending their kids and grandkids into oblivion. Really?

      • Definition of climate scientist: One whose children have had children.

      • Michael Larkin

        Holly,

        You want guts? I daresay if I knew a cataclysm was impending, I’d have as much guts as the next man. Guts ain’t the issue. What’s at issue is whether one knows for sure what is going to happen. Do you know for sure? Or do you only think you know for sure? If the latter, and you act inappropriately, you could cause more harm than if you did nothing. At the very least, you could end up worriting over nowt.

      • Holly Stick

        The commenters here often sleazily accuse climate scientists of faking AGW for dishonest reasons.

        Here’s a hint, fools: they really believe it is happening and that we all need to be able to deal with the effects.

      • Can anyone remind me why this person is resorting to namecalling?

      • So what if they believe it?
        That does not make it true.

      • Holly Stick,
        And skeptics are evil and hate their children and grandchildren?
        Your arguments are not getting stronger.

      • Then why have you placed your faith in them?

  51. “Scientists are people. Not angels above the world and life.”

    Jeffery,

    This is a good point. Since scientists are People, they are capable of being as dishonest or dishonorable as the most dishonest or dishonorable among rest of us People. Very good point.

    Andrew

    • All humans are political and economic animals, with a tendency to groupthink, including those trained in science.

      • Al: If everyone has a tendency towards groupthink, than it doesn’t really change anything.

        I would also go further and suggest that scientists trained in thinking objectively are less likely to engage in groupthink.

      • That is the way it should be. But too many faculties, particularly in the ‘save the world’ fields, do promote groupthink. And this is worse in some institutions than others, largely depending on the particular tenured profs, etc. and other predicatble factors.

        Bottom line with groupthink is being aware of it and, if courageous, resisting it when necessary. Easier not to. Indeed, when you become a leader of it, like Mann did for example, your career skyrockets… as long as that particular groupthink prevails. But, of course, change is the only constant and now we have what we have.

      • Uh, joe –
        Where do you think those scientists are trained to think objectively?
        We’ve seen scientists here who were honest enough to admit that they were never trained like that. Nor have I seen a lot of scientists who had much knowledge of science history or philosophy. Somehow those things seem to be bypassed by a lot of them.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      Bad Andrew,

      This surprises you? Some scientists would even do things like testify on behalf of the killers in the tobacco industry.

      Jeffrey

      • Jeffery,

        It doesn’t surprise me in the least. And having observed the Global Warming issue for a few years I have come to expect bad behavior from Climate Scientists in particular. More pathetic than surprising.

        Andrew

      • Holly Stick

        Do you not realise that some of the scientists who lied about tobacco are also prominent climate change deniers?

      • Didn’t know that Holly. Why don’t you give us the details?

        Andrew

      • Try “Merchants of Doubt” by Oreskes and Conway. Fred Singer and Fred Seitz have been on the wrong (i.e. industry-funded) side of the scientific consensus for:

        1) tobacco and cancer
        2) sulfur and acid rain
        3) CFCs and the ozone hole
        4) carbon dioxide and global warming

      • “Fred Singer and Fred Seitz”

        Don’t know who they are. Got references?

        Andrew

      • Seitz is deceased, and Singer isn’t all that relevant; newcomers to this debate probably haven’t heard of either. Trying to blame skepticism on Seitz and Singer is nonsensical, IMO.

      • Holly Stick

        Heartland Institute. You should have heard of it:

        “…How could anyone take seriously a group that took money from tobacco companies and downplayed the harmful effects of tobacco and then moved on to take money from oil companies and said global warming is all a big hoax?…”

        http://www.desmogblog.com/heartland-institute-and-academy-tobacco-studies

        Speaking of corruption…

      • So industry is by definition always wrong? Where is this written?

      • Dear Judith: I’m not blaming either of them for skepticism. Seitz and Singer (and a few others) were the main actors responsible for framing the arguments against anthropogenic climate change. Their influence is evidenced by the repetition of their positions on this blog and others.

        From Oreskes and Conway: ” …[T]hey dismissed the reality of global warming. First they claimed there was none, then they claimed it was just natural variation, and then they claimed that even it was happening and it was our fault, it didn’t matter because we could just adapt to it. ” (P.7)

        Sound familiar? Or maybe its deja vu all over again? Dismissing the influence of Seitz and Singer out of hand is, IMO, a good example of confirmation bias.

      • Trying to blame skepticism on Seitz and Singer is nonsensical, IMO. …

        joe speaks to this above – but you are conflating skepticism with “denialism.” Now you’re essentially saying that they are the same thing, but earlier you were saying that they are unconnected.

        The point is that “denialism,” passed off as skepticism, has some roots deeply embedded in political soil. Further, there continues to be crossover between “denialism” and skepticism. Your contention that there is no linkage puts your analysis of “tribalism” among “warmists” in doubt, IMO.

      • Joshua, Holly
        I would be very interested to read your definitions of climate denialism and skepticism. Please could you provide them?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        If you remember the old Vaughn Meader record, “Don’t put me on, Mr. Nkrumah.” is the apt quote. Singer and Seitz hardly exhaust the list of scientists with connection to tobacco among denialists.

      • Dr Curry, you say “Singer isn’t all that relevant” yet he is a guest poster at that most influential blog whatsupwiththat.com where he recently stated “the most serious revelation from the e-mails is that they tried to “hide the decline” in temperatures, using various “tricks” in order to keep alive a myth of rising temperatures in support of the dogma of anthropogenic global warming.” http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/19/fred-singer-on-the-best-project/

        Bearing in mind that WUWT was recently voted ‘Best Science Blog’ do you really think that he (Singer) has NO influence with level 3s and 4s?

        Why don’t you bite the bullet and state out loud that he is wrong?

      • Louise
        I think if you can bear to read the comments of that post you will find that most of the people there highlighted Singer’s error.

      • I did read the comments.

        I just wondered why Dr Curry dismissed him as having no relevance yet he is a guest poster at the ‘Best Science Blog’

        There were as many posters willing to say “Go Singer, yeah” as there were pointing out his error (which is still uncorrected).

        Why doesn’t Dr Curry come out and denounce the Singers of the world in the way she denounces the IPCC tribe? I have shown that he is not irrelevant (guest poster at influential climate blog) so that is not the reason so what is?

      • Louise. I have never denounced a tribe, and particularly have not denounced any individuals in any tribe. I have stated that tribalism has caused problems in the debate on climate science (read my original tribalism post at climateaudit). The IPCC “tribe” is far more coherent than the skeptics “tribe”, which is very diffuse and with many factions that don’t agree with each other.

      • “When I refer to the IPCC dogma, it is the religious importance that the IPCC holds for this cadre of scientists; they will tolerate no dissent, and seek to trample and discredit anyone who challenges the IPCC” – Judith

      • I heard that the DeSmogblog founder was arrested for Internet gambling payment-related matters.

        Nice references those, Holly. I am pretty sure I want to listen to a businessman who handles online gambling finances about the scientific validity of tobacco research, rather than a retired scientist who worked with the US government.

      • Since you didn’t bother to back up your claims, here’s some links:

        http://www.desmogblog.com/about

        http://www.johnlefebvre.com/index_biography.php

      • Thanks Holly. Your ‘citation’ supports what I wrote. That was really helpful.

      • Louise
        Putting all the snark and cut ‘n thrust aside for a moment, I would sincerely like to understand why Judith Curry’s views are so important to you? You have written many similar remarks before and I can’t for the life of me understand why you put in so much effort to the same end. What difference can it make to ‘your side’ of the argument? She is one amongst many surely?

      • Damn. Made a mess of the thread nesting. That was in reply to Louise at 4.02pm 7th March

      • RobB – it’s about trusting Dr Curry’s judgement.

        I would like to do so – that’s why I hang out here, read her posts, comment, etc.

        Dr Singer is clearly not ‘irrelevant’ in the blogosphere and so I’m curious as to why Dr Curry states that he is. Why doesn’t she come out and say that he’s wrong? What’s holding her back when she didn’t feel the same restraint towards the IPCC tribe?

      • Re Fred Singer, his scientific arguments don’t get much play in the technical climate blogosphere. He does get much air time on the more politicized climate blogs, and places like deltoid and tenney naumer and desmog mention him alot. So the “irrelevant” reference was to the technical climate blogosphere. In the broader political debate, i’m not so sure what his relevance is, but he is certainly a favored whipping in the climate debate, his status in this regard enhanced by his stance on tobacco. If you have a particular statement or article of his you would like me to critique, let me know. I don’t dismiss individual people, but I will critique their arguments.

      • RobB –
        I would sincerely like to understand why Judith Curry’s views are so important to you? You have written many similar remarks before and I can’t for the life of me understand why you put in so much effort to the same end.

        Louise, Holly, Sarah, Martha, Joshua and others are all in the same box and, in many ways, are nearly indistinguishable from each other. Dr Curry has her own views on a number of different issues that don’t exactly mirror the “consensus” viewpoint. And that doesn’t please the choir. So they keep trying to pound that square peg into that round hole by getting her to admit to “their” viewpoint – even when it’s provably wrong.

        It’s annoying – it’s dumb – and it’s characteristic of a subset of those who accept the consensus without question. They simply cannot accept that a “scientist” would break ranks and disagree with their dogma. In truth, not at all different from religious zealots.

      • But he’s a guest poster on the ‘Best Science Blog’

        If we’re talking about influencing level 3s and 4s, surely that’s where a lot of them my migrate?

        He may be irrelevant in mainstream science blogs but that’s not where the 3s and 4s hang out. Why don’t you just state out loud that he’s wrong and that his comment on WUWT was wrong? Afterall, as RobB pointed out, many of the comments there said that he was wrong. What is stopping you from joining them?

        I really don’t understand your reluctance bearing in mind your willingness to hold the IPCC tribe to account when most of their blog postings are ignored or possibly out of reach of the 3s and 4s.

      • Louise, do you know how many guest posters there have been at WUWT in the last year? I don’t know either, but it is a large number. Perhaps you would like to provide a link to singer’s post at WUWT so people can see what you are referring to, i took a quick scroll through and didn’t spot it. And then I can comment on it.

      • Gotta say, this has to be one of the worst blog comment interfaces I’ve come across.

        Just to be clear, this isn’t a response to RobB (who has established no interest in good faith debate with me) – it is a response to Judith:

        So the “irrelevant” reference was to the technical climate blogosphere. In the broader political debate, i’m not so sure what his relevance is, but he is certainly a favored whipping in the climate debate, his status in this regard enhanced by his stance on tobacco.

        Judith, you stated earlier that the “spawn” of the “tribalism” was the IPCC. Singer (and Seitz, and others) were connected to anti-AGW rhetoric and rightwing funding on climate change as well as other politically relevant issues.

        What are the criteria that you use to dismiss the influence of the political influence of events prior to the IPCC publishing statements to locate the origin of “tribalism” in the IPCC?

        Both Seitz and Singer are relevant for more than just their connection to tobacco denialism (which in itself, IMO, relevant to the larger political framework).

        For example, from Wikipedia:

        –snip–
        In 1984 Seitz was the founding chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute,[16] and was its chairman until 2001.[17][18] The Institute was founded to argue for President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative,[19] but “in the 1990s it branched out to become one of the leading think tanks trying to debunk the science of climate change. A 1990 report co-authored with Institute co-founders Robert Jastrow and William Nierenberg “centrally informed the Bush administration’s position on human-induced climate change”.[22] The Institute also promoted environmental skepticism more generally. In 1994, the Institute published a paper by Seitz titled Global warming and ozone hole controversies: A challenge to scientific judgment. Seitz questioned the view that CFCs “are the greatest threat to the ozone layer”.[23] In the same paper, commenting on the dangers of secondary inhalation of tobacco smoke, he concluded “there is no good scientific evidence that passive inhalation is truly dangerous under normal circumstances.”[24]
        Seitz was a central figure among skeptics of global warming.[4][25] He was the highest-ranking scientist among a band of doubters who, beginning in the early 1990s, resolutely disputed suggestions that global warming was serious threat.[26] Seitz argued that the science behind global warming was inconclusive and “certainly didn’t warrant imposing mandatory limits on greenhouse-gas emissions”.[26] Seitz questioned whether global warming is anthropogenic.[27]

        –snip–

        And

        –snip–
        >i>In the early 1990s, while officially “on leave” from the University of Virginia, Singer set up the Washington Institute for Values in Public Policy with the help of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution and with funding support from the Unification Church (also known as “Moonies,” followers of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church).
        This organisation worked closely with Elizabeth Whelan and Frederick Stare’s American Council on Science and Health in countering climate activism as it related to the chemical industry.[8] Later Singer’s organisation changed into the Science and Environmental Policy Project with funding from the coal and oil industries and some support from PR firm APCO & Associates.
        SEPP, in turn, sloughed off a European branch named International Center for a Scientific Ecology (ICSE), in Paris, which was run by science journalist and SEPP associate Michel Salomon [9] Along with Steve Milloy at The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) and Roger Bate at the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF) (a sort of European version of TASSC) these organisations all pushed the climate-denier and “junk science” lines on behalf of large corporate interest groups.
        Salomon was a member of the Board of Science Advisors of SEPP [10] and with Singer, he organised the Heidelberg conference which resulted in the infamous Heidelberg Appeal document. The legitimate scientists who signed this appeal intended it to be a request for governments to heed the opinion of scientists before engaging in the wholesale removal of asbestos fibers from schools and other buildings, since in many cases it was safer to leave it in situ with resin bonding. However it was drafted by Salomon and Singer in very general terms.
        In these general terms, it appeared to be an attack on climate activism. It was later used in a conference of climate-deniers at the George Mason University in Washington, D.C. to promote U.S. support. The ICSE, SEPP, TASSC and ESEF also promoted the Heidelberg Appeal at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit as evidence of worldwide scientific opposition to the conference’s consensus decision that governments needed to take urgent action on climate change.[11]
        –snip–

        Why are the activities of Singer and Seitz not relevant to the origins of tribalism? Is it not plausible that such politically targeted efforts to “debunk” the climate of science change – initiated well before the IPCC issued (most of) the reports that you assert were the “spawn” of tribalism – contributed to mindset of the IPCC?

      • Joshua, what I have stated is my opinion and my assessment. Relevance is in the eye of the beholder it seems. I have written thousands of words on this topic in previous essays and more recently at Climate Etc., I don’t see the point of rehashing this now. I am familiar with all the history you cite. I don’t think it matters that much, see my Blame post. http://judithcurry.com/2011/02/14/blame-on-heartland-cato-marshall-etc/. My opinion, my assessment, my judgment, you are of course free to disagree.

      • Judith – I’ve read that thread; there’s a lot of good information there.

        That said, once again, I just don’t get how you can dismiss coordinated and politically motivated attacks on climate scientists and theories of AGW prior to the IPCC’s reports as irrelevant to the “tribalism” which you say was “spawned” by the IPCC.

        IMO, that is like saying the political dimensions of the debate began with the first IPCC report. It seems very obvious to me that they didn’t.

        I’ll look through that thread again – maybe I just missed your explanation – but from what I have seen you have alternated in your responses (first it was that an imbalance of funding sources for research justifies your conclusions about the roots of the tribalism being attributable to “warmists,” then it was that seemingly plausible arguments by “warmists” – that is seems you didn’t even read – can simply be dismissed because they need to “get over it,” then it was that there are no connections between different groups on the “denialist” side of the debate, and now it that the political roots of anti-AGW rhetoric that preceded the IPCC just aren’t relevant to the political context of the IPCC reports). Others have argued that the reason for you to be unconcerned with establishing clear objectivity is that you need to balance the invalid rhetoric, but that doesn’t seem logical as the overall issue is too large for one person to come anywhere close to putting such a large system in balance

        I want to be clear that I respect you opinions, but I still find your assessment to be problematic.

      • Judith
        I haven’t time to post a link just now as we are in the middle of lambing. However, Louise’s objection to Singer’s post at WUWT relates to the ‘hide the decline’ matter from climategate. In his post, Singer briefly talks about an email suggesting the hiding of a decline in temperatures when he should have said hiding the decline in temperatures as suggested by the proxy data since 1960s ish. Whether he meant what he wrote or just made a mistake is moot. He was wrong as pointed out by many commentators at WUWT but in the general scheme of things it is a small matter requiring a quick correction. That’s all.

      • That proves precisely what?

      • And some would arrange to speak in a Hearing room that was deliberately over heated and make up lies about Earth turning into Venus.

      • That’s really funny – a conspiracy theory to turn the central heating up. I’ve heard it all now.

      • Louise,
        Now quoting history is a conspiracy theory?
        is your historical illiteracy possibly why you are such a naive true believer?
        “Hansen has long employed stagecraft for political gain. On June 23, 1988, he delivered his testimony in an unusually toasty hearing room. Why was it so warm? As then-Sen. Tim Wirth (D., Colo.), told ABC’s Frontline: “We went in the night before and opened all the windows, I will admit, right, so that the air conditioning wasn’t working inside the room . . . it was really hot.”

        http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9510

    • Out of interest, what percentage do you think are dishonest? Can the honest ones be allowed to teach the public?

      • “Out of interest, what percentage do you think are dishonest?”
        100% of the ones that push Global Warming.

        “Can the honest ones be allowed to teach the public?”
        Yes.

        Andrew

      • Explain what you mean.

      • Global Warming is a lie. Those who sell it are liars.

        Is my explanation reasonably understandable?

        Andrew

      • Was Arrhenius a liar? How about Tyndall? And what about the scientists who followed them and the greenhouse effect?
        Maybe radiative transfer is a lie and the people founding that go back to Planck, Einstein and Bohr. Which of these do you not trust?
        Where do you draw the line as to what is lies and what is science?
        greenhouse effect: yes/no
        radiative transfer: yes/no
        quantum mechanics: yes/no
        They follow smoothly from each other, so any yes’s put you on a slippery slope.

      • Jim D,

        The AGW by CO2 hypothesis has been supported in theory many times but has yet to prove itself out by measured data. Until the hypothesis is proved by observation, then it remains just a hypothesis.

        The problem I have been having is that the hypothesis changes with each story. I always thought the original hypothesis of AGW by CO2 (ie CO2 is the magical global thermostat) is what is being tested, but it seems with each new story, the hypothesis changes. To be fair, I have not seen any “consensus” on just which hypothesis is being tested and, in turn, what the null hypothesis is.

        So while there may be scientific foundation for the hypothesis, there is no proof that the hypothesis is first of all scientifically supported by observation and secondly can be used to produce any particular result with any degree of certainty.

        So one can accept the scientific foundation for the hypothesis yet still refuse to accept the hypothesis of AGW by CO2 until it is scientifically proven by observation

      • The point was, would you call it lying or dishonest to have the AGW hypothesis to explain the current warming trend, while they also make it clear that one of the uncertainties is cloud feedback? To me, it is fine to have a hypothesis with uncertainties and not dishonest at all to specify them as they do whenever they talk about the feedback and 2-4.5 C range. So I only objected to that language.

      • It’s elementary, Jim D.

        Anyone who says or implies Global Warming without then presenting all the complexities, uncertainties, limitations, meanings and guesses associated with the issue, is not telling the truth.

        Andrew

      • Jeffrey Davis

        This is interesting. (And by “interesting” I mean “baffling”).

        Who here believes that error bars and uncertainties aren’t a standard part of IPCC papers?

        Apparently, 98% of you. Which is interesting (and by that I mean “maddening, infuriating, comic, despairing, cramping, and projectile vomit-inducing”) to anyone who has actually even opened up an IPCC report. Error bars. Degrees of confidence. The whole kit’n’kaboodle.

        As in, oh, 2 STDDEV error bars in (wait for it … wait for it …) MBH98′s famous graph. (Didn’t see that coming, eh?)

        In short, people here seem to complain about absolutely nothing at all. Apparently there are people who feel themselves aggrieved and so like to complain. (Interesting? Not interesting?)

      • Jeffrey,

        There are lots of people who believe in ‘Global Warming’ who wouldn’t know the IPCC from IHOP. They literally do not know what they are doing. You might be one of those kinds of people. If you only regurgitate what someone else has said, then you definately are.

        Andrew

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Andrew,

        There are lots of people who deny ‘Global Warming’ who wouldn’t know the IPCC from IHOP. They literally do not know what they are doing. You might be one of those kinds of people. If you only regurgitate what someone else has said, then you definately are.

        Jeffrey

        (Some fun, huh? In point of fact, I didn’t regurgitate anyone’s words, fella. I pointed out that what you said didn’t make any sense in light of the facts.)

      • And they always present their uncertainty ranges, if you look at what the scientists themselves publish, so this point is moot. Second-hand stuff on these blogs or in the press may not accurately reflect these uncertainties.

      • Arrhenius recanted his far too high 1896 paper’s sensitivity conclusions in his 1906 paper. His 1906 paper has a much lower sensitivity number than the preposterous UN/IPCC estimate. Of course, the alarmist crowd never mentions Arrhenius’ 1906 paper. That would be throwing in the towel.

        The global temperature has been flat to declining for more than the past decade, therefore the belief that CO2 has any more than a minuscule effect is becoming increasingly untenable. Even a #9 could see that.

        And if the many $billions in annual government funding grants were eliminated, there would suddenly be one less tribe – the same bought and paid for alarmist tribe that consistently ignores the scientific method, while calling scientific skeptics [the only honest kind of scientist] “deniers.”

  52. Individual who gets their climate information from the mainstream media or talk radio

    By virtue of what logic or criteria is talk radio not “mainstream media?”

  53. David L. Hagen

    Judith
    Attributing opposite stories to the same cause lost me.
    e.g. AGW will cause warming which will cause snow to disappear.
    Then AGW is the cause for massively greater snowstorms.
    On top of that, David Stockman at Niche Modeling exposed how
    CSIRO’s models predictions of increasing drought in Australia were backwards – hindcasting on half the data and fitting the other half showed the opposite results.
    On top of that, global net primary production has been INCREASING
    with increasing CO2 and temperature, NOT decreasing as predicted by no snow and droughts etc.

    Such scare tactics and very poor modeling amplified skepticism over large uncertainties in the data, knowing little about the impact of clouds etc.

    I think a lot more basic science has to be developed, climate models validated, clouds and solar/cosmic/planetary interactions understood, before the alarms can be taken as anything more then crying “wolf”.

    • That would have been ok if that prediction were consensus all along. But when something unexpected happens, and then somebody cooks up a theory post-hoc, that’s called the Texas Sharpshooter’s Fallacy.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_sharpshooter_fallacy

    • Orwell’s 1984 is the operating manual. Constant revision. Like the shift from ‘Global Warming’ to ‘Climate Change’ to ‘Climate Disruption’ and, maybe as some have suggested, soon to ‘Irritable Climate Syndrome.’

    • Dave,
      Do not forget that usually the stories of expected results happens just after a big weather event.
      In Australia, during the drought, it was going to be a drought forever.
      Then the rains came, and it was going to flood more and more.
      And all caused by that ol’ demon, CO2

    • Jeffrey Davis

      The issue of increased snow in some areas in a warming world hardly got examined the first time this winter. Antarctica has been gaining snow pack in the interior all while losing mass generally.

      • Those reports of mass loss are not credible…..but since you assign motive to skeptics, we can just conclude you knew that but chose to lie about it.
        Have you foind a way to ignore the strong evidence that meltwater refreezes at depth in Antarctica, shutting down one of the main props of catastrophism?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Not credible? Claims need evidence.

      • Not credible? Claims need evidence

        You claimed mass loss. Where’s your evidence?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        There but for the GRACE of God go I.

      • I’ll ask again – did they really straighten out the GRACE calibration problems? IIRC, it had problems with ice, in particular. That is why your “evidence” is questionable.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Oh, “questionable” But I was accused of lying.

        “Those reports of mass loss are not credible … but since you assign motive to skeptics, we can just conclude you knew that but chose to lie about it.”

        hunter didn’t use “questionable”. He claimed they weren’t even credible and that I was lying.

      • Well, were you? Did you know about the GRACE calibration problem or not? I don’t need an answer cause I don’t really care. But you might want to think about why that would be assumed in the first place.

        Truth is that I don’t know if it’s been fixed or not, that’s why I asked the question. But I know the type of technology involved and I know that the fix is “possible” but not easy. Depending on how the original software was written, it could be a simple geographic restriction on the processing algorithm or it could require rewriting the entire processing system. That’s assuming they fix it at all.

        But I don’t answer for hunters statements, either.

      • Could you provide details regarding a GRACE “calibration problem”, including a reference to original data sources? Calibrations have been applied since the inception of GRACE, and are updated, but I wasn’t aware of a “problem”. Calibration includes the required adjustments for isostatic rebound, and as adjusted, the data reported within the past few weeks indicate accelerated ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica. If there is a problem with those data, I’d be interested in the specifics.

      • Jim – My question about GRACE was intended for you. I’m not sure from the thread lines that it ended up that way.

      • Exactly.
        Show us the mass loss.

      • Perhaps all the Arctic ice has migrated to the Baltic? The Estonians are so beset by ice that they are urging their government to invest in an icebreaker, to relieve them of dependence on their neighbours’ fleets. These are flat-out as it is, just keeping the ports of Sweden and Finland open, and may at any time refuse service to the Estonians if the ice keeps on piling up as it has been.

        Clearly what they need is a great big ice slicer, and a fleet of square-rigged merchantmen to take the resulting huge blocks in tow, so they can be returned to the Arctic where Jeff thinks they belong. This might sound far-fetched to sceptics, but it is the warmists’ chance to show what a thing of wonder wind-power is, in the hands of the committed.

  54. Richard Wakefield

    >. It is essential that scientists recognize two things: (1) There is no more powerful form of mass communication than the telling of good stories, and (2) support for science will come not from the promise of future solutions but from telling stories about solutions achieved in the past.

    Science isnt about telling stories It’s about evidence, nothing more. Story telling tends to become “big fish” and “long tales”, in other words stretching the truth.

    Telling stories means hiding the truth in the case of AGW.

  55. Richard Wakefield

    So does switching the conversation away from global warming mean that we should just give up on the idea of dealing with CO2 and energy policy?

    What needs to be done is to decouple CO2 from energy policy. Energy, cheap reliable plentiful energy is a serious issue. One that needs our attention. CO2 emissions is not a serious issue, if anything more CO2 means more crop production, for one of many beneficial aspects.

    Harping about CO2 coupled with energy issues will have serious consequences when the public catches on that CO2 was never a threat. They will, rightly, feel conned.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      “What needs to be done is to decouple CO2 from energy policy. ”

      Translation: because we’ll be dead when the bill comes due.

      The insaner thing (than decoupling energy from cO2) is that there are several issues for which the answer is the development of local (and renewable) energy sources. AGW, Peak Oil, the crippling trade imbalance, and the way oil entangles us in the volatile Middle East. But Congress just plows ahead as if more foreign oil was the answer.

      It’s almost as if they were crooks beholden to wealthy oil patch swine.

      As SJ Perelman (I think) wrote, “The song is over but the malady lingers on.”

  56. Winter Snowstorms are caused by Global Warming. These Winter Storms are what Causes Global Cooling. You can not melt a lot of Arctic Sea Ice without getting Massive amounts of Arctic Ocean Effect Snow. Last fall had Record Low Arctic Sea Ice Extent and this winter had Record Snow and Cold. Look at this information and just Think. CO2 is at record highs and we are having a Record Winter of Snow and Cold. Manmade CO2 is One Molecule of CO2 per Ten Thousand Molecules of other gases or less. Does anyone out there really believe that can make a difference? CO2 is a trace gas and has a trace effect.

    • Herman
      Go and check the extent of Arctic sea ice. I think you will find that this has not been a record winter at all.

  57. Communication is the new black – for the left.
    (and that’s a fashion joke, not another example of conservative racism)

    “Baroness Ashton is to spend £8.5 million polishing the image of her new EU diplomatic service despite having four spin doctors of her own and the free use of the European Commission’s 1,000-strong communications staff.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/8362079/Baroness-Ashton-to-spend-8.5m-on-PR.html

  58. Paul Vaughan

    Evidence of learning:

    “And it has been a fatal mistake to dismiss the level 2′s.”

  59. Willis Eschenbach

    Judith, once again, I love ya, but you’re still talking about bad communication when the issue is bad science. For example you say:

    BIll Hooke’s idea of switching the conversation is also a good one. The climate change story (greenhouse gases etc.) is getting boring to the public and political noise surrounding the subject is getting in the way of dealing with serious environmental and economic issues.

    Bill had said:

    In particular, we might contemplate putting aside the oft-repeated rehash of the basic science behind the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations, the concomitant global warming, and its human attribution. Even though these points are fundamental and even though our audience is not yet entirely on board, we need to move on.

    Why? Because our audience, though not quite so informed and up to speed as we might like, is showing definite signs of tiring of this subject, when framed in this way. Surely we have many things we could talk about that would be far more interesting, to nearly everyone – politicians, business leaders, educators, journalists, children, even our life partners.

    I see. The new plan is, don’t talk about the unanswered questions of the basic science. Don’t discuss whether CO2 actually causes increase warming (as opposed to increasing forcing). Don’t mention that the “concomitant global warming” hasn’t been visible for the past 15 years. Just assume that it is “concomitant”. Don’t discuss how much effect humans have on the climate. Assume the answer is known.

    Notice the underlying hidden assumption that everyone that matters is “on board”. Note the assumption that problem is that us high-number type bozos out here aren’t “on board” with those that count.

    Judith, the problem is exemplified by the two Nature “flood” papers (here and here).

    You say above that rather than talk about unresolved basic science questions, folks might profitably discuss:

    • water, food and energy for a growing global population: combine energy economics and security, environmental quality, agriculture, climate change/variability in the context of a discussion of global sustainability.

    • reducing vulnerability to extreme weather/climate events (e.g. floods, droughts, heat waves, tropical cyclones): infrastructure, emergency management, better forecasts and warning systems (days, weeks, months).
    others?

    In theory the Nature papers should be ideal for the new framing of the dialog. They follow Bill Hooke’s and your prescriptions. They assume the underlying questions are settled. They assume that the models accurately (and more importantly proportionally) explore the real world climate space. They assume that the equations relating forcing and temperature truly only contain one variable (forcing).

    The problem is, they are un-tested and unverified models feeding other models feeding other models. I don’t care how you frame the conversation. That’s not good science. It’s not science in any sense. It is not replicable, much less falsifiable. It is a computer programmer’s best guess as to the future, filtered through another programmer’s best guess, and fed to a third programmer’s best guess.

    And at the end of the day, when you think they’d compare their final output of the daisy to some real-world, observational data, what do they compare it to? The same model setup with different inputs. Say what?

    You and others keep claiming, over and over, that as the movie has it, “What we’ve got here is … failure to communicate”.

    I will not stop pointing out that communication is not the problem. The problem is that mainstream AGW scientists are promoting ridiculously intricate model daisy chain synthetic “data” auto-computerotic inter-comparisons as though they were true, falsifiable science. And to add insult to injury, I understand that two authors of one paper were employed by the insurance industry. Since the paper claimed that science showed that flood risks were up by 90%, this seems … well, curious.

    Judith, I look at that kind of thing and I see the flailing of a mortally wounded animal. The public looks at it and says “There they go again. I thought they might have learned their lesson”.

    The problem, dear lady, is junk science. I’m not talking about your work. I’m not talking about the work of many climate scientists. By and large climate scientists are basically good folks. They are scientists because they are curious. Their failing is that they do not speak up to protect the reputation of the field. They don’t protest when Climategate reveals scandalous “noble cause corruption” among some of the leading lights of the field. But for many climate scientists, their science is generally just that. Science.

    The problem is the amount of junk science that is getting published by the scientific journals. People see that, and they point and laugh. And when people are laughing at you because of junk science, you can’t fix that by changing the framing or the topic or the subjects of the conversation. You couldn’t fix it by hiring the slickest Hollywood PR people to handle all communication between those of you and other low-number folks that are “on board”, and me and other high-number people out here that are not yet on board.

    You can only fix bad science one way. Get people to stop doing it. I think I’m doing my part in that fight. Other folks fight it in their own way.

    But discussing how to frame the discussion, agreeing not to discuss unsolved fundamental questions … that won’t fix it. In fact it makes it worse. People see that and say “How come they won’t discuss the basic scientific questions?”

    My best to you as always. Your blog is an important contribution to the ongoing discussion.

    w.

    • Thank you Willis. This is the best comment on this tread.

    • Great comment, Willis.

      The “junk science” to which you refer sometimes even goes to absurd extremes: such as the frantic attempt to show that the current and recent harsh winters have actually been caused by anthropogenic global warming.

      But all levels can see through this and roll their eyes (as they scrape the ice off their cars or shovel the snow in their driveways).

      Max

    • Jeffrey Davis

      ” hasn’t been visible for the past 15 years. ”

      Are you, Willis, a real person?

      • Rob Starkey

        Jeffery–LOL…google his name and you will find out Willis has a pretty good background in studying the climate

      • Jeffrey Davis

        ” in studying the climate”

        (“You can take the reservation. But you can’t *hold* the reservation”)

        Anybody can study the climate.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Curiously, although anybody can study the climate, few people do.

        Jeffrey, attacking me won’t get you any traction. If you disagree with my ideas, quote what you disagree with and tell us why.

        As to whether I’m competent to comment about climate science, see my post entitled “It’s Not About Me”.

        w.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        “quote what you disagree with and tell us why.”

        Oddly, that’s exactly what I did.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        No, you attacked me. If you disagree with the ideas in my post above, about the subject of the thread, quote what ideas you disagree with and discuss them. Discussing me is meaningless.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Jeffrey, last I looked I was a real person, but things might have changed …

        Regarding the lack of recent warming, see the admission by arch-AGW supporter Dr. Phil Jones that there’s been no statistically significant warming for fifteen years. <a href="“>Lubos Motl explains the math if you’re interested.

        w.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Try again.

        Lubos Motl explains the math.

      • Holly Stick

        Well, you just discredited yourself by dragging out that hoary old misquote of what Jones was talking about:

        http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/02/daily-mangle/

      • Willis – I happened to come across this while browsing. It’s a small point, but Motl’s statistical analysis is seriously misleading, even though it’s too ambiguous to deem completely wrong.

        To understand why, we have to start with the data. He analyzed the UAH 1995-2009 data, accepting it as accurate. In fairness, he didn’t have the 2010 El Nino year data, which would have increased the slope of the warming trend. Based on 1995-2009, he computed a standard error for the slope, and then confidence limits. He concluded that only by narrowing the limits to 72 percent could we conclude that a hypothetical century-long warming trend was within these limits, so that there was an 72 percent probability for that, an 86 percent probability for a positive trend overall, and a 14 percent probability the trend would be found to be on the negative side of zero.

        Notice that he did NOT attempt to claim that the actual slope of the 1995-2009 trend was zero or negative. The reason is simple; the probability that it was positive was 100 percent, based on the data. The same applies to the actual trend of the past century – the probability that it was positive is 100 percent, again based on the data.

        What he was claiming, instead, is that if the 1995-2009 data were the only available information, then it would be possible to claim with no more than 86 percent confidence that a trend observed for 100 years would be found to be positive when the data became available. Since that is a hypothetical 100 years, and not the past 100 years, for which we know the trend was positive, his conclusions tell us no more than that 1995-2009 didn’t warm very much, although there is a 100 percent certainty it warmed a little, but we didn’t need his analysis to know that.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Well, I just downloaded the numbers from here. I find that the trend 1995 to present is not statistically significant (p = 0.13).

        So it’s not clear what you mean. Yes, the trend is slightly positive (Jan 1995 to Jan 2011 trend is 0.01C/yr). But it has gone flat, so flat that it is no longer statistically significant.

        People keep citing Jones saying that the reason the claim is not significant is that the period (15 years) is too short. Holly cites this ridiculous claim at RealClimate:

        What Jones actually said is that, while the globe has nominally warmed since 1995, it is difficult to establish the statistical significance of that warming given the short nature of the time interval (1995-present) involved. The warming trend consequently doesn’t quite achieve statistical significance. But it is extremely difficult to establish a statistically significant trend over a time interval as short as 15 years–a point we have made countless times at RealClimate.

        This is nonsense. You guys really haven’t learned that you have to DO THE MATH YOURSELF. Otherwise, like Holly, you get suckered by the RC guys. Of the 206 15 year spans in the UAH data, no less than 51 (about a quarter) of them show a significant trend. So the RC claim, that it is “extremely difficult” to get statistical significance in 15 years of data, is not true at all.

        You’ve been had.

        w.

      • Willis,
        The formulation at RC is bad, but close to the same thing can be formulated correctly as follows:

        A real trend of the strength observed as average warming rate over the last 100 years doesn’t manifest itself over every period as short as 15 years. Such periods are too for determining the strength of the warming or even indicating every time correctly the sign of the overall trend.

        I am generous enough to accept that this is the message that Phil Jones wanted to tell, although he was not totally clear, and although RC messed up with the message even more.

        Taking autocorrelations into account the statistical significance of the annual temperatures from 1995 to the present is even less, when the data is used for the determination of the long term trend. The proper error estimates are then so broad that the data is consistent with any long term trend from rather fast cooling to really fast warming. It really doesn’t tell much at all about the long term trend. The real significance of the flattening is that the longer term estimate is now significantly lower than it would have been, if a warming similar to the previous 15 years had persisted. The fact that the last 10 years are warmer than previous 10 year periods is still a confirmation of a longer term warming, albeit a little slower one.

      • PP;
        So, it’s been warming slowly since the LIA. SO WHAT? It’s a looonngg jump from there to Anthro influence, and even longer to harmful effects.

        Warmer? Bring back the Holocene Optimum, please, to me, to me! Briiing back, Oh bring back , …

      • Willis – There are times when the concept of “statistical significance” is useful and times when it is almost meaningless. The 1995-2009 slope is probably one of the latter. Did it warm over that interval? Yes, but very little. How confident can we be that it warmed? One hundred percent, which is why statistical significance or its absence is irrelevant to that particular question. What question, then, is it relevant to?

        In general, statistical significance or an equivalent concept such as confidence intervals is applied when we want to know the value of some statistic in a “population” – e.g., the average height of 12-year old girls. We can’t measure every 12-year old girl, so instead we take a sample and measure those girls. The data in the sample and their mean value are then used to compute an estimate of the population mean, with significance levels or confidence levels telling us something about the probability that our results deviate from the actual population values by more or less than a specified amount.

        In the case of 1995-2009, the data are the measured temperatures – these give us the slope of the sample. Statistical significance would then apply to the population from which this sample is drawn. What population is that? It’s not 1995-2009 – we already have those numbers; they are the sample data. It’s not 1910-2009, because we already have those numbers as well.

        In essence, the “population” would be some long term climate behavior from which 1995-2009 could be considered a sample drawn at random. Since we know 1995-2009 is not representative of the past 100 years, and since that interval is unlikely to represent an unchanging climate dynamic over the next 100, the hypothetical population doesn’t represent anything likely to correspond to an observable reality. It’s simply a way of saying that the 1995-2009 warming, to the extent that it is representative of how the climate might behave in the future if its behavior didn’t change, signifies a very flat slope that could be positive or negative, but more likely the former by an 86/14 margin. How much does that tell us? Very little, in my view.

    • Yeah, EXACTLY. And please notice that it’s the same tactic being used by politicians to “explain” legislation and policies that the majority of the people do not agree with. The line goes something like this: “if only all those people out there in fly-over land just UNDERSTOOD how great our programs (and we elitists from Haaaavaaad) are, then they would come into line.” So, marketing people and movie stars are asked to interceed. Truths are hidden… Just like much of climate science!

    • Just so – thank you, Willis.

      As old-fashioned 2 or 3, it has been bugging me for a long time that we get, again and again, models being used to paper over the holes left by other models. Rarely, if ever, are actual data, from actual observations done in real life, used to look at why models have holes that need fixing.

      The deafening silence of the scientific community – not just those climate scientists who did no wrong, but the rest of them too, who surely cannot all have emigrated to another planet, has been bugging me as well.
      It isn’t as if they won’t have to bear the consequences of what the warmists and their politicians want to impose on us for the sake of a problem which may not be a problem!

      It would be good if there were proper debates – but treating the vast majority of people as uneducated children who just need to be told another story, a story better formulated, is not going to work. I’d say it is going to be extremely counter-productive.

      In the meantime, let’s have proper science – and if the journals could snip the now obligatory phrases in each and every paper about AGW, never mind if the paper was about the mating habits of sub-tropic tree snails, that would be good, too.
      (Yeah – that is bugging me as well!)

  60. With regards to story telling and to stop trolls like Joshua and Holly Stick leading off down the thread hijacking path, look how theAGW crew have handled this winter, speculating that global warming has caused the cold winters. Are they the leading scientists? Is their argument coherent? Have their speculations been peer reviewed? Is it in AR4?
    When they meet the same standards that they demand denialists meet to cove new events, then may be they will be taken seriously. The crisis in confidence is one of their own making.

  61. Somehow, #1 people have failed to understand the depth of #3 and #4 ennui. Talking about framing messages properly almost raises bile in my throat. Science by Press Release is the problem. It is not the solution. Perhaps climate science can look at the medical science for messaging help (snark). Is Coffee bad or good for me this week? Eggs? Salt? Vaccines? Red Wine? Cell Phones? Every week, there is another story in the media about what will kill us. And never retracted until the next ‘this will kill you first’ PR statement.

    If Climate Scientists want to emulate Medical Scientists by “framing” their message better, and ‘engaging the media’ you should take a deep, deep rethink. Maybe climate scientists should do some peer review work on medical papers and vice versa.

    Tell us when the next Ice Age starts (+/- 100yrs). Explain why past public predictions/press releases of doom and gloom were wrong or were overstated by MSM and the NGO fellow travelers. Why are the Malthusian/Original Sin (Mankind is Evil) fanactics are so deeply embedded in the public “message framing” part of your science?

  62. to use past accomplishments to build trust …

    Let’s take a look at one of the greatest climate science accomplishments of the past two decades—understanding the El Niño phenomenon.

    Yes, let’s take a look. I thought they say climate is 30 years, less is weather. So, if the best accomplishment of climate science we can think of is a prediction “nearly a year in advance”, it looks to me more like weather science, and I wouldn’t say this tells us anything about projections 30 years ahead.

    Still not to good storytelling.

    • In fact they cannot predict ENSO events a year in advance.
      For instance, they can’t yet tell if this current La Nina will develop into an El Nino, or if it will neutralise or indeed if it will swing back into another La Nina let alone the magnitudes.
      We will know by the end of July. That is, after the fact.

  63. What the world was told in the 70s was that we were about to enter another ice age. Then it didn’t happen.

    We were told in the 90s that the world was going to warm up to dangerous levels. Drought, melting ice, famine, etc. That is currently in the process of NOT happening (no statistically significant warming for 13 years now). As of 2001, no model predicted this outcome. Since 2005 this started becoming more of a “travesty” (to use Trenberth’s term) and new theories were freshly minted to account for the unexpected new data. I’m sure you’ve heard the claim: periods of flat temperatures or even cooling “are consistent with the models”. You might remember those exact words because they are chosen carefully. These models are statistical and make predictions with probabilities. However the models don’t say things *can’t* happen, events are just on a bell curve of probabilistic likelihood. None of the models had flat temps or cooling anywhere near likely. That was in fact predicted to be very unlikely, however it is still a true statement that “periods of flat or cooling temperatures are consistent with the models” which merely means that the models didn’t explicitly rule them out (because the models don’t rule anything out). Raining bullfrogs from the sky would also be “consistent with the models”.

    You need to ask climate scientists to explain to us exactly how increasing CO2 generates flat or cooler temps. The basic 100 year old science about CO2 doesn’t mention anything like that. The story you are buying into is the result of brand new second-order theories (assumptions on assumptions) being spun in real-time to explain events that were “inconveniently” not predicted by climate science.

    To summarize:
    - We were told in the 70s that an ice age was coming
    - In the 90s many very specific predictions were made with extremely high confidence about warming, drought, famine, ice melting and British children in the near future not knowing what snow was – all within ten years. Time has proven those predictions to be absolutely wrong.
    - Now we have quite healthy, although in no way historically abnormal or unprecedented, winter storms.
    - Yet the overall average temperature has flat lined and the level of extreme weather events has gone down (Peilke et al).

    So for the last 13 years, there’s been no appreciable cooling, no appreciable warming and no increase in weather extremes. Despite hundreds of millions in funding, climate science did not predict any of these outcomes as “very likely” or even “likely”. I’d say that currently the score is:
    Nature = 1
    Team-led AGW science = 0

    If the global cooling of the 70s was wrong and global warming is correct, yet global warming can now cause unpredicted cooling, how much more of that cooling would it take to counteract the original warming we were so worried about (after we stopped worrying about the old cooling that was previously wrong but which now seems, at least temporarily, correct)? I realize that Team members will assert that the previous sentence is a gross over-simplification with much hand-waving and indignation. Ok, maybe. But let’s be honest, at least in broad strokes, that does kind of sum up what’s happened so far.

    • Works for me

    • I think you’re being a bit generous. Team led CAGW/scaring/pant wetting climatology has been wrong so consistently, that they’ve move all of their predictions outside the probable time limits of our lives. “You just wait! 2050 will really, really be bad. We’ve got to do something!!! 2100 will be even worse!!!”

      I did a rudimentary sea level check the other day, nope Manhattan is still above water. Poley bears and penguins are still hanging in there. I’m still waiting for the “drought” to really, super duperly, mess up our desert in the SW.

      And there are people that believe the story telling can be better than that? How?

      • http://climateclash.com/2011/01/27/james-hansen-singing-in-the-rain/

        To keep peddling the lie that Dr Hansen said Manhattan will be flooded by now is just another example of the unwillingness to recognise the truth amongst some in the skeptic community.

        It does your case no good to keep repeating myths.

      • lol, Ok, Louise, I hadn’t seen that. So, the lie is that the reporter misquoted Hansen as the to prediction 20 yrs instead of 40? Only to share this many years later? Yeh, ok, forgive me for not buying that one. But, because I’m a generous soul, I’ll play along.

        So, you think Manhattan will be underwater in 17 years?

        Another fine example of good story telling………

      • Remember that this was also dependant upon a doubling of CO2 from 1990 levels.

        Trotting out the old “Hansen said we’d be under water by now” myth just shows that you haven’t bothered to check the facts.

        If you haven’t checked the facts on this very minor point, what confidence can anyone have that you have actually checked out the things that matter – the science?

      • Oh?

        http://dir.salon.com/books/int/2001/10/23/weather/index.html

        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.”

      • Yup – wrong, misremembered, whatever you want to call it

        “I went back to my book and re-read the interview I had with you. I am embarrassed to say that although the book text is correct, in remembering our original conversation, during a casual phone interview with a Salon magazine reporter in 2001 I was off in years. What I asked you originally at your office window was for a prediction of what Broadway would look like in 40 years, not 20. But when I spoke to the Salon reporter 10 years later ­probably because I’d been watching the predictions come true, I remembered it as a 20 year question.“

        http://climateclash.com/2011/01/27/james-hansen-singing-in-the-rain/

      • Because nobody has ever recanted testimony under pressure.

        This would be pretty weak if it were in a courtroom.

      • Hansen wasn’t the only one to predict catastrophe by 2010. So did Sir John Houghton. He gave a speech at Cambridge in 2001 when he talked about his prediction in 1990. See http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/cis/houghton/lecture4.html

        The idea of coming catastrophe by 2010 was a pretty common in 1990. It is just hard to find published commentary on it now.

      • The point is the original quote in the book says “assuming a doubling of CO2 and 40 years from now”.

        That’s not recanting evidence. That’s going back to the notes you made at the time (i. e. the book you wrote and published) and realising that you misremembered.

        Reiss was big enough to admit that he ws wrong – are you?

      • Doubling CO2 in 40 years? How do you do that? Not even the most extreme scenario in AR4, where everybody in Africa has an SUV, comes anywhere close to that. The most extreme scenarios talk about 560 around 2100.

      • Well quite!

        Hansen was asked what would happen in 40 years time if CO2 doubled and he answered that the freeway outside the window would be underwater.

        He has since been hounded by this statement by it being misremembered and quoted out of context (no mention of doubling CO2 and no mention of 40 years).

        He’s being whipped to death by an imaginary cat o’ nine tails.

        Isn’t it time to stop this now?

      • Isn’t it time to stop this now?

        Dunno. Let’s see what else we can do with it. Let’s ignore the fact that Hansen didn’t comment on the plausibility of 560 in 40 years, and really meant what he said. If he said it circa 1990, then he means that we’ll be there circa 2030. Do you want to defend that?

        The only other interpretation is kind of odd: that he meant doubling CO2 and then waiting 40 years. Again, with a stated case that ambiguous, doesn’t it strike you as strange that a trained scientist didn’t ask for clarification?

        No matter how you slice that, there’s something that doesn’t smell right.

      • FFS – he was asked in an interview what would happen if CO2 doubled in 40 years. He gave an off the cuff answer.

        He’s been beaten to death by a misremembered quote that was out of context.

        Reiss admitted he was wrong. Isn’t it time you stopped flogging this particular equine? It is deceased!

        There is no point discussing what he might have meant if he might have been asked some other question – enough.

        This Norwegian blue ain’t ever gonna sing again!

      • Doubling of 1990 CO2 levels from a quote in the 80s? And you’re going to give me grief about not knowing about an obscure dubious retraction? You need to go back and check again or clarify.

        Also, it hasn’t gone without notice that you didn’t respond to my question or other examples of good story telling.

        As I stated, I’ll give Hansen a mulligan on that one. Louise, don’t fall into that ever so familiar alarmist routine of hand waving and misdirection. Its unbecoming and really isn’t worthy of comment or discussion……….. I guess I should have left the statement to stand on its own.

      • He said what he said.
        He said it one of his supporters.
        You can twist around all you want to pretend he did not, but then yiu are calling author Bob Reiss a liar.
        Does that mean his book promoting AGW alarmism was a lie as well?

        http://www.alibris.com/search/books/qwork/1199532/used/The%20Coming%20Storm%3A%20Extreme%20Weather%20and%20Our%20Terrifying%20Future

      • Nobody is calling Reiss a liar.

        Reiss apologised to Hansen for mis-quoting him in the interview with Michaels.

        Check the FACTS.

      • Do you have a link to support that Reiss apologized to Hansen?

      • http://climateclash.com/2011/01/27/james-hansen-singing-in-the-rain/

        Michaels also has the facts wrong about a 1988 interview of me by Bob Reiss, in which Reiss asked me to speculate on changes that might happen in New York City in 40 years assuming CO2 doubled in amount. Michaels has it as 20 years, not 40 years, with no mention of doubled CO2. Reiss verified this fact to me, but he later sent the message:

        “I went back to my book and re-read the interview I had with you. I am embarrassed to say that although the book text is correct, in remembering our original conversation, during a casual phone interview with a Salon magazine reporter in 2001 I was off in years. What I asked you originally at your office window was for a prediction of what Broadway would look like in 40 years, not 20. But when I spoke to the Salon reporter 10 years later ­probably because I’d been watching the predictions come true, I remembered it as a 20 year question.“

      • Not strictly an ‘apology’ but an admission of wrong doing.

      • As I stated several weeks ago, the Reiss story was at complete odds with Hansen’s writings.

      • I know but some folk are just happy to keep parroting out the same old lies as if they were facts – and then they wonder why we don’t accept their word for it when they say AGW isn’t happening or it’s ‘just natural variation’

        Sheesh

      • Sorry – misplaced reply to JCH

      • so the interview was in 1988 and was for a forty year time frame.
        And this makes his idiocy go away?
        Do you think that Manhattan is going under water by 2028?
        You believers will swallow any sort of bs if it comes from one of your profits of doom.
        And then we can move on to Hansen’s endorsement of ‘Time’s Up’, the cheery handbook on worldwide eco-terror and xenocide that Hansen liked until even his pals told him it was too disgusting.
        Your defense of Hansen is not going to work.
        He is still a wack job, and you are stuck with him.

      • I do not believe anything. I’ve read his papers. I know what he says about SLR when he is writing down what he means to convey.

        I don’t give a flip what some daffy reporter/author thinks he means.

      • Sea levels have been rising at around 3mm per year for over a century, and the rate has actually decreased in the last few years.
        At 3mm/year, sea levels would be around 30cm, or one foot, higher in 100 years time.
        And I’m sure it will take one helluva lot more than a 1 foot rise to flood Manhattan. Even if the rate increased by three times, we’d still only see around 1 metre rise in 100 years.
        And Hansen ought to have known that.
        So, whichever way you cut it, and no matter how you try to excuse it, he was talking nonsense – and probably deliberately.
        But, of course, none of us will still be around to see whether his prediction was right.

    • Holly Stick

      False, false, false. Global warming is still happening, the decade 2000-2010 was the warmest yet, the Arctic ice is decreasing as predicted, the glaciers are retreating as predicted, sea level is rising as predicted, the oceans are warming as predicted, etc.

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-cooling.htm

      Judith why don’t you tell your commenters to stop lying about what is happening?

      As for drought, see Russia, Australia, China, etc., plus floods in Pakistan, Australia, Saskatchewan, etc. = crop failures while the world grain reserve is low.

      As for famine, check your food prices going up now and in the next few weeks; think about the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, partly inspired by food prices rising.

      Why are you so afraid to face reality? Open your eyes!

      • Latimer Alder

        But its GLOBAL warming. You have just singled out local effects. You need to show that sealevels are rising everywhere.

      • No, she doesn’t. You’re using a false bathtub analogy (the level rises evenly around the bath) which doesn’t take into account gravitational effects. You need to take a look at the work being done by Jerry Mitrovica, which suggests that when a glacier mlets in Greenland, somewhere near Australia gets the sea level rise.

        The Gravity of Glacial Melt

        http://harvardmagazine.com/2010/05/gravity-of-glacial-melt?page=0,0

        Sea levels would rise unevenly as ice sheet melts, study says

        http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/science/article9752.ece

        The Secret of Sea Level Rise: It Will Vary Greatly by Region

        http://www.goodplanet.info/eng/Contenu/Points-de-vues/The-Secret-of-Sea-Level-Rise-It-Will-Vary-Greatly-by-Region

      • I don’t think those papers say that melting in Greenland causes a dimple near Australia and no effect anywhere else.

      • Magazines, newpapers and blogs – are not data. Where’s the data? There are several actual data sites. Why are you not using them?

      • Latimer Alder

        But glaciers are disappearing everywhere. It’s GLOBAL warming.

        if a bit of Greenland melts and Australia gets the sea level rise, then when a bit of Antarctica melts Novaya Zemlaya will see the rise.

        Or is just another climatology om;y phenomenon like ‘teleconnections’. A sort of transubstantiation….only seen by True Believers?

      • Bunk on the sea level claims.
        They always turn out to be due to local conditions like erosion or currents shifting or subsidence.
        And not one of these alleged sea level increases is dangerous.
        The Rabett knows this, but he Rabetts like selling fear.

      • Back up your claims with citations and links.

      • Why is it that you don’t know the links to actual data sites?

        http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

      • Why Holly, I was merely quoting one of the world’s leading climate scientists, Dr. Phil Jones of CRU. He was quite clear in this interview which was quoted by many warmist media outlets.

        “for the past 15 years there has been no ‘statistically significant’ warming.”

        Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1250872
        (Note: My link is to a real newspaper, not a CAGW propaganda site)

        Are you calling Dr. Jones a liar?

        (It’s quite fun falsifying CAGW using only direct quotes from Team members and leading CAGW alarmists. I think skeptics should make more use of their generous help).

      • Holly Stick

        It may be fun, but it is highly dishonest of you. Don’t you understand what he meant by ‘statistically significant’ ? And it is silly to rely on a newspaper – not peer reviewed, you know.

        Here is the real story if you are able to understand it:

        http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/loaded-questions/

        http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/phil-jones-was-wrong/

        http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/hey-david-whitehouse-why-is-the-sky-green/

      • erm.. yes… there’s been no statistically significant warming in 15 years….

        how else is one supposed to interpret it?

      • Holly Stick

        Too lazy to read my links, I see. You prefer to remain ignorant. Your choice.

      • Holly, i read the links; they weren’t particularly good.

        You’re arguing semantics- he stated what he stated and the 15 year point is important for a number of reasons. I’d be my ham sandwhich (wholemeal bread with oats and poppy seeds, glouchester honey-roast ham and english mustard) that you don’t know why.

        I don’t care if they are only JUST statistically insignificant, or if he felt he was pressured or whatever excuse you care to give. He said it, it’s right (afaict) so whats the problem?

        He either said it or he’s guilty of misleading an official enquiry. Your or (hobsons) choice.

      • Latimer Alder

        Did Phil Jones complain that he was misquoted in the remarks?

        Is he entirely ignorant of the nature of ‘his life’s work’?

        Does Tamino (whoever s/he may be) know more about analysing temperature data than the Head of CRU (rhetorical)?

        Because if not, them we have to accept that Jones meant what he said.

        I guess ‘Tamino’ is perfectly at liberty to write a paper denying Jones’s interpretation. Whether he could find somebody to peer review it is another question. But it’d be fun to see.

      • andrew adams

        i>You’re arguing semantics- he stated what he stated and the 15 year point is important for a number of reasons.

        Of course he stated what he stated, it’s just that his comments have been deliberately and dishonestly misrepresented.

        The main reason the 15 year period is important is because it is exactly 1 year too short to establish a statistically significant trend, which is precisely why the question was asked.

        It is very very simply – the fact that the warming trend over the 15 year period mentioned in not statistically significant does not mean there has been no warming for the last 15 years.

        He also said there has been a statistically significant warming trend for the last 35 years, but that doesn’t seem to get quoted as much.

      • andrew adams

        Many of the skeptics here have said quite clearly that they oppose measures to mitigate AGW, therefore they are obviously quite happy for millions in the third world (and even in the developed world) to suffer from crop failures due to drought and flood, forced relocation due to sea level rise, severe water shortages etc.
        Of course I am willing to apologise if I have misquoted them and they actually do not oppose action to mitigate AGW.

      • …but only just.

        Helps to have the whole quote for the context value.

      • Do you really think Tamino is an reputable, unbiased source of information about the realities of our ever changing climate?

      • andrew adams

        Quite so, we should only cite unbiased sources in support of AGW, ie those who know the real truth that it doesn’t exist.

      • Latimer Alder

        Just wondered.

        Who peer-reviews Tamino?

        You seem to be one of the very few who still believe in it as an honest process. But if its that important to you, then you really shouldn’t be linking to non peer-reviewed stuff from him.

      • Don’t you understand what he meant by ‘statistically significant’ ?

        Why, yes I do – thanks for asking. Are saying that you rely on statistically insignificant results since there aren’t any significant results that help you make your case?

        You still didn’t answer my question. Is Dr. Jones a liar or not? It’s a simple yes or no question.

        Also, why would peer review matter? It was an interview with the BBC. Transcripts and video are readily available for first-hand inspection. Although, now that I think about it, some of Jones’ peers are really quite creative at trying to “recast” their own plain English statements.

      • Joe Sixpack's younger and slightly better looking brother

        I’m not very well versed in statistical terminology so perhaps one of the people here who seem to place great significance (sic) in Prof Jones’s remarks could explain to me in simple terms what I am supposed to understand when I am told that there has been “no statistically significant warming for 15 years”.

      • Well the poor dishonest ignoramuses here want you to think he said there had been no warming from 1995 to 2010 which was when he was being interviewed bya reporter primed with a loaded question.

        But he was saying that it was not 95% certain, that it was only about 93% certain – so not statisticially significant. You see, the people commenting here do not undertand statistics.

        Here is the real story:

        http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/02/daily-mangle/

        “…The title itself is a distortion of what Jones actually said in an interview with the BBC. What Jones actually said is that, while the globe has nominally warmed since 1995, it is difficult to establish the statistical significance of that warming given the short nature of the time interval (1995-present) involved. The warming trend consequently doesn’t quite achieve statistical significance. But it is extremely difficult to establish a statistically significant trend over a time interval as short as 15 years–a point we have made countless times at RealClimate. It is also worth noting that the CRU record indicates slightly less warming than other global temperature estimates such as the GISS record. ..”

      • Jeffrey Davis

        The question revealed the truth about the questioner. (“The world sees you, too.”) Why ask a question about statistical significance for a span of years to brief to admit statistical significance? Well, to get the monkey-island-stirring quote out of Jones.

        Isn’t that the line from Spaceballs? “Evil will win because Good is so stupid.”

      • You gotta love the way GAvin Schmidt and RealClimate “clarify” things. Hansen is quoted as saying there has been no statistically significant warming for the last 15 years. RealClimate, not liking the interpretation that that means zero warming, points out that what Hansen meant was there was only nominal warming.

        Merriam-Webster defines “nominal” in this context as “trifling, insignificant.” The Princeton online dictionary defines it as “insignificantly small.”

        So to clarify the RealClimate post: “What Jones actually said is that, while the globe has warmed [a trifling, insignificantly small amount] since 1995, it is difficult to establish the statistical significance of [such trifling, insignificant] warming given the short nature of the time interval (1995-present) involved.”

        Which I guess means if they had a trifling, insignificantly small amount of warming over a longer period, that would still be reason to fear the coming catastrophe.

        Yeah, that’s much better.

      • Gary, you’re getting your strawmen confused.

      • andrew adams

        RealClimate, not liking the interpretation that that means zero warming…

        Well given that that’s not what it means they are entitled not to like it.

      • What I find more interesting about this topic than Gavin Schmidt’s facility with the English language, is that so many actually believe that scientists can determine global average temperature with such precision, that they can detect a “trivial, insignificantly small,” increase in GAT over a period of 15 years.

        We see “adjustments” of recent temperature records on a regular basis (in New Zealand reversing a marked warming trend to virtually no change), no one has a clue about the average temperature of the oceans as a whole, there are huge gaps in stations in the Antarctic and Southern Hemisphere, problems with station citing and instrument changes, and yet they can detect a minute change over a 15 year time period.

        Somebody call the BEST folks and tell them they are wasting their time. We already know everything there is to know about global temperatures. Why would anyone be skeptical?

      • andrew adams

        According to Jones the increase in global temps over that period was 0.12C per decade. Not huge, but in terms of climate not a “trifling, insignificantly small” amount either.

      • Weak, Holly, really weak. If Phil Jones said it, then he said it. It’s quite clear.

      • Holly,
        The real question is do you understand the term ‘statistically significant’?

      • hunter,

        I don’t .

        Please explain.

      • Lol. Lack of statistical significance over cherry-picked periods is how frogs convince themselves their little pot is not about to boil.

      • JCH,

        For your enlightenment. Frogs aren’t dumb.

        http://www.snopes.com/critters/wild/frogboil.asp

      • If a particular result has less than a 95% confidence level, then it is likely to be a random result.
        for instance, the Queensland flood event is claimed by AGW believers to be unprecedented.
        History tells a very different story.

        When I use the term ‘statistically significant’ I am using it to point out that
        1- when measured against historical records none of the alleged record floods or droughts are in fact record extremes when measured against the known historical recordsd
        Now apparently some fools are trying to extend the historical record back to the primordial dust of the Solar system, but one can only hope they are just trying to be obtuse.
        2- that the results which the AGW CO2 obsession is built on is very sketchy. as Jones pointed out, there has been no statistically significant warming for several years now, for instance.
        The true believers seem to have trouble with what Jones said, but so it goes.
        When certain astronomers looked at Mars too much, they saw canals.
        When many considered evolution in its early days, they thought eugenics was the answer.
        I would submit that there is no reason offered by any of those committed tothe idea that CO2 is causing the climate to do unusual or dangerous things are any different from astronmers pushing Martian canals or those many who pushed eugenics:
        The wrong thing.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        “If a particular result has less than a 95% confidence level, then it is likely to be a random result.”

        That has to be the funniest statement I’ve heard in days. Thanks!

      • The branch of science I’m involved with tends to use 0.05, 0.01 and 0.001 probabilities (i.e 1 in 20 (95%), 1 in 100 and 1 in 1000) to claim statistical significance.

        0.05 (or 95%) means that if I do this experiment 20 times, I can expect the result I’ve just gotten to have happened once due to pure fluke. That pure fluke occurence could have been the first and only time I did this experiment. This means that I might do that experiment again to double check that it wasn’t pure fluke.

        No way does 95% significance suggest that this is a random result.

      • Louise, it could also mean that yours was the only one of 20 independent experiments to find a positive result, possibly as a result of an uncontrolled-for confounding factor, etc.
        But, as your 1 in 20 ‘pure fluke’ result is positive, you publish, and yours is the only one we get to hear about.

      • Holly -
        And it is silly to rely on a newspaper – not peer reviewed, you know.

        Exactly why is it more acceptable to rely on a non-peer-reviewed blog than on a non-peer-reviewed newspaper?

      • “As for famine, check your food prices going up”

        Holly you forgot to list the most significant factor in the corn price increase. The government mandates forcing unneeded ethanol production in the hope of reducing CO2 emissions. These pointless and starvation-inducing mandates were passed thanks to the false alarmism of CAGW pushers. That’s why a good chunk of the corn production isn’t available for humans or livestock to eat.

        Link: http://www.agrimoney.com/news/ethanol-plants-the-villains-behind-corns-rally–2810.html
        (Note: not a CAGW website, they are just reporting the agriculture news. Their sources for the story are the US Dept of Agriculture and banks.)

        Have you ever seen a starving African child up close and personal? I have, while volunteering in refugee camps there. I’m haunted by the memories but the thing you never forget is the smell of death.

        Driving up the prices of food to possibly reduce an unproven, hypothetical future threat is TRULY EVIL. Between diverting food to unneeded ethanol, banning DDT for indoor use and enviro NGOs actively working to stop the distribution of seeds in Africa that were genetically modified to yield 30% more food, the environmental movement already has far too much real blood on its hands.

      • Mark – you are perfectly welcome to eat the corn my family used to grow. IMO it wasn’t fit for human consumption, but to each his own.

      • A point which seems to be lost on you – whether you grow corn for human consumption or substandard corn for fuel, it still uses the same amount of land.

      • We never grew corn for human consumption. That I know of, nobody did. Our corn went to animals, and then the meat went for human consumption, but rarely in Africa.

      • Mark –

        Where is your evidence that the increase in ethanol usage and subsidization has been in response to concerns about global warming? Did that happen under the Bush administration because they were “warmist” activists?

        Look at the Energy and Independence and Security act, signed in 2007, which required the use of 15 billion gallons of ethanol by 2015. Cutting GHGs was one of the stated goals of that act, but more prominently mentioned, as the title of the act suggests, was the goal of energy independence and security.

        As far back as 1992, Congress passed an energy policy act directed at reducing dependence on foreign petroleum.

        More realistically, despite opposition from the oil industry, the ramping up of ethanol production was largely driven by those who stood to profit from producing and selling ethanol.

      • Oh, that makes it OK then!!!!

      • Silly rabbits. Mandated ethanol, like all statist boondoggles, is “for the children.” Just not the ones who starve because food prices skyrocket as a result.

      • Joshua –
        Where is your evidence that the increase in ethanol usage and subsidization has been in response to concerns about global warming?

        You come up with stuff like this – and then expect people to take you seriously about Judith not being “impartial”? lol

        Ethanol was pushed HARD by the environmental lobby as a partial fix for oil dependence as well as a part of their CO2 reduction strategy. Once in place, why do you think the producers would NOT take advantage of it. And don’t tell me YOU wouldn’t if you were in their place.

        Why do you think Al Gore stood up and admitted that it was a mistake?

        Or, as you point out – Look at the Energy and Independence and Security act, signed in 2007, which required the use of 15 billion gallons of ethanol by 2015. Cutting GHGs was one of the stated goals of that act,

        Do you always anwer your own questions?

        Did that happen under the Bush administration because they were “warmist” activists?
        Look at the Energy and Independence and Security act, signed in 2007, which required the use of 15 billion gallons of ethanol by 2015.

        Uh – try the words “Democratic Congress”.

        More realistically, despite opposition from the oil industry, the ramping up of ethanol production was largely driven by those who stood to profit from producing and selling ethanol.

        Yup – like I told Bart yesterday – unintended consequences. The Left birthed the ethanol beast and now they don’t like it (neither do I), but we’re all stuck with it for a while. And it’s costing us. How much has the price of your loaf of bread increased? That’s partly due to ethanol – and partly due to the price of fuel.

      • Jim Owen

        This is what you meant by unintended consequences? The agri-lobby lobbied for ethanol to ‘stabilize’ the price of corn, and the price of corn is ‘stabilized’ all through the roof.

        How was this unintended?

        Those Lefties at ADM don’t seem to dislike it now, either. They’re still feeding at the public trough, and they’ve set their opponents in the Right Wing (like that IPCC bunch) a clear message with defunding America’s eyes and ears and influence on world climate research.

        Erm, wait, Jim.. are you sure you know your Left from your Right?

        Because there’s an elbow-parity error registering here somewhere.

      • Cooperation between corporatist rent seekers and statist central planners is nothing new. That’s how Germany, Italy and Japan managed their economies during the 30s and early 40s. It’s what Gorbachev tried and the Chinese are trying right now. (It has nothing to do with free market economics.)

        And for the ethanol “cooperative,” you are right, there was nothing unintended at all. The agri-corporatists wanted a bigger market and higher prices for their corn. And the statists (of both parties) were willing to trade that for campaign contributions and (for some) support in the Iowa caucuses.

        To the extent there were any unintended consequences, you have to assume the proponents were being honest about their intentions. And I see no reason to believe that.

      • Bart –
        I’m a long distance hiker. 95% of long distance hikers are lefties. I get inundated with leftist stuff every time I meet one of them and every time I attend a hiker gathering. And many times when I open my email. Not to mention Facebook. You can drag in all the references you want, but I know what the environmental left wanted and did wrt biofuels. If you want to BS someone, you need to pick someone who’ll believe you.

      • I missed the part about the oil industry opposing it. Source?

      • Mark

        Could you cite a reference on this DDT ban?

        Because I’ve been looking, and simply can’t find it based on your words.

      • Nevermind.

        Found a link. http://judithcurry.com/2011/03/07/congressional-hearing-on-epas-greenhouse-gas-regulations/

        You’re talking about one-man DDT warrior Dr. Donald Roberts, who has been fighting for prevention of mosquito-vector diseases by attacking the subversive leftie worldwide eco conspiracy.

        What he actually proposes and actively made great strides in is pretty much the same as what the subversive leftie worldwide eco conspiracy proposes and actively made great strides in: bednets with DDT treatment and indoor DDT application to walls and ceilings in vulnerable areas.

        There, his approach and theirs seems to diverge.

        Dr. Roberts talks about DDT like Koolaid powder, only better because it can cheaply prevent disease.

        The people he opposes talk about it like a powerful insecticide that frequently in the past has been misapplied out of ignorance or greed and can have negative side effects on those who did not consent to those effects.

        There is no actual outright ban, but there is a huge funding commitment to mitigate reduced DDT use by promoting other, safer, better, and ultimately more effective measures, which Dr. Roberts calls a ban.

        Sort of like calling air bags a ban on windshield repair and brain surgery.

      • Holly,
        Sorry I didn’t see your response earlier. This, of course is the crux of the climate debate. I say, “nothing has happened”, and you point out many recent climatic difficulties. Fair enough. But, you have to show where this is unusual before it will gain any traction.

        Sea level rise, floods, hurricanes, droughts…..all of this has been with mankind since man’s history began. (Well, sea level rise comes and goes.)

        As to your food prices, overall food production has been ever increasing……. until we started using food stuffs for motor fuel. The price of food is directly related to the adoption of ethanol. I have in the past and would again if you desire, show you exactly that. It hasn’t a thing to do with crop failures. Every year around the globe we will have a localized crop failure or two.

        5 billion bushels of corn (only corn,U.S. only) goes directly from food to fuel, annually. Now consider the other crops being used for ethanol, consider all of the other nations involved in moving crops to fuel and how much.

        Anyone that isn’t enraged by this madness are the ones refusing to see truth. We’re starving people to we can feel good about what we’re doing for the earth’s climate.

      • If any of you truly cared about poor starving people in other countries, you would be fighting to reduce carbon emissions to keep climate change from making their situation worse.

        As for ethanol, blame your rightwing politicians for that one.

      • Marlowe Johnson

        Ethanol in the U.S. is neither right nor left. It’s a function of the ag lobby and the governance system (i.e. 2 votes per state + fillibuster norms in Senate = very entrenched political power)

      • That’s preposterous. It’s largely bipartisan, but corn ethanol is much more strongly supported by Democrats than Republicans.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        When Republicans gut the subsidy in House — they won, remember? — we can talk about who supports it more.

      • -snip-

        WASHINGTON — After being elected with a strong mandate to cut spending, all Republicans don’t agree on how best to rein in the deficit — and some have become unlikely allies with green groups in the fight to gut federal subsidies of ethanol.

        Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley was irked when his colleagues, Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) voiced their support for letting ethanol subsidies expire, claiming that Demint and Coburn should be willing to give up their oil-gas subsidies.

        Coburn appears to be ready to accept the challenge — and green groups, for their part, couldn’t be happier about it.

        “This is exactly the chink in the armor we’re hoping to see,” said Sierra Club lobbyist Melinda Pierce. “That these fiscal hawks will be willing to go after and gore their own…”

        John Krieger, a staff attorney with US PIRG, said that if the GOP is serious about reining in government spending, more lawmakers will have to join Coburn in calling for an end to ethanol subsidies.

        “They’re going to have to find common ground or they’re going to be completely paralyzed,” he said. “And I think any member now understands the punishment that comes with paralysis and not taking action especially on an issue that so many Americans voted on in the last election.”

        Nathanael Greene, director of renewable energy policy at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the issue is beyond left and right.

        ADVERTISEMENT

        “I do think when you have… politicians as diverse as Senator Feinstein and Senators McCain, DeMint and Coburn, and Al Gore, all agreeing that a tax credit is wasteful and bad for our deficit and therefore bad for our economy, and bad for our environment — that that’s got to be a wake-up call for Congress and the president that it’s time to put politics and partisanship and party down and really focus on the principles and protecting the environment. What does the Tea Party say? Put principles ahead of party. That’s what a lot of people are saying — it’s time to do that here.”

        Greene said that the money being spent on corn ethanol is money that can’t be invested in other clean energy technologies, noting 75 percent of the money the federal government spends on renewables goes to corn ethanol.

        Krieger told HuffPost that there’s significant interest in this issue among Republican moderates and that PIRG’s lobbying efforts have received a very positive response, especially in the Senate. He declined to name names.

        Indeed ending ethanol subsidies is a top priority for PIRG, which authored a report this fall identifying “patently wasteful programs” like the ethanol tax credit.

        -snip-

        Just the clarification, is the argument that DeMint and Coburn are “enviro-nazis,” who like environmentalists oppose ethanol subsidies, because those conservatives and environmentalists don’t realize that they are actually in favor of ethanol subsidies?

      • That is true, but that doesn’t negate the support from Republicans. It also doesn’t negate the origins of promoting the use of ethanol, which predates the justifications based on AGW.

        Why is Brazil the second-leading producer of ethanol, and the larges exporter? Because of American Democrats in the Brazilian government?

      • Lots of sugar cane?

      • Aside from the fact that they have a specific natural resource that the US doesn’t have, that can produce ethanol much more economically than in the US, there’s a subtle economic issue. At the time that Brazil started down that road, they had very little petroleum, and so had to buy it abroad at market prices. In a developing country, foreign exchange is a big deal, and having to buy oil with hard currency is a lot more painful than producing something domestically. So between the currency issue and the relatively low cost of cane ethanol, it made sense.

        Now that Brazil is more developed, they’re developing their own oil resources. The cane thing will probably dwindle to a halt, because their newfound oil is cheaper BTU for BTU. And it’s probably better for the environment that they burn oil, considering how much Amazonian rainforest was slashed and burned to make room for the cane fields.

      • So the point is that economic forces drove the ramping up of ethanol production in Brazil, yet the ramping up of ethanol production in the U.S. can be explained by global warming fear-mongering and not by economic forces?

        And this despite the fact that burning ethanol in lieu of petroleum does not, in fact, significantly diminish emission of GHGs?

        Where is your evidence that the increase in the use of ethanol was driven by AGW advocates?

        And why, if that is the case, why did the legislation requiring the increased use of ethanol list the need to reduce the dependency on foreign oil, and security considerations, as the primary rationale for the requirements?

      • Marlowe Johnson

        Che is right about ethanol and Brazil. There it really was about energy independence (or less petro dependence at least). In the U.S. to understand the history of ethanol you need look no further than the can of diet coke in front of you. When aspartame hit the market, ADM and co. started thinking that maybe they needed to expand their market for corn-based products beyond animal feed and fructose syrup (which experienced a glut due to aspartame).

        The expansion into ethanol markets was facilitated by a looming ban on the ubiquitous gasoline oxygenate known as MTBE (which was found to be contaminating groundwater supplies). Ethanol, as the only other mass produced oxygenate on the market fit the bill quite nicely. This happy state of affairs was not to last, however, as the need for oxygenated gasoline (to reduce carbon monoxide pollution) was steadily decreasing as modern vehicles made use of oxygen sensors to dramatically reduce CO emissions.

        Thus the need to switch the sales tactics to energy independence and most recently global warming. However, from the beginning most of the enviro community was cautious about the long-term impacts of ethanol, so it really isn’t fair to pin this one on us :P

        Which makes me wonder….what is the indirect land use change penalty is for aspartame?

      • Marlowe –

        Thank you for adding that information to the debate.

        I think that we are in agreement – the rationales of energy dependence, security, and global warming are all layers used to cover over the fundamental drivers behind the policies – the economic interests of powerful stakeholders.

        This type of argument serves as a very good object lesson no how politics shapes the debate on both sides, and why it is questionable to base viewpoints on the belief that there is some massive imbalance in political influences either one way or the other.

      • I never said anything about AGW advocates. Only that corn EtOH was popular among Democrats. As for the reasons that politicians use for pretext, do you expect any of that to be honest?

        As I said, corn EtOH was largely bipartisan. And that was one of those cases where there was a very clear commercial backer (ADM) pushing the buttons. Even now, the EPA is pushing E15, so they clearly are still behind the idea.

        And furthermore, as the backlash builds, I’m going to predict that cuts are going to be spearheaded by the GOP. I see a fight over this coming up shortly, and we’ll see how the votes go down. Interesting times.

      • Marlowe, I forgot about MTBE substitution. There’s another part to that tale: until sometime in the ’90s, there were a few paper mills that made most of the commercial EtOH by brewing spent pulping liquor (full of sugars from the cellulose), and when they first started substituting, it was coming from them. Then they shut down due to changes in the pulp and paper industry. That’s when corn EtOH stepped in in a big way. They were already using EtOH as an oxygenator prior to the corn EtOH. But as I understand it, 10% is way more than is necessary to achieve the desired result.

        Of course, we could lift the import ban on cane EtOH, but…

      • Marlowe Johnson

        Che,
        As I said upthread, this isn’t a partisan issue. BOTH parties are beholden to the Ag lobby and I think you’d be hard pressed to provide convincing evidence suggesting that one has their foot further in the mud than the other.

        Wrt to the EPA and movement on E15, the issue there is the looming blendwall with renewable fuel standard (RFS II). Modern vehicles are not warrantied to handle concentrations beyond 10%, and yet RFS II clearly requires that fuel suppliers start selling more in the very near future. The only other option you have is to vastly increase the uptake of E85. But there you run into significant infrastructure chicken/egg market issues. In any case, whether or not the EPA moves forward with E15 approval, I don’t think it will go anywhere for at least 5-10 years (i.e. when 90% of the fleet on the road is E15 capable).

        “But as I understand it, 10% is way more than is necessary to achieve the desired result.”

        The thing with ethanol blending is that it’s a ‘in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pound’ situation. Once you’ve decided to blend, you might as well go with as much as you can, as it’s a good replacement for higher value octane. IOW, blending @ 10% is done for economic reasons, not because it hits the sweet spot in terms of emission reductions.

        Moving forward, I’d be very surprised if there is any movement in this congress to strip away any of the ethanol tax credits, subsidies, or mandates. Even though such reforms should enjoy bipartisan support from non-ag state senators, at the national party level it’s not going to fly. As usual, good policy rarely makes for good politics.

      • I never said anything about AGW advocates. Only that corn EtOH was popular among Democrats.

        –snip–

        The Energy Policy Act (102nd Congress H.R.776.ENR, abbreviated as EPACT92) is a United States government act. It was passed by Congress and addressed energy efficiency, energy conservation and energy management (Title I), natural gas imports and exports (Title II), alternative fuels and requiring certain fleets to acquire alternative fuel vehicles, which are capable of operating on nonpetroleum fuels (Title III-V), electric motor vehicles (Title VI), radioactive waste (Title VIII), coal power and clean coal (Title XIII), renewable energy (Title XII), and other issues. It reformed the Public Utility Holding Company Act and amended parts of the Federal Power Act of 1935 (Title VII).

        Reported by the joint conference committee on October 5, 1992; agreed to by the House on October 5, 1992 (363 – 60) and by the Senate on October 8, 1992 (voice vote)

        Signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on October 24, 1992

        –snip–

        As for the reasons that politicians use for pretext, do you expect any of that to be honest?

        No.

      • Sugar cane production in Brazil, is also a perfect example of “workfare”. Large and growing population of poorly-educated rural poor, sugar cane production provides them with something to do and money.

      • And if you had half a brain you would not post such nonsense

      • You, Mark and hunter are demonstrating why denialists cannot be trusted on the science or on anything else.

      • John Costigane

        Holly,

        There are 2 possible explanations for your presence here. This may actually be your real name and you were annoyed by the mention of holistics by Terry Oldberg. Alternatively, this may be a ‘clever trick’ by an alarmist troll to steal some thunder from his pertinent comment. Please clarify.

        I assume the latter, Ms Stick (pronounced ‘mystic’). We have in the UK a person of note called Mystic Meg, a class 1 astrologist. Many people trust in her forecasts of the future. I wonder how many alarmists follow both climatology and astrology, correlation equals causation!

      • Holly, so far, CO2 increases only shows to increase the biosphere. It helps farming. Not the other way around.

        Ethanol was a devil’s compromise between enviros and the ag community. To pretend this wasn’t a contrivance of and product of the prevailing alarmism denies historical realities.

      • Holly Stick

        Sorry, I don’t believe those statements. Do you have evidence?

      • Sure, which ones are you referring to? The CO2 increase in the biosphere or the devil’s compromise. I’d give both if you insist, but one is an easy proof and the other lengthy and tiresome. If you go with the lengthy and tiresome, I’ll have to have your word that you would read it, in its entirety.

  64. Tell stories of past successes? Why would the alarmists tell factual stories about weather and climate to the general populace?
    How could the Australian Greens leader and uber alarmist Bob Brown blame AGW and coal companies for the recent Queensland floods if the public KNEW it was caused by La Nina conditions?

    How could other alarmists who blamed past heat waves (e.g. Moscow recently) on AGW get traction with the public if that same public knew these heat waves were caused by PS blocking and had notjhing to do with AGW?

    Alarmists will tell stories, they have been since 1992. But they will not under any circumstances tell truthful stories.

    There has been an amazing amount of column space dedicated to all sorts of things climate and AGW, when all that’s required is simple straightforward empirical evidence.
    Got any? If yes, show mE. If not, THEN FRIGGING SAY SO “WE HAVE NO EVIDENCE”

    • Holly Stick

      So prove that AGW had no effect on the floods, as in warming air vapourizing more moisture = more rain. You cannot prove it did not.

      • Latimer Alder

        Were you not arguing a while back that AGW would cause more droughts…hotter = more evaporation from land = drier?

        Can’t have it both ways.

      • Holly,

        Don’t make it too confusing for poor Lati.

        The idea that you can have droughts and floods is going to overload his circuits.

      • Latimer Alder

        I think I have grasped the essential concept.

        ‘It’ll be raining apart from when its dry’.

        I just wonder how you would subject your theory to experimental verification. Coz being sort of like a Chemist and all that I like to see whether your actual predictions can be verified or not.

        Example: I mix gaseous Hydrogen and gaseous Oxygen and make them react by a spark, I will end up with some water and some heat (qualitative analysis). Being a good chemist I can go even further and tell you how much water for a given set of starting materials and how much heat (quantitative analysis). My understanding of the situation is good enough to do that zillions of times over. I can publish equations that others can use without doing the experiments.

        So – how does your prediction match up against that standard. Does it even get to the level of a qualitative analysis? Nope.

        Does it rise to the level of Gypsy Rose Lee on bad day? Perhaps. (I see a tall dark stranger………)

        Is it any use to anybody? Nope.

      • That’s a truly amazing analogy.

        Game, set, match to you!

      • And you cannot prove it did.
        There are plenty of theoretical effects that are insignificant in pratice. For example, undersea volcanos could, in theory, raise local sea temps. In practice the volume of the ocean is too large for them to matter.
        The same may be true for the water vapour/more rain/large flood link.

        There is no credible evidence showing the alledged link is significant enough to matter.

      • Why would I need to prove AGW has no effect on floods? What a stupid proposition. In the first instance, AGW doesn’t exist. No need for further instances.

        Look up historical records, GOOGLE A LITTLE instead of smelling Taminos arse all the time, THERE HAVE BEEN FLOODS, DROUGHTS, CYCLONES, HURRICANES, STRONG WINDS, CALM DAYS CLOUDY DAYS yada yada yada for centuries. YOU NEED TO SHOW A PARTICULAR CONTEMPORARY WEATHER EVENT IS INFLUENCED BY EXTRA CO2 IN THE ATMOSPHERE.

        Don’t try and turn the onus of proof on me. Up the thread you accused sceptics of lying. YOU ARE THE MISINFORMATION PEDDLER.

      • Hey Holly,
        You seem to have left Mr Lefevbre behind from earlier,

        It is known that he was arrested for selling LSD to an undercover policeman at the age of 17.

        Speaking of his worldview, he said: “My ideals were established on purple double-dome (acid) when I was 17, and I wasn’t rich then.”

        Mr Lefevbre’s environmentalist ideals, fueled by hallucinogenic drugs taken at an impressionable age, drive the ‘big oil’ conspiracy stories, promoted on the desmogblog website with his funding.

        Now, tell me again – why are we to take this seriously?

        Big oil propaganda versus online poker derived propaganda. Tough choice indeed.

      • Holly Stick,
        You forget that the problem is that your side has proven not one thing at all to support your claims about CO2 causing anything.

    • The IPCC is quite clear and definitive on the matter of changing precipitation patterns.

      “The warmer climate therefore increases risks of both drought − where it is not raining − and floods − where it is − but at different times and/or places.”

      A clear example of the quality of the summaries of that Climate Science has to offer a concerned world. What they say is that any drought or flood anywhere at any time is attributable to CAGW.

      http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-3-2.html

      • Latimer Alder

        And I predict that ‘Fast Old Nag’ will win the Grand National.

        Unless ‘Phew He’s a Scorcher’ comes ahead of him.

        Or any of the other horses in the race get to the Winning Post first..

      • With that prediction ability, sounds like you’re ready to become an IPCC lead author. :~)

      • Latimer Alder

        Zounds! My cloak of anonymity is shredded and you expose my dreadful secret! You have me bang to rights.

        I can only say that I was very young, very inexperienced and far too easily influenced by bad guys. I have tried hard to reform.

      • John Costigane

        Latimer,

        Thanks for the ‘Fast Old Nag’ tip for the ‘National. My ‘Big Oil’ money will be well spent: £10 each-way bet. By the way, you might have said ‘forecast’ instead of ‘predict’. Climatology has GCMs providing forecasts which turn into predictions at the policy end. This is why Terry Oldberg’s disambiguation idea has value since unfalsifiable forecasting would be confined to a more peripheral role.

  65. Eric Ollivet

    El Nino’s science and models are mainly based on observational facts and benefit from its short time period, allowing accumulation of “experimental” data.
    Climate science and models still do not accept any confrontation with observational facts and suffer from a lack of long term observational data, whereas climate is obviously subjected to long time periods (and natural) cycles, which are still poorly understood.

  66. Just something even I can say:
    I love stories. All kinds of stories. Even fairy tales. But for me, the problem comes at the end.
    When the story ends with ” and they lived happily for ever after”, it is quite clear this is impossible. So the final statement is false. But it doesn’t pretend otherwise. It is just a lovely end for a lovely story.
    At the end of a tale of discovery, any kind of discovery, there should be a statement proving that the discovery was in fact a true discovery, and with proof about it’s truth. Otherwise, much as one may like the story, or the narrator, one shall not believe the conclusions reached at the end.
    So : Stories, yes. But backed up by Facts. Provable Facts.

  67. John Whitman

    Fiction story telling in society is a powerful communication vehicle. It is arguably as important as its counterpart non-fiction story telling.

    Non-fiction story telling is not science, to assume so is an error.

    The scientific community needs to tell science in the straight language of science and I suggest that the free straight scientific dialogs competing with each other about scientific results is the best way to communicate science. Winners win only as they sustain the free scientific dialog accurately. Ahhh, like what is exactly happening now in the climate science arena; the previously self-appointed consensus (that gathered around the IPCC) did not win and is not winning in the clear communication of climate science. The so-called skeptics, who I like to refer to as independent thinkers, are clearly winning the open dialog. No problem appears to exist, the best case will prevail. The self-appointed consensus needs to do a better job using their own resources instead of the resources of the public domain who has previously funded them but who now are less willing to do so.

    In an open society with an open science dialog what should happen is what is indeed currently happening. We see now that there is a receding scientific basis of an ideology that is not keeping up with independent science. That ideology must transform at its deepest roots to realign to the actual independent science . . . . but instead we see resistance to such realignment. The ideology, therefore, is fading into just a reactionary movement with dimming status.

    Note: this was also posted at KK’s blog.

    John

  68. How’s this for the science is settled?
    In a major turn around the IPCC is now investigating the sun!
    A recent paper shows cosmic rays to be responsible for 40% of the earths warming…Imagine that!

    http://opinion.financialpost.com/2011/01/25/lawrence-solomon-has-the-ipcc-discovered-the-sun/

      • Interesting you show the most recent two years to show an inconsequential decline however if you go back to the average 79-2008 there is more ice now then there was then…Your dissuasion is moot.

      • It could be argued that your evidence shows arctic ice above the mean, but only in one central region of the arctic ocean, which may not be statistically significant.

        Yet you reject plazaeme’s evidence showing the total arctic ice extent below the average for the 79-2008 period, which is statistically significant. Or did you miss the fact that the graph he posted also shows the 79-2008 mean.

  69. Once all these cuts were made, 75 out of 77 scientists of unknown qualifications were left endorsing the global warming orthodoxy. The two researchers, the master’s student and her prof, were then satisfied with the findings of her master’s thesis. Are you?

    http://opinion.financialpost.com/2011/01/03/lawrence-solomon-97-cooked-stats/

    http://probeinternational.org/library/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/012009_Doran_final1.pdf

  70. Givin the IPCC turn around, the fact that sea ice levels are above the average since 1979, the fact that the sea level hasn’t actually gone up and that we are now cooling: CAN’T WE JUST CALL THIS DEAD YET?

    p.s.
    If 97% of working scientists (the overwhelming consensus) is really just 75 out of 77…Who is telling stories?

  71. I had never heard of Randy Olson but I learn from Google that he is a biologist and film-maker. However if he is now in the business of trying to communicate something about climate science he should be aware that fewer people nowadays make ‘predictions’ about future climate; the preferred terms are now ‘projections’ and ‘scenarios’. These terms are not synonyms for ‘predictions’; there is a difference. Both terms imply reduced commitment on the part of the authors to whatever is being suggested may happen in the future. For numerous examples of use of these two terms see IPCC AR4 WG1 chapters 10 ‘Global climate projections’ and 11 (‘Regional climate projections’). The IPCC authors are in this instance expressing caution (wisely so, IMO). They are not predicting anything with even 1% of certainty, let alone 100%.

  72. Judith

    I have built up a mental model of the communication issue. It seems to me that there is a relatively small number of 1s, 2s and interested 3s and I like to think of them as occupying a glass bubble. The group includes a variety of people: scientists, scientist activists, citizen scientists, casual observers, the IPCC, environmental activists, skeptical activists and those politicians that take a particular active interest in the climate issue. There are probably others, but it is nontheless a small group in the grand scheme of things.

    Outside the bubble sits a huge ocean of 4s and the MSM. Although debate rages inside the bubble, outside is relative calm and life proceeds as normal. By definition, Level 4′s rely on the MSM to act as a bridge between the bubblesphere and the outside world. Despite the complexity of the arguments within the bubble, only a small amount of the detail ever finds its way into widespread public consciousness. The media listen to the arguments and then try to condense it into something manageable. The information flow is characterized by the short attention span of the audience, soundbites and a degree of sensationalism prompted by the media themselves and also by the protagonists inside the sphere. I have little sympathy for modern media behaviour, but it must be very difficult for busy journalists to take an objective view of the state of play inside the bubble and this probably explains why, by in large, they go with the authority of the consensus.

    That said, the media are fickle and it would take very little for a change of emphasis. Remember, they like nothing better than to build something up and then destroy it as part of an ever rolling story. It would only take a few years of cooling and the questions would certainly start.

    This is why the fight for media attention, and hence the nature of ‘the story’, has become so important. It also makes me wonder if the consensus is somehow trying to anticipate a change in the media environment and hopes to maintain the upper hand by changing the emphasis.

    Whatever the reasons, this is all about politics and about trying to curry (sorry, Judith, I couldn’t resist) favour with the Level 4s who control the votes.

    Finally, it seems to me that we should occasionally reflect on the tiny size and relative insignificance of our blogosphere. During the daily fray, our efforts to sort out the world’s problems can sometimes feel hugely important, but in reality both sides of the blogospheric argument are very few in number and go mainly ignored by the big bad world!

    • “It also makes me wonder if the consensus is somehow trying to anticipate a change in the media environment and hopes to maintain the upper hand by changing the emphasis.”

      Right. Climate scientists and decision-makers all over the world wake up in the morning and make maintaining the upper hand in your imagination their main commitment. In your imagination they also get paid for it and no one notices they aren’t doing their work in the lab or office.

      In reality, there should be no expectation that scientists effectively communicate with people who suffer from paranoid or other abnormal systematic beliefs.

      p.s. Unfortunately, the economic consensus will add to your worries. Most economists now argue that mitigation and adaptation is good value for American money. ;-)

      • Hi Martha :)

        I don’t in any way think that there is a group conspiracy to change ‘the story’ only that calls like the ones suggested in the main post are symptomatic of individuals who think the current message is failing to hit the mark. Other recent initiatives to improve the marketability of climate change suggest that there are increasing numbers of people who are similarly concerned. Out of interest, do you think the message is working satisfactorily?

      • Martha says: “Most economists now argue that mitigation and adaptation is good value for American money.”

        ‘In the words of the economist Martin L. Weitzman, “we might be in an unfortunate position where results from an economic analysis of climate change have a wide range of possible policy recommendations, which depend upon barely knowable assumptions well beyond the realm of ordinary experience.” ‘

    • Rob thanks for your insights. The bubble sphere you describe was pretty tiny until climategate, which increased its size substantially. So in terms of numbers of individuals actually participating in bubble sphere activities, it probably isn’t large, but an increasing number of skeptical level 2′s are being interviewed by the MSM, which feeds back to the level 4′s.

      • Dr. Curry,
        There are two reasons why #2 skeptics are being interviewed more by the media. One is the skeptical scientists are more willing to speak out. It is considered less harmful to the career to be a skeptic now. Two, there are more skeptics now. Hal Lewis is one such convert. Prior to Climategate, he was very concerned about global warming. Climategate caused him to do a reassessment of the science. It took him months before he spoke out. Some of the #2s are recent skeptics.

  73. A diffusion model is more accurate, with no sharp gradients. Fore example, MSM includes level 2′s, and level 4′s know about the debate. Most importantly, the source or driver for the diffusion is not in level 1, it is in the green activist centers. This is what politicization means. Science is not the driver.

  74. This is a really interesting debate so far. Mike Hulme gave a talk to my colleagues at the end of last year on the topic how climate models are used to gain/exercise authority, which addresses some of the key issues raised:

    http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/1449/

    It is interesting how similar points are raised by people with very different perspectives.

    http://mitigatingapathy.blogspot.com/

  75. It makes me furious to read “In a world of antiscience movements”.

    Most of us have science and engineering background and our scepticism is because there is no evidence to man made global warming, as past global warming rates from 1910 to 1940 has not been exceeded.

    You will have converts only when the previous warming rate is exceeded. Otherwise, there is no evidence for man-made global warming.

  76. Juidth “dogma” Curry giving advice about communication.

    That’s almost funny.

  77. With respect, Dr. Curry, I’m not sure that “switching the conversation” is what’s needed (unless perhaps it is towards a much greater emphasis on the uncertainties and unknowns ;-)) at this time.

    Perhaps a five to 10 year moratorium on climate science “research”** would be more helpful. Indeed, perhaps we need more projects similar to BEST – in which the foundations of key elements of the global warming hypothesis are re-examined, not by the IPCC (or any of the “in crowd”) but by those who have the relevant expertise to do that which peer review does not.

    ** In his July 2009 “Chairman’s Vision Paper”, presented at the “scoping meeting” for AR5, Pachauri included:

    “In addition to being authoritative assessments, the IPCC reports are powerful motivators for research. “

    This 24 page paper also contains no less than 22 instances of “sustainable development”, complemented by sixteen instances of “equity”, eight instances of “justice” and of “public good problems”, seven of “poverty” and three of “gender”.

    Not sure what any of the above might have to do with the “policy relevant scientific technical topics to be addressed in AR5″, but Pachauri certainly had no concerns about communication of climate science:

    “awareness on climate change issues has reached a level unanticipated in the past. Much of this change can be attributed to the findings of the AR4 which have been disseminated actively through a conscious effort by the IPCC, its partners and most importantly [by] the media.

    [for source of the above, and other highlights thereof, pls. see http://hro001.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/a-merchant-in-venice-pachauris-vision-for-ar5/

    It’s also worth noting that a month BC [Before Climategate], at the Bali meeting of the IPCC, Joseph Alcamo (an IPCC alumnus and at that point the “Chief Scientist” of the UNEP, a parent organization of the IPCC) told those assembled in no uncertain terms:

    [A]s policymakers and the public begin to grasp the multi-billion dollar price tag for mitigating and adapting to climate change, we should expect a sharper questioning of the science behind climate policy.

    What on Gaia’s green earth is it about the words “multi-billion dollar price tag” and/or “expect a sharper questioning of the science” that these world-renowned “experts” – and communication worry-warts – are having such difficulty understanding?!

    But I digress … such a moratorium would (at the very least) give the IPCC an opportunity to more seriously consider and implement the recommendations of the IAC, which IMHO, was the only AC [After Climategate] investigation/enquiry deserving of the name.

    And who knows, maybe such a moratorium would facilitate the discovery of the heretofore conspicuously absent empirical evidence that human-generated CO2 is the primary cause of “global warming”.

  78. One thing regarding story telling is clear:
    The people in control of Real Climate and other AGW promoter sites must maintain their strict censorship and they know it. If the decision makers there allow people to communicate relatively unfettered, as here, they will lose control of the narrative and the public. Free communication is their enemy, and they will resist it completely.

    • Yeah!!

      RC moderation!!!!!!!!!!!!

      High Five!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Michael,
        Please do continue.
        You are helping prove my point every time you post.

      • That what ever the question, the answer is ‘RC moderation’ ?

        Yeah!!

      • Michael,
        If you have to ask, you are not likely to get it.
        Please keep making your great points and strong arguments.
        They are really helpful. To those trying to make up their minds about this, reading you convinces many, I am certain.
        That is why more and more are skeptical of what you believe.
        Thanks for the help.
        TTFN,

  79. The contributions from the “consensus” side share the same conceit – that persuading the Level 4s has been a lamentably slow process, but one which, however slowly, has always advanced. The truth is it was almost accomplished by 2009, but has dramatically receded since Climategate, whose importance the warmists still cannot bear to acknowledge.
    Too many level 2s, until Climategate, behaved like 4s, giving uncritical credence to ill-founded assertions of the Level 1s.

    Level 4s, on the other hand, were looking to “scientists” to validate their attachment to CAGW. They do not make the Level 1/Level 2,3 distinction, and for a very large number of them CAGW was a lifestyle choice, dictated as much by peer group influence as by any genuine alarm about the climate, the science of which they are satisfied is beyond them. The “scientist” acquaintance in whom they confide is far more likely to be a Level 2,3 “scientist” than a Level 1, simply on the numbers.

    Since Climategate, Level 2,3 “scientists” have reviewed the confidence they hitherto placed in the Level 1 mob, usually to the detriment of the Level 1 consensus position. For increasing numbers of Level 2, 3s, the climate science clock has struck thirteen, casting doubt on ALL its earlier pronouncements. They understand not just the Climategate emails, but the implications for the entire CAGW edifice.

    Level 4s are therefore increasingly likely to find that the “scientist” upon whose support for CAGW they relied for the last decade and a half has now withdrawn it. The MSM continues to peddle the CAGW “narrative”, although he/she has seen the odd surprisingly sceptical piece cropping up.

    What does he/she do? Cui bono? The reward structure for Level 1s in CAGW is quite different to the Level 4s on whom they rely for sustenance and power. Most level 4s have been “customers” willing to swear allegiance to CAGW and pay the dues it exacts in exchange for purely social reward. But importantly the social reward is divided between:

    • Being seen by their fellow-believers as “good” people,
    • NOT being seen as foolish;

    …in exchange for what they have been persuaded is a modest tithe on their wealth.

    The woe, for the CAGW mob, lies in the second element. Climate “science” has relied extensively and successfully on ridicule to silence dissent. But this cuts both ways. Humans fear ridicule at least as much as they love their wealth. When Climate “science’s” Level 4 admirers – the ballast that keeps the Good Ship CAGW on an even keel and headed towards ever-greater influence over the world’s economy – start hearing “their” scientist saying the science is far from settled, it’s not the futile, pointless tithe they have been paying that will propel them to scepticism, so much as the realisation that the focus of fashionable ridicule might be about to shift from the dissenters to the dissented-from.

    I suspect the future of CAGW lies more in the hands of the stand-up comedians of the English-speaking world than in those of its scientists.

  80. One of the tells that AGW calamity is bunk is that nothing actually happens outside the range of historical variability.

    • Absolutely true! – and the range is from ball of molten rock to ice-ball.

      Take that warmista’s!

      High Five!!

      • Michael,
        Now you are just going through the motions of trolldom.
        That is boring.
        A troll can be many things, but boring is the death knell of trollishness.
        And you are at boredom’s door.
        Best of luck,

      • Troll?

        No, I’m on your side!

        Everyting you say is just so spot on!

        High Five!!

    • hunter

      Michael’s so short-sighted. For most of its 14 billion year history, Earth was a cloud of interstellar dust, or some variant of space phenomena.

      How could AGW be true of space dust?! ;)

      High Eleven!

      • You’re right that I’m wrong.

        As a reformed warmista I naturally forgot to look at the entire range of ‘historical variability’ and my ingrained dogma made me delete some history.

        Highly Apologetic Five!

        Group Re-education Hug!!

      • No, group yawn actually.

    • lol, wow Hunter, you’ve got a pet stalker! I bet you paid a lot of big-oil money for one of those!

      Maybe instead of “historical variability”, he’d be satisfied with “recent historical variability”? Apparently considering the processes involved from taking this little globe from molten rock to ice to what we have today is a bit much for his considerations.

      • Right on suyts!

        I agree 100%.

      • Thanks!! But, why does Hunter get all of the “high fives”??!!!???!! :-(

      • hunter is the cool one, suyts.

        I mean, no offense, but just look at him.

        Plus, he knows better than to get hung up on words like ‘recent’ or ‘explanations’ or ‘logic’ or ‘reason’.

        Let’s face it, you’d have to define ‘recent’ to be longer than 20 million years to be right, and that might come across as hokey to, y’know, anyone over eight years old.

      • suyts,
        My little shadow would have to think about that, and that is the one thing a troll must never ever do.

    • Supporting data of your statement:

      http://bit.ly/eUXTX2

      Now here some to complain of repetition when I show them what the data says.

      It grates them.

    • Steven Mosher

      Hunter.

      Nothing happens outside the range of historical variability?

      Well, that misses the point. Let me explain. When a volcano erupts we see the temps drop. Say by .5C. YOUR answer is that this event is within natural variability. True. My answer is that this drop is cause by the eruption.
      we are both correct. But I have done science. I explained. You have not done science. you just shrugged your shoulders.

      When it warms from 1850 to today, we may both note that the rise falls within historical variability. Thats just an observation. But I have a theory that explains that rise. The theory says adding GHGs will warm the planet.

      Now, to be sure the rise we have seen is consistent with other rises we have seen. its also consistent with the AGW theory that EXPLAINS rises and explains cooling after volcanos. You have no ‘theory’ ,no explanation.
      POINTING at variation isnt a theory. its the thing to be explained. Current theory explains a good deal of record. Could it be better? yup. does it explain everything? nope. Is there ANOTHER theory that does a better job?
      nope. Could there be a theory that doesnt require GHG forcing? logically possible, but highly unlikely. If a theory doesnt explain everything is it wrong? yes and all theory is wrong on this standard.

      If you want to compete with my explanation you need your own explanation that is consistent with observation. EXPLANATION.
      the OBSERVATION that it has warmed and cooled before is not explanation.
      historical variation is not a theory or explanation.

      Lastly, you can use the observation of natural variability to point out that my explanation may not be certain. but we already knew that. Its science. its never certain. there is no final explanation of everything.

      As it stands AGW is the best theory we have.It may be useful for giving us insight into our future.

      • AGW isn’t a theory. Greenhouse is a theory. AGW includes a number of joint and several theories. Black soot affecting albedo is a non-greenhouse theory. The question isn’t true/false, it’s how much is each contributing.

      • And btw, feedback isn’t an AGW theory. It’s an enhancement. But CAGW depends on it.

        Not so simple, is it?

  81. “There has been much discussion in the climate blogosphere this past week on scientific story telling and communicating with the public.” (JCurry, Opening Sentence)

    Why do people say what they do? Why do people misunderstand each other? Why are scientists, journalists, politicians, teachers, parents, siblings, et al, distrusted. Why do people disagree about absolutely everything all the time? Why Lord? Why…?

    And the Lord said, “That’s the way I made you. Get over it!”

  82. Alexander Harvey

    Science might be well advised to consider preserving its integrity and that might mean distancing itself from the current scientific debate, stopping its squabbling over yesterday’s issues, and moving on to frame tomorrow’s challenges.

    I take a dark view of what is to come, for the planet after I have gone, but for the contest that will unfold in the near future.

    The science has found itself in the futures game, and if it must publish the futures that come out of the models it might be well advised to put its best efforts into how that story is to be told, rather than squander time over past issues. I think we have seen nothing yet.

    AR5 is due to start rolling out in late 2113, and be complete by late 2114, which is not long from now. I think that the futures part of the report, e.g. model outputs, impacts, mitigation and adaptation, may cause enormous issues. I think the main concerns will be in the regional predictions and their analysis.

    I think that if a framework is not put in place to explain and justify the regional futures chaos may result.

    Why should I think this?

    Firstly, futures are a mugs game, it is very difficult to justify predictions of calamity, and futures have a history of being incomplete and sometimes downright wrong.

    Secondly, the next round of futures have the potential to be much more specific at the regional and sometimes national level, without necessarily being much less vague.

    Thirdly, AR5 is likely to be the most scrutinised report in history, and that scrutiny will be carried out in public and with great haste.

    Fourthly, because I am not sure if any body has taken the responsibility of standing up this report, managing the delivery of the content to the public and coping with the fallout.

    I will only mention one specific, it is my somewhat informed belief that the Hadley Centre model, now contains a lot of dynamics, particularly in the Carbon and hydrological cycles, and seems destined to predict a catasthrophe in Amazonia in the medium term. That would be a global, regional but most importantly national disaster. We might finally arrive at the position where one country finds itself to be uniquely disadvantaged in terms of economic and social futures by an official intergovernmental report. Whether such futures turn out to be true will not be the immediate issue, that they are documented and publically available will be that issue.

    This is the scenario I most fear, the one in which we are NOT all in this together, the one with winners and losers. I worry that the coping strategies we have been developing are unfit for dealing with problems at the national level involving existential threats.

    My advice would be to cut our losses over the uncertain scientific battles in getting even the most basic part of the science across and prepare the groundwork for what is to come.

    Alex

    • Alex,
      Some of your concern may be realistic. There is arguably as much need or greater to communicate to decision-makers the uncertainty and risk arising from policy or decisions that are not made (or have not yet been made).

      • Alexander Harvey

        Martha,

        I think I must agree with you but I also have other concerns.

        Here is one. There is understandably a lot of fuss made about oublic availability of data, the transparency issue. At this moment CMIP5 is due to start archiving model data runs. As they are recieved they may or may not be freely available, this seems to vary from organisation to organisation. Can we avoid running into a transparency issue here, and should parts of this data be made publically available prior to WGI in the first place. Have they considered that there may be a huge public interest in this data? The archive when finished promises to be petabyte scale , how will sensible public access be organised? Do we run the risk of people going down FOI routes to obtain certain data?

        Obviously I do not know the answers but I can see the questions. Has the role of public participation been thought through? Do we have joined up thinking here? Will the first analyses to hit the stands come from private individuals not the IPCC?

        I simply appeal to those that have some influence and hopefully better knowledge than I have to try and ensure that we don’t get ourselves into a pickle over predictalbe outcomes from the AR5 process.

        Alex

      • Martha – this is an excellent point, and this is one we are trying to deal with by developing whole series of different scenarios to reflect different types of policy as an aid to policy makers.
        As for data availability there are lots of things that have poisoned the waters.
        Researchers have seen how various groups have misrepresented illegally obtained information through climategate and have framed specific methods as though they were dishonest, so there is even more resistance to helping those who will use the data solely for propaganda purposes. Secondly, there are lots of legitimate reasons why specific data should be kept out of the public domain for a specific time (the research group gets first crack at turning it into publications; test runs of software; commercial reasons; it takes a lot of time to turn into useful data etc. etc.) so not offering data to anyone who wants it shouldn’t be viewed with suspicion, but a reason for critics of, for example, the IPCC, for forming a more healthy relationship with climate scientists. Data should be available to any climate science group willing to contribute to addessing climate science problems. The problem is that those who have made multiple FOI requests for climate science data have yet to show anything for access to data that might count as science (for example, how many peer review papers in climate science journals have they produced?) so lets sort out this hostility as a priority.

        http://mitigatingapathy.blogspot.com/

      • The Oxonian

        smiles…yes the use of “peer review” gives away your mindset…the de haut en bas…the plebs need to believe us kind of take on things. Just to remind you that someone can propose a hypothesis or theory…it takes one objection to blow that theory away. The tester does not need to present an alternative hypothesis. Just clarifying it for you, because you seem to have been contaminated by realCliamte, Tamino., Stoat and all those other anti-scientific folks…..But you are from Cambridge…hence no surprise…
        The Oxonian

      • Oxonian – I also did a post-doc in Oxford University, so I’m not biased, honest!

      • Researchers have seen how various groups have misrepresented illegally obtained information through climategate

        Can we put that to rest? The information was being illegally detained from release to FOI requesters.

        Tell me something. Julian Assange? Hero or thief?

      • Email hacking is illegal in the UK. Do you remember the uproar about the misunderstanding of the word “trick”?

        As for your Popperian view of science, it does NOT take one objection to blow a theory out of the water. In the real world of science it takes a series of ideas that illustrate limitations coupled with an emerging paradigm. In any any case YOU don’t believe that Popperian nonsense, as if this were the case many ideas you hold wouldn’t keep reappearing after being robustly debunked.

        http://mitigatingapathy.blogspot.com/

      • “Julian Assange? Hero or thief?”

        neither.

        http://mitigatingapathy.blogspot.com/

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Hero or thief?

        Journalist.

      • So let me get this straight. Assange = journalist. Climategate hacker/cracker/whistleblower = criminal.

        Correct?

        How about Manning?

  83. Quadrant has what I consider a good layman’s guide to the science of global warming in this months issue.

    http://www.quadrant.org.au/magazine/issue/2011/3/the-intelligent-voter-s-guide-to-global-warming

    • I just read this, probably the most lucid exposition that I’ve seen of the uncertain lukewarmer position. Well worth reading.

      • probably the most lucid exposition that I’ve seen of the uncertain lukewarmer position.

        I agree. Cherry-pick the evidence that fits into the lower-range of estimates and ignore everything else as alarmist, then try to make that sound like the reasonable position, then call that uncertainty.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        So, we’re at .9C of warming with 89 years of the century to go. And it’s reasonable to think that total warming will be 1C … or less. Love that “or less.”

        Good times. No. Not just that. Good end times!

        Revelations 3:16

      • we’ve warmed .9 ‘C from 2000??
        Really??

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Current warming from pre-industrial levels is generally thought to be ~.9c.

        A doubling of CO2 concentrations: 280ppm to 560ppm is generally predicted to produce, with feedbacks, a warming of from 1.5-3.5C by the end of the 21st century.

        If the “lukewarm” prediction is that total warming would be ~1.9C (1C in addition to the .9C already) that warming would be right in the range predicted by the IPCC. Would that make the IPCC a lukewarmer? If 1.9C of warming is what people here are “comfortable” with, whence the wrath the IPCC? Are you all just using this issue as an excuse to wring out the old adrenal glands?

      • We’re already more than a third of the way to a doubling of CO2 concentrations, which, given the logarithmic response, means that we should already have seen more than half the temperature increase – and that’s not considering natural variations.
        And where did you get the .9C figure from?

      • You can’t have that both ways. If you believe in the underlying greenhouse effect, then you believe that the heating is roughly logarithmic with concentration. Everybody but the stone-cold greenhouse deniers agree on that. And if that’s true, then those numbers are completely plausible. If you don’t buy that, then you’re in with Claes Johnson in completely denying the greenhouse effect, or you’re just making physics up.

      • Did you borrow that straw from Holly stick?

      • “The original hockey stick should have been buried and forgotten after the Wegman report. What is of greater concern is that a wider community of climate scientists has stood by the authors after errors were exposed, and continues to do so. If the groupthink of climate scientists requires them to defend the pseudoscience of the hockey stick, can their other findings be trusted?”

        That pretty much hits the nail on the head.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Well, some things practically scream to be hit on the head.

      • Perfect example of quality communication. That quote (the previous one, not yours) should be relevant to all sides. Climate science is statistically intense. Very few statisticians are consulted by some of the more notable of the climate scientists. Who was the statistical consultant for the hockey stick? Who was the statistical consultant for the Antarctic is Warming? Climate scientists that use novel statistical methods without consulting qualified statisticians will discover what the Peter’s Principal means.

        You can’t communicate quality science if the science lacks quality. Sixties style “Big oil, Big Tobacco, Big brother, Big whatever” is a touch overused don’t you think? There are real issues, real uncertainties, real money and real lives involved. It will probably require real thought.

      • Did someone mention Wegman? Is he still being investigated by GMU?

        http://deepclimate.org/2010/11/16/replication-and-due-diligence-wegman-style/

      • Holly, Holly Holly,

        Do you really want to get into the alleged plagiarism battle? How about Copyright Infringement? That’s my favorite as a part time freelance writer. Shall we let the mud really fly?

      • Do investigations of allegations mean we can ignore people under investigation?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        The interesting thing to me about the Wegman study is in the Q&A with Rep. Bart Stupak. If I were a Martian archaeologist reading it in the future, I’d swear that Wegman were trying to distance himself from MM05. To the question about whether MBH98 would find a hockey stick in data that had a hockey stick in it, Wegman simply answered, “Yes.” He wasn’t asked to elaborate and didn’t volunteer anything.

      • No Hunter, valid allegations should be investigated, if one part is insistent. The difference between an allegation of plagiarism and copyright infringement is the last is proven. In the Wedgemen issue it would be difficult to prove intentional plagiarism, since fair use laws a a little vague.

        How about this case?

        http://ourhydrogeneconomy.blogspot.com/2011/03/ethics-in-climate-science.html

        The three lawyers I consulted consider this to be a winnable case. The victim though, is satisfied, so no charges. Something about class of character.

      • Holly,
        Evidently, you have no idea of the can of worms opened by Bradley’s charge of plagiarism.

        http://climateaudit.org/2010/10/18/bradley-copies-fritts/

        http://climateaudit.org/2010/10/20/bradley-copies-fritts-2/

        http://climateaudit.org/2010/10/21/bradley-tries-to-deal/

        Plagiarism has, at its core, taking credit for someone’s ideas. Wegman did not do that, but Bradley apparently did.

        A rather sensible discussion of the original charge, including remarks by Eduardo Zorita, can be found here

        http://climateaudit.org/2010/10/12/copygate/

      • Holly,
        Did you read what DC wrote? There is no there, there. He has nothing on Wegman except that Wegman used some paragraphs from Bradley’s book as a backgrounder. And Wegman lists Bradley’s book in the bibliography. Is this really a big deal? No sensible person thinks so.

        Bradley, however, quoted from Fritts extensively without attribution. That is a big deal. No doubt Bradley is wishing he never raised the issue now. Bradley is certainly not talking about it anymore.

        Did you read Gerald North’s testimony before Congress? North and the NAS statistician testified they agreed with the Wegman Report. Wegman is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and his reputation is unassailable. DC’s obsession with Wegman is beyond all rationality.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Did you read Gerald North’s testimony before Congress? North and the NAS statistician testified they agreed with the Wegman Report. Wegman is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and his reputation is unassailable. DC’s obsession with Wegman is beyond all rationality.

        2 minutes reading from Wiki on the issue is very entertaining and enlightening.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hockey_stick_controversy

        And by all means, follow up the links and footnotes.

        Whenever I doubt that my view of the Denialist camp is correct, I’ve always found it useful to follow-up where they point. I’m not sure if the people making allusions understand what they’re pointing toward or simply expect that nobody will actually follow-up on their cites.

        Thanks for bringing up Gerald North. Very enlightening.

      • Jeffrey,
        Gerald North is personal friends with Michael Mann. The NAS report was much more polite to Mann than Wegman, but the NAS report sided with McIntyre on all the disputed points of science. For example, no one disputed that the 1990s were warmer than any time in the last 400 years. The planet had been in the Little Ice Age until 1850. Read what North said under oath. Mr. Bloomfield was the statistician working with the NAS panel.

        http://www.greenworldtrust.org.uk/Science/Social/HS%20evidence.htm

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Sixties style “Big oil, Big Tobacco, Big brother, Big whatever” is a touch overused don’t you think?

        Actually, no.

      • Oy vey.

      • I didn’t think so. Hey, I am BP rich! I am in the pocket of big oil! Just because a PhD in south Florida said, “It is not a matter of if, but when the oil will hit the Florida Keys!” Kinda killed the height of my season. Psst, BP gave me five grand just to not sue them. There must be a conspiracy there! Quick, don the foil hats, smoke another bowl and into the black helicopter!

      • Jeffrey Davis

        You asked a question and then misconstrued my answer.

        Meanwhile, all around us on this blog are bitter accusations against climate scientists.

        What am I to make of your response?

      • That abuse of statistics is the cause of the communications problem that climate scientists are having. That defending seriously flawed papers is not good for your credibility. That using outdated, questionable reconstruction leads to poor quality science. That some people, just want to see the real science not psuedo-scientific arm waving. And if you happen to be a scientist, STAY THE HECK OUT OF POLITICS! if you can’t say it’s your political opinion . At least Hansen announces he has an agenda.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Dallas,

        You think your misconstruing my remarks said all that? I can see where mis-communication is going to be endemic.

        There are thousands of climate scientists out there. The NAS study alluded to in this general thread didn’t find the level of culpability and corruption that the denialist camp claims it did. They just don’t. Period. The study didnt even make that big of a correction. That you (and others) try to smear the whole body of climate scientists from the tiny ember of PC1 from MBH98 would be insane if it weren’t for the transparency of the political agenda driving it.

      • Jeffery, I am sorry you misconstrue my statements as misconstructions. That one beat to death example, happens to have lead into several more examples. Take Mann et al 2008 to your favorite statistician. Better yet, ask any statistician to review your favorite peer reviewed papers. It is a legitimate problem, abuse of statistics. I am not a statistician, actually I hate statistics! Probability is okay, but you can make statistics do anything you want.

        So if I point out that a paper is statistically flawed, it is because statisticians have said that. One reason I like the BEST project is because , GASP, it has a statistician on the team! The climate science community recognizes that stats are a problem, they are supposedly going to include “real” statisticians to look into the problem. It hasn’t happen yet and for some reason the grand project to address known issues in climate science doesn’t get any press. Judith and some of the others would know the name of the project that is still looking into all the issues that are known, archiving, transparency, statistics and the rest.

        So when I mention a relevant issue and get hit with Wedgeman’s alleged plagiarism, or big oil or some other totally asinine off topic crap, I think it is time to voice my opinion a little more sarcastically.

        If you had bothered reading the quote I posted, it is the defense of that dead hockystick is the main point.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        If you had bothered reading the quote I posted, it is the defense of that dead hockystick is the main point.

        Among other things, I object to the eliding of objections. The NAS study did lots of things and it didn’t do even more. It didn’t brand Mann a criminal or a fraud, for one thing. And it pointedly noted that other good studies supported the hockey stick.

        In the wiki entry on the Hockey Stick controversy Roger Pielke Jr’s response was:

        My reading of the summary of the report and parts of the text is that the NAS has rendered a near-complete vindication for the work of Mann et al. They report does acknowledge that there are perhaps greater uncertainties in temperature reconstructions, reducing Mann et al.’s claim of warmest decade/year in 1,000 years down to 400. Nonetheless, I see nothing in the report that suggests that Mann’s research is significantly flawed, nor any calls for release of his data or algorithms, though the report does say in very general terms that such release is a good idea. I am not a climate scientist, but my reading of the section that deals with criticisms of Mann et al.’s work (starting at p. 105) is that while these critiques raise some interesting points, they are minor issues, and the committee find’s Mann et al.’s original conclusion to be “plausible.” I’d bet that the word “plausible” will be oft invoked as one of the take home messages of the report.

        http://cstpr.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/climate_change/000859quick_reaction_to_th.html

        Ha ha, Roger Pielke Jr. The most oft invoked “take home” of the project, fanned by denialists, is that the hockey stick is dead.

      • Rodger Pielke Jr. is very kind. Let’s see, the claim of warmest in past 1000 years is reduced to the last 400 and there appears to be more uncertainty than stated.

        http://www.imstat.org/aoas/next_issue.html

        Down at the bottom of the page is the McShane and Wyner paper on proxy reconstructions complete with discussions and at the end their rejoinder.

        “Smoothing exaggerates the difference and requires careful
        adjustment of fit statistics such as standard errors, adjustments which are lacking in SMR and which are in general known only under certain restrictive conditions. In contrast, consider the right panel of Figure 1 which is a reproduction of SMR Figure 1a without smoothing. The difference between a given model fit to the full dataset or the reduced data set is clearly dwarfed by the annual variation of the fit; the full and reduced set of proxies yield inconsequentially different reconstructions. It thus seems to us the main point of Figure 14 of the paper (which SMR Figures 1a and S2 roughly mimic) stands: various methods which have similar holdout RMSEs in the instrumental period produce strikingly different reconstructions including ”hockey sticks” (such as the red one in Figure 1), ”inverted check marks” (such as the green), and things in between (such as the blue and purple). In short, while SMR allege that we use the ”wrong” data, the result remains the same (also see SI).”

        There is more, it is a rather boring read, but worth the time. Smoothing is a delicate process that has to consider uncertainty and in the temperature reconstructions attempting to “splice” instrumental extremely critical. For example if you smooth a proxy record and do not equal smooth the instrumental record, you get a hockeystick. Total useless information. You need to maintain the uncertainty of all data sets, smooth no more than practical based on the uncertainty and if splicing, show the range of uncertainty at the splice. Tree rings widths have much greater uncertainty relative to temperature than say ice core C14 or other isotope concentrations. Tree ring C14 also has greater uncertainty relative to temperature, since respiration of trees vary with other conditions than temperature.

        There is more than one way to get a false hockey stick, the example of poor choice of smoothing is just the easiest with paleo and instrumental splices.

        Then I am not a statistician. Perhaps a real one would like to comment.

        So Pielke’s little “uncertainty” comment is a snowball that keeps growing as the uncertainties compound.

        Some argue that “If past warming was greater, the sensitivity is greater, you don’t want that!” All I want is competent science.

        Others fault M and W for not using Mann’s method. M and W were trying to use more standard methods to check Mann’s method. They were not trying to create a new reconstruction, just looking for the pit falls that people making a reconstruction might encounter. Note their comments on Moberg.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        This is in response to the statement that North said something terrible about Mann in testimony.

        Well, no, he didn’t. (I presume we were treated in that excerpt with the worst the testimony had to offer.)

        That page read like many from Climate Audit: there’s an E. Powers Biggs buildup explaining that we’re about to be treated with something terrible but in the end, there’s nothing in there but dog whistles. I don’t do dog whistles. (Not that Biggs played the dog whistle. Mixed metaphor warning.)

        I read a Climate Audit Prelude in Eek Minor about Muir-Russell and funding which seemed to be implying that there was something terrible about it. Except, of course, people get paid for their work. Professor Wegman, for example, was paid for his time, and I’ve never heard Climate Audit imply that there was anything untoward about that.

      • Yes, a very good summary of the lukewarmer skeptical position. I’m looking forward to Part II. I would be interested in the views of some of our resident warmists. Would they see this as denialist or skeptical I wonder?

      • It is striking that the article fails, completely, to anticipate, represent, and disprove counter-arguments in response to the author’s thesis.

        This is how it should go:

        (1) “Warmists” present theories:

        (2) a “luke-warmist” presents counter-arguments.

        (3) to prove his thesis, the “luke-warmist” needs to anticipate, present, and disprove counter-arguments to his thesis.

        Step three is missing.

    • My word- what a good article. A must-read.

    • Alexander Harvey

      I hope that people of all pursuasions can read this article from the perspective of how to learn about public concerns and avoid obvious pitfalls. My thanks to Bob.

      • Not being an expert on the science, but having followed it fairly closely for about 6-7 years it looked to me like a fairly easy exposition for other layman to follow. I’m pleased others found it worthwhile.

      • Bob – I think the article is an attempt to be fair-minded by someone who is basically a skeptic. It gets many of the basics right, but also contains some serious errors, or at least misinterpretations. I’ll reserve a discussion of those for the technical threads in this blog. Some have already been discussed extensively, including water vapor, other feedbacks, the “hotspot”, and climate sensitivity. It’s certainly worth reading for one perspective by an intelligent non-scientist on this topic.

    • This seemed like an interesting article until things got into specifics of ocean related warming and coupling to the atmosphere. There weren’t enough specifics on the things the article gets right and there were many specifics that were either unimportant in the context of climate or just wrong fundamentally.

      While many here might take this piece and a good example of a position, I think that there is much to be desired in creating a coherent and as completely physically correct assessment of ‘lukewarmers’ position on this issue.

      The role of dissent among climate scientists is something that gets overplayed as well.

      There is a meaningful argument that is rigorous and physical correct within our ability to be correct at this point. I did not find it in this piece, however.

  84. Joe Lalonde

    Judith,

    Overall planetary science only has one story to tell with many sub-stories.
    It is totally interrelated with other planets and solar systems and only the different gases and masses changes their sub-stories.

    The narrow time line that climate science is trying to cover makes no sense to the overall time line of this planet. Climate science still has no clue as to how Ice Ages form. Massive precipitation is a good clue to this process.

  85. I’m not sure that the post is helpful in explaining the kind of ‘storytelling’ that is recommended and used by Randy Olson.

    There are many learning methods in education, from elementary school through to post-secondary education and also in adult education; but most people outside of education don’t reflect on what methods are being used, or why.

    Randy Olson is talking about a specific approach to adult education, also called ‘narrative teaching’, that is often used by those who value equitable education. It encourages relationships and reflection, rather than seeing learners as second-class repositories of an educator’s knowledge.

    Besides Randy Olson, the much-respected David Suzuki in Canada relies on this approach to science education. It has been shown to get people’s attention, gets them talking science in their everyday lives, and equips people with the terms and words they need to both talk and think about science in more meaningful ways.

    It is used by educators with a lot of understanding of adult learning principles, and a passion for supporting an informed public. It is the opposite of the type of ‘storytelling’ that amounts to cut and paste skills, dumbed down science or endlessly recycled climate science fictions, so commonly offered on the internet.

    There’s alot to like, and not much to dislike, about Randy Olson’s approach.
    :-)

    • “much-respected David Suzuki”

      What little respect Suzuki enjoyed here in Canada has been rapidly dissipated by his over the top call for the “jailing of politicians who ignore climate science” and his repeated claims that the “science is settled”. He enjoys the same credibility as Al Gore when it comes to telling stories about climate.

      • Holly Stick

        Links for your quotations, Jay. Or did you just make them up?

        And yes, the denialists in Canada like to demonize Suzuki when they get tired of demonizing Gore; but he’s been a good teacher.

        http://www.davidsuzuki.org/#

      • LOL. A “good teacher.” Well, I guess that does explains your comments.

      • How sad, Holly.
        You literally lie to yourself to avoid anything that might upset you.

      • Holly – for jailing politicians, try:

        http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=290513

        I am not sure if he ever utters the phrase “the science is settled” – but he certainly presents it as such:

      • I was busy…but the Army of Davids comes through again.

        Holly, you’re in over your head. Swim for the surface and get out of the pool.

      • Holly Stick

        Where are your references for the quotations, Jay. You’re not too busy to invent quotations, it would seem.

      • Holly – you have one citation, in the form of a contemporaneous newspaper article; it took about twelve seconds to find. The second one is suggestive – I can’t absolutely confirm that he uses the phrase “the science is settled” – but it is his clear sentiment. Perhpas you would like to cite Suzuki saying something directly opposed – like “we should let elected politicians govern as they are entrusted to do” or perhaps “there is significant doubt about the anthropogenic contribution to global temperatrue increases, as well as about the proper policy response.
        As far as Dr Suzuki as a teacher… well, having friends who sought out his classes when we were at UBC due to his ‘star teacher’ status, I would have to disagree. Their experience was that Suzuki saw his role as receiving his students’ adulation, but whether they actually learned anything was not much of a concern.

    • Curious Canuck

      David Suzuki, get real.

      http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2009/12/17/suzuki-s-latest-nutbar-statement.aspx

      Nice respectable language and concern for the public on display here in his exchange with Lawrence Solomon that the article discusses.

      “SOLOMON: And by the way, they’re saying because it is, by the way, because the oil sands creates jobs, creates money that is transferred to other provinces, and that’s their notion of the balance.

      SUZUKI: You know, that’s what they used to say in the southern states. We can’t give up slavery because it’ll destroy our economy and slavery gives us jobs and we have to have slave runners and all of that. Some things you do because they’re right. And you know, the problem is…

      SOLOMON: But David, just for the record, and I know you’re passionate, but is comparing this to slavery, is that fair, to demonize the other side like that?

      SUZUKI: We’re talking about the fate of all of humankind and the kind of future we’re going to leave for our children. Yes, I think this is criminal what’s going on now, to act as if the economy. Remember, the economy is a human- created construct. It’s not a law of nature. You know, some things like gravity and the speed of light, you can’t do anything about that. We can’t do anything about the fact that we’re animals, and if we don’t have clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean energy and biodiversity, we’re dead. So, surely to goodness that should come before anything else…”

      Bold is mine, copying cut out NP’s bolding which you can go see for yoursleves anyway.

      Article also includes a link to a CBC interview where you can hear him seeth and sputter in addition to what’s been quoted.

      This doesn’t engender respect, it makes people question any position that the Suzukis of the world are advocating for. So far those it has done this to have largely been met with more insults and stupid attempts to silence the questions. This strategy will continue to fail at an accelerating rate.

      So much for respect.

      • Holly Stick

        Maybe you are unable to understand that Suzuki is comparing two economic systems that were entrenched and that were very harmeful to many people.

        http://hnn.us/articles/134463.html

      • Curious Canuck

        I sure did undestand that that is how you and Suzuki see it, Holly. The point is that the comparison is repugnant and shamelessly lacking in respect in a way that has come to characterize Suzuki.

        Your argument, that in your view that he has a good excuse to lack the basics of respect is an admission to the point I was making. Thank you.

        Count me in with the consensus majority that see shouting ‘Murderer’, ‘Nazi’ and ‘Slavery’ as an entirely wrong (on so many levels) approach to communicating.

        “This doesn’t engender respect, it makes people question any position that the Suzukis [and Holly Sticks] of the world are advocating for. So far those it has done this to have largely been met with more insults and stupid attempts to silence the questions. This strategy will continue to fail at an accelerating rate.”

      • Holly Stick

        So you are not able to understand an objective argument.

      • Rob Starkey

        Holly-
        The argument is very flawed. If you study history, eliminating slavery was damaging to the southern economies, but it was also undenialably true that the practice of slavery was harmful to humans in the USA.

        The statement by Suzuki “fate of all of humankind” rests on climate change is the OPINION of some, but is by no means an undisputable fact. Some (I am not one) do not thing humans are impacting climate at all. Some think humans are impacting the climate but do not think the change is bad. Some think it will be positive…..and some thing the potential changes can be managed by constructing and maintaining proper infrastructure.

      • Holly Stick

        The people who think humans are not impacting the climate, and the people who thinkin AGW will be beneficial overall are both simply ignorant. Sorry, you will have to face reality at some point.

      • Curious Canuck

        I believe I was restating what was my reply that David Suzuki’s statements in these examples that myself and others have listed raise questions about Suzuki’s credibility and respectability as alluded to above.

        Let’s leave that level of respectful and ‘objective argument’ to the Birthers and the Truthers.

        Most of those here that you take aim at are quite convinced that warming has occurred, likely most believe a human element exists to changes.

        I notice your reply to Rob Starkey above says ‘people who thinkin AGW will be beneficial overall are both simply ignorant. Sorry, you will have to face reality at some point.’

        Rob Starkey doesn’t adopt that position in his mention of it though. He describes a spectrum of differences of opinion among those he sees. Aside from that the only position he takes in that paragraph is,

        “The statement by Suzuki “fate of all of humankind” rests on climate change is the OPINION of some, but is by no means an undisputable fact.”

        I concur. And for the record, I neither doubt warming has occured, nor that there’s a human element to it. I just don’t see evidence to back up the certainty of the predictions of widespread catastrophic changes requiring an immeadiate multi-trillion dollar re-write of the world’s fragile-by-nature economy.

  86. Kip Hansen | 5:40 pm | .

    I must be shown the following:

    1) The hypothesis, which must be falsifiable.
    2) What experiment has been done and that it has been carefully laid out well enough to falsify your null hypothesis (and thus support your original hypothesis).
    3) What you did exactly, all the nasty details, how you controlled for every possible confounding factor (or didn’t control for this one and that…and why not, and how that might affect your findings).
    4) Your conclusion and how it follows from your data (and not your beliefs, feelings, hunches, or desire to please your funding agency or university tenure board).

    Then, and only then, will I listen to your opinion about what it might mean.

  87. “if level 1 climate scientists can’t convince the level 2′s and 3′s, then aspects of their argument are likely to be flawed, and they should actually listen to the level 2′s and 3′s to try to understand why they aren’t convinced; they might actually learn something.”

    Using the above logic, I should assume that aspects of your arguments with Claes Johnson are likely to be flawed, and that you might have learnt something if you had actually listened to him.
    But we have been told that Claes Johnson has behaved like a “crank”.
    Is this a case of ‘do as I say, and not as I do’?

    “a very important group in the context of the public debate on climate change” [...] “The broader public listen to the level 2′s and 3′s”

    … cite? evidence?

    1) You cannot convince everyone
    2) What proportion of engaged 2′s and 3′s fall into the ‘skeptic’ camp relative to the consensus?
    3) OTOH, 2 billion flies eat sh*t.

    What do 1, 2, and 3 imply for your arguments?

    • Claes Johnson was given three threads to convince people, there were nearly 2000 comments on these threads, I don’t think his arguments convinced anyone here. We listened, we heard, we didn’t buy it.

      • I think the point is that you fail your own test when you, during those 2000 comments, failed to convince Claes Johnson and Oliver K. Manuel..

      • And following the logic of the post, it’s Judith’s fault – she should have listened harder and then she would have been able to convince Claes.

      • Indeed. But you’re a level 1 and Claes Johnson is a level 2. Saying that Claes Johnson didn’t convince you is another thing. You didn’t convince Claes Johnson, and said that he behaved like a crank. I doubt that there is anyone who could convince Claes Johnson, and I agree that he behaves like a crank. But then I’m not claiming…

        “if level 1 climate scientists can’t convince the level 2′s and 3′s, then aspects of their argument are likely to be flawed”

        You are blaming the teacher, but it takes two to learn.

      • I asked a related question on an earlier thread. Both Dr. Curry and Gavin Schmidt failed to convince each other of their respective arguments after a lengthy and open discussion at Collide-a-Scape. I had thought from reading their comments at the time that both had come to the realization that two honest, intelligent, well informed individuals can look at the identical data and come to different conclusions without either being stupid, evil, or in the pay of big oil.

        I am not so sure any more. When discussing whether 2 + 2 + 4, if one cannot convince another of the correct answer, there is something missing in either the teaching method (communication), or the student. But when discussing a subject as complex, chaotic and wide ranging as climate change and the degree of certainty regarding its component parts, why is it so hard to believe that others simply come to different conclusions without mental defect, bad motivation or poor communication coming into play?

      • Lazar,

        ‘But you’re a level 1 and Claes Johnson is a level 2.’

        Dr. Johnson is not found on the scale that Judith has put together.

        He is someone who refuses to understand the fundamental basis for the interaction of light and matter, demanding that there MUST be a more ‘physical’ theory than quantum mechanics. Without proving he has discovered such a theory, he claims that quantization is incorrect and substitutes for it a mathematically flawed and physical wrong theory that cannot correctly predict experiments done 150 years ago.

        To make a comparison between that type of behavior and my trying (as a #2) very hard to get what I think are important questions answered and learning what I don’t know from the likes of Tobias, Schmidt, Curry and Pielke is flawed in the most. Dr. Johnson is not trying to learn. He is imposing his own flawed interpretation of physical reality onto a science that has long ago consented to the undeniable correctness of the current theory…to more significant digits than any other theory we have yet to create.

        We do not live in a black and white world where useful rules can be applied independently of the specifics of a given situation. If a technically educated person is willing to seek the truth, whether that truth be for or against one’s previously held position, then his/her not agreeing with a particular technical conclusion to meaningful in some way. When a technical person is not willing to learn anything, but rather simply state poorly thought out analogy that miss large swaths of the technical situation at hand, those rules cannot be applied in the same way.

        That is why the word ‘likely’ has importance in the statement you’ve highlighted. Context matters.

        The entire reason why this has become such an interesting topic of conversation is the fact that it is a very gray area.

        Please make a mental note of this fact.

      • Wow, Dr. Curry you seemed to have found a crowd that argues the exception invalidates the rule.

        Of course, there will always be people left unconvinced. But, we’re not talking about a small segment of our society. Regarding climate science, ambivalence and skepticism is more prevalent today than it ever was.

        Lazar makes a point, “You are blaming the teacher, but it takes two to learn.” And this is true. However, given the messages and instruction provided, its a small wonder why so many remain unconvinced.

        First of all, people don’t like being intentionally lied to. It automatically mutes the rest of the communication. Secondly, talking down to people with an obvious intellectual capacity to grasp very complex ideas will never bear fruition. And, thirdly, as I believe you’ve discovered, people with the same message are often lumped together. It isn’t always easy to distinguish the honest brokers from the political advocates. For instance, when someone references the IPCC, R. Pachauri and his statements is immediately brought to the forefront of my mind. I know he’s not a climate scientist. I know he’s a political activist appointee. I know Al Gore isn’t a climate scientist, but when impending catastrophe is mentioned, his wonderful work of fiction is brought to mind.

        For those blaming the audience for not learning the proper lessons, why is it that the skeptical community was the ones that showed the Himalayan glacier melt wasn’t scientifically factual? Or that the peril of polar bears isn’t based on reality, but rather dubious prognostications? Why is it that it is the skeptical community feel it necessary to keep referencing the list. What’s the list?

        http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm

        This is a dated list. There have been many more spurious claims about the dire consequences of CAGW. Alarmists would do themselves a great favor by distancing themselves from such stuff. What credibility can we lend to people that don’t correct these things? In the past, it was expected that the scientific community would police themselves. We are told peer-review is as close to truth as we can get. Given the list and many more examples, people still seem awe struck that no one believes them and its is the messaging rather than the message that’s the problem.

        No, it isn’t the messaging.

      • suyts,

        There are over 2,000 papers published each and every year in American journals on the science of the earth’s atmosphere at the level of the stratosphere and below of relevance to the earth’s climate. That’s just the atmospheric journals and does not include either specialist journals e.g. dendrochronology, nor the similarly (to atmospheric physics) sized field of oceanography. European journals probably publish a similar quantity, and I would guess another 1,000+ p/a for the Chinese. So at a guesstimate, that’s 5,000. Include oceanography and specialist journals, and you’re approaching 10,000.

        Judith Curry is talking about communicating with individuals…

        “1. Individual with a graduate degree in a technical subject that has investigated the relevant topics in detail.
        2. Individual spending a substantial amount of time reading popular books on the subject and hanging out in the climate blogosphere”

        If such individuals *believe* that the “message” of 100 years of research is “hide the decline”, or an error in a 1,000+ page report, or something the governor of Tokyo said (from “the list”), then such individuals have *not* “investigated the relevant topics in detail” and have either chosen their sources with poor judgment or have no genuine interest in learning.

      • Well, you could use that one article as being representative of the list, but I don’t think it would be accurate. See the two contradictory articles from “science” periodicals regarding the salinity of the Atlantic.

        http://www.livescience.com/3883-global-warming-sea-salty.html

        http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12528

        Also, the way I read her post, she seems to be referencing communication to all levels, “What Olson, Mooney and Hooke are talking about is communicating with level 4′s. It is my hypothesis is that effective communication and engagement level 2′s and 3′s is a prerequisite to effective communication with level 4′s. Climategate was mostly about a failure to engage constructively and effectively with level 2′s and 3′s, and also skeptical level 1′s.”

        More, you’re missing my point. Depending upon the specific subject, I suppose I could be classified somewhere between 2 and 3. Regardless of my understanding of an issue, it doesn’t escape my notice when something outlandish is stated in MSM and no scientists distances themselves from the outlandish statement. Nor do they jump to clarify a misunderstanding. These are called “lies of omission”. I find it interesting the absolute and quick response some scientist got from stating he’s found proof of alien life on meteorites. Heck, it was less than a day and seemingly hundreds of scientists were lined up waiting to get their licks in! But, when some pinhead states snow will be a thing of the past for the children in England………..(crickets chirping). Only this year, did it get addressed and only after skeptics pointed it out(it was since the day it was reported) and only after a couple of years of voluminous snow. And only stated was, “we never said that…..show me a study making that assertion.”

        Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. I really don’t believe climate science should mimic the preparation of spaghetti. For those not familiar, one knows spaghetti is boiled properly when you can throw it on the wall, and if it sticks, its ready. If climate science wishes to be taken seriously, they have to weed out or distance themselves from the political advocates and the histrionics.

        Oh, and because OSU has made some news today and this particular article is relevant to my comment, I gratuitously add this wonderful article discussing a brilliant piece of science. From the list… and yw!

        http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ncs/newsarch/2006/Mar06/snow.htm

      • That’s what I thought.

  88. There is a Climate Story that I would really like to hear. Using Basic Physics, the partial pressure of any gas in a volume with water is a function of the Temperature of the water. Using Basic Physics, as Ocean Temperatures rise the partial pressure of CO2 would naturally go up. Using Basic Physics, as Ocean Temperatures fall, the partial pressure of CO2 would naturally go down. Just like the Soft Drink Cans and Bottles. Open a cold one and it don’t fizz much. Open a warm one and it fizzes like crazy. Now the question. Since Consensus Climate Sciences has CO2 driving Temperature, rather than being driven by Temperature, where does their CO2 come from? This is the Climate Story that I do want to hear, where do you get your CO2 to drive with and what do you do with the CO2 that is a function of temperature.

  89. I hope you all noticed that our politicians, the ones who decide how much we all have to shell out to cut down on CO2, are outstanding exemples of belonging to caste No. 4 .

    So keep on telling them stories – their decisions will affect you, too. There’s not going to be a bonus for you, just because you’re not ‘a denier’ …

  90. OCEAN CYCLES

    What is really interesting at the moment is what is happening to our oceans. They are the Earth’s great heat stores.

    In the last few years [the Pacific Ocean] has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down

    According to research conducted by Professor Don Easterbrook from Western Washington University last November, the oceans and global temperatures are correlated.

    The oceans, he says, have a cycle in which they warm and cool cyclically. The most important one is the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO).

    For much of the 1980s and 1990s, it was in a positive cycle, that means warmer than average. And observations have revealed that global temperatures were warm too.

    But in the last few years it has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down.

    These cycles in the past have lasted for nearly 30 years.

    So could global temperatures follow? The global cooling from 1945 to 1977 coincided with one of these cold Pacific cycles.

    Professor Easterbrook says: “The PDO cool mode has replaced the warm mode in the Pacific Ocean, virtually assuring us of about 30 years of global cooling.”

    http://bit.ly/emAwAu

    So what does it all mean? Climate change sceptics argue that this is evidence that they have been right all along.

    They say there are so many other natural causes for warming and cooling, that even if man is warming the planet, it is a small part compared with nature.

    http://bbc.in/2ccxb7

  91. When all else fails, bring on Aesop’s Cautionary Tales. :-(

  92. Harold H Doiron

    Climate science needs a lot more science and a lot less story telling to the general public. Why stir up the general public with your fears before you are ready to back them up with objective data and validated models? You got Al Gore stirred up and where did that get you?

  93. I am unconvinced by many aspects of this 1,2,3 and 4 argument.
    Many are too quick to dismiss “joe sixpack” as uninformed, ignorant and going with/ accepting what he is told to accept.
    My background is probably similar or more closely aligned to that of Willis Eschenbach and I hold similar views. In other words do not discount the intelligence, abilities and common sense of the man in the street or the level 3/4 folk as you would call them. There is more awareness of the issues in the “great unwashed” than you might like to believe.
    Let me make my position clear. The global warming camp (and that is what it is) have made the fatal error of overplaying and overstating their case, if they had a case to begin with.
    The younger generation of today are not constricted to the say so of their mentors, there are myriad avenues ( such as the internet as an example ( this site included) that offer differing and alternative view points and alternative routes of exploration. The kids of today are not as stupid or as gullible as some would like to believe or prone to exploitation for that matter and nor are the old farts like me . On the contrary, it is the younger and more astute youth that (they) tried to subvert with propaganda that will end this corruption of solid scientific methodology. The existing crop of “so called” climate scientists will need to explain themselves or at least make the research and methodology open and justifyable. Not a bad thing at all. But why resort to this sort of subversion, propaganda, doomsayer stuff in the first place? Is it political or to do with career, funding or what?
    No, not in many cases because they believe what they believe but in other cases (yes) with out any doubt. Are the believers correct? Who knows but the evidence so far is not in their favour.

    • Bushy,
      I am not one of these younger people you talk about. I am one of the older skeptics. I like what you said about “Many are too quick to dismiss “joe sixpack” as uninformed, ignorant and going with/ accepting what he is told to accept.” I have never trusted the consensus expert opinion. It has been wrong, time and time and time again.
      I found this quote, by Galileo Galilei, on the Facebook page of L. Charles Burch “In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual”

  94. David Bailey

    I hope to be around when the history of climate change gets written – when some of the main characters confess the true reasons why they did what they did.

    Also when news organisations, such as the BBC, explain why they thought it necessary to censor so much of the problems with climate science.

    My guess it will consist of a comedy of errors, and people feeling trapped – constantly under pressure to reiterate dire warnings, even while they are beginning to have doubts.

    I have been reading Peter Woit’s book “The Trouble with Physics”, in which he expresses extreme doubt that string theory will ever deliver a reliable theory. When he describes the infighting and distortion of the peer review system, there is an uncanny resemblance to what we know goes on in climate science!

    My feeling is that institutionalised science doesn’t perform very well.

    • David, do you mean Lee Smolin’s fine book?

    • That’s a very good comparison – Peter Woit’s book is indeed another eye-opener in regard to institutionalised science.

    • “My feeling is that institutionalised science doesn’t perform very well.”

      Your feeling is right. There is something in the process of institutionalising/establishing of science that corrupts it. It’s in the nature of human society.

  95. John Campbell

    Ref: “Randy Olson’s idea of ‘Climate science: We help make sense of your world’ is a good one. Focusing on subseasonal, seasonal, and interannual climate variability would be much more effective in engaging the public (not to mention provide a better foundation for building confidence in climate models and helping to develop adaptation measures that make use of such forecasts.)”
    I’m a level 3 bloke, and I notice that the UK Met Office’s computer models do a really bad job of long-range forecasting. So how can I believe them on the next 100 years of climate? And yes, I know weather is not the same as climate. But I do remember something about modeling complex non-deterministic systems (my degree was in Economics), and I know that forecasting the economy’s behavior beyond a year or so is seriously hard, but I also know that hindcasting the economy is dead easy so long as I was allowed to muck about with the parameters until I got a fit. So it’s going to be very difficult for any climate scientist to convince me that their models are forecasting anything near reality – especially since they all seem to represent the supposed positive feedback with little more than an assumption expressed as a second-order equation plus some parameter-setting.

    And btw I’m still waiting to hear what would falsify the AGW theory (as finding fossil rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian would falsify evolutionary theory).

    • John,
      I am with you! I worked at NASA in Houston for 44 years. I know the difference between a Model and a Curve Fit. When you throw in extra terms in order to match historic data, that is a Curve Fit and Not any kind of a Model.

  96. Is there a guide to the Levels. I don’t know which level I am on or even if I am on one of the levels. If this information is already posted, send me a link to help me find it.

  97. There is absolutely no reason to build bridges to people like this:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/07/climate-ugliness-gets-personal/

    Much better to burn any bridges and quarantine this disease – Lysenkoism – until it dies out.

    More evidence of the rot in academia and why PhDs just ain’t what they used to be – as evident by all the junk science being excreted by some of them these days.

    • Al Gored,
      Something about that story does not seem correct. I would with hold condemning that school for awhile.

  98. Jeff Nelson

    I’m sort of a three and I apologize in advance if this is covered in some of the previous comments. I’d suggest that there is a Level 4.5- those who really haven’t paid much attention to global warming at all, but what they have seen has been in snippets of statements in pop culture/news- a mention by John Stewart, a joke on late night.
    But, more importantly, I’d encourage folks to view the levels as a progression of interest and ask very specifically why laymen become level 3s.
    I’ll give myself as an example. I was a 4.5 until a relative basically screamed at me about the issue, which turned me into a level 4 – I read the stories in the “science” sections of popular newspapers. When I expressed mild skepticism, I was lectured on the “facts” by activists- “settled science, snow a thing of the past, hurricanes on the increase yadda yadda. I looked ‘em up, discovered most were wrong, and inadvertently became a level 3. As the country appeared to be coming closer to “doing something,” like blowing millions on windmills and hiking energy taxes, a lot more people I know made the jump from 4.5 to 4 to 3, basically because they jumped online to ask the question “is this true?”
    If I were you, I would focus on what people are told at each level and what those who make the jump from one level to another discover during the jump.
    An example- a 4.5 is told that AGW is a certainty and we can save the world by changing a light bulb and maybe driving a bit less or at most spending about a postage stamp a day. A 4 is told we need millions windmills and solar panels and a new power grid, but not to worry because they are cheaper than coal and nukes and produce jobs, jobs, jobs.
    A 3 learns that all the examples above for 4.5s and 4s are dead flat wrong and wonders what else is.

    • good post Jeff…and then as you start to l.ook unde4r the hood allo sorts of other falsehoods spring out at you…you go to RealClimate or Stoat and see their abusive treatment of questioners…you learn that activists abused their position to mis-edit Wikipedia. It all cascades into deep scepticism of the cAGW messasge. They learned the lessons from Cominform and Goebbels but did not realise that the world had changed.

      • Sorry Graeme, you’re a bit late to the party – these comments have already been Godwin’d.

      • Godwin’s Law / Meme does not bar mention if it is pertinent, right? :-)

      • Jeff Nelson

        I actually don’t think it was a propaganda problem. I think most scientists simply had a complicated message and didn’t know how to communicate it. They felt a need to simplify and, unfortunately for them, activists took that ball and ran with it- eliminating uncertainty, making assertions about the weather that weren’t true, and tying the whole thing to a political “solution” that was guaranteed to be controversial (hint- there is no consensus that all things can be solved with via UN mandate, regulation and higher taxes).
        And, by the way, there is probably a growing number of 4.5′s making the jump to 3′s as warmists simply because a few things they found via Watts’ site are bogus. But that’s sort of the point, no matter which side you are on, if you tell a 4.5 something that is patently untrue, they will harden their opposition to you when they make the jump to 3. I think this is why level 3′s on both sides talk past each other. If – a very big if in my opinion – this country ever has a serious bill in Congress to do so much as a quarter of what Joe Romm wants, about half the country will become avid 4′s and a good 30-40% will become 3′s. I think that simple fact is a bigger problem for AGW believers than skeptics at this point.

  99. Five hundred and some comments later…

    When the piece starts out with the sentence:

    Right now, the field of climate science is struggling to generate support for predictions of environmental calamity that have not yet been realized.

    I think he’s already lost most people. Is that the mission of scientists? Isn’t the mission of scientists to study, and learn, and report, and debate, and slowly and painstakingly build the body of knowledge from observation? When did generating support for predictions become the mission of science?

    • Its Lysenkoism. These predictions are the basis for other political actions.

    • To be fair, the quote doesn’t say that it is the mission of climate science to do so, but the sentence is not well written. If it means that climate scientists are not contributing very effectively to the debate on energy policy etc. this is probably true. In any case, the role of science in policy is certainly complex and just doing the science and letting the politicians do the rest doesn’t work in a world of lobby groups and conflicting interests – scientists are called upon to speak and explain things face to face with our political leaders or to give advice directly or indirectly.

      http://mitigatingapathy.blogspot.com/

  100. simon abingdon

    Judith, please excuse an OT request. Is it possible to record the number of different contributors here (and maybe on other blogs too)?. The same names seem to appear all the time on RC for example (perhaps most of the rest get moderated out), but it would still be interesting to compare the sizes of your various audiences as well as the raw traffic figures. Just a thought. Best, simon.

  101. There are no happy endings; the storyteller just chooses to stop when people are happy.

    There is no beginning to a story, no effect without cause.

    However, if you want to know where the skill to tell the beginning and end of every part of the climate that does have its own story rests, it is in the likes of http://judithcurry.com/2011/03/05/chaos-ergodicity-and-attractors/ and similar types of discussion.

    That Chaos Theory is alien to most is a failing of the education system; at a useful introductory level, it contains few concepts as intrinsically difficult as long division or the decimal system, and is extremely important in understanding our world.

    Where what we can know and will never know of our world, and in this case of our climate, begins and ends here, in Chaos Theory.

    People who try to make some world-spanning predictions more than a few weeks in advance run up against the limits of Chaos.

    People who properly apply Chaos Theory, conversely, _might_ be able to make certain powerful and unexpected predictions reliably, on the other hand.

    This is where we ought be spending our time, putting our resources, investing our understanding and research. Here. In this story.

    Of course, you can’t eat theory.

  102. One parting shot on the Hockey stick and PCA

    ” But equally, if both are OK, why be perverse and choose the technique whose results are hard to interpret? Of course, given that the data appear to be non-stationary, it’s arguable whether you should be using any type of PCA.
    I am by no means a climate change denier. My strong impressive is that the evidence rests on much much more than the hockey stick. It therefore seems crazy that the MBH hockey stick has been given such prominence and that a group of influential climate scientists have doggedly defended a piece of dubious statistics. Misrepresenting the views of an independent scientist does little for their case either….’
    Ian Jolliffe”

    • Jeffrey Davis

      Of course, AGW rests on more than a proxy study. Or a dozen proxy studies.

      AGW was discovered in the 19th century as a physics issue — by Fourier and Arrhenius — well before there was any historical record to examine for a record. MBH98 is an illustration paper, not a foundational one. And MM05 is a partial criticism of a single paper. If people rest their beliefs either way — MBH98 or MM05 — they’re insane.

      • Jeffrey, I think most folks here would give you the ~1oC increase that physics predicts for CO2 doubling. It is roughly the difference in average temperature between Boston and NYC. That alone is a non-problem. It might well be beneficial.
        No, the “science” problem lies with feedbacks, particularly those on steroids as seen in IPCC scenarios. Resolving feedbacks is going to take some really good climate science.
        To do that “really good climate science” will require data with demonstrable integrity, from source to final data set(s). Finally, “demonstrable integrity” calls for reliable and accurate instrumentation and auditability (requirements, specs, data definition, code and process). Lots of work to do.

  103. Steve McIntyre make a great point about the lack of a “engineering report” that documents the path from a doubling of CO2 to an estimate of 3′C of warming. I think this is great because it plays perfectly into my moronic opinion that the climate science consensus should be communicated at a level understandable by an eight grade college prep science student (13 to 14 yo). The inability to communicate the consensus science at this level means that the scientist does not fundamentally understand the material.

    I’ve heard all the arguments about how it’s too complicated. A detailed understanding of complex partial differential equations is required to grasp the blah blah blah appeal to the trust in authority and shame the ignorance of the lowly masses.

    If the engineering report is done, then it can be boiled down into common sense language that people will understand as truth.

    What *it* comes down to is that the f-ing feedbacks are poorly understood. Also, what royally pisses me off is that the CAGW consensus authorities on climate science claim that the feedbacks to any *forcing* is the same. Yeah, right, like the heating and subsequent reactions to albedo changes are exactly the same as the heating-feedback effects from the additional IR trapping from a well-mixed gas is the same as increased UV hitting oceans and land from the f__k-all various mechanisms like increased TSI, less clouds, less aerosols, insolation, etc.

    Bollocks. Every different forcing has a unique preference for feedback that is also dependent on the synoptic mix of other forcings and changes in forcings. This is why paleoclimate is important, no matter what the pukewarming numbercrunching sole-patch wearing skeptic-lite crowd says.

    Until the range of forcings and feedbacks can be documented in an engineering report and boiled down to an 8th grade level, everything about this so-called science should be discounted as so much disconnected isolated drivel. This includes the papers published by the so-called skeptics Spenser, Lintzen Douglass, Christy, Soon, de Frietas, etc.

    Story-Telling my Arse… an 8th grader sees right through that slop.

    • I think the word itself is so obviously a constructed neologism that it puts people off!

      And don’t discount conspiracies when there are such gargantuan bux and world-spanning power on the table. There aren’t many precedents for stakes this large.

  104. Ah, narrative, one would expect it in spades, but one wouldn’t necessarily expect it to be helpful. That would depend on the true purpose of the narrative.

    CAGW seems to possess the characteristics of a memeplex, i.e. a large interlinked group of memes (see Note 1 below). Memes have been mentioned at this site before I think, but typically in a fairly trivial sense. However, memeplexes can be extremely powerful; think religions or communism or patriarchalism for some of the most pervasive and independent kinds. And they can be extremely long lasting, the span of some is measured in millenia. They gain such an extended life by evolving, and must have the freedom to do so, or else they will certainly die. And just as for their much smaller sub-components, memes, flat facts restrict their degrees of freedom and hence constrain their evolution, so must be avoided at all costs (‘independent’ above is in the sense of still possessing much of that freedom). Narrative is both their means of propagation, their means of coherence, and via a changing narrative within filtered limits, their means of evolution.

    To take an example, Christianity has been pretty resistant to facts in tha past (solar centric views, evolution etc) precisely because these may constrain the memeplex’s evolution, perhaps fatally one day. In practice, religions always have a trump card to play, because we will (likely) never know the universe, and so there will always be a mysterious ‘step beyond’ to which the Almighty can be deferred, and to which position the memeplex can thus evolve. But memeplexes that have taken the unfortunate step of hitching their wagon to something that will become factual (or near factual) one day soon, will inevitably die when those facts get too close to the surface, close enough to short-circuit the main narratives of the memeplex.

    CAGW looks like a classic memeplex. ‘Facts’ originally very vague and still highly uncertain. Lots of room for evolution. Massive output of narrative, mostly geared to survival and growth of the memeplex itself, the latter measurable by the number of heads of believers, the social impetus, the bending of influence and funds and priority towards that survival, and powered mostly by FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt), which are by no means the only drivers of memeplexes but are strong ones.

    Well in case anyone thinks memeplexes are bad bad things and we shouldn’t tolerate them, this is not necessarily the case. They often achieve very good things. For instance religions have often formed stable and generally beneficial social frameworks, occasionally at times when most other stuff is in flux or outright collapsed. And to say we could live without memeplexes is like a human cell saying it no longer wants to be part of, or obey the rules of (i.e. de-darwinisation) the body it lives in (this does happen occasionally, but only occasionally, it’s called cancer). It’s a case of weighing the benefits versus the cost, and some memeplexes are overall more damaging, more of an aggressive parasite than a beneficial symbiote. From a purely layman’s position, I’d say that CAGW is looking like a parasitic memeplex right now.

    So, is this view of CAGW characteristics just an obscure exercise or can it provide insights, particularly insights about where things may go? I think maybe it can, a little. There is a sense in which memeplexes have a ‘life’ of their own, a life which can often explain otherwise puzzling phenomena (see Note 2 below). For instance, how come legions of intelligent (e.g. scientists, social thinkers, responsible media guys etc) and honest people all working hard to get to or promote what they genuinely think is the truth, somehow still end up having a culture of hidden data, exaggeration (sometimes wild), failure to address core issues (e.g. uncertainty) and so on. Sure, there are one or two bad apples in any large enterprise, but it’s usually a good assumption that in any enterprise the vast majority of apples are good. The dislocation here is that the powerful imperatives of the memeplex are overiding other considerations, essentially altering the needle of ‘percieved truth’ itself, and those imperatives are aimed at one thing only – the survival of the memeplex. This may be quite direct in some cases (e.g. appropriation of funds for the noble cause), but generally for most will be much more indirect. I note many on sceptic blogs have mentioned the ‘religious’ characteristics of CAGW, but essentially (with apologies to the religiously orientated – we all have our beliefs) a better way of expressing this is that, just like religion, CAGW posseses the characteristics of a memeplex. And this realisation opens a way of understanding how to constrain the creature…

    Per above, flat fact can constrain a memeplex, perhaps to its death. Therefore, the way to constrain the creature is to reduce the uncertainty on which it thrives, reduce further and further the evolutionary space within which it operates. And bear in mind that it doesn’t matter what the fact space is; if God was proven to exist, religions would collapse because we would not need them to interpret His will, we’d just get hold of his phone number. Likewise if God was proven not to exist, we wouldn’t need religions either – no point anymore. It only matters that the uncertainty is reduced to the point where the memeplex hasn’t enough room to survive. And here we must just spend a moment to clean the word tools, specifically the one word ‘uncertainty’.

    Judith has (in my opinion quite rightly) called the IPCC and others on claiming far too much ‘certainty’ regarding climate sensitivity and projected temperature rise and such (based on model outputs). But the term ‘certainty’ here is pretty much upside-down. What is actually being promoted by the IPCC et al is the thing the memeplex wallows in and loves – uncertainty. This is because essentially, after translation from an aribtrary figure, the apparent ‘certainty’ element is only one of vague doom, which promotes all kinds of scary uncertainties about timescale, negative spin-off effects (sea ice, coral bleaching, tree death, food-chain failures, you name it), all of which need vast input to the memeplex (of course) for further research. SO… the effort to get scientists to properly express the uncertainties in their temp rise and sensitivity projections, may well dramatically constrain the possibility space to something much more approximate to actual facts. I.e. expressing accurate uncertainty regarding the root cause of doom, and seeing that it is large, is a way of also expressing the the relative certainty of a ‘nearer to null hypothesis’ or indeed the actual null hypothesis, and so reducing the possibility space and range for all the scary spin-offs. Thus expressing accurate uncertainties is critical, but any memeplex worth the name would combat such a move; one strategy among others for instance is to reverse the null hypothesis. Hmmm… where have I seen that recently

    Note that just like the religious example, whatever the facts eventually converge to, that convergance will kill the memeplex. If for example, something big needs to be done, it will nevertheless be a subject not a memeplex, maybe a more complex subject than building space rockets and maybe less hard than moving the population to Mars, but a subject which hasn’t much room for narrative and evolution and effort siphoned off to a big parasite. If of course the facts converge to a non-problem, then the memeplex’s death will be somewhat more dramatic. More likely it won’t be constrained enough to die, but may well evolve to something more benficial.

    As for expectations, memeplexes will writhe and wriggle to escape facts. No coincidence then the constant reframing, the several times renaming, the emphasis indeed on narrative instead of ‘straightforward reportage’ (as someone said above I think). Expect to see much more. And don’t expect, however honestly in a personal sense people are attempting to engage, to see narrative resulting in a convergance towards facts or even a better conveyance of existing understanding. It is critical to the survival of a memeplex to conserve mysticism and dilute understanding (though only to the point where it remains credible). And right now it still has wide uncertainty to play in, so we’ll only see these characteristics wither when that space is reduced (unless strong unrelated concerns – third word war or something, maybe the reccesion made a dint – override). And ny the way, whichever of us puts their hand up and says they are not subject to the imperatives of a memeplex, or a few of them, is a brave soul. We may largely be only a sum of the particular memeplexes and individual memes we have absorbed, with a the squirt of cream on top our only originality ):

    A note on tribalism. You’d expect the adherents of the memeplex to have core coherency. A bit like all the variants of Christianity sharing core beliefs despite their many and varied expressions developed over two millennia. That core is the memeplex. But I doubt there is a coherent ‘anti-memeplex’ for this or other similar structures (Hell for instance is part of the Christian memeplex, not an anti-memeplex). But a memeplex must muscle aside all sorts of other social structures big and small to get its cultural oxygen. Much opposition will just be from indivuduals who for one reason or another were never infected, or were short-circuited back out by happening to see through the veil. Or like Steve Mckintyre happen to posses laser vision. More organised opposition will be from structures whose toes have been trodden on, for instance conservatives are aroused latterly because of the direction CAGW has taken lately towards big gubment solutions. And so on. Similar engagement profiles means only that, not that the players necessarily share motives.

    As for conspiracies (as I seem to have traversed the whole gamut now), these are extremely weak creatures with very limited social reach and very poor temporal persistance. I think they can be discounted as any kind of root cause; but bear in mind that a powerful memeplex can spawn all sorts of sub-structures, which I guess would include conspiracies.

    It’s also of interest that one would expect a new(ish) memeplex to still be pushing out its boundaries, exploring if you will (though this language over-agential) how far it can go. So have you noticed CAGW as a proposed template for all sorts of moral and executive and philosophical areas, whether or not you’d have thought it had any business there? And maybe things like withdrawn kid-scaring ads and 10:10 fiasco show where it has indeed met a hard boundary, has tried to stretch too far. But memeplexes can modify moral and other landscapes as they pass, which starts to explain the apparent certitude of genuinely honest agents of the cause, which may not be understood by those outside the cause. Bear in mind that previous morals on which one might attempt to ‘objectively’ judge such things, are themselves only the average of previous structures, likely with some ‘hardwired’ genetic pre-disposition beneath (see Note 3 below). Older memeplexes ought to ‘know’ their place; for instance religion is relatively divorced from politics in the West.

    BTW some highly selected facts may be acceptable, even useful to a memeplex. The indisputable fact that we all die, and the fact that many people are pretty scared of this too, has been a great driver for religions to leverage. But such facts as are allowed must be distanced from the modus operandi by a suitable amount of mysticism. No short-circuiting allowed. It looks to me as an outsider gazing in, that there is still plenty of mysticism in climate change science. It seems one would be pretty hard pushed to definitively rule out from the range of possibilities, that the assault on CO2 no more effect on the climate than selling indulgences.

    Apologies if I’ve overlapped with anyone else above, the thread seems to have more than doubled in posts since I scanned over it yesterday.

    Andy.

    P.S. if we had the maths we could calculate the trajectory of such memeplexes, but it migh be as complex as climate science, or more :)

    Note 1: Though comparing cultural creatures with biological ones is an apples and oranges job, a loose biological equivalent is a ‘population’. A formal darwinian population is a fundamental unit of evolution, and, in the context of multi-level evolution, I think a much more emphatic one than say a gene (or indeed a species – which is a product of evolution, not the unit on which it operates). Multi-level evolution seems once to have been frowned on, fortunately not now, but one must still distance oneself from the over emphasis on ‘agential’ single information units (whether gene or meme), which emphasis ‘the selfish gene’ (unfortunatley in my humble opinion) promoted. Populational evolution gives good insight into things that are hard to address via the agential unit approach, e.g. altruism. Likewise in culture, memeplexes as an organised population (in people’s heads, in writing, in media etc) of ‘themed memes’, seems to provide some insight.

    Note 2: I am NOT suggesting memeplexes are conscious. To my knowledge no-one is. I’ve always imagined them as much closer to a virus than a sentient animal, if we are going to use comparisons. But a virus that has hooks into the minds of hundreds of millions of sophisticated and intelligent beings, may perhaps have some psuedo-conscious effects.

    Note 3: I have no idea whether there is hardwired pre-disposition towards climate calamity – it has been suggested for religions via the apparant many millennia of ancestor worship – maybe as we’ve likely sacrificed to ‘the sky is falling’ for a long time too, this is possible.

    • I referenced this before, but it appears to support Andy’s comment here.
      Sunstein, Cass, and Timur Kuran. “Availability Cascades and Risk Regulation.” Research. Social Science Research Network, October 7, 2007. http://www.law.uchicago.edu/files/files/364.pdf

      An availability cascade is a self-reinforcing process of collective belief formation by which an expressed perception triggers a chain reaction that gives the perception of increasing plausibility through its rising availability in public discourse. The driving mechanism involves a combination of informational and reputational motives: Individuals endorse the perception partly by learning from the apparent beliefs of others and partly by distorting their public responses in the interest of maintaining social acceptance. Availability entrepreneurs – activists who manipulate the content of public discourse – strive to trigger availability cascades likely to advance their agendas. Their availability campaigns may yield social benefits, but sometimes they bring harm, which suggests a need for safeguards. Focusing on the role of mass pressures in the regulation of risks associated with production, consumption, and the environment, Professor Timur Kuran and Cass R. Sunstein analyze availability cascades and suggest reforms to alleviate their potential hazards. Their proposals include new governmental structures designed to give civil servants better insulation against mass demands for regulatory change and an easily accessible scientific database to reduce people’s dependence on popular (mis)perceptions.

      I disagree with their recommendation of “new governmental structures”.

      • Pooh, Dixie: Very interesting link, thank you, I must read it in detail. I find the intersect where macro-evoluionary social structures in fact guide what we think is our own individual thought, to be very interesting. This mechanism looks to be right on that boundary, and maybe part of how memeplexes maintain themselves. The fact that the process can essentially be ‘driven’ (i.e. rather than occurring wholly ‘naturally’, a few determined individuals can hi-jack the cultural mechanism that is hi-jacking our minds), does make this area all the more complex.

        From the paper: “Availability cascades may be accompanied by counter-mechanisms that keep perceptions consistent with the relevant facts. Under certain circumstances, however, they generate persistent social availability errors-widespread mistaken beliefs grounded in interactions between the availability heuristic and the social mechanisms we describe. The resulting mass delusions may last indefinitely, and they may produce wasteful or even detrimental laws and policies.”

        This has a certain resonance, does it not? I think that when the ‘relevant facts’ are so highly uncertain (even deliberately disguised in some cases), counter measures are extremely hard to implement. I agree though that ‘new governmental structures’ are not the way to go as a counter-measure. Understanding more about how these things work, and encouraging an intolerant attitude to structures of this sort across the whole community (or relevannt subsections), would be much more effective. Expressed in evolutionary terms, one can’t stop things like this occurring, that’s tantamount to preventing evolution, which seems both unlikely and unproductive. But exposing all such structures to the cold hard light of day as often as possible, would ensure that they never evolved too far in a bad direction before corrections naturally arose.

  105. Eric Ollivet

    Dr Curry,

    Just few reflections with respect to your thread:

    1) I think a level 2.5 is missing in your list.
    This level should cover individual with a graduate degree in other technical field than climate and related sciences, but who are able to read and understand technical papers about climate and spend a significant time on the blogosphere doing so.

    2) Climategate is not the result of a communication’s failure but of dishonest science, conducted by corrupted scientists, accumulating scientific (and human) malpractices.

    3) If you aim at a worldwide approach, please consider that the situation in the US is much more favorable than in most of other countries, in the extent that there is a real open debate. Your blog participates to this debate and your compatriots should thank you for that: I’m pretty sure they do not know how lucky they are.

    In most of European countries, and especially in France, this debate remains closed because of a tacit agreement, at all levels, considering AGW theory as fully demonstrated and science as settled…
    - 90% of the political community, even at the right wing, supports (at least officially) AGW theory and subsequent policies to significantly reduce CO2 emissions (binding agreements, cap and trade, taxes….)
    - Almost all media have delivered, for more than 15 years, the same “one-way” stereotyped mainstream message, without any consideration for skeptics’ views and arguments.
    - Skeptics are rather rare in the scientific community mainly because research in general, and climate science in particular, almost entirely depend on public funding… that almost only supports projects aiming at consolidating mainstream views…

    An efficient worldwide communication first requires that these one-way thinking and communicating are everywhere definitively banished, therefore allowing an open, enlarged and unbiased debate.

    4) Level 4, as other levels, does not need story telling any more.
    We’ve been told for years with the same scary stories and doomsday prophesies that turned out (climategate) to be lies based on junk science. Once again, what is needed is an open, enlarged and unbiased debate. Saying “enlarged” I mean that
    This debate shall not be limited to scientific aspects. It shall address ALL issues related to climate change (economy, demography, public health, security etc…) and put into perspective the key ones.
    As you well stated there are 2 key issues that actually go far beyond the debate of climate change:
    - How to provide enough land, food, water, energy, raw materials to a growing population (that will increase by 50% within the next 40 years!), and ensure sustainable development, knowing that our resources are by definition limited ?
    - How to reduce our vulnerability with regards to extreme events

  106. Willis Eschenbach

    Pekka Pirilä | March 9, 2011 at 3:25 am |

    Willis,
    The formulation at RC is bad, but close to the same thing can be formulated correctly as follows:

    A real trend of the strength observed as average warming rate over the last 100 years doesn’t manifest itself over every period as short as 15 years. Such periods are too for determining the strength of the warming or even indicating every time correctly the sign of the overall trend.

    I am generous enough to accept that this is the message that Phil Jones wanted to tell, although he was not totally clear, and although RC messed up with the message even more.

    Neither of them said anything even remotely similar to that. RC said that

    But it is extremely difficult to establish a statistically significant trend over a time interval as short as 15 years–a point we have made countless times at RealClimate.

    That’s not what you said, nor is it true as I showed above. And you are now re-interpreting the RC interpretation of what Phil Jones said. Phil said what he said. If you don’t like it you are free to disagree. But you’re not free to make up some totally different thing and simply say you are “generous enough to accept” that your fantasy is what Phil was really trying to say … sorry, but that’s historical revisionism. Neither Phil nor RC said anything like what you say. You say something entirely different, something much nearer the truth. Trying to be an apologist for the two of them merely reduces your own credibility. It doesn’t change what they said.

    Taking autocorrelations into account the statistical significance of the annual temperatures from 1995 to the present is even less, when the data is used for the determination of the long term trend. The proper error estimates are then so broad that the data is consistent with any long term trend from rather fast cooling to really fast warming. It really doesn’t tell much at all about the long term trend.

    I took autocorrelation into account in the numbers I quoted above, using the method of Nychka.

    The real significance of the flattening is that the longer term estimate is now significantly lower than it would have been, if a warming similar to the previous 15 years had persisted.

    The real significance of the flattening is that none of the models forecast it, and we don’t know why it is happening. Yes, there’s hand-waving about “natural variation”, but that just gives it a name. It doesn’t explain it. The models can’t explain it. That is significant on a planet where the modelers claim to be able to forecast a century out …

    The fact that the last 10 years are warmer than previous 10 year periods is still a confirmation of a longer term warming, albeit a little slower one.

    True, and likely the most meaningless statistic imaginable. The globe has been generally warming at about half a degree per century for three hundred years. If you picked any decade since about 1650, the odds are reasonable that you’d find it was the warmest decade in the record. About one decade in five in the HadCRUT3 temperature dataset is the warmest decade up to that date … so? This tells us nothing other than that the climate is has been generally warming, just as it has been over the last 300 years. We don’t know why it has warmed like that. We don’t know if the warming will continue.

    w.

    • Willis,
      All these comments leave freedom of interpretation. We use that freedom differently. But, when I have described my approach and told directly, that it is my interpretation, it’s not up to you to say:

      But you’re not free to make up some totally different thing and simply say you are “generous enough to accept” that your fantasy is what Phil was really trying to say … sorry, but that’s historical revisionism.

      I see no reason to back up from anything in my previous comment.

      When there is so much polarization in the discussion, there is also so much variation in, how each of us reads the evidence, what each of us believes to be true concerning acts and thoughts of others. While some see lies and wrongdoings, I see often normal human errors, perhaps stupid behavior, and sometimes biases coming from systemic reasons rather than faults of individuals.

    • The real significance of the flattening is that none of the models forecast it, and we don’t know why it is happening. Yes, there’s hand-waving about “natural variation”, but that just gives it a name. It doesn’t explain it. The models can’t explain it. That is significant on a planet where the modelers claim to be able to forecast a century out …

      What are the climate models supposed to forecast? Definitely not correctly every period of 15 years. When they were never supposed to do that, then where is the point?

      The fact that the last 10 years are warmer than previous 10 year periods is still a confirmation of a longer term warming, albeit a little slower one.

      True, and likely the most meaningless statistic imaginable.

      Why?

      This is certainly many times more significant than the flatness of the last 10 years. This is after all something that the climate science claims to be able to say something about in contrast to the temperature development of the shorter periods.

      • Hang on-

        Just what IS the touted accuracy of the models- i.e. what timescale are you holding them to be accurate to?

        As frankly- if i were conducting a long term study and my results veered as significantly as this from what i was ‘projecting’ i’d be worried (about my theory).

        As for the warmest decade vs the flatness of decade- you’re missing the point- willis has already stated that the data shows warming for ~300 years- with each decade likely the hottest on record- therefore the assertion that the current decade is significant as it’s the hottest DESPITE the stalling temps is false.

        You can’t spin this- that is the ONLY way to interpret it.

      • I am not one who would say that the warming that we have seen is a unambiguous proof, but the observed warming is certainly evidence of some strength. Climate science studies climatic issues and in this case the climatic issue is longer term temperature development. It’s not at all empty hand-waving (as Willis claimed) to notice that there are oscillations in the temperature and that the strength of such oscillations are comparable to the hypothetical temperature trend over a decade. Thus flattening for a period of 15 years falls within the expected range of temperature changes. It is close to the edge of the expected range and therefore not very likely, but still within the range.

        Looking at the longer term development, the combination of two consecutive rises as we have first 1910-40 and then 1970-2000 with a smaller drop from the first maximum to the following minimum doesn’t appear a likely development. The overall increase has reached a level that appears to require a significant anthropogenic contribution. I started this message by noting that I do not consider that this is strictly a proof, but I do certainly think that we have a strong indication.

        The flattening tells, that ten years ago with might have been misled by the temperature history to think that the fast trend of the previous 20 years was representative. Now we have reason to think that the long term trend is not that strong, but we have even stronger evidence that there is indeed a significant trend.

      • hmm. Interesting post.

        I agree that the cyclic nature of the natural warming is becoming more and more apparent- however i disagree that this strengthens the case for the anthropogenic theory, i’d say the exact opposite; that it weakens the theory.

        Observed warming only tells us that the world is warming- it doesn’t support a particular theory- a stalling in warming whilst not catastrophic to cAGW certainly puts greater emphasis on natural variations. Which is tricky in itself as the cAGW theory is based on the premise that (in this context) natural variations are insignifcant/insufficient to explain the recent warming.

        I put to you that the stalling shows the exact opposite- that the recent stalling is indicative of STRONG natural influences (even on short timescales)- meaning that the dismissal of the natural forcings to assign the anthropogenic signal is fundamentally flawed.

      • Concerning inference I subscribe to Bayesian model. When several explanations are consistent with observation that one is supported, which would make the observation most likely if the hypothesis is true.

        Thus the oscillatory features support the importance of natural oscillations and the strength of the warming since 1970′s supports the importance of CO2. The simplest explanation consistent with what we have seen with a reasonable accuracy and using a minimal number of adjustable parameters is a combination of both. The need for some natural oscillations is obvious. For the trend CO2 is the best explanation, because it has a predetermined timing and the only essential free parameter is strength. We don’t know any other explanation that would not be just pure curve fitting without any underlying reason for picking some particular temporal form.

        Thus Bayesian reasoning supports rather strongly the importance of CO2, but as I said even a strong support is not the same thing as a proof.

      • True enough- and perhaps this is the limitation of such reasonsing (Bayesian), especially scientifically speaking.

        I still maintain that the 1900-1940 warming shows similar if not near-enough ‘identical’ warming, which would limit the role of co2; i’m not arguing that co2 doesn’t have an effect- just that it is slight and that natural factors are far more significant.

        And this is inaccurate:
        “For the trend CO2 is the best explanation, because it has a predetermined timing and the only essential free parameter is strength”
        -it is the only explanation climate scientists have explored, that is all. Were they to examin natural factors in such detail i’d wager imagine things wouldn’t be so clear cut (to them(,

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Bayes is lovely. However, as near as I can figure, he must have lived indoors. I say this because the idea that the most likely explanation is the simplest one, or the most probable one, never met nature, where it takes an intricate cascade of dozens of clotting factors just to make the blood clot. That’s neither simple nor probable, and unfortunately much of nature is the same. Bizarre associations and weird unexpected paths are how it works. A platypus is extremely improbable, Bayes would have had a hissy fit calculating the odds … but there it is, living and breathing, duck’s bill, poison spurs, and all.

        The warming trend has lasted ~ 300 years so far. You make the unsupported claim that CO2 is the “best explanation” for that 300 year rise in temperature … you’ll have to explain that to me.

        w.

      • Willis, I don’t know if I want to open up this can of worms, but what you’re saying is directly relevant to the ID/Darwin argument. The strong evidence that there is no intelligent designer is the Rube Goldberg way most critters are put together. It would seem Bayes is a creationist.

      • Heh- funny you mention clotting factors Willis- i’m knee deep in them as we speak. Blasted things.

      • Willis,
        I don’t like Bayesian inference as a way of getting easy and unique answers. I like it, because it brings to the surface the unavoidable subjectivity that goes into all reasoning. To me choices are: being honest and using Bayesian thinking, or making unjustified subjective choices and hiding them dishonestly, usually also from the person, who makes the inferences.

        You say that it has been warming for 300 years. The supporting evidence for AGW comes from the fact that after this long period the temperature has still risen rapidly from the 1970′s. With higher and higher starting level, such an additional rise has become more and more unlikely without some now contributing factor.

        When we now have a new contributing factor with right enough temporal properties, the observation gives strong support for its importance.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Pekka Pirilä | March 9, 2011 at 5:40 am | Reply

        … What are the climate models supposed to forecast? Definitely not correctly every period of 15 years. When they were never supposed to do that, then where is the point?

        Thanks, Pekka. Their creators say they are supposed to forecast the “general evolution” of the climate. So far, they’re not doing well at that. Richard Kerr in Science Magazine wrote an article called “What Happened to Global Warming?”. He said that a ten year flat period, while significant, didn’t mean that the models were wrong. However, his article says:

        From this result, the group concludes that the model can reproduce natural jostlings of the climate system—perhaps a shift in heat-carrying ocean currents—that can cool the world and hold off greenhouse warming for a decade. But natural climate variability in the model has its limits. Pauses as long as 15 years are rare in the simulations, and “we expect that [real-world] warming will resume in the next few years,” the Hadley Centre group writes

        Ummm … we’re up to fifteen years of no statistically significant warming now, Pekka, so at this point I fear your charming “natural variation” story is getting past its “use-by” data.

        The fact that the last 10 years are warmer than previous 10 year periods is still a confirmation of a longer term warming, albeit a little slower one.

        True, and likely the most meaningless statistic imaginable.

        Why?

        This is certainly many times more significant than the flatness of the last 10 years. This is after all something that the climate science claims to be able to say something about in contrast to the temperature development of the shorter periods.

        I’m glad you find it significant. It signifies … what? That the earth has been warming slowly for some centuries … be still my beating heart.

        I didn’t realize that was in question, Pekka. On my planet folks know that the earth is gradually warming and has been for a while, so a finding that tends to verify that isn’t significant at all.

        Maybe they haven’t noticed that on your planet or something, but here, like the songs says “that don’t impress me much”. We’ve known that for years, Pekka. How on earth is it significant that the earth has gradually warmed?

        w.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Pekka Pirilä | March 10, 2011 at 5:13 am |

        Willis,

        I don’t like Bayesian inference as a way of getting easy and unique answers. I like it, because it brings to the surface the unavoidable subjectivity that goes into all reasoning. To me choices are: being honest and using Bayesian thinking, or making unjustified subjective choices and hiding them dishonestly, usually also from the person, who makes the inferences.

        Bayes doesn’t say “what are the odds”. He says “given what we know, what are the odds”. For me, all inference is Bayesian at its core, whether formally or informally. This is because our estimates of all odds are based on some set of initial conditions, or Bayesian priors. We can’t do otherwise, we can’t estimate odds in a vacuum.

        Also, there are a lot of things claimed to be Bayesian that are not …

        You say that it has been warming for 300 years. The supporting evidence for AGW comes from the fact that after this long period the temperature has still risen rapidly from the 1970′s. With higher and higher starting level, such an additional rise has become more and more unlikely without some now contributing factor.

        When we now have a new contributing factor with right enough temporal properties, the observation gives strong support for its importance.

        Pekka, you state correctly that the most recent rise in temperature has a “higher starting level” than previous rises. This was also true of the rise in the 1930s, and the rise about 1900, and the one about 1975, and the one … actually, Pekka, that’s been true of ALMOST EVERY RISE SINCE 1650.

        So perhaps you could explain to me again what makes this latest one significant. Yes, you have a whiz-bang explanation for the latest one, CO2 done … but done what? And how do you know?

        To see what I mean, perhaps you could discuss the following two situations in a Bayesian sense.

        1. For 20 years or so we have a global temperature rise at the end of the 20th century We know nothing about the period prior to that.

        2. For 20 years or so we have a 20th century global temperature rise. We have reasonably good information that for the prior 300 years, the temperature rose at roughly the same rate as during the 20th century.

        Given Bayes, in which situation is it more likely that the temperature rise is an anomaly?

        Given Bayes, can we say the temperature rise in the second situation is an anomaly at all?

        If we cannot say the temperature rise is anomalous or unusual, which even Phil Jones admits … well, then we can all go home because the AGW folks have never been able to falsify the null hypothesis.

        I say this because Bayes argues strongly against what you claim is a Bayesian conclusion …

        w.

        PS – I’d have answered you in line, or at the end of the thread, but neither were possible. I hate threaded themes, hate them.

      • Willis,
        After this exchange of comments, I conclude that we agree on principles and that the differences in our views are due to differing priors and to the other subjective inputs to the Bayesian inference: the estimates of the likelihoods of the observations given a specified hypothesis is true.

        The subjective nature of the priors is widely understood, but I think that the importance of subjective judgments in determining the likelihoods is not as well known although this second type of subjectivity may influence the outcome even more.

        In the case of recent warming the second subjective input concerns the estimated likelihoods of the observed warming with and without the influence of additional CO2 (or for different strengths of this influence). You appear to think that it is rather likely after preceding warming trend even without the AGW, while I consider it less likely. How could either one of us convince the other one that his subjective choices are the right ones?

        Unfortunately there is no way of getting rid of either source of subjective influence, although reducing the differences between the estimates of different people is often possible by going through various factors influencing the judgments.

        ====

        The weaknesses of all alternative blog software solutions in supporting discussion of hundreds of comments per thread is another issue that we hardly can solve. For my own use I have much help from an own software solution, but it may be that others do not find it as useful. I have not received any feedback although several people have downloaded the software. (See my entry in Denizens.)

      • An interesting discussion on interesting topic. Both viewpoints seem to have their pros and cons. While I find the arguments of Willis really strong (I’ve made similar arguments for a while) It doesn’t really rule out what Pekka has said either. Therefore I wouldn’t really justify this statement made by Willis:

        If we cannot say the temperature rise is anomalous or unusual, which even Phil Jones admits … well, then we can all go home because the AGW folks have never been able to falsify the null hypothesis.

        Even if we couldn’t say it is anomalous or unusual, that doesn’t either really rule out CO2 as a significant contributing factor. Even if there would be a longer cycle or whatever we would call it, how do we know if it has already stopped or continued? So we can not actually go home, the debate goes on… perhaps we should move on to some other, more useful metrics.

        The forthcoming BEST-temperature series will lighten out this debate soon, at least if it differs from the trends seen in other datasets to direction or another.

      • Forgot to say, that IF the trends in BEST will be less, then I think it would also lighten out the hot spot issue, as also discussed in Klotzbach et al.

      • “that doesn’t either really rule out CO2 “.

        So what? Until you have established an anomaly, the question of CO2 as a factor, or for that matter the length of puppy dogs’ tails, has not arisen. Why, then does it matter to you that you can’t rule it out? Why do you see the need to attempt to? What CO2? Who cares about CO2, when there’s no evidence that there is a problem – still less that CO2 is that problem?

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Pekka and Juakola, thanks for your comments. Pekka, you say:

        Pekka Pirilä | March 10, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Reply

        Willis,
        After this exchange of comments, I conclude that we agree on principles and that the differences in our views are due to differing priors and to the other subjective inputs to the Bayesian inference: the estimates of the likelihoods of the observations given a specified hypothesis is true.

        The subjective nature of the priors is widely understood, but I think that the importance of subjective judgments in determining the likelihoods is not as well known although this second type of subjectivity may influence the outcome even more.

        In the case of recent warming the second subjective input concerns the estimated likelihoods of the observed warming with and without the influence of additional CO2 (or for different strengths of this influence). You appear to think that it is rather likely after preceding warming trend even without the AGW, while I consider it less likely. How could either one of us convince the other one that his subjective choices are the right ones?

        If the temperature has been rising at something on the order of half a degree per century for a couple of hundred years, surely the null hypothesis is that it will continue at something like that rate. Sure, it may not, but Bayes suggests that might be a good guess.

        Regarding the “estimated likelihoods of the observed warming with and without the influence of additional CO2″, that’s what the quarter-century debate is about. That’s what we have almost no information about. You can’t bring that in as a Bayesian prior, that way lies madness.

        juakoka, you raise an interesting issue, viz:

        juakola | March 10, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Reply

        … Therefore I wouldn’t really justify this statement made by Willis:

        If we cannot say the temperature rise is anomalous or unusual, which even Phil Jones admits … well, then we can all go home because the AGW folks have never been able to falsify the null hypothesis.

        Even if we couldn’t say it is anomalous or unusual, that doesn’t either really rule out CO2 as a significant contributing factor. Even if there would be a longer cycle or whatever we would call it, how do we know if it has already stopped or continued? So we can not actually go home, the debate goes on… perhaps we should move on to some other, more useful metrics.

        Both you and Pekka seem a bit confused about the steps involved here.

        Suppose I come up with a hypothesis. We’ll say it is that the recent color change in man-in-th-moon marigolds is due to increasing gamma rays.

        To establish that, I have to show two things.

        1. There’s been a recent color change in MITM marigolds, and

        2. The cause of the color change is gamma rays.

        Note that I need to do these in order. I can’t start with number 2.

        For each of these we have a null hypothesis. For #1, the null hypothesis is that any color change in MITM marigolds is just natural variation. To establish my claim, the first thing I need to do is to

        Falsify the Null Hypothesis

        I put it in bold because it is the first, unskippable step in the scientific process. To falsify it, I research and find historical color pictures of a wide variety of MITM marigolds. I establish that the colors range from dark blue to blue-green. I calculate mean (average) values, as well as the standard deviation and the range of color variation.

        Next I show example of recent photos of MITM marigolds. They go through greens to yellows and even reds in some cases. Way outside the historical range. I show that, not just in photographs, but statistically. The RGB (red-green-blue) values of the recent flowers are outside the range (including uncertainty!) of the historical flowers.

        In that way the null hypothesis, that what we are seeing is natural variation, is falsified.

        Then and only then can I go on to talk about gamma rays. Before that, any discussion of gamma rays is premature.

        This is the central problem of climate science. The IPCC was set up before the null hypothesis was falsified. The null hypothesis for climate is that what we are seeing is just natural variation, just the continuation of a centuries long trend. And to this day, it still hasn’t been falsified. Why do you think Dr. Trenberth desperately wants to change the rules of the game?

        w.

        PS – juakola, you say (emphasis mine):

        Even if we couldn’t say it is anomalous or unusual, that doesn’t either really rule out CO2 as a significant contributing factor.

        Given my discussion above I have to ask, a “significant contributing factor” to what? To a three century long slow half-degree per century or so rise in global temperature? To a recent warming that is statistically indistinguishable from the two prior warming periods in the historical record?

        You see the problem with your statement, I hope.

      • Willis, you keep coming up with new candidates for your Best Comment Ever! Fortunately, I don’t care about rank-ordering them, I just enjoy and learn.

        I commend to your attention the following comment by “Hans”: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/10/visualizing-the-greenhouse-effect-emission-spectra/#comment-617922
        The English is a bit scratchy, but the concept of “entropic waste heat” is brought to the fore, and I think it needs to stay there.

      • Willis,
        Even after your best attempt to confuse the argumentation, I do not admit that I am confused to the least.

        We just disagree, and we both believe that we have good reason to hold to our views – and that the reasons of the other party are not as good.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Pekka, you say:

        Willis,
        Even after your best attempt to confuse the argumentation, I do not admit that I am confused to the least.

        Pekka, are you deliberately trying to be nasty?

        Or do you just not know that accusing someone (without evidence or citation) of deliberately trying to “confuse the argumentation” is a very unpleasant and anti-social thing to do?

        I may well be confused, Pekka. I have been before, badly confused. But accusing me of deliberately trying to confuse the argument is an underhanded, unpleasant, and untrue libel.

        Apologize or the conversation is over. I’m tired of people who don’t know me and have never met me accusing me of bad faith. As I wrote here, I have less and less tolerance for this kind of ugliness. I am an honest man doing my best.

        You may have little acquaintance with my type, honest men may be rare among your friends, I don’t know. And my best attempts at explanation may indeed confuse you.

        However, that does not excuse your false accusation.

        w.

      • When Trenberth made his play to have the null hypothesis, I observed at the time that he was merely asking for retrospective approval for a state of affairs that has prevailed in climate “science” for a decade and half. Pekka, you exemplify my assertion. You simply cannot grasp the true character of nullity. Willis has explained it to you, and to others of your kind, in terms a slow-learning child could grasp, yet the very concept seems to elude you. That’s part of the reason you don’t understand the significance of the Climategate emails – the concept of nullity in climate research is so alien, that you probably genuinely don’t understand the principles that were being violated, and the implications that it has for the truth about climate.

        Willis, forget it. Those that need to have read and understood you. There’s plenty more codswallop out there that badly needs your pen.

      • Pekka, are you deliberately trying to be nasty?

        I have the habit of sometimes returning nastiness, usually I don’t start it.

      • that should have read – “have the null hypothesis reversed,”

      • Willis,
        You say that after long warming (which is actually not at all as regular as you formulation implies) the null hypothesis is that the warming continues. What would be your null hypothesis in coin tossing after 10 heads, when you have checked the coin carefully and found nothing unusual in it?

        Concerning climate resent past is one factor, energy balance is another, longer history is a third (with warm MWP and without). I weight strongly arguments telling that warming cannot continue forever without continuously increasing external forcing. I consider this argument to have much weight already in estimating the likely temperature development of the last 40 years under different strengths of AGW. To me this argumentation supports a relatively strong AGW.

        You seem to disagree, but I new already all the arguments that you have presented, and made my judgment taking them into account. Repeating the same arguments 100 more times is not going to give them any more weight in my judgment. Only additional facts (empirical or theoretical) can influence my estimates.

      • “What would be your null hypothesis in coin tossing after 10 heads, when you have checked the coin carefully and found nothing unusual in it?”

        This is not equivalent to what Willis described, because, contrary to a coin, where we can examine it carefully, and, more important, have an extensive experience about coin tossing (personal, and cultural(still, after 10 face, it would take a lot of serious investigation before I expect a 50%-50% coin and no external rigging)), we do not have such deep knowledge about climate . About weather, yes, somewhat, but not about climate in the sense of long term trends of world average temperature.
        That’s why imho Willis is correct and, more important, why paleo T reconstruction are crucial.
        If we have been slowly warming the last hundred years, the null hypothesis is indeed continued warming (not to say that it is not worth studying this warming, but, without more info, it is natural to believe business will continue as usual)).
        If temp was more stable, the demand for an explanation of the current warming is much stronger, hence the fuss about the hokey stick. If we had a large MWP, roman warm period, LIA, and so on, we know that we have non-periodic oscillation of quasi-periods much longer than modern observation. Again, this means that there is no specific reason to look for a cause that is present now and was not present then (fossil fuel burning), but it is more important to look for explanation that can hold for the last few thousand years. And then, once the previous oscillation were explaned, one can look for an explantation for the current warming, if it is still not explained.

        IMHO, Having a trustable, accurate past T history under no serious dispute and at least as long as a few periods of the longest oscillations identified is a prerequisite for climate science if one want to have trustable prediction. Without such a T history, there is almost no possibility of model validation, and climatology can not be used to make any kind of long term prediction…

      • kai,
        Of course it is not equivalent, but coin tossing example tells about the limits of simple extrapolation.

        I continued by explaining my reasoning further.

        There is no way you can convince me that continuing warming is any more justified or even as justified prior than stopping warming; that is there is no way without much better arguments.

        Your arguments are as weak as the argument for expecting some other probability than 50% in the coin tossing example.

        On the other hand the hypothesis that AGW is significant predicts definitely a trend that follows with some delay the increase in CO2 concentration. On this point I do not think that even reasonable disagreement could exist, the disagreement must be in the prior probability of such an AGW, not on its prediction for the temperature development, when assumed to be true.

      • Sorry, but it does not tell about the limit of simple extrapolation. It tells that, sometimes, when you have an extremely solid prior, simple extrapolation may not be the best estimation.
        It’s all a question of the strength of your a-priori estimation and the strength of the new evidence. After 100 faces, what will be your estimation? after 1000 faces? and after even only 5 faces, if the coin is behind a window and tossed by a robot?

        As I said, despite my prior expectation of a coin to show about 50% faces, after 10 faces I would bet that the next one will be a face with a 2 to 1 reward, without a single hesitation: 10 faces indicate that there is a good chance that you do not have a perfect coin, or that the tossing is rigged somehow.

        Frankly, if , for example, after 200 years of a warming trend, you think that there is a 50% chance of no warming, (or 33% warming, 33% flat, 33% cooling), it means that you either have a prior knowledge of climate that I don’t (and, afaik, nobody else have), or that your bets on future average temperature are not rational.

      • Oups, hit send too early :)

        One example of a priori knowledge that could invalidate simple extrapolation would be:

        -T is cyclic with long, non fixed period,and we are approaching the previous T maximums.

        -we have never before observed a T rise longer than the one we observe today.

        This is the stuff that should make people carefull before investing in a climbing share for example (appart from detailed knowledge about the company)

        And this is the kind of detailed knowledge about past climate that, imho, we don’t have, and which would be crucial to have…

        Theoric considerations (based on model runs) could be valid too, but for this we need validated models which are able to fit past T with the accuracy needed to match your bet on future temp trend (trend on 10, 15,30 years? one additional problem is that the time on which model claim to be accurate is long versus decision making periods, but also against forcing variation, so a lack of accuracy can always be blamed on ill estimation of future forcings…. For example, a model that claim to be useful only for T> 200 years, with an estimated oil reserve < 200 years, is not useful at all for any kind of decision making)

      • Kai,
        I go first through the process of Bayesian reasoning to explain my point.

        The idea of Bayesian reasoning is to use all prior knowledge and understanding to determine:

        1) Prior expectations or subjective probabilities of various alternative hypotheses. These hypotheses may be characterized by several variables, one of which might be the strength of AGW (or the climate sensitivity).

        2) The likelihoods of different possible results of analyses that have net been taken into account in forming the priors of point 1).

        When an analysis of some empirical data has been completed, it is checked, what the likelihood of that result is based on the point 2) for various hypotheses considered and these likelihoods are used to determine the updated subjective probabilities of those hypotheses.

        Where our views appear to differ is the determination of the recent warming assuming that AGW is weak. One approach that I disagree strongly is to say that the preceding warming tells that it is likely. That is based on an assumption that past trend makes continuing trend likely. The opposite claim is that after so much warming we have very likely reached a level, where further warming gets unlikely as it would require energy flows that are contrary to expectations. My view is somewhere in between, but closer to the second point.

        There is absolutely nothing wrong in using general physical principles or even more detailed models in determining the prior probabilities and likelihoods of new observations. Actually they should be used as far as there is trust in them. No individual can state that others cannot use these arguments and using them is in 100% agreement with the ideas of Bayesian inference.

        There are facts that are well enough understood to say that those who disagree must be wrong, but there are also very many issues where knowledgeable and competent individuals have different views. Therefore different individuals reach legitimately different conclusions through Bayesian reasoning. That does of course not say that we should accept full relativity of knowledge. It’s correct to give more weight to the inferences of some people than of some others.

        The arguments that I should accept simple extrapolation as best justified