Communicating Uncertain Climate Risks

by Judith Curry

NSF has a press release on a perspective published in Nature Climate Change, by Baruch Fischoff, which I reproduce here in full.  The full perspective can be found online here.

Despite much research that demonstrates potential dangers from climate change, public concern has not been increasing.

One theory is that this is because the public is not intimately familiar with the nature of the climate uncertainties being discussed.

“A major challenge facing climate scientists is explaining to non-specialists the risks and uncertainties surrounding potential” climate change, says a new Perspectives piece published today in the science journal Nature Climate Change.

The article attempts to identify communications strategies needed to improve layman understanding of climate science.

“Few citizens or political leaders understand the underlying science well enough to evaluate climate-related proposals and controversies,” the authors write, at first appearing to support the idea of specialized knowledge–that only climate scientists can understand climate research.

But, author Baruch Fischhoff quickly dispels the notion. “The goal of science communication should be to help people understand the state of the science,” he says, “relevant to the decisions that they face in their private and public lives.”

Fischhoff, a social and decision scientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and Nick Pidgeon, an environmental psychologist at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom wrote the article together, titled, “The role of social and decision sciences in communicating uncertain climate risks.”

Fischhoff and Pidgeon argue that science communication should give the public tools that will allow them to understand the uncertainties and disagreements that often underlie scientific discussion. He says that understanding is more likely to happen when people know something about the process that produces the conflicts they hear about in the press.

“Communications about climate science, or any other science, should embrace the same scientific standards as the science that they are communicating,” says Fischhoff. He says this is crucial to maintaining people’s trust in scientific expertise.

“When people lack expertise, they turn to trusted sources to interpret the evidence for them,” Fischhoff says. “When those trusted sources are wrong, then people are misled.”

Fischhoff and Pidgeon propose a communications strategy that applies “the best available communications science to convey the best available climate science.” The strategy focuses on identifying, disclosing and when necessary reframing climate risks and uncertainties so the lay public can understand them easily.

“All of our climate-related options have uncertainties, regarding health, economics, ecosystems, and international stability, among other things,” says Fischhoff. “It’s important to know what gambles we’re taking if, for example, we ignore climate issues altogether or create strong incentives for making our lives less energy intensive.”

Key to effective communications is what the authors call “strategic organization” and “strategic listening.”

Strategic organization involves working in cross-disciplinary teams that include, at a minimum, climate scientists, decision scientists, social and communications specialists and other experts.

Strategic listening encourages climate scientists, who often have little direct contact with the public, to overcome flawed intuitions of how well they communicate. Strategic listening asks scientists to go beyond intuitive feeling and consider how well they communicate by using systematic feedback and empirical evaluation.

“I think that it is good for scientists to be in contact with the public, so that they can learn about its concerns and see how well, or poorly, they are communicating their knowledge,” says Fischhoff. “That way they can do a better job of producing and conveying the science that people need.”

JC comments: journalists and scientists have been busy blaming each other over perceived “problems” associated with communication about climate change.  The “problem” is that the public has not yet been convinced.  Fischoff’s emphasis on communicating risk and uncertainty is right on target, IMO.

367 responses to “Communicating Uncertain Climate Risks

  1. “It’s important to know what gambles we’re taking if, for example, we ignore climate issues altogether or create strong incentives for making our lives less energy intensive.”

    It is also important to know what Gabi Hegerl of Edinburgh and lead author with Zwiers of AR4 WG1 Chapter 9 have never grasped, which is that many of us would rather not live anywhere north of latitude 40 (Madrid) unless the IPCC forecast of at least 3 oC up by 2100 is realised NOW, especially as their “science” tells us the warming will be most in the higher latitudes, not the tropics. Bring it on!

    What largely explains increasing scepticism is the Abe Lincoln effect: commonsense will break out, despite Fischhoff’s best efforts.

    • Yes, the Abe Lincoln effect has broken out.

      “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” – Abraham Linclon

      Efforts of Nature to use a social and decision scientist (Fischhoff) and an environmental psychologist (Pidgeon) to squeeze the genie back into the lamp will not restore faith in government science – especially not in climatology – nor in Nature.

      Communications was never the problem. The problem is that the public recognized efforts to deceive and efforts by leaders of the scientific community to cover up and avoid addressing the problem.

      Leaders of the scientific community, including the editors of Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, etc. could help restore confidence in government science if they would finally acknowledge the problem that the climate scandal exposed –

      The same one former President Eisenhower warned about in his 1961 farewell address to the nation:
      “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.”

      “Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

      “It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system – ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.”

      http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/ike.htm

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel
      Former NASA Principal
      Investigator for Apollo

      • You’re the guilty party. You Rogered the thread. ^^^^^

      • What’s the etymology of the verb “to Roger?”

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        About three hundred years ago the name Roger started being used as slang for male genitalia due to its origin which was related to wielding a spear. This lead to it being used as a verb meaning “to copulate with.”

      • Well – I guess I’m only a little more than 300 years behind the times. It could be worse, I guess.

        Thanks.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        No problem. I have a fondness for lexicography, so I’m always happy to get a chance to answer a question like that.

        On a positive note, using Roger as slang like that hasn’t been popular for something like a century. It is hardly surprising you wouldn’t be familiar with it.

      • It is still in common useage in New Zealand, but maybe we are 300 years behind; what is this climate stuff you keep talking about :)

      • Latimer Alder

        In UK a children’s cartoon set on a pirate ship has characters ‘Roger the Cabin Boy’ and ‘Seaman Stains’ which are ‘ambiguous’ to be charitable. At the age of 6 noone notices the innuendo.

  2. Latimer Alder

    The ‘problem’ is not just that scientists are bad communicators although many are.

    It is also that they have a weak and unpersuasive case to communicate.

    And ‘Just shut up, listen to us and do what we tell you, you stupid ignorant little people. You know nothing, but We Are The Climate Scientists’ has not been a good strategy.

    • As JC says: “The ‘problem’ is that the public has not yet been convinced.” Hummmm… is there a psychologist in the house? There is “no” crying in baseball, and there is crying in science. If you want to cry get into politics.

      • Note: My above was not a slam vs the original comment, but I can see on review that some might think it to be one. Agree with Latimer cmt 100%.

  3. Despite much research that demonstrates potential dangers from climate change, public concern has not been increasing.

    One (of many) disconnect is that climate scientists see themselves as Paul Reveres, and the public sees then as Bunsen Honeydews. It’s actually a pretty new notion that scientists are supposed to be sentinels. I don’t know when this idea started, but it’s a new role, very different from the elucidators of the truth that scientists have been for centuries, if not millenia.

    Nobody ever discusses this radical role change.

    • ChE

      This is a very important point. Despite denial to the contrary, a very significant portion of the scientific community are advocates even radicals. The very idea that these people are somehow objective scientist is laughable to someone on the outside looking in. Consider this opening paragraph of the Wikipedia entry on the Union Of Concerned Scientist:

      The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is a nonprofit science advocacy group based in the United States. The UCS membership includes many private citizens in addition to professional scientists. James J. McCarthy, Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography at Harvard University and past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, currently chairs the UCS Board of Directors

      The former head of the largest scientific organization in the world is now the Director of an obviously ideological bent advocacy group. The revolving door of scientist between environmental groups and the IPCC would be laughable if it were not so pathetically and obviously corrupt as has been shown over the past two years of revelations.

  4. The perspective of the scientists is much too narrow. Warming may occur in the next 100 years due to CO2 increases, if everything else was static. However, everything else will not be static.

    Thus, the scientific perspective is at best only 50% of the debate. The great likelihood is that in 100 years, dealing with CO2 will be child’s play because the rapid increase in scientific knowledge. Even if somehow science does not advance as it always has, the world as affected by human endeavors will change in ways that are unknoweable at this time both due to natural variability and the changes in the way that humans impact the environment. About the only sure thing is that anything we do now will not have its intended effect 100 years from now.

    JD

  5. “The role of social and decision sciences in communicating uncertain climate risks.”

    Translation:

    How can we “social scientists” get in on the CAGW gravy train?

  6. Let’s be realistic about the uncertainty. I should range on a scale, from -10 to +10 where -10 is extinction for humans due to climate change to +10 in which climate change removes winters altogether and greatly boosts crop production. Thus the most likely outcome in the next 100 years is zero on the scale.

    • Please don’t be offended, but could you please tell me exactly what you mean by “climate change”? Do you mean “warming of the earth beyond normal or cooling or what”? I hope you don’t think this is silly, but I had a grasp on “global warming” but climate change happens naturally, right?

  7. Willis Eschenbach

    Judith, you and the other good folks still don’t seem to have grasped the nettle. The appropriate storyline here is Chicken Little going around saying “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” That is the appropriate myth, that is how the general public apprehends the current situation.

    For the last half century, Paul Ehrlich and Steven Schneider and James Hansen and the IPCC and a host of others have issued an unending string of dire predictions of famines, and riots in the streets, and Thermageddon™ in all its biblical array, of plagues of hurricanes and droughts, of winters where snow is a thing of the past, Bangladesh sinking beneath the waves, the list is endless.

    Not one of their end-of-the-world scenarios have come true. Not one. In fact, warming has stopped, and no one’s quite sure why.

    Now, perhaps you truly think that the solution to that string of failed doomcasts is to give Chicken Little a better megaphone and some instruction regarding, what was it, “identifying, disclosing and when necessary reframing climate risks.

    Me, I don’t think that any amount of identifying, disclosing, or reframing will fix a dang thing. People don’t believe climate scientists. Nor have they been given any reason to. Failed prophets get short shrift.

    Finally, the unending claim that the problem is one of communication is farcical. What, do you think that the public didn’t hear all of those forecasts of doom? Or we didn’t understand all of those predictions of terrible outcomes? Exactly what part of “CO2 roolz everything” do you think was unclear?

    The problem is not that your message didn’t get across, Judith. The problem was it got across totally clearly and turned out to be wrong. Untrue. Exaggerated. Passed by “pal-review”. Hyped to the max. Pushed and promoted by underhanded means.

    Yes, we got the message, no doubt about that, loud and clear. The message was plain, that many of the leading lights of the AGW supporting scientists were were caught with their hands in the cookie jar all the way up to their shoulders, and almost no AGW supporting scientist said a word against it (yourself graciously excepted).

    Do you guys think the public is blind or something? Not one of the UEA miscreants has exhibited even the slightest bit of remorse for their behavior. Not one, not in the slightest. And you folks go on about communication? It’s not about communication any more, it’s about honesty and integrity, and at this point NOBODY TRUSTS YOU!!!

    So dream on about how improving communications will fix things, Judith. I say it may happen, but it’ll never happen that way. I had hoped that the CRU emails would provide the catalyst to get the climate scientists up off of their … office chairs and encourage them to clean out the Augean stables.

    Instead, the public was treated to the spectacle of hordes of climate scientists suddenly struck dumb. The public watched all the good and honest climate scientists say nothing … and then continue to fete the un-indicted co-conspirators and ask them to address gatherings of the climate elect, and making excuse after excuse for their execrable behavior …

    Communication won’t fix that, Judith. In fact, well-meaning attempts to communicate science at this point will stand a very good chance of backfiring. It may well be portrayed as slick PR spin, just scientists using the latest advertising techniques to sell their recycled doomcasts. And why not?

    You need to look at it from the outside, from the other side. Respected climate scientists were shown to be willing to lie, cheat, and subvert the rules to push their poorly supported pet ideas and improbable claims. When it came out, basically nobody said nothin’ ’bout nothin’, no way, no how.

    And now, you and a host of others want to insist over and over that the reason you can’t convince the public that blue is blue is not repeated scientific malfeasance by your leaders, it’s not that your cozy community contains crooks and liars and you are doing nothing about it, oh, no, that’s not the issue at all, the issue is really communication, communication, communication …

    Do you see how that looks from the other side? Do you think that improves your credibility?

    w.

    • It is not true that nobody knows why.

      When Earth Warms, it melts Arctic Sea Ice, then we have a year of record Low Arctic Sea Ice Extent and then we have massive Arctic Ocean Effect Snows. This has happened several times in the past decade. NOAA and the consensus Climate Scientists did not predict any of these events in their long range forecasts which use CO2 rather than the more accurate driver, Albedo, in their Models.

      http://www.click2houston.com/video/27156168/index.html

    • Harold H Doiron

      This is strong medicine, but necessary for climate scientists to absorb and utilize if they want to communicate effectively with the broader scientific community. And, as I have written in other areas of these pages, communicating effectively and earning the trust of other scientists, is a good first step in communicating climate science and its uncertainties to the general public.

    • “Finally, the unending claim that the problem is one of communication is farcical.”
      Who has NOT seen the poor polar bear? I would bet if there still was a printed encyclopedia the “Going extinct” bear would be there listed under “Global Warming”.

    • JC comments: journalists and scientists have been busy blaming each other over perceived “problems” associated with communication about climate change. The “problem” is that the public has not yet been convinced.

      JC saying the problem is communication, Willis?

  8. Is the “public” really going to persuaded by someone who calls himself an “environmental psychologist”? And that they need to engage in “strategic listening”? Dear God. Only in academia…..

    • “environmental psychologist” ? Ranks right up there with pet psychologist in my opinion. Ever think people might be over analyzing the situation? Really, how can you communicate uncertainty if you don’t have the statistical skills to determine it?

      It only takes a few examples of abuse of statistics to have the whole field questioned. Then to defend the abuse? Even though I had to look it up, ChE’s Bunsen Honeydew was right on target. They have turned gold into cottage cheese.

  9. Willis,
    Interesting how you speak for “the public.”

    Has it occurred to you that maybe only a tiny percentage of the public actually pays attention to the inside-baseball issues you reference? Surely you have heard of the “wicked” nature of global warming as an issue, too abstract and remote and distant in time for the “public” to grasp and get truly concerned over.

    It sounds like you’re making the same mistake as Watts does with his interpretation of the latest Gallup Poll:

    http://www.collide-a-scape.com/2011/03/29/gallup-poll-climate-change-is-least-of-concerns/

    Let me put it to you another way: in an alternate world, where all your beefs were adequately addressed, the offending climate scientists were duly penitent, climate change was not hyped, etc, etc, we would still be right where we are today with public attitudes.

    And the same goes for your counterparts who think the path to action is paved with a steady diet of climate science facts. Enough of these nuggets and the public will wake up and “get it.”

    In my humble opinion, both sides fundamentally misunderstand why the public tunes out the climate change issue.

    • Keith,

      I am Joe average public, generally accepting novel new scientific discoveries with the grain of salt proven during my lifetime to be what they deserve. There have been obvious math screw ups proven for all us Joe public kinda guys to see. Do you brush off the obvious or note the problem and publish the corrected results with the same vigor as the erroneous results were? Do you actually view new studies attempting to reprove the discredited with the skepticism they deserve? Perhaps you are certain that the subject is so complex that Joe Average cannot be communicated with, as a few statistically challenged members of the climate science community have stated?

    • Keith,
      It is not much of an alternative world if everything is the same.
      And if you think most people still believe the hype of AGW calamatism, I have a cheap portal to that alternate world for sale at a price you can certainly afford.
      Hint: the sound you are hearing is not people laughing with you. The schtick of doom has become boring and is still as much as bs, despite your sincere heroic pose, as every other millenarian call of doom.
      Here is a classic song of doom to help you make the transition back to reality:

    • Since your article was so opaque, let me ask you directly what your conclusion is. Are you saying that Joe Sixpack is hopelessly unconcerned and nothing can be done about that? And if so, what then is there to be done?

    • keith is right

    • steven mosher

      I think I’m going to agree with you Keith. My experience with the “public” and Climategate. Most haven’t heard of it ( I’m not stopped on the streets of San Francisco ) and those who do know about it can barely get the arcane facts straight.

      However, there might be something to the idea that the “failure” of “dire” predictions has turned the public off in someway or another. That would be a question worth investigating. Scientifically.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Not clear what you’re agreeing with Keith about. If you agree that the public hasn’t notices Climategate, Gallup begs to differ.

        At present climate change is steadily losing ground in all polls of what people think is important. It even ranks last, not just among all issues, but also among just environmental issues the latest Gallup poll. As to whether the public noted climategate Gallup says:

        The last two years have marked a general reversal in the trend of Americans’ attitudes about global warming. Most Gallup measures up to 2008 had shown increasing concern over global warming on the part of the average American, in line with what one might have expected given the high level of publicity on the topic. Former Vice President Al Gore had been particularly prominent in this regard, with the publication of his bestselling book, “An Inconvenient Truth,” an Academy Award-winning documentary movie focusing on his global warming awareness campaign, and Gore’s receipt of a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

        But the public opinion tide turned in 2009, when several Gallup measures showed a slight retreat in public concern about global warming. This year, the downturn is even more pronounced.

        Some of the shifts in Americans’ views may reflect real-world events, including the publicity surrounding allegations of scientific fraud relating to global warming evidence, and — perhaps in some parts of the country — a reflection of the record-breaking snow and cold temperatures of this past winter.

        “Allegations of scientific fraud”? For many people on the planet, including myself, what we see is much more than mere “allegations”. In any case, Keith wants to call this “inside-baseball”. You seem to think it is immaterial. According to Gallup, it is seen by the general public as SCIENTIFIC FRAUD. Why? Because it is, duh.

        So while most folks on the planet aren’t following Steve McIntyre’s continuing and apparently unending revelations of, well, outright scientific fraud involving the Briffa graphs and their erectile problem of premature truncation around 1550 … well, the word still seems to be getting out anyhow.

        w.

      • Willis,

        If you agree that the public hasn’t notices Climategate, Gallup begs to differ.

        You actually have to prove that ‘Climategate’ caused the decrease in the measures Gallup has observed. The synopsis you italicize is little more than speculation. Maybe you could provide the statistical analysis you worked through to get to your conclusions…

        Also, if you haven’t noticed, there has also been a fairly substantial economic downturn in the last 2 years that has caused a more than doubling of the lowest unemployment rates of just a decade ago. It’s a much stronger argument that people care more about their jobs than AGW.

        I would have thought you would have been a little more careful about making spurious correlations, but then I remembered why I don’t read your work anymore.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Willis,

        If you agree that the public hasn’t notices Climategate, Gallup begs to differ.

        You actually have to prove that ‘Climategate’ caused the decrease in the measures Gallup has observed. The synopsis you italicize is little more than speculation. Maybe you could provide the statistical analysis you worked through to get to your conclusions…

        Maxwell, I have to “prove” it? It is to laugh … a bit new to science, are you? In science nothing can be proven.

        You guys claim nobody has noticed climategate. The Gallup folks say different. I quoted what they said, that it was the issue of SCIENTIFIC FRAUD that people didn’t like.

        Now, you may disagree with Gallup or not, I don’t care. My point is established, Gallup itself says the decline is due in part to Climategate, and that people were worried about SCIENTIFIC FRAUD. Gallup’s words, not mine, but it is what I had said. So the public obviously has heard about Climategate, and doesn’t like it one bit …

        I can see that the fact that the great unwashed public can actually discern SCIENTIFIC FRAUD disturbs your weltenshaaung, but there it is.

        w.

        PS – I left out your gratuitous insult. I figured that you needed help maintaining the illusion that you are an adult. I won’t mention the whole high school thing either, I swear, my lips are sealed …

        PPS – while the economic downturn might explain some of the drop in the perceived general importance of global warming, that hardly explains why it is also at the bottom of peoples concerns about the environment. What’s your explanation for that one?

      • Willis,

        my already low expectations for your ‘analysis’ of this situation were shattered by your last comment.

        ‘It is to laugh … a bit new to science, are you? In science nothing can be proven.’

        might be the single stupidest thing written on this blog so far, counting even all that Sky Dragon crap. Do you tell yourself that at night after you’ve basically conjured up whatever ‘new’ conclusion you’ve come with regards to climate science?

        As for Gallup, I didn’t see the term ‘Climategate’ mentioned in the quote you provided above. So again, that’s a matter of your own misconstruing of the quote. On top of that fact, in the past you have pushed so many readers and ‘alarmists’ on the notion that things may not be as they seem with respect to AGW, yet here you are taking some ‘expert’ at their word when it confirms your position.

        Those are paltry standards.

        As to public perception of climate change, it has always ranked rather low on the scale of issues concerning Americans. In fact,
        Roger Pielke Jr. has pointed out many times that while Americans are aware of AGW, its possible causes and a low cost solutions, it importance has ALWAYS been low on these polls.

        So again, you’ve swung and missed. Maybe next time you’ll work a little harder to actually substantiate what you believe in a scientific arena rather than making a fool of yourself…but I’m not holding breath on that one.

      • Maxwell- what was pointed out by Willis was factually correct. The tone of your comment diminishes the credibility of your comments overall imo. It was silly to claim that Willis’s comment “might be the single stupidest thing written on this blog so far”.

        You clearly have read much much sillier stuff here.

      • Rob,

        I’m sorry if the tone offended you or anyone else, but Willis has made it rather easy to point out, again and again, the lack in use of consistent standards for assessing the utility of scientifically gathered information, whether that be temperature data or polling results, as we see here.

        And in my opinion, making a claim that ‘nothing’ is proven in science is more than simplistic and detracts a great deal more from a conversation in a scientific arena than it adds. Even if in the most rigorous philosophical theory of the scientific process such a conclusion is ‘correct’.

        That is not how I was using the word ‘prove’ in asking Willis to substantiate his claims that ‘Climategate’ has driven the largest portion of variation we’ve seen polling results nor do I it is the meaning of ‘prove’ that any of us use in the context of this blog when it comes to scientific evidence for supporting a hypothesis.

        Even discussing this distinction I think is more than two steps back with respect to understanding how to communicate about science. And, in my opinion, that has been the stupidest thing I’ve seen so far. The Sky Dragon crap was up, for sure, but, in my opinion, making claims concerning the absolute ‘provability’ of science is more stupid. Especially when you make claims you can’t back up.

      • steven mosher

        I see Gallup SPECULATING about the cause. Not establishing a cause.

        big difference. It might be the failed doomsaying

  10. Willis Eschenbach

    Keith, thanks as always for your thoughts.

    Keith Kloor | March 29, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Willis,
    Interesting how you speak for “the public.”

    Has it occurred to you that maybe only a tiny percentage of the public actually pays attention to the inside-baseball issues you reference? Surely you have heard of the “wicked” nature of global warming as an issue, too abstract and remote and distant in time for the “public” to grasp and get truly concerned over.

    It sounds like you’re making the same mistake as Watts does with his interpretation of the latest Gallup Poll:

    http://www.collide-a-scape.com/2011/03/29/gallup-poll-climate-change-is-least-of-concerns/

    I don’t speak for the public, Keith. I wander around on both the left and right sides of the blogosphere and I notice what’s going on. There’s lots of folks out there who think it’s a full-blown scam, and there’s many more than that who don’t think it’s a scam but who don’t believe it’s being reported honestly by the scientists.

    Are these “inside-baseball” issues? No, from my observations a good chunk of the American public thinks that the AGW movement contains liars, cheats, and thieves … which, curiously, is the unvarnished truth, and not inside-baseball at all.

    Let me put it to you another way: in an alternate world, where all your beefs were adequately addressed, the offending climate scientists were duly penitent, climate change was not hyped, etc, etc, we would still be right where we are today with public attitudes.

    So your claim is that in an … alternate universe … where things are very, very different … one thing would still be the same.

    Y’know, Keith, I’m not sure that statement is falsifiable even in a perfect universe, alternate or not …

    And the same goes for your counterparts who think the path to action is paved with a steady diet of climate science facts. Enough of these nuggets and the public will wake up and “get it.”

    In my humble opinion, both sides fundamentally misunderstand why the public tunes out the climate change issue.

    Why do you think it is that the public has tuned out the steady diet of doomcasts?

    Thanks,

    w.

    • Despite some of the political controversy over climate science, three out of four Americans believe that the Earth has been gradually warming as the result of human activity and they want the government to institute regulations to stop it, according to a new survey by researchers at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University.
      The survey was conducted by Woods Institute Senior Fellow Jon Krosnick, a professor of communication and of political science at Stanford, with funding from the National Science Foundation. The results are based on telephone interviews conducted from June 1-7 with 1,000 randomly selected American adults.

      [...]

      Several questions in the June survey addressed the so-called “climategate” controversy, which made headlines in late 2009 and early 2010.
      “Growing public skepticism has, in recent months, been attributed to news reports about e-mail messages hacked from the computer system at the University of East Anglia in Britain – characterized as showing climate scientists colluding to silence unconvinced colleagues – and by the discoveries of alleged flaws in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC),” Krosnick said. “Our survey discredited this claim in multiple ways. “
      For example, only 9 percent of respondents said they knew about the East Anglia e-mail messages and believed they indicate that climate scientists should not be trusted, and only 13 percent said the same about the controversial IPPC reports.
      “Overall, we found no decline in Americans’ trust in environmental scientists,” Krosnick said. “Fully 71 percent of respondents said they trust scientists a moderate amount, a lot or completely.”

      • Sorry – I hit “post” accidentally. I hope the Italics don’t get stuck on.

        http://woods.stanford.edu/research/surveys.html

        Also, of note:

        Frequent Viewers of Fox News Are Less Likely to Accept Scientists’ Views of Global Warming – Dec. 16, 2010

        In December 2009, the managing editor at Fox News in Washington, D.C., reportedly sent an email questioning the “veracity of climate change data” and ordering the network’s journalists to “refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.

        The researchers found that even among the heaviest Fox News viewers, a majority endorsed the views of mainstream scientists. The results are based on a telephone survey of a representative sample of 1,001 American adults conducted between Nov. 1 and Nov. 14, 2010

        It’s amusing when people try to deny the political realities of the climate debate, and self-appoint themselves as spokespeople for the common man, as if they are above the partisan fray.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        As long as you use the proper formatting for your HTML tags, they cannot carry beyond your comment. The only reason tags get “stuck on” is if you use a valid, but highly unusual form of a tag. <i It normally happens because someone transposes the forward slash and the "i" when closing their italics tag. The basic idea is if simple HTML tags like that for italics allow you to add as many characters to the end of the tag as you'd like, as long as you follow the "i" or "b" with a space or forward slash. Most blogs aren't designed to handle this sort of malformed tag, so they don't automatically close it like they normal close unclosed tags.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        D’oh. I forgot to put an greater than sign at the end of my comment (I did put the proper closing tag to avoid causing anyone else trouble), and it ruined what would have been rather funny. If not for that mistake, most of the text in my comment would have been hidden by virtue of the issue it was explaining.

        Clever ideas ruined by typos. The story of my life.

    • Willis,
      “Why do you think it is that the public has tuned out the steady diet of doomcasts?”

      I believe you are being presumptuous with that statement. My contention is that the public is not tuned in to the “doomcasts”.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Keith Kloor | March 30, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Reply

        Willis,

        “Why do you think it is that the public has tuned out the steady diet of doomcasts?”

        I believe you are being presumptuous with that statement. My contention is that the public is not tuned in to the “doomcasts”.

        Keith, I haven’t a clue what you mean. For years the public was lapping up the doomcasts of the failed serial prognosticators like Hansen and Schneider and Ehrlich and the like. Lately, they seem to have noticed the uniform lack of success of the forecasts.

        So I don’t understand why you think the public hasn’t been tuned in to the doomcasts. The public has picked them up and repeated them all across the web, they’ve been foisted on the kids in the schools, I hear them on the radio …

        w.

      • Don Aitkin

        Someone, in one of the debates I have been reading on the net (Judith Curry’s ‘Climate Etc., which I recommend unreservedly as a website which educates, debates and does both largely free from insult) described AGW as having the highest stakes and the lowest signal-to-noise ratio of any issue in his lifetime. I think I would agree. As for the high stakes, Kevin Rudd described ‘climate change’ as ‘the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time’, while Tony Blair of the UK called it ‘the world’s greatest environmental challenge’. There was a time when any political leader had to say things like this almost every week. That time seems to have gone, at least for the moment. AGW is much less in the public mind, in the talk of our politicians, and in the mainstream media.

        http://bit.ly/gxqQdN

  11. As stevedores and sailors like to say in another context, the AGW promoters are pushing wet rope.
    As long as the AGW promoters keep thinking, and it appears they will not change this thinking no matter what, that all they have to do is to shout louder and enunciate more clearly and we trogs will finally get it, the more they will put off the inevitable end of the AGW movement in the dustbin of history.

  12. John Carpenter

    My observation is… most average people here in NE USA (where I live) look at their surroundings and do not perceive a change in the climate. They identify with weather events, not climate change. The weather does not seem any different now than it did before. Weather has always been strange at times, so what’s new about that? They have no connection to +0.5 C change in global average temp over decades of time. They have been told about global warming for decades and yet can’t identify with it. The climate simply doesn’t seem any different than any other time in their life. Despite the constant drone of dire consequences of a warmer planet in the future from MSM, it is a problem that just seems too far away for most people to care about.

    The magnitude of AGW has been overhyped by the MSM, which have played the story to the hilt. How seriously will the average person take the story when they don’t see or feel any change? People identify with issues that affect their daily lives… do I have a job… cost of groceries… are my kids safe from crime…. will the economy improve… but I don’t think they associate with messages like “climate change is happening right now” over and over again when their own experience says “today doesn’t seem any different than yesterday… last year…five years ago”.

    IMO, ones’ own personal short term weather experiences and lack of any perceived changes in it, is one major reason why communication from climate science to the general public fails to make an impact. Climate change happens on too long of a time scale for people to detect. I can only speak from the little corner of the world where I live though.

    • I think you hit the nail on the head there, John. Also, the pubic are naturally skeptical of ‘official’ warnings and media hype. They have heard them all before – global cooling, Y2K etc etc. Until the climate starts to change in front of their eyes, then there will always be more important things to worry about….like getting on with life’s daily struggles for example.

  13. Paul Vaughan

    “Uncertainty” is the wrong word (severely misleading). “Ignorance” is more accurate. Never mind the notion that “uncertainties” can be sensibly estimated using current conventional “wisdom”. The assumptions underpinning the estimation procedures are patently untenable. At an absolute minimum, Simpson’s Paradox needs to swiftly make its way onto the mainstream radar.

  14. Harold Pierce Jr

    Prof Curry

    I ask you this simple question: In your lifetime, have you experienced “climate change”? That is to say, have you experienced a noticeable change in the pattern of recent weather (i.e., the last 20-30 years) that is different from that you experienced in the time of your youth?

    The weather can vary considerably from year to year, and there can be periods of extreme weather such as a prolonged drought, for example, the Dust Bowl or the recent drought in eastern Oz. Over the long term, however, the weather usually settles down and returns to it normal pattern for a given region.

    For most people the answer to both of the above queations is: No!

    I have mentioned to you and others that you should get out the city and go talk to the old folks in the countryside.

    Please go to NCDC “Climate at Glance” page. Put “Texas” in the input box and set range for 1895 to 2010. Choose “annual” for temp data.

    You quickly learn that annual mean temp for Texas is 65 deg F and it has remained constant since 1895. You also learn that the “Annual 1895-2010 trend is 0.00 deg F/decade.

    You will never ever convince the folks in Texas that there is “global warming” and “climate change”.

    Please go to: http://www.wolframalpha.com In the input box put “Ely Nevada.” Click on the red box with equal sign. The Wolf fetches the weather data for the current day.

    Under the section “Weather History and Forecast” click on the drop down menu and then click on “All”. A plot of annual mean temp from about ca 1940 is returned with an OLS trend.

    You will never convince the folks in Ely there is “global warming.”

    • I have downloaded Environment Canada’s daily temps (TMax andTmin) cdnsurfacetemps.wordpress.com. What I see happening here is summer TMax is dropping since 1900. The number of heat waves has dropped. What has increased is winter TMin. It’s not getting as cold in winters today than it did in the 1920’s. The growing season has increased by 30 days since 1900. Now how is this “warming”? and how is it bad?

      • Harold Pierce Jr

        The earth shifted into a cool phase in 2000 and the climate has started to cool down. Tmin should start to decline.

        I been analyzing the temp data from Quatsino WS and LS and have found seasonal effect for Tmin. Fall Tmin values are warmer than that for the other seasons.

        I analyze Tmax and Tmin data just for the equinoxes and solstices and use an 11 day sample interval. I calculate weather noise (WN) with this equation: WN = AD – RT, where AD is the average deviation from the mean and RT is the resolution of the thermometer (+/- 0.1 K).

        At Quatsino, WN = 1,4 K for sample range 1895-2010.

        Your are right: Cold weather sucks!!! I live in Burnaby and cold winters are rare.

      • Here in Southwestern Ontario we had 3 times the snow from 2010. It’s been a brutal winter this year, can’t wait for warmer weather. Bring o global warming!

        I too looked at the transition months, the issue with them is really about te length an depth of winter (a longer colder winter means a cooler spring and further to go to get to summer). A milder winter mean less distance spring has to go to get to summer (hence a “warmer”spring).

        So the transition months are more of a reflection of what summer and winter do.

  15. “A major challenge facing climate scientists is explaining to non-specialists the risks and uncertainties surrounding potential climate change…”

    Perhaps, but the principal challenge facing climate scientists is regaining public trust after abusing it so thoroughly as we discovered in the aftermath of Climategate and IPCC scandals. Looking at the problem as one of communication externalizes it when primarily the cli sci community first needs to do some serious house cleaning. Believing that the problem of waning public support is one of communication strikes me as being in complete denial of the real issue.

    Since Climategate, I now have a list of several so-called ‘eminent’ climate scientists whose work will immediately go into the circular file; their conclusions and opinions dismissed. Not because I think they’re dumb or incompetent or sloppy but because I don’t trust them. They don’t seek to inform; but to manipulate.

    Until confidence and trust can be restored, I think climate science will have a tough time being taken seriously in the public arena no matter how cleverly the message gets packaged.

    So I’m left to wonder, does being more effective at communication mean the public gets the unvarnished ‘whole truth and nothing but the truth’ or do we get the same old story put through more spin cycles?

  16. Willis has captured my viewpoint.
    On the science side, there is a need for precision that appears to be both missing and ignored. The Lawson-Beddington exchange typifies the impoverished state of the dialogue. On the policy side, some one needs to put a muzzle on those who want to impose vast costs on individuals without a willingness to discuss the alternatives. The proposed policy to ban cars in European cities is a perfect example of the type of over-reach and fooish over-reaction that no amount of communicating is going to off-set.

  17. One other factor:

    When Al gore owns mansions, a yacht, and a jet, and preaches to the little people that they are consuming too much, what are the little people to conclude? I dare say that the little people might be just a wee bit more concerned if the concern mongers acted themselves like they’re concerned.

    See the problem? No?

  18. Dear God…

    Despite much research that demonstrates potential dangers from climate change, public concern has not been increasing.

    Dr. Curry – as you say, the research demonstrates potential dangers, but falls flat attempting to prove them and is unsuccessful in showing they are anything but potential dangers. That coin has another side that is void of potential dangers. It is pointless to say the science suggests we may be in for a millennium of burning heat because the same statement suggests we may not be.

    You have it within you to demonstrate all manner of potential frailty in the environment, and because I am a creative writer I have the ability to fabricate in sadly believable form astonishingly believable scenarios of hell come visit or a world of bounty and freedom from pain and suffering and which runs on batteries of perpetual motion machines that require not one drop of oil and have no moving parts (when I do this I make it obvious it is fiction). Don’t you think there needs to be unambiguous proof that what we say can be and is backed up by indisputable science? Surely you do and I trust in you to be so by personal integrity. But that is not the level of science we have available to us today. We don’t know what the uncertainty is because we don’t understand well what the problem is. Just mention clouds and the entire argument put forth by the Team falls apart. It is too soon to take a pro-warmist stand. It is too soon to take a protagonist stand. The time is ripe for all sides to swear and aver that we don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t now know enough to spend trillions of dollars for anything.

    Do you know what separates you and I from Chicken Little? I’ll tell you. Nothing. We have no believable proof that the current science is indisputable or otherwise. We have no evidence, pro nor con, that cannot be soundly disputed, we can make a claim and an equally qualified party will offer a compelling rebuttal. There is no trend toward success for either you or I. In chess this is called zugzwang – neither side has a winning move left – the game is a draw.

    In a draw there is no good next move. You start over. That is what Muller is trying to do and while I don’t trust him, it is the still right thing to do.

    • “zugzwang” is when on your move all choices force a losing game. It seldom reflects a forced draw but is a signal and defining move leading to defeat.

      AGW is a null hypotheisis for proponents where the burden of proof is to disprove the co2 causation theory. It’s anti-science but in Orwellian style is set as “science”.

  19. As soon as a scientist finds it more important to evangelize his discoveries than make new ones he has taken over the role of lobbyist or politician. And deserves at that point about the same amount of prestige and trust that those professions usually get as he (or she) is no longer acting as a scientist.

    Concentrate on the science. At some point there may actually be a consensus.

  20. Since the early 1970s, there has always been at least one group telling us the sky is falling. Warming, cooling, population bomb, atom bomb, oil shortage, epidemics, etc. There was always something that was about to kill us.
    My generation grew up with an inability to plan for the future as we didn’t expect to have a future.
    When the latest Global Warming scare started gathering momentum in the ’90s I largely ignored it, until Scientific American did its hatchet job on Bjørn Lomborg. That annoyed me enough to actually investigate some of the science, and I came out of it feeling fairly sceptical about the folks promoting AGW. Nothing that has happened recently has given me any cause to change that opinion.

    • Michael J,
      You can go back much farther than the early 1970’s.
      Chaucer, the 15th century writer, made fun of people being easily manipulated by fear mongers in the ‘Canterbury Tales’ story ‘The miller’s Tale”.
      http://www.lone-star.net/mall/literature/miller.htm
      Where a clever intellectual plans on how to have his landlord’s wife by using tales of impending doom.

      • @Hunter — You can go back much farther than the early 1970′s.
        Maybe you can go back further, I’m not quite that old. My memory only goes back to the early ’70s. :-)

      • Michael J,
        Well, we both probably read through poorly translated Chaucer in those same early 1970’s. ;^)
        I see apoclaypsse stories as wisdom stories, and apocalypse movements as ways for people to find meaning and direction in ambiguous dangerous times. Consider: Apocalypse literally means ‘revelation’. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/apocalypse

        Noah’s Ark and other flood stories, the last book of the Bible, the 12th Imam, the current (mis)interpretation of the Bible that involves believers getting beamed up in a great rapture, and now of course AGW, are revelations about how we go from bad to good, and what awaits those on each side of the good/bad divide.

  21. “Communications about climate science, or any other science, should embrace the same scientific standards as the science that they are communicating,”
    Oh dear.
    Perhaps this might be where they’re going wrong?
    We’ve seen the “Standards” that permeate climate science.
    Refuse to show data to and share methods with those who aren’t on the same “team”, no matter what. (Ref Prof Jones’s response to Warwick Hughs’ request)
    Omit, ignore and suppress data that conflicts with the message. (Hide the decline”)
    Refuse to admit any error in your methods or analyses (Mann, inverted proxies, splicing proxy & instrument records; Steig (Or is Mann behind that too?) , sharing the warmth around Antarctica; Pachauri & glacier retreat.
    Pervert peer revue to hinder publication of conflicting papers (Steig – Or was that Mann again?- v O’Donnell)
    Pronounce that if it’s a warm winter, it’s consistent with AGW, if it’s a cold winter, that’s consistent with AGW.
    If it’s dry, if it’s wet then that’s all consistent with AGW too.
    Link a tsunami’s damage with AGW.

  22. Judith

    The full paper can be seen in Nature Climate Change at this link

    Better communciation with (sadly) the social scientists taking the lead apparently.

  23. When you read the full paper, it is interesting to note that the risks and uncertainties are mainly about the outcomes rather than any doubts about the science. I am surprised it has your unqualified support, Judith. The full paper is quite different in tone to the press release you have posted above.

    • I haven’t read the full paper. Have you spotted an openly available online version? Thx

      • Yes – see my link in my comment 2 up from here. It takes you to Nature.com (Climate Journal) where this article seems to be available for free. Not sure if this is a temporary glitch, but I can see it ok.

        here it is again

      • thx, i’ve added the link to the main post. I still like the article, except for the introductory part (before risk, uncertainty, and climate decision making).

  24. “Has it occurred to you that maybe only a tiny percentage of the public actually pays attention to the inside-baseball issues you reference? Surely you have heard of the “wicked” nature of global warming as an issue, too abstract and remote and distant in time for the “public” to grasp and get truly concerned over.”
    I agree that most people are not paying attention to the ins and outs of the climate debate. I suspect, however, that most people form their opinion on these types of issues by listening to persons they perceive to be informed and whose opinions they trust. For lack of a better term, I will call these people opinion makers. I do not limit the term “opinion maker” to high profile journalists and commentators. In fact, the real opinion makers are the people that the high profile journalists and commentators go to when they form their opinions on technical issues.
    Right now, I would say that the climate alarmists have totally lost the debate among conservative “opinion makers.” In my view, the “problem” hasn’t been one of communication strategies. They have lost on the merits of the arguments and evidenced used to support climate alarmism. IMHO the case is not convincing to people who are informed and thoughtful.

  25. Judith,

    I face the same problem here of communicating what my research is showing.
    So, I have to keep coming from different angles until something clicks with other people to say “Wait a second here”.

    We have 3 separate distinct areas in this biosphere due to the shape of the planet being round and the most mass is at the equator. This is the same for EVERY planet and sun. This is distinctly due the two dimensional rotation.

  26. Actions speak louder than words. Willis Eschenbach(10:05) identifies the problem in climate science and it’s not about communicating uncertainty, it’s about falsifying the evidence by hiding, splicing, truncating and deleting data to get the required response, then having it passed by pal review. As Willis notes and Climategate shows, the climate team need to clean out the Augean Stables.

  27. Willis writes, “I wander around on both the left and right sides of the blogosphere and I notice what’s going on.”

    See, that’s my point. You’re mistaking a small, passionately engaged subsection as reflective of the larger public sentiment.

    I’ll follow up later today…

    • Keith,

      Can you pick out the fiction from the evidence?
      A great deal of fiction has been generated by bad conclusions from science that did not look at ALL the parameters, ONLY specific conclusions from a too broad definitions of science study.Planetary mechanics is unknown yet the current conclusions are ALL ENCOMPASSING.

    • I’m with Keith on this..

      Outside of the blogworld and one friend, I know of nobody that could even relate ‘climategate’ with anything in particular. Nobody, I know will have heard of climate audit, realclimate, not even Watts Up or Climate Progress. ;)

      The public in my view, have experienced the hype in the build up to Copenhagen, that failed and public and political interest just fell away for a number of reasons. Ther ewas a report where an environmentalist journalists, was saying new editors ,etc were now acting more as gatekeepers,as they lost viewing figures on, etc if when anything climate related came on..

      Ie the public had switched off, it has been 20-30 years of increasing green hype, and unfortuanetly in the real world, there is a lot of other stuff to worry about

  28. “When people lack expertise, they turn to trusted sources to interpret the evidence for them,” Fischhoff says. “When those trusted sources are wrong, then people are misled.
    From what I have been able to discern, when the “trusted sources interpretations” do not share the “consensus view” then the people are automatically misled as it is always presumed that the evidence (or conclusions derived from the evidence) by the presenters is correct. There are very highly intelligent people on both sides of this debate, and I find the notion that the unwashed masses are automatically misled when there is a divergence in opinion to be rather elitist.

    • That is the problem.
      Consensus science when all the parameters they are concerned about to generate a conclusion is incorrect due to the education behind in the past is incorrect.
      Yet, none will admit the mistake or correct it which has generated todays problem of saying our science is correct but “real” science by following the actual evidence says they are not.

  29. Judith,

    Uncertainty is fear of being incorrect in the conclusion published. Who would like to be shown that what they have been studying for years is wrong?
    No one.
    Yet, scientists would sooner ignore anything that does not fall into the current line of consensus(even proven to be incorrect) as it would effect their careers and the funding and publishing of the current papers.

    Do I personally care what others think?
    Hell no! I just keep following the evidence and the science and not worry about having to be in a certain model or mathematical equation.
    I follow the distant past and present in order to understand the differences.
    CURRENT SCIENCE DOES NOT!

  30. On first glance it appears a very good paper with sensible and sometimes even common sense points, such as

    “The discourse of scientists can be a further source of confusion. For example, scientists do not normally repeat facts that are widely accepted among them, focusing instead on the uncertainties that pose the most challenging problems. As a result, lay observers can get an exaggerated sense of scientific uncertainty and controversy, unless a special effort is made to remind them of the broad areas of scientific agreement.”

    Exactly.
    ( http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/what-we-know-is-most-important/ )

    and

    “The UK government’s Stern review on the economics of climate change27 argued for framing climate decisions in terms of the costs, risks and uncertainties of different options, as does a recent study from the US National Academies28. That perspective shifts the debate from whether there is anthropogenic warming to what gambles we should take with our world29. The former frame requires meeting an ill-defined standard of proof for demonstrating anthropogenic warming, before taking any action. The latter frame requires analysing the expected costs and benefits of different actions. The former frame leads to deliberation, the latter to decision-making.”

    • These points are far from sensible. The fact is that the science is unsettled to the point where there is no basis for action, other than research to try to settle the science. Trying to shift the debate to decision making is putting the policy cart before the scientific horse. It is a trick that is not working.

      Most of this talk of communication is just advocates trying to figure out why their cause is failing. Communication is the reason. People have in fact finally grasped the uncertainties and as a result the scare has lost its power. So what we are seeing here is a movement regrouping.

      To me the remarkable thing is how well the ignorant versions of the debate reflect the learned versions. No one seems to be studying that (except me). I credit the Internet, the great communicator.

      • David Wojick

        “The fact is that the science is unsettled to the point where there is no basis for action, other than research to try to settle the science. Trying to shift the debate to decision making is putting the policy cart before the scientific horse.”

        I can think of no more senseless statement about policy.

        How is your fact a fact, other than by your mere assertion?

        Where is the evidence that there can even be such a situation in any field that the state of the science ought produce a veto on decisive action on what after all is a question of mainly non-scientific dimensions?

        There’s an international relations issue, on the scale of more than something like, “I’m sorry, President Kennedy. We don’t know if the moon is made of cheddar or swiss, you can’t get into a campaign of technology and national pride against Russia.”

        There’s a technology leadership issue, too, “I’m sorry, Captain Columbus. We don’t have a map that goes there. No sense trying to set sail even with the vast hunger for conquest of ocean trade routs of our powerful patrons and the wealth that beckons. The water might disappear right under our boats.”

        More to the point, on what ‘inaction’ means, you are saying, “the windshield’s too foggy to see through, so the last thing we want to do is take our foot off the accelerator pedal.”

        The rest of the world is fine with scientists doing their research and discussing their hypothesis. But that’s largely kid stuff to the rest of the world, who live in realms with other considerations than how many decimal points of warming or cooling might or might not happen.

        If the climate change debate does serve a function, it is to throw light on the abysmal state of the largely subsidized and regulated into overdrive fossil energy economy, out of balance with the photosynthesis that disposes of its waste gases, and getting worse since 1750, at great economic cost in terms of technology development and market democracy due to government business charity interferences and corporate communist injections of tax dollars for the past century.

      • There is no basis for taking action in the sense that we have no good reason to believe that human emissions are dangerous. Seems simple enough to me. Beyond that I do not understand you statement about “mainly non-scientific dimensions.” (But then I do not understand most of your post, as usual.) Can you explain your statement? What are these dimensions given that the science does not support action?

      • “no good reason to believe that human emissions are dangerous”

        I guess that depends on what you call “dangerous”. Most scientists who study these topics would rather not live in a +4 degree world. You build your case for inaction/BAU on your (imo flawed) vision of climate science. Then you’ll get people to argue you on the science. Whereas I think the fundamental disagreement is on a different level.

      • I base my claim that the science is unsettled on the issue of dangerous AGW on the existence of the controversy. An hypothesis cannot be both controversial and known to be true. If you are claiming there is no scientific controversy then I would like to see your evidence. That the science is settled is a very strong claim indeed, and not supported by observation.

      • Where did I say that the science is settled? It’s an empty phrase anyway, used commonly as a bashing stick.

        There is also societal controversy (dependent on location) about evolution, though most biologists would claim there is no such controversy to speak of amongst relevant scientists.

        In climate science as in any other science, there are parts that are quite well understood in broad terms, parts that are highly uncertain and everything in between.

        To me, what is broadly understood is slightly worrying in the long term, and increasing in worry the longer the timescale. It’s what we don’t know that can get outright scary within plausible estimates, but also over long timescales only. YMMV.

        It’s a bit like with smoking. For the first years nothing negative happens. Predictions for increased risk mostly concern decades down the road. People weigh such a risk very differently. Not experiencing the negative outcome at the time of the (presumably pleasant) behavior makes it all the more difficult.

      • Bart, in your terms what is “broadly understood” that is so worrying? You keep alluding to some unstated important knowledge without saying what it is. What is it that you think justifies action?

        The only thing even potentially worrying that I know of is the high end model projections, and I do not believe them. They are certainly no basis for massive action.

        By the way, the difference between the climate debate and the evolution debate is that the climate debate is being carried on within the scientific community. It is a scientific debate with scientific arguments and hypotheses advanced on both sides.

      • David,

        I think you’re wrong on the differences between the evolution debate and the climate debate. The main tenets of climate science, those things that are reasonably well known, are well supported and widely shared withink the scientific community. As are the main tenets of evolution.

      • Bart, if you “think the fundamental disagreement is on a different level,” what is that level? You are dancing around the point.

        I claim there is no good reason for action and you disagree, saying my vision of the science is flawed. My vision, as I clearly stated, is that there is no good reason for action because we do not know that human emissions are dangerous. If you disagree then you must be claiming that the science is settled to the point that we know that human emissions are dangerous. There is no fancy logic here. Is that your claim or not?

      • Bart Verheggen

        Most scientists who study these topics would rather not live in a +4 degree world.

        Don’t worry Bart. It won’t happen. Use your head.

        There is no credible scientific evidence to show that we are headed for a +4 degree world.

        The CO2 projections of the IPCC “scenarios” are grossly exaggerated; the top two (A1F1 and A2) exceed all the carbon that exists in all of the optimistically estimated fossil fuel reserves of our planet, so can be discarded as physically impossible.

        The next one (A1B) projects a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of atmospheric CO2 of 0.86%, or twice the long-term or most recent rate of 0.44%. This “scenario” can be discarded as unrealistic.

        The remaining 3 “scenarios” (B1, A1T and A1B) project CO2 increase to 580, 700 and 800 ppmv, respectively, and temperature increase (from 1980-1999 average to 2090-2099 average) of 1.8 to 2.4C. The upper range is very doubtful, but let’s leave it in for now.

        The “1980-1999 average” was around 0.2C lower than the current average, so we are looking at an IPCC forecast for 2100 of 1.6 to 2.2C higher than today (not +4C).

        But let’s do a quick reality test on IPCC’s “scenarios” for CO2 growth.

        From 1969 to 2010:

        Population grew at a CAGR of 1.52% (from 3.6 to 6.8 billion)
        Real GDP grew at a CAGR of 2.91% (from $15.0 to $50.2 trillion –2005 $)
        CO2 grew at a CAGR of 0.44% (from 323 to 389 ppmv)

        In other words, CO2 grew at a CAGR of only 29% that of GDP and only 15% of that of population.

        Population growth has already started to decline (CAGR = 1% over past decade), and the UN estimates that it will grow even slower, leveling off at around 9 billion by 2100 (CAGR = 0.3% from 2010 to 2100).

        Based on the UN population growth projections, the GDP is optimistically projected to roughly triple by 2100 to around $150 trillion, with a 225% increase in per capita GDP from $7,350 to $16,700 (in constant 2005$).

        So even if we assume that CO2 will suddenly grow at 100% the CAGR of population (instead of only 29%, as observed in the past), we are left with a CAGR of 0.3% and a calculated 2100 level of 513 ppmv.

        389 ppmv = CO2 concentration measured in 2010 = C1
        513 ppmv = CO2 concentration projected for 2100 = C2
        C2/C1 = 1.32
        ln(C2/C1) = 0.277
        ln2 = 0.693
        Using dT(2xCO2) – per IPCC = 3.2C; dT(to 2100) = 3.2 * 0.277 / 0.693 = 1.3C (just slightly lower than the IPCC guesstimate).

        Using dT (2xCO2) – per Spencer = 0.6C; dT(to 2100) = 0.6 * 0.277 / 0.693 = 0.2C

        So it is very likely that we will see warming of 0.2-1.3C or 0.75±0.55C from CO2 (all other things being equal).

        This is about the same warming as we have seen from 1900 to 2010, so nothing to worry about.

        As the past decade has shown, all other things (i.e. natural forcing or variability) are not equal, so we might see more or less warming, but it won’t be from AGW (and it sure as hell won’t be a “+4C world”).

        Max

      • Bart Verheggen

        Most scientists who study these topics would rather not live in a +4 degree world.

        Don’t worry Bart. It won’t happen.

        There is no credible scientific evidence to show that we are headed for a +4 degree world.

        The CO2 projections of the IPCC “scenarios” are grossly exaggerated; the top two (A1F1 and A2) exceed all the carbon that exists in all of the optimistically estimated fossil fuel reserves of our planet, so can be discarded as physically impossible.

        The next one (A1B) projects a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of atmospheric CO2 of 0.86%, or twice the long-term or most recent rate of 0.44%. This “scenario” can be discarded as unrealistic.

        The remaining 3 “scenarios” (B1, A1T and A1B) project CO2 increase to 580, 700 and 800 ppmv, respectively, and temperature increase (from 1980-1999 average to 2090-2099 average) of 1.8 to 2.4C. The upper range is very doubtful, but let’s leave it in for now.

        The “1980-1999 average” was around 0.2C lower than the current average, so we are looking at an IPCC forecast for 2100 of 1.6 to 2.2C higher than today (not +4C).

        But let’s do a quick reality test on IPCC’s “scenarios” for CO2 growth.

        From 1969 to 2010:

        Population grew at a CAGR of 1.52% (from 3.6 to 6.8 billion)
        Real GDP grew at a CAGR of 2.91% (from $15.0 to $50.2 trillion –2005 $)
        CO2 grew at a CAGR of 0.44% (from 323 to 389 ppmv)

        In other words, CO2 grew at a CAGR of only 29% that of GDP and only 15% of that of population.

        Population growth has already started to decline (CAGR = 1% over past decade), and the UN estimates that it will grow even slower, leveling off at around 9 billion by 2100 (CAGR = 0.3% from 2010 to 2100).

        Based on the UN population growth projections, the GDP is optimistically projected to roughly triple by 2100 to around $150 trillion, with a 225% increase in per capita GDP from $7,350 to $16,700 (in constant 2005$).

        So even if we assume that CO2 will suddenly grow at 100% the CAGR of population (instead of only 29%, as observed in the past), we are left with a CAGR of 0.3% and a calculated 2100 level of 513 ppmv.

        389 ppmv = CO2 concentration measured in 2010 = C1
        513 ppmv = CO2 concentration projected for 2100 = C2
        C2/C1 = 1.32
        ln(C2/C1) = 0.277
        ln2 = 0.693
        Using dT(2xCO2) – per IPCC = 3.2C; dT(to 2100) = 3.2 * 0.277 / 0.693 = 1.3C (just slightly lower than the IPCC guesstimate).

        Using dT (2xCO2) – per Spencer = 0.6C; dT(to 2100) = 0.6 * 0.277 / 0.693 = 0.2C

        So it is very likely that we will see warming of 0.2-1.3C or 0.75±0.55C from CO2 (all other things being equal).

        This is about the same warming as we have seen from 1900 to 2010, so nothing to worry about.

        As the past decade has shown, all other things (i.e. natural forcing or variability) are not equal, so we might see more or less warming, but it won’t be from AGW (and it sure as hell won’t be a “+4C world” IMO).

        Max

        BTW, here are the links to the data sources:

        GDP and population
        http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/macroeconomics/
        Atmospheric CO2
        http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/
        Population projection to 2100
        http://iis-db.stanford.edu/evnts/3961/Joe_Chamie_Population_to_2300.pdf

      • Bart- with all due respect you appear to be doing what you accuse David of doing. You wish to rush to an action, but can not provide ANY reliable evidence of the harm that will come to the country that you want to impose the solution. (in this case the USA).

        You seem to be saying that the US should implement your “tax scheme” and harm our own self interest because other countries might like our actions. I agree that many countries would like the US to implement dumb ideas that would negatively impact our economic ability to complete on an international level.
        You write how you wish to- “throw light on the abysmal state of the largely subsidized and regulated into overdrive fossil energy economy, out of balance with the photosynthesis that disposes of its waste gases, and getting worse since 1750, at great economic cost in terms of technology development and market democracy due to government business charity interferences and corporate communist injections of tax dollars for the past century.”

        Again—what you write is rather silly. Let’s look at it point by point-
        1. How is the fossil fuel industry subsidized? What subsidizes does the industry receive vs the tax revenues it generates? You seem to be indicating that it receives greater tax benefits than it contributes.
        2. you write- “out of balance with the photosynthesis that disposes of its waste gases, and getting worse since 1750” . The one seems especially silly. Had the US and worldwide economy not utilized fossil fuels the harm to humanity would have been immense in multiple areas. Your argument makes as much sense as suggesting that millions be put to immediate death so that they emit less CO2.
        3. You write- “at great economic cost in terms of technology development and market democracy due to government business charity interferences and corporate communist injections of tax dollars for the past century.”. This is another of your silly rants- The use of fossil fuels has not stopped technology development. There is not a lack of business clarity due to fossil fuels.
        4. You write- “corporate communist injections of tax dollars for the past century” – Now you just write a dumb statement. There is no corporate communist. What you write is nonsense.

      • Where am I imposing anything on anyone?

      • Ah, Bart R and Bart V…
        sorry.

      • Rob Starkey

        Respect is nice, and I respect your point of view, but believe we have some misunderstandings.

        1. The whole action/inaction thing with David. There’s been 260 years of actions, and some of them are all well and good, but a few of them have obvious fail written all over them, nothing whatsoever to do with AGW; it’s past time to put them down.

        2. I believe there’s two levels of ‘tax scheme’ to look at: internalization and corrective.

        The internalization part is not what anyone would call a tax except by accident of history, that is the charging of a fee for moving us closer to the CO2E ceiling we all share (a rent charged for producing more waste gas than photosynthesis can dispose) and paying back to all of us per capita for the Risk exposure this behavior puts us all equally to. That’s pure, simple Capitalism.

        You don’t call it a tax when a butcher charges to sell meat. You don’t call it a tax when an insurance salesman offers to insure your house. You don’t call the price a publisher charges for a book you want to own a tax. Why call this fee for use of CO2E budget ‘tax’?

        With this internalization, there is absolutely no inflationary price rise. None. There’s a) no need for administrative cost, b) for churn, and c) no net cost increase to consumers.

        a) All the systems to collect this fee already exist; all the systems to deliver its revenues already exist. They’re in the tax system, so it’s sweet vengeance for a minarchist to recycle those bureaucracies at no increased marginal cost into a vehicle for delivering democracy to the market.

        b) As those fees are collected, they can reduce tax churn by direct application to collection of taxes, reducing the length of time tax dollars remain inefficiently in the tax collection channels.

        c) Every consumer per capita gets all this money back, either by b) or by direct payment; this allows the consumer to spend more on their shopping basket of all purchases. So the cost of fossil fuel in that shopping cart goes up? Only the most wasteful of consumers — free riders — will see a net rise; 70% of consumers see a net fall in prices, and have that money to spend elsewhere. By internalizing the cost of photosynthesis, consumers by exercise of thrift will stop wasting what currently they do not think about, and at no net cost increase.

        The dividends stack up in favor of the capitalist practice of internalization in myriad ways, as we have known since the birth of the concept of capitalism.

        The corrective part of the scheme I abhor. I hate the necessity of proposing a Pigouvian tax on top of CO2E fees.

        However, we’ve had over a century of the demonstrably false corporate communist attitude — ironically mostly only in America — that cheap fossil energy drives our economy and is necessary for us to compete.

        Nothing could be further from the truth. America is strong not because of countless measures taken by governments to prop up fossil business charity cases, but in spite of these subsidies.

        When roads are paved to a standard necessary for heavy vehicles to drive at high speed that benefits the manufacturers of this type of vehicle and the fuels they use.

        That’s a state subsidy.

        You don’t see the manufacturers paying for it directly out of their own pockets.

        In addition, every year at the federal and state levels, governments pay billions to the fossil industries for boondoggles like ethanol — you can crow about how the greenies like it too all you like, but the money doesn’t land in greenie pockets, it goes to ADM and fossil fuel companies, many of them foreign-owned — and fossil-derived hydrogen.

        And the USA buys oil all the time to pump into the ground, calling it a strategic reserve. Wednesday-Thursday-Friday!? How big an idiot does the government believe the average American is?

        What sort of argument is this of yours, that the subsidies aren’t equal to or greater than the corporate taxes collected?

        Even if it were true, it’s mathematical nonsense.

        Firstly, I’m generally opposed to corporate income taxes at all.

        There’s a small case to be made for frictional nominal tax levels for corporations because of administrative ease. There’s a good and prudent case to be made for charging corporations fees for service where some government has ill-advisedly gotten into a business like providing sewers or water utilities and the corporation due to its special high level of needs consumes a large chunk of the utility.

        There’s really no case for charging taxes to corporations otherwise, as the cost of these taxes are passed on by the corporations in two ways: 1.) by cutting jobs and wages; and, 2.) by inflating prices to consumers or squeezing payments to suppliers like small family farms.

        So, a subsidy of any sort is merely rubbing salt into the wounds of workers, consumers and small suppliers. Your argument makes your case worse, not better.

        Tell me more about the harm to humanity you propose.

        Is this the harm caused by not having ATV and snowmobile races? By not having the Indy 500? By not having cigarette boat races? By making it unpopular to drive above 55 mph? By insulating houses instead of cranking thermostats on furnaces and air conditioners?

        This harm you see from putting the decisions of personal thrift into individual hands, does it justify your replacing the democracy of the individual decision makers in the market with your own greater personal wisdom about what is good from America?

        Explain that to me.

        Having a cheap, government-backed inferior technology acts as a barrier to entry to the market of infant industries that could and would compete, except for the sure knowledge they will never get the same level of lobbyist-procured fat from the backs of taxpayers.

      • Bart R. Apparently you have some problems with fossil fuels that have nothing to do with the climate change debate. They are off topic here. In fact you seem to object to the industrial revolution, interesting but also off topic. However, some of your claims do appear in the climate debate.

        First of all, there are almost no subsidies for fossil fuels. When greens make this claim they are usually referring to the depletion allowance, which is not a subsidy, it is a form of depreciation. Depreciation is actually a penalty because it forces businesses to defer deductions to years beyond when the money is actually spent.

        Second, what is this waste gas stuff? Natural emissions of CO2 are vastly greater than human emissions. If there is a ceiling then nature is exceeding it far more than we are.

        Third, the oil companies did not want the ethanol mandate. The greens and the farmers pushed that through.

      • David,
        AGW is just another sorry example of bad science and bigotry combining to make life unpleasant for those who decline to agree.

      • David Wojick

        It’s very difficult to disentangle the climate change debate from the fossil economy debate, so I don’t even try.

        The two are practically inextricably linked, and no discussion of the minor climate topic can go far without bringing in the major fossil one.

        Depreciation is all very nice, but a total straw man, and irrelevant.

        Natural emissions, all well and good, but a total straw man. I don’t mention my elevation above sea level when I’m asked my height, do I?

        I’m not really ready to entertain the notion that oil companies are unhappy with a heavily subsidized additive that increases their sales volumes and profits on the backs of taxpayers to the tune of billions annually, just because ADM — who you quaintly refer to as ‘farmers’ — also benefits, and some greens had been briefly deluded into thinking was a good thing.

      • Bart

        You wrote- “The internalization part is not what anyone would call a tax except by accident of history, that is the charging of a fee for moving us closer to the CO2E ceiling we all share (a rent charged for producing more waste gas than photosynthesis can dispose) and paying back to all of us per capita for the Risk exposure this behavior puts us all equally to. That’s pure, simple Capitalism.” Why call this fee for use of CO2E budget ‘tax’?

        My answer- What you propose is not capitalism, but simple taxation. Anytime a government requires a merchant to increase the cost of their goods and then tells the merchant to pass that additional revenue along to the government—THAT IS A TAX. It is just that simple. I am not debating here whether taxes are good or bad overall, but there is simply no debate from an economic standpoint—what you propose is a tax.

        You wrote that your proposed tax would be a very efficient taxation approach since there would be a low administrative overhead. I must not understand all the aspects of what you propose then. I thought you wanted a tax on all products that contributed to CO2 emissions. If my thought was correct, it would be very expensive to administer such a program. The government would first have to determine the CO2 tax to levy on each product and then would have to update these tax rates as companies modified their manufacturing processes to use less CO2. That tax approach would quite possibly cost as much to administer as it collected.
        If you are only writing about a tax on fossil fuels (gas, etc) with a rebate to low income families then it would be a pretty simple tax approach, but still would not be painless to administrative.

        Overall, I’d suggest you discontinue writing things like:
        1. “When roads are paved to a standard necessary for heavy vehicles to drive at high speed that benefits the manufacturers of this type of vehicle and the fuels they use.”—Bart, that is wrong. When roads are paved to that standard it benefits society overall. It allows for the more efficient transportation of goods and thereby lowers the overall cost of those goods. It also lowers the cost of maintaining the roads and lowers the cost to society.
        2. “And the USA buys oil all the time to pump into the ground, calling it a strategic reserve.” – You criticize the strategic reserve, but it does make sense from a US perspective. In the even of an interruption of delivery for current sources it allows for a buffer to allow for time to increase supplies from alternative sources.
        3. There’s really no case for charging taxes to corporations—Bart—actually there are many reasons to charge corporations taxes. Since this is not an economics course I will not bother in further explanations beyond – One is to raise revenue.
        4. “Tell me more about the harm to humanity you propose-“ Bart, if humanity had not used fossil fuels over the last several hundred years the human species would certainly not have achieved anything near what we have. We would not be able to even feed the existing worldwide population.

      • Rob Starkey

        “Anytime a government requires a merchant to increase the cost of their goods and then tells the merchant to pass that additional revenue along to the government—THAT IS A TAX. “

        Is forcing a merchant to put a full 12 count into a dozen a tax?

        It sure increases their costs if they can’t shortchange their customers.

        What I’m proposing belongs more properly in the domain of weights and measures. A measure of gasoline of a certain octane has a certain CO2E. A measure of coal has a different CO2E. It’s just a standard measure, like how many donuts in a dozen.

        The difference is, right now the government doesn’t protect the victims of this theft of CO2E budget.

        ” I must not understand all the aspects of what you propose then. I thought you wanted a tax on all products that contributed to CO2 emissions. If my thought was correct, it would be very expensive to administer such a program. The government would first have to determine the CO2 tax to levy on each product and then would have to update these tax rates as companies modified their manufacturing processes to use less CO2. That tax approach would quite possibly cost as much to administer as it collected.
        If you are only writing about a tax on fossil fuels (gas, etc) with a rebate to low income families then it would be a pretty simple tax approach, but still would not be painless to administrative. “

        Yes, the first thought you had was a misunderstanding. Sounds like a tax proposal from the 1970’s.

        The way it’s currently done in British Columbia, I understand, is that all fossil fuels are charged based on their CO2E.

        It looks pretty simple, and practically painless by most accounts.

        If a jurisdiction the size of South Carolina can pull it off, it’s hardly rocket surgery.

        If they can do it while being the top performing economy in the world according to several disinterested sources, then I’m not really going to entertain scare-tactics about how horrible the idea must be.

        “When roads are paved to that standard it benefits society overall. It allows for the more efficient transportation of goods and thereby lowers the overall cost of those goods. It also lowers the cost of maintaining the roads and lowers the cost to society.”

        While you extol these benefits of central planning, Tovarish Starkey, recall that I’m not saying not to pave, I’m saying the people who benefit directly from the paving ought pay directly.

        Let them pass on their costs to their consumers, and so on, like everything else in the economy that really is capitalist in nature.

        Wresting control of the purchase decision out of the hands of these consumers and vesting it in the central control of committees and lobbyists is just plain anti-democratic.

        “In the even [sic] of an interruption of delivery for current sources it allows for a buffer to allow for time to increase supplies from alternative sources.”

        Sweet Lenin on a stick, what a sweet deal. My nanny state will take care of me by taxing my income and burying it in some salt mine in case a major hurricane or something comes along. Let’s see, how well did that sort of disaster planning work out in the case of Katrina? Not very well. Useless, in point of fact. Worse than useless.

        Do you sorta kinda see my basis for skepticism?

        “Since this is not an economics course I will not bother in further explanations beyond – One is to raise revenue.”

        Gee, I hadn’t thought of that.

        The worst way to raise revenue still has the justification that it raises revenue.

        Or does it? If it’s a net drag on the economy, it has a net negative return.

        I’m familiar with some of the wide-ranging debates on this issue, so your economics course, kind though it is for you to mention, would be a bit redundant.

        http://mises.org/rothbard/mes/chap16a.asp#3D2._Corporate_Income_Taxation

        http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/12/the-economic-impact-of-a-25-percent-corporate-income-tax-rate

        “..if humanity had not used fossil fuels over the last several hundred years the human species would certainly not have achieved anything near what we have.”

        Where do I propose we not use fossil at all? If humanity wasted less of the CO2E budget through thriftless exploitation of inferior technology backed by government central committee planning decrees, we would have achieved far more than we have to this point.

        That’s a known benefit of fair market capitalism over central planning.

        If the nanny state gets out of the way, the existing worldwide population is perfectly capable of feeding itself, and at lower fossil energy intensitivity.

        The world’s stomachs are not the beneficiary of the subsidies on fossil. The world’s fossil barons are.

      • Bart R

        For a person who seems educated you make pretty silly comments.

        You wrote- “Is forcing a merchant to put a full 12 count into a dozen a tax?” No, that is not a tax and it does not meet the definition I wrote. The merchant is not being forced to collect and pass along revenue to the government. No it does not belong in weights and measures—IT IS A TAX. If you really do not understand that simple, very clear point further discussion is pointless.

        Overall, you write that you want the “State” to get out of the way, but actually that is untrue. What you want is the US government to impose a tax to discourage a behavior that you believe is risky or harmful.

        We may actually partially agree. I would think a significant tax on imported oil would be a good idea for the US to implement. It would encourage development of domestic energy and discourage the use of petroleum products overall. The largest benefits would be increased government revenue and a decrease in the outflow of US capital.

      • Rob Starkey

        pretty silly comments.

        You wrote- “Is forcing a merchant to put a full 12 count into a dozen a tax?” No, that is not a tax and it does not meet the definition I wrote. The merchant is not being forced to collect and pass along revenue to the government.

        Indeed, you are not familiar with how merchants deal with weights and measures.

        Allow me to make that part of my answer more explicit.

        Who pays for the government’s weights and measures standards bodies and inspectors?

        For the calibration of scales and pumps and other measuring apparati?

        When the market benefits by increased consumer and investor confidence in the fairness of trade and uniformity of standards, certainly the rising tide resulting of market growth floats the government’s boat just as much as of every fair market participant, at the expense of free-riding cheats who now can no longer so easily short their buyers.

        This part of my proposal is far more like a standard of weights and measures than like a tax, in this way.

        ..If you really do not understand that simple, very clear point further discussion is pointless.

        You’d want to read McKitrick at that point.

        Overall, you write that you want the “State” to get out of the way, but actually that is untrue. What you want is the US government to impose a tax to discourage a behavior that you believe is risky or harmful.

        In the other part of my proposal, the Pigouvian portion, what you say is true to a point.

        I’m extremely adverse to such treatment, but recognize that even priced at the proper level, the point of diminishing returns to shareholders, the harm of past policy in developing wasteful and harmfully addictive tastes in consumers may be so extreme as to allow the theory of bads to apply.

        The waste and harm should normally be addressed by correct pricing to point of diminishing returns, as for any goods in the market.

        The addiction requires a Pigouvian tax to address, or further regulation. Between a Pigouvian tax and an unnecessary increase in regulation, I’d vote Pigouvian for the power of the measure to move the demand curve from rising to falling, restoring fair market conditions.

        We may actually partially agree. I would think a significant tax on imported oil would be a good idea for the US to implement. It would encourage development of domestic energy and discourage the use of petroleum products overall. The largest benefits would be increased government revenue and a decrease in the outflow of US capital.

        Hard to argue, except for the problems of Protectionism. Those are not my concern.

      • Bart R
        You demonstrate in our exchange how you tend to jump to conclusions with insufficient information.
        Your comment “Indeed, you are not familiar with how merchants deal with weights and measures.”—You have no information to reach that conclusion, and your conclusion is incorrect.
        Never were we exchanging information about government regulatory functions, the amount of funding those functions receive, or the merits or costs of those functions. We were discussing the fact that what you propose is a TAX, and you seem unwilling to recognize that it is a tax—pure and simple. You can argue it is a necessary tax, and may have valid points, but there should be ZERO debate that it is a tax since it is by definition.

      • “By making it unpopular to drive above 55 mph? ”

        A few days of driving around under various conditions with a fuel consumption computer will convincingly demonstrate to you how precious little effect your speed has on fuel consumption. You’ll have to experience this for yourself in order to fully appreciate it.
        As for the Indy 500, the total fuel used in that race is really a drop in the ocean.

      • Peter 3:17

        I hypermile.

        It’s no sweat off my brow, I get places in about the same amount of time as my non-hypermiling friends, and I get 66 mpg.

        Sure, hypermiling is more about not idling than about not speeding, but then I’m not really a quibbler.

      • In fact, for start/stop driving, little difference. At prolonged highway speeds of 55 vs. 70mph, there is a measurable difference, because the wind resistance goes up as the square of the speed, generally.

      • Mark F,
        Yes, there is a measurable difference between prolonged, steady speeds – the emphasis being on steady. But you’ll find that other factors like traffic, weather, road geometry etc etc all have a very much greater effect on fuel consumption than changes in steady speed.

      • And yet again, Bart R resolutely ignores that you cannot internalise the cost of CO2 emissions, if you don’t know what it is in the first place. Which we don’t.

        And goes on about subsidies that don’t accrue to the industries that are actually at the heart of the alleged problem – oil/gas/coal.

        And ignores that even if CAGW is true, and we figure out its cost so we can accurately internalise it, switching from cheap energy will still make everything more expensive. A lot more, given present technology.

      • Bart R resolutely ignores that you cannot internalise the cost of CO2 emissions, if you don’t know what it is in the first place. Which we don’t.

        What some central planner tells you is the price of vodka or matryoshka dolls or ladas is not the market price.

        I can’t tell you before the market has expressed its opinion of the price what it will be.

        I’m saying what you and I both know — that it’s the market that must fix that price at the point of diminishing returns to shareholders, as with any good.

        That is the point at which the price of the CO2E buying decision is internalised.

        And goes on about subsidies that don’t accrue to the industries that are actually at the heart of the alleged problem – oil/gas/coal.

        What do I care where some of the subsidies accrue and where some of them don’t?

        They’re subsidies, they’re unnecessary subsidies, they distort the market and produce a drag on the economy.

        I don’t think oil/gas/coal are The Devil unto whom all wages of sin vest. What a simpleton I’d have to be.

        If you don’t believe there are subsidies that do accrue to these businesses, however, then you are simply willfully blind.

        And ignores that even if CAGW is true, and we figure out its cost so we can accurately internalise it, switching from cheap energy will still make everything more expensive. A lot more, given present technology.

        Yes, yes. And I believe cell phone calls really have to be more expensive than landline phone calls. Except that only happens in North America, because of regulations enforcing a lax and ineffective market for mobile service.

        And I believe the cost of computers has gone up with all these newfangled ‘microchips’ over vacuum tubes.

        And I believe it’s more expensive to insulate and seal the drafts in a house in Ypsilanti against winter cold than to turn up the thermostat.

        I believe you Punksta.

        You’re that credible.

      • And yet again, Bart R resolutely ignores that you cannot internalise the cost of CO2 emissions, if you don’t know what it is in the first place. Which we don’t.
        Bart R:

        And goes on about subsidies that don’t accrue to the industries that are actually at the heart of the alleged problem – oil/gas/coal.
        Bart R:

        And ignores that even if CAGW is true, and we figure out its cost so we can accurately internalise it, switching from cheap energy will still make everything more expensive. A lot more, given present technology.
        Bart R:

      • Despite my messed-up html removing bits if it, the posting above still conveys Bart’s waffling, non-responsive replies to the points put to him. The points thus still stand.

      • I’ll try again. The relevant missing bits are:-

        Bart:   
      • Bollox. I retire in shame….

      • Punksta

        Valiant effort.

        I do want to hear your opinion.

        We can both be a bit less ambitious with fancy html and stylistic wackiness, I’m sure, and just speak plainly.

      • “… at great economic cost in terms of technology development and market democracy due to government business charity interferences and corporate communist injections of tax dollars for the past century.”

        Thanks for that Bart. I now understand what your perspective is.

      • Bart R,

        Maybe it’s your name, but I totally agree with you.

        Esp apt is your analogy on driving, a different version of which I also often make, that when driving in a snowstorm most people would chose to reduce speed rather than continuing driving 120 km/h.

        “the windshield’s too foggy to see through, so the last thing we want to do is take our foot off the accelerator pedal.”

      • Taking our foot abruptly off the carbon pedal dooms innumerable to an agonizing death in the ditch.
        ==========

      • kim

        Yeah, but the agonizing death of free riding parasites isn’t really so much a problem as a blessing.

      • Bart R,
        A wee bit racist, are you? You have a problem with the third world ‘parasites’ (in your lingo) wanting to have a go at better lives?
        Scratch an AGW fanatic and, just like in the good ol’ days of eugenics, you find a racist misanthrope.
        Thanks for clearing that up.

      • My estimation of your character just dropped at least 50 points.

      • Whoa!

        What?

        You spinning slanderer.

        The free riding parasites I refer to, my good hunter, are people who emit far more CO2E than they need because they are charged nothing for the benefit they receive and the waste the perpetuate.

        These free riders are not third world anything.

        They are not identified by color of their skin or place of origin or of residence, but by conduct only.

        Try again.

      • Read kim’s comment – and then yours. The meaning is plain in that context. If that wasn’t what you meant then you should read – and comment – more carefully. Otherwise, why do you think my comment was even worth my time – or yours?

      • Bart is not a racist, he is just challenged when it comes to English comprehension, not to mention writing. He reads things to mean what he wants them to mean, just like he writes.

        Most of his comments are just like long, typed Rhorshach ink blots. You can’t believe he is that confused, so you try to read into his comments some intelligible meaning. Once in a while it’s there, but usually not. It’s a real crap shoot.

      • Bart R,
        The only difference in that explanation is that not only are you racist, you are self-loathing as well.

      • hunter

        Jim Owen

        I’d have to buy into kim’s fictitious innumerate claims and think legitimate her dated ‘third world’ terminology for your statement to have the least validity.

        In the context, my turning her fake concern for worlds she knows nothing about to commentary on the real situation of free riders benefitting from the current skewed and harmful system was clearly nothing like hunter’s outrageous defamation or your buy-in of it.

        Further, if you want to look for ‘third world’ conditions, you can find them throughout America and applying to people in hard circumstances irrespective of ethnicity, too… so wouldn’t the presumption of racism in this contemptible and illegitimate interpretation hunter imposes itself be.. what’s the expression? A wee bit racist and self-loathing of hunter?

      • Bart R,
        The first rule of hole digging is to stop digging. You are in a deep one, my friend, and seemintent on digging hard.
        Your comment about America and thrid world only demonstrates a severe lack of experience in the third world.
        It is the AGW promoters who want to lock in thrid world people at their level of suffering- or worse- by denying them access to cheap energy and its benefits.
        You chose parasites as your term.
        Explaining, when you do it, has a bad habit of exposing more of your misanthropic self-loathing, and it ain’t a pretty sight.
        So stop digging. You might be able to salvage something of this yet.

      • Bart –
        Further, if you want to look for ‘third world’ conditions, you can find them throughout America and applying to people in hard circumstances irrespective of ethnicity, too… so wouldn’t the presumption of racism in this contemptible and illegitimate interpretation hunter imposes itself be.. what’s the expression? A wee bit racist and self-loathing of hunter?

        You should pay attention to hunter. Your assumption of “third world conditions” in the US is truly dumber than a door knob. I’ve seen the worst of the worst – in the cities, on the rez, even the homeless enclaves – and none of them measure down to the level of true “third world conditions”.

        Ever been to Haiti? And seen people taking their drinking water from potholes in the road? And then bathing in those same potholes? And taking that drinking water back to their stick-made huts? Yes – literally – made of sticks no thicker than your thumb.

        As hunter said – you live in a deep well of ignorance and you should really stop digging.

      • hunter

        You can’t meet people on ideas, so you attack them on fabricated ad homs against character.

        Your pretended concerns and pretended ‘third world’ experiences (some have prefer ‘developing world’, since the 1970s) and pretended helpfulness are clear shams.

        Your personal attacks are clear character flaw.

        What a waste.

      • Jim Owen

        Haiti, Venezuela, Nicaragua.

        Advanced courses in Development Economics.

        Training and experience in and a track record of commitment to development issues.

        So I have no trouble dismissing hunter’s calumnies, and have nothing but pity and disdain for those who having seen his record of behaviors claim to believe him.

      • Bart –
        Haiti, Venezuela, Nicaragua.

        Advanced courses in Development Economics.

        Training and experience in and a track record of commitment to development issues.

        Then at the very least you should have known better than to write what you wrote the way you wrote it.

        GaryM wrote –
        Bart is not a racist, he is just challenged when it comes to English comprehension, not to mention writing. He reads things to mean what he wants them to mean, just like he writes.

        You’d have been far better off just agreeing with him and letting it go. Instead you kept on digging. hunter’s conclusion was correct under the circumstances – but you set the conditions of the circumstances – not him.

        Note carefully – I had to read what you wrote at least three times to believe what I saw. As I said, you need to read AND write more carefully.

        No – I don’t “believe” you to be racist – but the way your own statement was phrased indicated that I might be wrong. So do you want to retract or defend – or at least explain? Your choice.

        Note also that the attitude you’ve been accused of expressing – and that you object to – has been openly proposed as one of the solutions to CAGW – and has in the past been practiced by some of those on the “green” side of the dance floor. So it’s not beyond imagining that someone here (even you) could harbor those sentiments.

      • Bart R,
        You have not stopped digging yet, have you?
        what a wonderful travel log. So what?
        How about Mexico before and during the violence, Romania(immediately after the offing of the dictator and his wife) Colombia before and after Plan Colombia, El Salvador?
        You are just unhappy because your nice little self-righteous hype is being called out.
        Pointing out your misanthropic bs is no flaw.
        Digging deeper and doubling down by you, however, may well be.
        You are the one, to quote you precisely and in full , who states:
        “kim

        Yeah, but the agonizing death of free riding parasites isn’t really so much a problem as a blessing.”
        Unquote
        You are just hoping that if you try and pretend you didn’t say what you said that you can fake your way back to some semblence of humane.
        Ain’t gonna happen.
        Whoever’s agonizing death you call out as a blessing only shows a deeply disturbed anti-human worldview.
        Deal with it. At least ahve the integrity to apologize for making the error or to own up and just admit that you, like so many other AGW fanatics, are all for large body counts if it gets the CO2 levels down to where you don’t feel nervous.

      • Jim Owen

        The explanation is there, but for you, I’ll expand it.

        That you have such extreme hang-ups as to not have been able to see that clearly, I can’t really help you with. I have enough extreme hang-ups of my own.

        I’m not going to exploit details of what I’ve seen abroad and in America to justify my character when slimed by a habitual ad homist with a Holier-Than-Thouism.

        I don’t need to claim that the bad conditions in America are the worst in the world to know that they easily qualify for the sort of multigenerational endemic poverty, cycles of despair, lack of means to escape and loss of opportunity that one finds in those regions kim must mean when she speaks of the innumerable deaths of people kim’s never met.

        I don’t need to exploit those hardships to score points on a blog as kim and hunter apparently feel the compulsion to.

        I don’t need to measure who’s record on these issues is longer or more saintly. I’m certainly no saint.

        I speak of behavior — free riding — which is on its face parasitic.

        I’m misanthropic for identifying a negative behavior as negative? What complete crap.

        If hunter’s a free rider and feels stung for being called out for his parasitism, I have no idea.

        If hunter’s calling me ugly names because that’s what happens when he feels stung for being called on his antisocial behaviors, I cannot conjecture.

        Do I really want to see people literally die?

        No. Obviously not. Well, clearly not obvious to you, which is a pity.

        Do I buy into the oft-repeated but never backed-up with facts claim that correcting the bad behaviors of free riders will cause more misery among those suffering unconnected economic hardships? Clearly, I’m saying the opposite is true because clearly the opposite is true. It’s the free riders who contribute to the hardship, not to its remedy.

        Do I want to see parasitic behavior in people snuffed out by correcting the current loopholes, taking the foot off the accelerator pedal?

        Obviously so.

        No actual free riders would really die. Just their free ridership.

        See the difference? Behavior. Not people.

        If you call ‘digging’ what I’m doing, so be it.

      • Bart R @ 1:09 PM

        ‘Worlds she knows nothing about’.

        Um, you don’t know that.
        =============

      • Bart –
        If hunter’s calling me ugly names because that’s what happens when he feels stung for being called on his antisocial behaviors, I cannot conjecture.

        hunter called’em as he saw them. Nothing more. As he always does. And I saw the same.

        Do I really want to see people literally die?

        No. Obviously not. Well, clearly not obvious to you, which is a pity.

        You wrote what you wrote. And what’s apparently not obvious to you is that there are those on your side of the dance floor who hold the attitude that you’re objecting to being tagged with. So both hunter and I had reason to think what we did even though there’s been no previous evidence of that attitude on your part. And then there’s the fact that you’ve been weaseling instead of apologizing and admitting error.

        So – I’m glad you don’t want all those people to die. Do I believe you ? If it matters – yes. DOES it matter? Probably not.

        Note that you also handled the situation in absolutely the worst possible way. And I’m not gonna discuss what you “should have done”. In any case, I’m done here.

      • Dread locked saddhus break
        The sun fired clay in little bits.
        Peenaka Pani.
        ==========

      • Bart R,
        You did not speak about the end of parasitic behavior.
        you spoke about how parasites should die, and how as those deaths would be a blessing.
        You are not learning that free lesson hole digging, are you?
        That effort you are making to make the bad guy for pointing out your misanthropic dehumanizing wishes is not working on anyone else. Is it at least working on you?

      • Hrm.

        kim sez “Taking our foot abruptly off the carbon pedal dooms innumerable to an agonizing death in the ditch.”

        You apparently get that kim isn’t really talking about a literal foot or a literal pedal or a literal ditch.

        You must then get that kim’s using poetic license to construe a message that if it had to stand on its own legs by merit of literal fact would crumble and collapse because it’s simply untrue.

        License and untruth that would not be needed if kim came out from behind the poetics long enough to speak plainly about such assertions, to support them with references and fact, demonstrated direct knowledge or failing to, being seen for an exploiter of hardships that those who have relationships with those suffering such hardships despise when used in unrelated causes to pad a weak argument for something inimical to the sufferers.

        How is it then that you don’t get the poetic license of the retort, that the obvious implication is the only ‘death’ in this is the death of free riding practices?

        Are you really so conveniently literalist as to skew the world so at every turn?

        ” those on your side of the dance floor who hold the attitude that you’re objecting to being tagged with”

        What the heck?

        Just what dance floor are you talking about?

        Do I seem to be on someone’s side? Really?

        You’re lumping me in with, what, Malthusians? Why would a Malthusian argue for _more_ efficient economic measures in place of the inefficient central committee pricing and its harms to all in the economy that ‘your side of the dance floor’ favors?

        You mean Social Darwinians like GaryM? You’ve clearly missed him taking great pains to find a different side of the dance floor than me.

        From my wallflower position, exiled from Jets and Sharks alike, I believe all sides of the dance floor have their equal share of unfortunate associations, but don’t make a habit of the unamerican practice of guilting by association.

        I wrote what I wrote. As someone with plentiful of experience in the digging of holes on the sad occassions kim so blithely flings out her little ditties about, I believe I have the right to turn her little nursery rhymes back against her own argument.

        If hunter feels the special need, or you have the special twist of vision to see evil in innocent remarks, that’s not my problem.

        Honi soit qui mal y pense.

      • Esp apt is your analogy on driving, a different version of which I also often make, that when driving in a snowstorm most people would chose to reduce speed rather than continuing driving 120 km/h.

        By the same token, standing on the brakes can lead to as big a catastrophe as accelerating. One has to tread a very narrow path until a safe alternative emerges.

      • There are no parasites anywhere in this issue, since everyone extensively consumes products produced using fossil fuels. If fossil fuel companies were green-taxed, all/some of this cost would be passed on to their consumers.

      • David,

        Whether there is a basis for a certain type of action (everything is an action, including continuing business as usual) depends on a lot more things than just the science. It depends also on your political outlook, ethics, worldview, etc and is of course up to the individual person.

        Typically though, people argue their position against mitigation as if it’s not based on their political outlook, ethics, worldview, etc, but rather as if it’s direcly related to their view of climate science (as you do now by saying the science is so unsettled/uncertain that there’s no basis for mitigation action. Others may argue entirely opposite: the science is so unsettling and uncertain that we should take rigorous mitigation action).

      • Warming good, cooling bad.
        ==========

      • Bart V, the fact that everyone has psychological and social reasons for their beliefs is no argument against the reasons they offer in a policy debate. You are confusing explaining a person with being a person, a common fallacy. The climate change policy debate stands or falls on the reasoning, especially the science and the economics.

        Some people do argue that uncertainty is a basis for action and I am prepared to offer reasons why that is false.

      • Bart V,
        And what we skeptics notice, sadly, is that AGW believers and fanatics have world views and attitudes that are deepl;y antipathetic to humanity, progress, rational discussion and history.
        Did you have any other point you wised to make?

  31. I agree communication is the problem. The question that remains is who is more confused, those speaking or those listening? I suspect the same people that were blaming droughts in the Sierra Nevada watershed on less snowpack from global warming will soon be blaming flooding from increased snowpack on global warming. The people in the area affected will probably suffer neck cramps from shaking their collective heads in wonder and that too will become a sign of global warming.

  32. Harold H Doiron

    I think a good first step in communicating climate science and its predictions and uncertainties to the general public, is to first learn to communicate them effectively with scientists in other fields who are knowledgeable about scientific methods and standards and who have experience in practical use of scientific findings for the public good.

    I thank and commend Dr. Curry for her efforts to elicit a more productive dialogue between Climate Scientists and scientists from other disciplines on these pages.

  33. I also agree that communication is a huge problem… but not in the way the authors intended. The authors seek to improve communication of the message that climate change is a real possibility and that action needs to be taken to address it.

    While the science supporting AGW is equivocal (at best), the impact of moving forward with plans to switch to a low carbon economy has NOT been clearly communicated. In fact, it’s mainly been sold as a utopian dream, where entire populations can move from carbon intensive industries to “green jobs”… where everyone in the developed world can continue their lifestyle as before AND the developed world can continue to develop. This is just plain nonsense.

    What is not effectively communicated is that if those proposed actions are taken, humans will be demonstrably worse off. Inexpensive energy and access to inexpensive energy = prosperity. Decreasing energy use, increasing energy costs and decreasing access to energy leads to worse conditions for people. It really is that simple.

    If you think you can run a server farm or manufacturing facility or any other type of modest scale business on wind or solar power, good luck! Just try to keep the lights on, nevermind remaining competitive (at least, not without massive government subsidies).

    Reporting on AGW should REALLY communicate the true IMPACT of switching to a low carbon lifestyle. I’d love to see programs that document the realities that folks will face when they choose to go low CO2, where they do so completely. As in, where folks don’t work in an area that requires commercial electrical generation (at least commercial electrical generation that isn’t completely from low carbon energy sources), they don’t use a computer at home, unless it’s completely separated from the commercial grid. Not sure how they would cook the food….using wood as fuel releases CO2, and releases more than what would be released by using natural gas or commercial electricity… that might be tough. Ah, well, let’s see how they cope! The participants couldn’t ever fly anywhere. Absolutely no TV/Blu Ray/HBO/TiVo. They would have to grow their own food, make their own clothes. They couldn’t refrigerate anything. And please hope that they don’t need medical care, at least not medical care that requires electricity. And, no, this couldn’t be like Medieval Times, where the participants could atone for their sins by purchasing carbon offsets in exchange for a little non-renewable energy use. In short, send folks back in time 200 + years or so ago. Show the world what that lifestyle is like, rather than the romantic vision that many people now share. Let everyone see how it goes. Once that message gets communicated to the world, THEN those that believe should come back and talk about the evils of carbon and evils of inexpensive energy. At least then people will have some frame of reference to better understand the impact of the choice for adopting a low carbon lifestyle.

    Bruce

  34. Communicating uncertainty in AGW is a corollary of the chronic hurdle with sincerity: it’s hard to fake.

    • Nice one !
      We haven’t seen much uncertainty communicated by the “orthodox” scientists. There seems to be no uncertainty in their mind.

  35. “What is not effectively communicated is that if those proposed actions are taken, humans will be demonstrably worse off. Inexpensive energy and access to inexpensive energy = prosperity.”

    The whole point is that current carbon energy sources are hiding the true cost born of the elevated levels of CO2. It’s like running a nuclear plant and not factoring the cost of decommissioning, or even radiation containment itself. That would be very inexpensive energy until years later when people had to pay for the environment being irradiated.

    Inexpensive energy means inexpensive

    • lolwot: you assume there are future and large negative costs from carbon based energy use, and you assume that they will be catastrophic. Neither of those assumptions have been demonstrated.

      Bruce

      • You assume the ongoing CO2 rise in the atmosphere is safe, when you haven’t demonstrated that.

        And your “inexpensive energy” hinges on that assumption

      • All the available evidence shows that CO2 is safe, even in concentrations three + times current atmospheric levels.

        All available evidence shows that the earth has experienced higher and lower CO2 concentrations over it’s history. All of the available evidence shows that the earth has experienced higher and lower temperatures over it’s history. Which means that we are currently within the normal range for both.

        If you BELIEVE that things will get worse for humans with increasing CO2 concentrations, it is up to you to demonstrate that it is so.

        As it stands now, your belief conflicts with the best available information.

        It’s not up to me to show that something is safe. It’s up to you to demonstrate that there not only is harm, but that the harm induced is greater than the harm that would be induced by moving forward with inexpensive and readily available energy.

        Bruce

      • “All available evidence shows that the earth has experienced higher and lower CO2 concentrations over it’s history”

        But at no time this occurred was a man on the Earth, let alone 6 billion of them and all their cities. Also I think the issue is more to do with the relative rate of CO2 increase than the absolute level. If the preindustrial level was 1000ppm we’d be adapted to that.

        “It’s not up to me to show that something is safe.”

        I don’t see why not. Do drug companies get away with telling regulators that it’s not up to them to show a new drug is safe?

      • Well, since pre-humans are known to have been extant more than 4 million years ago, you’re saying that neither CO2 nor temp levels have been higher than at present for that length of time?

      • Some estimates put the last time CO2 levels were this high as 15 million years ago.
        http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091008152242.htm

        More importantly though is the relative rise, which looks to be a doubling of CO2 plus some in the space of 200-300 years. No comparative example is known in the whole of Earth’s history.

        pre-humans 4 million years ago were closer in resemblance and probably mental faculty to chimpanzees than modern humans so I wouldn’t think they have much to tell us (or any means to tell us even if they knew) about climate impacts on an agricultural civilization of 6.7 billion people.

      • Also I think the issue is more to do with the relative rate of CO2 increase than the absolute level. If the preindustrial level was 1000ppm we’d be adapted to that.

        Two more points –
        1) humans function very well at 1000 ppm CO2 – in fact at anything up to 3500 ppm.

        2) humans ARE adapted to higher temps than present levels. Why do you think very few people keep their thermostats set at 45-50 degF? Why do you wear clothing? Because your body is adapted to the 70 degF range. It’s where we came from – it’s the way we evolved – and it’s “normal temp range” for us.

        We’re not there yet and you’re trying to subvert the process.

      • I mean human civilization and the climate itself would be adapted to 1000ppm if that was the preindustrial level.

        One example: sea level would have already settled at a level associated with 1000ppm CO2 before we started building cities at sea level.

        As it is we have built our cities at sea level associated with ~300ppm CO2. If we then elevate CO2 to 1000ppm, sea level is going to rise above those cities.

      • What sea level is associated with 1000ppm CO2?
        And how long would it take? At the current rate of increase it will take another ~300 years for sea levels to rise 1 metre. Most existing sea-level developments will probably be in need of rebuilding or demolition long before then.

      • The issue is the effects of elevated CO2 on climate , not human respiration.

        Horse puckey. You are the one who brought up human adaptation – and now can’t defend your point.

        As for the effects of elevated CO2 on climate so far everything has been blamed on that – and nothing has been or can be positively linked to it except by assertion. It’s all theory, models, probabilities (based on bad premises), guesswork, assumptions and argument by authority and assertion. No data, no proof, no actual links – just a quasi-religious belief. If I wanted religion, I know where to find the real thing, not some ersatz imitation.

      • lolwot –
        I mean human civilization and the climate itself would be adapted to 1000ppm if that was the preindustrial level.

        What proof do you have that we’re NOT adapted to live at 1000ppm? Since we can function very well at that level, I suspect that we are. Can you prove otherwise?

        As for your sea level comments – I am truly flabbergasted at the ignorance you display.

      • Oh come on! I can almost guarantee that, unless you have your windows permanently open, CO2 levels in your house regularly go to way over 1000ppm. And probably to way over 2000ppm in your car. We breathe the stuff out all the time!
        And, until the last few decades, humans survived for thousands of years in smoke-filled caves and houses.
        How much ‘adaptation’ do you need?

      • …not to mention the deliberately elevated CO2 levels in greenhouses to make crops grow better.

      • The issue is the effects of elevated CO2 on climate , not human respiration.

      • “The issue is the effects of elevated CO2 on climate”

        What effects would those be?
        What actual effects have we seen that can be unequivocally attributed to elevated CO2?

      • “What effects would those be? What actual effects have we seen that can be unequivocally attributed to elevated CO2?”

        It would be nice to know the effects of the CO2 rise on temperature and ocean pH and a host of other knock on effects. I guess that’s my point from above wrt the drug company and regulators. So far the ongoing CO2 rise hasn’t been given a sufficient all-clear.

        Not knowing the effects in my opinion is a good enough reason to cut emissions.

      • “It would be nice to know the effects of the CO2 rise on temperature and ocean pH and a host of other knock on effects.”

        We’ve already seen a very substantial rise. But we haven’t yet seen any substantial effects.

        “Not knowing the effects in my opinion is a good enough reason to cut emissions”

        Be my guest.

      • Not the correct argument. The drug companies are in the business of producing products that are intended to treat/cure. It’s something new and different that is being ADDED to the person.

        The standard they need to meet is that the drug is:
        1.) safe; and
        2.) effective for what it is claimed to treat.

        Why is this different than energy use? Because there’s nothing new being added with energy use (at least in the developed world)… it’s what’s currently happening. It is the existing standard.

        The correct argument is, “energy use is bad AND is worse than not having energy.” Then, it’s up to you (if that is your belief) to demonstrate your position. That standard has not been met.

        BTW: Climate “science” (at least that demonstrated by Mann, Schneider, Briffa, Jones, et al) would not only be rejected by the FDA, those authors would be literally be legally prosecuted for their actions. They would face individual jail time and their institutions heavily fined. You are simply not allowed to hide your data in biomedical research. You can’t just claim that a drug works… you need to not only demonstrate it in the peer reviewed literature, you also need to submit the data (ALL of the data) to the FDA (in the US… but, the standards are similar in other parts of the world). You WILL be audited by the FDA and by other countries if you attempt to sell the drug in other countries. You have to account for every stage of the research, production, distribution, accounting, documentation, etc. And even after that, you have to monitor what happens to people after they start taking the medication. Adverse events need to be documented and reported, and done so in a very rigid, very timely manner. It is illegal to withhold data. You are not allowed to “clip” or “hide”, unfavorable data solely because it is unfavorable to your beliefs or to your bottom line.

        The scientific standards for biomedical research are very different from the standards for climate “science”.

        Bruce

      • “Why is this different than energy use? Because there’s nothing new being added with energy use”

        This is what’s new:
        http://www.actingtogether.co.uk/images/CO2graph.gif

      • There is increasing CO2 in the atmosphere.

        Question: So?

        Does that mean things are bad and getting worse? Does increasing CO2 result in people being worse off?

        All evidence to date shows that access to energy improves the lives of humans.

        Also, very interesting that you didn’t show the charts of Vostok ice cores plotted with estimated temperatures… the plots that show temperature increasing before the increases in CO2. :D

        Bruce

      • You are filibustering and dissembling.
        The issue is not if this CO2 lievel has happened while humans have had high tech…..well except for the fact that it has been this way for over 30 years and nothing bad has happened.
        The issue is will CO2 cause trouble for people.
        Except for those declaring that it will cause trouble and demanding a lot of money attention to say it louder and louder, the answer would be, “no. CO2 has not caused problems.”

    • The whole point is that current carbon energy sources are hiding the true cost born of the elevated levels of CO2.

      No, the whole point is : we have absolutely no idea what these true costs are, since we have absolutely no idea what the net effect of elevated levels of CO2 is.

  36. andrew adams

    Judith,

    journalists and scientists have been busy blaming each other over perceived “problems” associated with communication about climate change. The “problem” is that the public has not yet been convinced. Fischoff’s emphasis on communicating risk and uncertainty is right on target, IMO.

    I think you are over generalising about the public opinion. I’m certainly not claiming that it is completely on the side of those us who believe that AGW is a real and urgent threat, and obviously the skeptics have made some gains in the propaganda battle, but neither is the public as a whole unconvinced of the threat – see for example the poll evidence quoted by Joshua in the last thread. There are certainly valid questions to be asked about how communication between scientists and the public can be improved (including how to overcome attempts by some to muddy the waters) but the “problem” should not be overstated.

    Of course risk and uncertainty are a part of the story and need to be portrayed fairly, but this has to be done in the context of what we do know with some confidence. And it works both ways – having knowledge on a particular issue which is uncertain should not be confused with having no knowledge, and uncertainties can mean that things might be more as well as less serious than we think.

    I attended a debate in London last night on the subject of climate change and the two scientists on the “pro-AGW” side (David King and Tim Palmer) managed to portray the seriousness of the threat of AGW whilst still warning against those on both sides of the argument who overstate the certainties on the subject. It obviously worked because although the audience was dominated by the skeptics (not surprisingly as it was organised by a right wing magazine which is strongly skeptical) there were votes before and after the debate and a substantial number of the “don’t knows” switched to the “pro-AGW” side and very few to the “skeptical” side.

    • Do you have a link to the debate with king and palmer? I am most interested in this one, would like to do a post if i can find some material on this. thx.

      • andrew adams

        The details of the event are here

        http://www.spectator.co.uk/shop/events/6711083/sold-out-spectator-debate-the-global-warming-concern-is-over-time-for-a-return-to-sanity.thtml

        but none of the material or any transcripts have been published and there were no cameras there.

        The estimable Simon Singh made a very entertaining presentation about the “credibility spectrum” which you may have found interesting. You can get a good idea about it here –

        http://newhumanist.org.uk/2152/whats-the-worst-that-could-happen-a-rational-response-to-the-climate-change-debate-by-greg-craven

      • David King showed a graph of CO2 vs temp and the ice core data…to prove CO2 is the driver of climate. (Al Gores graph)

        Ie the one where CO2 lags temp by 800 years..

        David King was the least impressive..
        David King, even rolled out vested oil interests and tobacco PR as a reason for sceptics.

        I’m going to write something up this evening. I was sitting next to Andrew Montford and Josh, with the additional joy of the view of the back of Bob Wards head 2 rows down.

        Benny Psieser was the only one that really stayed with the motion, and he has the point that I have agreed with for some time (Bishop Hill summarises it) that it is largely irrelevant what the scientists, activists, sceptics think, public opinion will only allow politicians to take ‘greenery’ so far.

        Lots of notes, and there were some interesting questions at the end, plus the final summaries to get down

      • Thanks Barry, I look forward to your summary

      • andrew adams

        I must have been sitting quite close to you – I would have waved if I’d have known.

        I thought that neither King or Palmer were particularly engaging speakers, although King did make some decent points about oil supplies, energy efficiency and the costs of decarbinisation. His argument with Lawson on this point was probably the most important in terms of its wider significance. To make the debate more interesting they probably should have dispensed with one of the academics on the AGW side
        and had someone a bit more “political” (Bob Ward even).
        Mind you I thought they were both better than Stringer, whose presentation was just a mish mash of contarrian talking points. They should have ditched him for someone with actual scientific credentials, which the skeptical side lacked.

        Peiser made some reasonable points (and some less reasonable ones). Maybe his conclusion is correct, personally I think he oversold his case but I could be wrong. Of course that doesn’t mean the other side were wrong about the threat of AGW and he need for action. The worst possible case is that they are both right.

      • The worst possible case is that they are both right.

        Yes, even though mainstream climate science is addled with fraud and advocacy, it may by pure chance still be making the correct prediction.

  37. Another day gone by without any of the climate catastrophes happening……. A bit like Waiting for Godot.

    Yawn….

    • you missed the russian heatwave then

      • This has been debunked already lolwot:

        “The deadly Russian heat wave of 2010 was due to a natural atmospheric phenomenon often associated with weather extremes, according to a new NOAA study”

        try reading this before making such an assertion

      • Backs up my point:
        “And while the scientists could not attribute the intensity of this particular heat wave to climate change, they found that extreme heat waves are likely to become increasingly frequent in the region in coming decades.”

      • How does this speculation back up your point? Unless your point is speculation.

      • Mmmm… So, you BELIEVE the Russian heatwave was caused by AGW. Ummmm, no.

        Even NOAA admits it wasn’t.
        http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2011/20110309_russianheatwave.html
        Clipped from the presser:

        “The heat wave was due primarily to a natural phenomenon called an atmospheric “blocking pattern”, in which a strong high pressure system developed and remained stationary over western Russian, keeping summer storms and cool air from sweeping through the region and leading to the extreme hot and dry conditions. While the blocking pattern associated with the 2010 event was unusually intense and persistent, its major features were similar to atmospheric patterns associated with prior extreme heat wave events in the region since 1880, the researchers found.”

        Bruce

      • The NOAA doesn’t claim the Russian heatwave wasn’t caused by AGW.

        They state they can’t attribute a single event to climate change:

        ” And while the scientists could not attribute the intensity of this particular heat wave to climate change, they found that extreme heat waves are likely to become increasingly frequent in the region in coming decades.”

        That means it could be caused by climate change.

        And in fact more events like this are expected in a warming world, as they note.

        If the world hadn’t warmed 0.7C in the past 100 years (and Russian has warmed more), such extreme heatwaves would have a lower chance of occurring.

        By the way climate change induced heatwaves will materialize through natural atmospheric blocking patterns. It’s not like climate change is being accused of heralding in a new type of weather. What it will do is make such events more extreme. You’ll still have a blocking pattern behind it though and the NOAA will continue to point out that you can’t say it has nothing to do with climate change.

      • lolwot: “That means it could be caused by climate change.”

        noaa: “While a contribution to the heat wave from climate change could not be entirely ruled out, if it was present, it played a much smaller role than naturally occurring meteorological processes in explaining this heat wave’s intensity.”

      • I stand corrected

      • Well not really, if I’m honest as I agree the article is a little ambiguous. They’re probably hedging their bets. :)

      • “What it will do is make such events more extreme”

        What does that mean?
        Is there going to be a heatwave every 18 years on average instead of once every 20 years?
        Is the heatwave going to last 5 days on average instead of 4?
        Is the maximum temperature going to be 42c instead of 40c?
        Is the minimum temperature going to be 25c instead of 23c?
        Is the average temperature going to be 31c instead of 30c?
        Is the wind going to average 1mph instead of 1.5mph?
        What does ‘more extreme’ mean?
        And how is anyone going to be able to tell if any particular heatwave would have been ‘less extreme’ if not for AGW?

      • andrew adams

        Well there’s also two once-in-a-century droughts in the Amazon in the last five years.

      • And when was the last one before that?

        Or has some extremely delicate, invisible and indefinable threshold been crossed, whereby a once in a hundred year event suddenly becomes twenty times as frequent, with no prior warning?

        Don’t you think that’s stretching credulity a bit?

        The fact is, you’re going to have to wait another thousand years before you can say with any confidence that once in a hundred year events have increased in frequency. A few decades worth of data doesn’t tell you anything.

      • How did they derve the ‘once in a century’ number in the first place? How many cenutres data do they have on Amazon droughts to be able to make the statement that a drought is ‘once in a century’ rather than ‘once very fifty years on average’ or ‘only occurred once before in a zillon decades’.

        Serious question. Somebody must know.

      • Either:
        a) Up to now, we’ve seen an average of one drought every hundred years, and now we’ve seen two in the last five years,

        or:

        b) The last two droughts have been slightly worse than all the droughts we’ve seen in the last 100 years,

        or anything in between.

        I suspect the truth is a lot closer to b) than to a)

        But even if the truth is close to a), it still tells us nothing about the causes of the last two droughts – it could be something else, like deforestation for example. Or it could be just a statistical anomaly.

      • Not much of a 10o year drought if you can have two in five years, is it?
        I would suggest that anyone using the term in that context just made it up to help the faithful.

      • andrew adams

        The 100 year figure comes from measurements of the Rio Negro – on that basis the 2005 drought was the worst since measurements began in 1902 so actually it could be much more than 100 years (or indeed just 103 years).

        Maybe it’s just a fluke that two such events happened in 5 years but they certainly qualify as “unusual” in their severity and the fact that they happened so close together and the loss of parts of the Amazon rain forest are one of the predicted consequences of higher temperatures. We shouldn’t make too many assumptions but it’s reasonable to be concerned given the impact of such events.

      • Prior to 2005, when was the last drought that was said to be the worst since measurements began?

      • Latimer Alder

        Please post a link to the data on whch this s based.

        And if true, it should be stated as ‘the worst droughts recorded for a hundred years’ which is not quite the same as ‘once in a century’…which implies the existence of a far longer record than just 103 years.

      • aa,
        People are starting to notice that everytime an AGW believer claims something is the worst ever, they are wrong.
        Think again of the definition of ‘drought’, and then ponder the implications of having two significant droughts in less than five years. They could not have been very significant.

      • andrew adams

        Latimer,

        The claim about the Rio Negro comes from the National Institute of Space Research (INPE) in Brasil – see

        http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/oct2005/2005-10-24-05.asp

        Feel free to take it up with them if you don’t believe them.

        Peter,

        Deforestation probably played a part, the main driver appears to have been increased ocean temperatures.

        hunter,

        Where did I say the drought is the worst ever?

      • …the main driver appears to have been increased ocean temperatures.

        Not increasedocean temperatures per se, but rather locally increased SST – in the form of El Nino.

      • andrew adams

        But the 2005 and 2010 el Ninos were relatively modest compared to those in the late 20C and we didn’t have such severe droughts then.

      • How severe (and frequent) were the 20th century droughts? Do you have the data?
        Also, it must be pointed out that the Rio Negro catchment area is only a small part of the Amazon. How bad was the drought in the rest?

      • Besides which, the severity of the drought doesn’t correlate with the magnitude of the El Nino as much as with its position and longevity. The fact that the SST anomaly exists at all is enough to disturb rainfall patterns – the question being where and for how long.

      • lolwot,
        By using the Russian heatwave, you make the skeptic point rather well.
        Thanks.

  38. “and obviously the skeptics have made some gains in the propaganda battle”

    I really don’t think they have. Following climate blogs, populated by a *very* small percentage of the population gives false impression of the public mind on the issue. By and large I think climate blogs are 99% irrelevant on the matter. Out of everyone I know in Real Life ™ I don’t think I know one person who follows any climate blogs. Climate blogs are more entertainment for a fringe few than having any actual impact.

    Most people will have some skepticism in their bones born of cynicism, but end of the day they will tend to quite rightly err on the side of the experts and the mainstream.

    Communication between scientists and the public is a Red Herring. The public don’t really have much influence on matters and they know it and probably really don’t care. They have to pick the kids up and go shopping see.

    So communicating with the public is just science education for educations sake. A few more thousand people will understand climate change a bit better. But it won’t help spur any action because ultimately the bulk of the public are going to treat CO2 regulation as they do traffic management – ie they expect experts and politicians to deal with the issue for them . That’s why top down government driven de-carbonization of the economy is needed as individual grass roots actions will not work.

    Thinking that the problem is with communication from scientists to public is a red herring.

    The main communication that is actually needed is communication from scientists to politicians. It’s politicians that have to initiate this afterall, they are the ones with influence. There isn’t actually a communication problem between scientists and politicians. I think the issue has been fairly well communicated to politicians for years.

    So there is no communication problem.

    What there is, is an inactivity problem by the politicians themselves. If I had to put a finger on the actual problem I would say it was a matter of short-term thinking. Politicians are forever having to deal with short-term problems that crop up like Libya or Iraq or a financial crisis. They don’t have any time to focus enough on longterm problems like decarbonizing the economy. They are probably trying to spend so long maintaining the status-quo that they don’t find time to change anything.

    This is true now as it was 10 years ago.

    • “That’s why top down government driven de-carbonization of the economy is needed as individual grass roots actions will not work.”

      Say it loud, say it often. Please.

      If only more progressives would be as honest about their goals…we would never be stuck with another Democratic senator, congressman or president.

      “The main communication that is actually needed is communication from scientists to politicians.”

      All of the progressive politicians, of all parties, in virtually every western country already are on the CAGW band wagon. The current leaders of the U.S. and every European nation still favor “top down government driven de-carbonization of the economy.” So why hasn’t it taken place? (Could it be that pesky “public?”)

      But by all means, please keep focusing on communication. If more progressives are as open about their desire for “de-carbonizing” the economy as this comment, this debate will be over in 2012.

      • “If only more progressives would be as honest about their goals…”

        well sorry to disappoint you but i am politically conservative

      • Lots of CAGW proponents claim to be conservative, like Bart R, but somehow they all seem to be able to stomach the massive taxes and government regulation that their pet theory demands. So you are firmly against cap and trade, a carbon tax, decarbonization, government regulation of the energy sector?

        Oops, “That’s why top down government driven de-carbonization of the economy is needed as individual grass roots actions will not work.” My what a conservative concept.

        Hint to all you progressives trying to pass yourselves off as conservatives/libertarians….it isn’t working. Not on the blogs, and not among the electorate.

      • You sound to me like one of these newly wet behind the ears religious “worship the market” types. The idea that government should be out of all walks of life and regulation shouldn’t exist is an extremist view. Not conservatism.

        I see how it works though, the extremists try to hijack and redefine the term so that anyone who doesn’t believe their pet religion is now a “progressive”.

        True conservatives are pragmatic and understand that some problems cannot be solved by the market. Sometimes regulations are needed.

        How about national defense for starters? Id like to see the market solve national defense.

        Another longterm problem which the short-term market god cannot solve.

      • lolwot

        Despite GaryM’s claims to the contrary, I recognize that my views are extreme ‘market worship’ as opposed to conservative; I object strongly to taxes and government involvement that does harm to the market, somewhat more than I object to government neglect and failure to collect revenues that harm the market.

        Unlike GaryM, I see a distinctions between necessary and bad taxes and necessary and bad governments.

        That GaryM has a different extremism than mine must be confusing.

        His views, I know, confuse the heck out of me, so I dare not presume to speak for him.

        For myself, I’m all for sufficient individual and national defense (of fair markets and) of intangible national interests external to the market, and see a role for the market in generating the wealth to provide that defense by whatsoever minimally-market-damaging means individuals and the state deem sufficient and prudent.

        I respect GaryM’s extremist differences and your conservative differences from each other and from my own extremist views.

        I hope this answers you on the degree of my extremism.

      • Bart R,

        As to what little substance can be gleamed from your comment, see below.

        On a more general note, I have given up on responding to your long, meandering, self-contradictory diatribes against conservative objections to your borderline incoherent progressive tax delusions. Too many have tried and not one has gotten through.

        Just don’t blame me for your being confused. You have managed that all too well, and all too consistently, on your own. For someone who claims training in economics, you butcher the most common terms more than anyone else I can think of.

        You are not an extremist. You are just very, very confused.

      • “The idea that government should be out of all walks of life and regulation shouldn’t exist is an extremist view. Not conservatism.”

        There is actually already a word for what you describe. Anarchist. One of the most common tropes used by progressives to attempt to discredit conservatives is to claim they are against “all regulation” and “all government,” or as your fellow crypto-progressive Bart R writes below, “all taxes.”

        That is one way you make your progressivism obvious. Conservatives do not call each other anarchists. Another is your (and his) support for a “top down government driven de-carbonization of the country.” There is not a single, genuine conservative that I know of who supports government control of such a large, vital sector of the economy.

        The only one trying to redefine terms in this discussion are yourself, and Bart R.

      • Another clue as to your being a progressive is this comment: “How about national defense for starters? Id like to see the market solve national defense.” To conservatives, national defense is not something that needs to be solved. Conservatives do not see government as the “problem solver in chief.”

        Nor would a conservative say “some problems cannot be solved by the market.” The “market” doesn’t solve any problems. It is not some social construct designed by men to solve anything (like socialism, fascism, etc.). The “market” is simply a term used to describe the economic system that developed in Darwinian fashion by trial and error over centuries in the West. To the extent conservatives speak of “relying on the market,” they are referring to relying on that system of trial and error for millions of individuals in the market to find solutions, rather than the centralized, one size fits all “solutions” of progressives like Bart R and yourself.

        National security is however a core function of government recognized by all conservatives. The fact that you would confuse the issues of the government’s role in markets and national defense as being somehow analogous is a typical progressive non sequitor.

      • Another longterm problem which the short-term market god cannot solve.

        You sound to me like one of these newly wet behind the ears religious “worship the state god” totalitarian types.

        Difficulties in applying consensual (ie market) solutions have nothing to do with short-termism. That is a generally a problem created by govenrment, eg with Keynesian policies.

      • irt your claim of conservatism:
        Bunk.

      • “So why hasn’t it taken place? (Could it be that pesky “public?”)”

        I said. Not the public, since when has the public ever stopped politicians wanting to do something real bad? It’s because they are distracted by short-term events and they are only putting in marginal piecemeal efforts to make it look like they are doing something (eg cap and trade)

      • I understood your point, my point was exactly that you are completely wrong. It was the fear of the public, and ONLY fear of the public, that kept Obama and the Euro progressives from signing a treaty in Copenhagen to institute massive taxes and regulatory schemes. Not because they are distracted by anything, but because they finally understood the vast nature of the power and money grab that was under way.

      • did I not directly after that state:

        “There isn’t actually a communication problem between scientists and politicians. I think the issue has been fairly well communicated to politicians for years.”

      • How can something that has been demonstrated to have been hyped, over stated, selectively presented and deliberately designed to hide uncertainty, all of which is true about the climate science consensus, be considered to have been ‘well communicated’?

      • “But by all means, please keep focusing on communication”

        My entire point was that communication is a red herring! The problem is not communication, it’s politicians wandering off and doing something else.

      • Your point included, and I quote “The main communication that is actually needed is communication from scientists to politicians.” You recommend changing the focus of communication from the public to politicians. What is hilarious is that you think that the CAGW activists didn’t do that. The AR4’s Summary for Policy Makers was directed to…you guessed it, policy makers, ie. politicians. Every progressive politician in the West has bought into CAGW. The suggestion that there was some failure to convince politicians is just mind boggling.

      • “What is hilarious is that you think that the CAGW activists didn’t do that.”

        Huh. Straight after I said: “There isn’t actually a communication problem between scientists and politicians. I think the issue has been fairly well communicated to politicians for years.”

      • They are wandering off because enough them realize the fundamental problems of AGW, that it is yet another bad mixture of science and public mania.
        They are wandering off because even politicians smell the distinct aroma of bs.
        They are wandering off because no matter how well communicated, the idea that CO2 is causing a worldwide climate crisis is bunk.

    • andrew adams

      lolwot

      I agree with a lot of that – certainly you make a very good point that we should not confuse arguments on blogs between people who take a keen interest in the subject and have very strong views and how the subject is seen by the wider public.
      There is a common misapprehension amongst those who debate on the internet on contentious subjects that their view on both the subject itself and its immediate importance is more widely shared by the public than is really the case. Which is why I think that Judith and the skeptics in general overstate their case that AGW has lost credibility with the public and you are right that it is not a subject which the public pays a lot of attention to in their day to day lives.
      I also agree that this is not neccessarily the main bar to action by politicians, in fact I did initially make a remark to that effect in the comment you responded to but deleted it for some reason. I do think that policy makers in general and notwithstanding the current political situation in the US do accept the need for action but, as you say, they also have other priorities which may appear more pressing in the short term. And also because even when they are trying to do the right thing getting the kind of international agreeement we need is just very hard because there are very difficult political issues involved.
      However, I do think that for those (at least in democratic societies) who do seriously want to take action (or are wavering) having support from the public does make some difference as there will be costs involved and there will be competing priorities. So I think that trying to communicate to the public, not neccessarily the detailed scientific arguments but a basic outline, and why the public should have confidence in the scientific basis for AGW being a real threat is worthwhile. And I do think that the skeptics have had a bit of success (although not as much as they might claim) in getting some of their arguments out of the internet and into the MSM.

      • Latimer Alder

        Not often that we agree, but you’re right that sceptics are havng some success n public opinion…and this will trickle back to politicians.

        But its a slow process. The AGW bandwagon is a large and powerful one…it takes years to alter course. But compared with 18 short months ago – pre-Climategate and pre-Copenhagen, it has changed perceptibly, and continues to do so. This blog’s existence, and the debates here are merely symptoms of the wider change in perception.

        And the longer that goes by without any of the predicted climate catastrophes occurring, the less hold the idea that AGW is something we need to do anything about (if it exists at all) will have.

      • andrew adams

        Well we agree up to a point. There does seem to be a slight softening (I wouldn’t go much further than that) in public opinion which is probably due to a combination of skeptical coverage in some sections of the media and the economic difficulties meaning that people’s immediate priorities have changed.
        I think it is a bit of a stretch to assume it’s the sign of a longer term turnaround in opinion – I guess we have to wait and see. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere it is dangerous to make assumptions about the wider public opinion from discussions on blogs where the bulk of opinion is on one side of the argument.
        I do think the public are smart enough to understand that just because they are not experiencing catastrophic climate change now that doesn’t mean that AGW is not a threat for the future. They may well notice that there have been a number of high profile cases of extreme weather events elsewhere recently and wonder if climate change has anything to do with it (regardless of blog discussions about attribution of such events).

      • Latimer Alder

        Didn’t say nuffink about blogs. Of course blogospherc opnon s lmited to saddos like us on both sdes of the argument. But opinion polls consstently show a decrease in belief in and worry about global warming compared with a few years ago.

        I thnk you hit the nail on the head with ‘high profle’ events. It isn’t that there are any more such events, it s that they are more intensively reported. And whatever they are, some ‘expert’ pops up to blame it all on global warmng. After a few years of ths, people wonder just how heatwaves and very cold snowy snaps can both be attributed to global warmng. And why they can remember such thngs from being kids before global warming was invented.

        And the shriller the expert and the louder ther calls to trust them beacuse they are climate scentsts, the more the general public tune them out as being just as partisan as any other politician or snake oil salesman.

  39. Two standard liberal political tactics are clearly in display, they repeat themselves over and over. topic after topic;

    A. If an initiative for a statist agenda (cap and trade for example) fails the fall back position is to attack ditractors as “ignorant” and the public at large “uninformed” and the only failing of the liberal elite failure to “communicate” what could only be the “intellegent” solution that has been rejected.

    B. This all cooresponds with a smear campaign of calling the opposition every possible name and depicting the liberal elite as better informed and more “intellegent”. The MSM feeds these points daily on most topics.

    It’s a deeply cultural and political pattern. Both side do this but the more traditional pattern and orthodoxy exists within the liberal left society. AGW is texbook on this culture. If you go against the agenda you are “anti-science”, “ignorant”, “uninformed” and the only failing of the AGW proponents was “failure to communicate” and influences of “corporations”, “disinformation” and the MSM in a sort of reverse denial/accuse scenario that imagines the NYTimes as right of center.

    It’s Orwellian in nuance and extent.

    • Exactly. Look at how AGW believers still call up the Russian heat wave as proof of CO2 causing worldwide climate crisis. Only ignoring the historical nature of the heat wave.
      Same in Australia and Pakistan.
      History is not the friend of AGW believers. Historical illiteracy is the best supporter of AGW.

  40. If the most dramatic, realistic outcome of AGW in the next 100 years in one or two ‘extra’ category five hurricanes hitting the southern US, I think the ‘communication’ of AGW will ultimately fail in producing actions like emissions reductions.

    It comes down to a simple example, making simple assumptions. Let’s assume there are 10 category five hurricanes that make US landfall in a given 100 year period w/o AGW. AGW makes that number become 12, or 13 even, which seems unlikely given the data we already have (ie no increase so far).

    So do spend our resources mitigating the ‘extra’ two or three hurricanes or do we spend our resources such that we can withstand the landfall of ALL of them? This would include resilience against the hurricanes that would ‘naturally’ occur via better construction, resources for evacuation strategies and routes, alarm system and better monitoring and forecasting. In order to guard against the risk we already face with respect to major natural disaster, the current technologies using fossil fuels will be necessary. Fossil fuels make these adaptation strategies much less expensive and easier to implement basically anywhere in the world.

    This seems like the point that most ‘alarmists’ miss. If we are worried about increasing the risk to which we are exposed with respect to natural disasters, which is ultimately the claims that end up in the headlines, why don’t we just focus more resources into disaster mitigation rather than carbon mitigation? Under any scenario of warming and effects of warming on disasters we have made a good decision doing so.

    One can insert any disaster du jour into the above example and come to the same conclusion. Whatever changes could occur because of a warming world were always risks that humanity faced. We are simply adding our own behavior to the list of possible inputs to the likelihood of one of the risks becoming a reality. If we are protected against the reality in the end, it doesn’t matter if we’re on that list or not, however.

    Carbon mitigation is simply of poor strategy of reducing the risk that people face from nature. Given what we know now, emissions reductions will also likely keep poor people poor and exposed to the most risk of anyone to everything for much longer into the future.

  41. There are undoubtedly many reasons why “the public” is no longer taking AGW seriously, but I think failure to communicate is the least of them. For those of us who are science literate and originally accepted AGW science either because of political leanings or because we trust the scientific method, trust, or rather lack thereof, IS the issue. Having seen the behavior and shoddy practices of climate science movers and shakers exposed in the climate gate emails, I was appalled. The only thing more appalling is seeing that behavior defended, excused, and supposedly exonerated. Few, if any, climate scientists have called them out. If mainstream climate scientists were to state as physicist Richard Muller has, that this kind of data manipulation is not allowed in science and that he will no longer read their papers, trust might have some change of restoration.

    I think a second reason may be that the public sees AGW as an unsolvable problem with proposed solutions being, at best, unreasonable or ineffective. We can’t conserve our way out of it, so-called renewables are inadequate and expensive, oil is bad and coal is worse. Nothing the developed economies do toward remediation really matters unless the developing economies participate. And now, the nuclear renaissance many of us hoped for is in serious jeopardy thanks to the media and the greens promoting fear beyond any rational basis. Might as well party.

    • “Might as well party.” Damn, I picked a bad decade to quit drinking :) It is an incredibly circular debate. Whatever decision makes both extremes equally dissatisfied will be the best one.

  42. Here is how I view things.
    ————————-
    1)The intention behind charging for co2 is to reduce those emissions by making it more expensive for people to purchase anything which involves co2. It is claimed this will make for a more livable climate for my great-grand-children. Approximately 0.1-0.2C cooler 100 years from now. None of this supposed benefit will accrue to me, my children, or my grand-children. All we will see is reduction in spending power and thus quality of life.

    If my fourth generation descendants(if there are any) are capable of noticing the improved climate(unlikely) and aren’t totally heartless(some likely will be), they might, if they can afford it, make a trip to the cemetery to make sure my plot has been recently mowed. Of course I’ll never know one way or the other.
    ————————

    2)If no co2 charge is implemented, I can continue to do the same as people have been doing for uncountable past generations. Improve my circumstances with that income which has now remained under my control, and possibly leave a larger estate for the benefit of my immediate descendants.

    For me number 2 is the only rational answer.

    How many generations ahead do you provide for if you have written a will? Only the extremely wealthy even think about providing more than a couple generations ahead. Why in the world should anyone spend more on people 100 years in the future than closer relations they haven’t even provided for in their will?

  43. In response to Bart Verheggen on March 30, 2011 at 10:55 am:
    “’no good reason to believe that human emissions are dangerous’”. I guess that depends on what you call ‘dangerous’. Most scientists who study these topics would rather not live in a +4 degree world. ”

    Bart speak for yourself, I would never to choose to live in The Netherlands (although Afrikaans is my 2nd language, not identical to Dutch but near enough!) until it was at least 10 oC warmer throughout the year. Let me know when that happens and I’ll shout you a beer.

    • In a ten degree warmer world the Netherlands will eventually be flooded. That may already happen in a 3 degree warmer world, albeit slowly (probably; not certainly. Uncertainty adds to the worry).

      http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/category/english/sea-level-rise-english-2/

      • If the sealevel rose 10m in the next 1000 years, what proporton of the existing habitable land mass across the world would become uninhabitable? 1%, 5%, 10%, 25%, 50%?

        And what evidence is there that it will be anything other than a very very gradual process leaving plenty of time to adjust? At less than a foot per generation, I completely fail to see why we should panic about it.

        Shame about Holland though – they once had a good soccer team. I guess they could always merge with Belgium………..

      • Shame about Holland though – they once had a good soccer team.

        There’s always underwater polo. That what happened witht he New York Yankees, ever since Hansen and Gore put NY 20 feet under water in about 1990 …

      • I don’t know if Hertz van Rental or Avis van Hire are strong swimmers. Both were good central defenders though.

        http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Hertz_Van_Rental

      • And the I’m sure the windmills/farms can easily be converted into underwater turbines to generate electricity for someone.

      • Without deliberate and long term maintenance, The Netherlands will be flooded if temperatures do not move at all.

      • Bart,
        By the way, clever way to slip in an insane assumption and divert the conversation to discuss it as if it were credible.
        Who is credibly talking 10 degrees warmer?
        No one.
        By the way, in a 100C warmer world, we would all be dead.

  44. Bart sez “In response to T R C Curtin on March 31, 2011 at 3:45 am:
    where I had said in response to Bart (March 30, 2011 at 10:55 am): “’no good reason to believe that human emissions are dangerous’”. I guess that depends on what you call ‘dangerous’. Most scientists who study these topics would rather not live in a +4 degree world. ”

    I replied “Bart speak for yourself, I would never live in The Netherlands until its mean annual temperature rose by at least 10 oC (to a paltry 20 oC)”

    Now Bart sez: “In a ten degree warmer world the Netherlands will eventually be flooded. That may already happen in a 3 degree warmer world, albeit slowly (probably; not certainly. Uncertainty adds to the worry).”

    I learnt about Dutch dykes against sea level rise 60 years ago, what’s the matter with you lot now? Maybe your Green party will not allow dykes to be raised? Certainly William the Silent would have been foolish indeed to listen to the Barts of his day and rely on reducing sealevels by abstaining from wood fires in the winter.

    Bart, do read Lomborg, who with many real Nobel prize winners shows how adaptation is always more cost effective than mitigation.

    • I’ve heard people claim that a hypothetical 6 metres of sea level rise wouldn’t be a problem, as we’ll just build our dykes (and sanddunes? nevermind) 6 metres higher. That sounds like an absurd notion to me. There are limits to what you can realistically (incl to mean within realistic financial boundaries) adapt to. Salt water intrusion, storm surge risk, higher river waterlevels throughout the country; it’s not as simple as elevating 400 km of dykes by 6 metres and that’s it.

      • Bart V- Over what time frame do you believe a 6 meter rise in sea level is likely or possible to occur? If such a rise happened over a period of several thousand years don’t you agree that humanity would simply migrate. A recentstudy indicates that sea level has not been rising faster off the US in the last 100 years. it would seem to pretty much kill that fear of AGW for the US as it relates to CO2. Over the long term the earth is at historically near the all time low of sea level, so it is undoubtly going to rise eventually.
        http://www.jcronline.org/doi/abs/10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-10-00157.1

      • Rob Starkey and Bart Verheggen

        Over what time frame do you believe a 6meter rise in sea level is likely or possible to occur?

        Let’s see what IPCC (who is not prone to understating the impending AGW disaster, as it is its very “raison d’être”) has to say.

        IPCC shows a range of projected sea level rise from 1980-1999 average to 2090-2099 average, with an upper end of the range at 0.59m.

        So that’s 0.59 meters over 105 years.

        So we should get to 6.0 meters in 6 / 0.59 * 105 = 1068 years

        The lower end of the IPCC range is 0.18 m.

        In that case we would reach 6.0 meters in 6 / 0.18 * 105 = 3500 years.

        YAWN!

        Max

      • Max– when you provide the answers to those being quizzed about their fears it takes away my fun.

      • Lol. Frog likes pot.

      • Equilibrium sea level is a strong function of temperature (see e.g. http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/sea-level-versus-temperature/ ), but the speed of the riseis highly uncertain.

        Most recent estimates fall between 0.5 and 1.5 metres by 2100. (http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/media/SLR-v4.9-for-web.pdf ) The estimate in AR4 is widely believed to be an underestimate or perhaps a lower limit.

      • Bart Verheggen

        “The estimate in AR4 is widely believed to be an underestimate or perhaps a lower limit.”

        “Widely believed” by WHOM?

        Certainly not Nils-Axel Morner.

        Nor Carl Wunsch.

        Nor Simon Holgate.

        Show me WHO, Bart.

        Max

      • Here are some refs:
        http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/media/SLR-v4.9-for-web.pdf
        and
        http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/03/ippc-sealevel-gate/
        showing how the AR4 predictions of SLR underestimate the expected SLR through a range of systematic biases.
        Towards the bottom of the post are a bunch of refs to recents studies (under “p.s. Recent sea level results.”)

      • Yet we hear a person right now who seems to think The Netherlands is somehow safe under the current cliamte system.
        The only reason the Netherlands exists as it does is due to massive on going adaptation and change imposed on the local environment.
        If people stopped doing maintenance and improvements on the current system, The Netherlands would suffer massive negative impacts from perfectly normal weather patterns.
        The entire idea that somehow The Netherlands may be more vulnerable if CO2 is not regulated is a red herring.

      • Wanna lecture me about the Netherlands, Hunter?

      • I notice you didn’t dispute anything Hunter said in his comment. I take it you agree with it.

        It is discourteous to try to derail the thread into a full-blown discussion about the Netherlands. It is only peripheral to the discussion.

      • Someone should, since you live there and don’t seem to appreciate your own National history.

      • Bart Verheggen

        You wrote:

        “I’ve heard people claim that a hypothetical 6 metres of sea level rise wouldn’t be a problem, as we’ll just build our dykes (and sanddunes? nevermind) 6 metres higher. That sounds like an absurd notion to me.”

        It is an “absurd notion”, Bart (I presume you are referring to the “absurd notion” of “6 metres of sea level rise”, which I would fully agree is “absurd.”

        Back it up with some scientific data, Bart (preferably of the empirical sort, rather than GIGO model simulations) or admit that it is “absurd”.

        Max

      • Max,

        The claim that a low lying Delta such as Holland could without problem adapt to 6 metres is SLR is absurd.

        A claim (which I didn’t make, but since you bring it up) that sea level would rise by 6 m in 2100 is also absurd.

        A claim that a certain sea level rise is absurd, without specifying a timeframe on which it is absurd, is also absurd.

      • Bart- the real point is that the 6 meter rise that you posted as a potential concern is so unlikely that is should not be taken seriously. The paper I provided a link to is very recent and demonstrates that the lower band of projected sea level rise estimated by the IPCC (for the US at least) also has overstated the potential rise.
        From what I can tell by actual measurements, the fear of sea levels rising is really a non concern for humanity overall.

      • Rob,

        Tim Curtin brought up that even +10 deg warming would be ok. I replied that even much more modest warming would *eventually* lead to a sea level rise that was larger than we could adapt to. Leaving timescales out of the disccsion of future SLR always messes things up. My bad.

      • 6 meters has happened in the past, so it would be, like ya know, natural.

      • JCH– Bart V explained his comment, and I now understand his comment. At a larger level, have you read this study?

        http://www.jcronline.org/doi/abs/10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-10-00157.1

        It shows that sea levels have not risen as a result of AGW. (at least for the USA which is a pretty good sample size) Shouldn’t that seem to provide pretty good data to minimize people’s concerns about sea level rising being a huge problem?

      • Bob – yes, I read it. The authors apparently disagree with the way the study is being interpreted in some circles.

      • And suggesting that we are giong to have a 6 meter sea rise in a time frame that matters to the ability of the Netheralnds to adapt is even more absurd, as absurd as tyring to get people to accept the idea that 10 degrees C of warming is even remotely possible even if CO2 is strongly posiotively amplified.
        You are the one who set the ridiculous paramters on this.
        Now you are feigning outrage that non-Dutch are calling you out for bs.

      • He posed it as hypothetical. The claim that 6 meters would be no problem with respect to adaptation is something he heard, not something he said.

        At no point did he claim there was going to be 6 meters by any date.

        The Dutch built seawalls to hold out a fairly stable sea level. Holding out a rising sea is a whole ‘nother kettle of red herrings.

      • Sea levels have been rising for a long long time.
        Bart V seems to think that the Dutch have lost their ability to manage their low lying nation.
        If his attitude is representative of its leadership, perhaps they have.

      • Other than adding stairways and dock extensions, SLR is no problem at all for Greenland.

      • JCH,
        Global sea levels, as well as regional shorelines, are always moving.
        Whether due to silting or subsidence or slr, the local impact is pretty much the same.
        New Orleans and much of southern Louisiana comes to mind as a good example of subsidence. The former port of Troy comes to mind for silting problems.
        Manhattan under 20′ of sea water comes to mind as an example of Sea Level Rise. Oh, but it isn’t, is it?
        We will muddle through. Or we will move on. I bet on muddle through.

      • If overall SLR by 2100 is ~1 meter, the the Netherlands, and a fair percentage of the rest of the world’s coastlines, will have a big problem on their hands.

        Greenland’s sea level will drop a great deal because of rebound. Not all land masses have that sort of insurance against SLR. How many glaciers are there in the Netherlands? I looked at Bart Verhaggen’s website and it appears they have massive glaciers; therefore, I change my mind. Like Greenland, the Netherlands is going to bounce up in the air and it will have no sea level problems; instead, a bunch of useless dike problems.

        During the 20th Century SLR was ~6.6 inches (170mm, or 1.7mm per year.) I called that fairly stable, and it is. They have had to persistently improve their seawall system because of the problems that came with 6.6 inches. The tallest Dutch seawall number I found is 13 meters. There is obviously way more to holding out the ocean than that measly 6.6 inches might indicate. The current rate is ~3.2mm per year. This indicates that dynamic losses in ice sheets are beginning to happen. That could stop. It could remain about the same. It could get worse.

      • JCH,
        There is no definitive or even credible evidence that slr is happening due to ‘dynamic losses in ice sheets’. There is evidence that ice sheets in Antarctica are increasing, and mechanisms have been recently documented that show the great ice sheets are not in fact going to slip slide away, since they are re-freezing at the base.
        The only thing really interesting regarding AGW is why do the believers cling so hard to their faith in doom?
        As to the Dutch and levees and sea walls, they wear out. The land subsides, the levees and dikes erode. Pumps wear out and locks get old. They have finite useful lives. When they replace these capital items, they do not go to Home Depot. They design new ones that are adapted to then current expectations.
        As has been done since Roman Empire times.
        The red herring aspects of this are so massive it makes me wish I could stomach herring.

      • By the way, how do you possibly confuse rebound with slr?
        slr is independent of coastal subsidence or uplift.
        And how in the world do you think that if slr is going up meters that means Greenland’s milleniums old rebound is going to increase so much as to require dock extensions and new steps for bulkheads etc.?
        How do the AGW true believers pack so much junk into their thinking processes?

      • It was a joke, son.

      • JCH,
        It might have been a good joke, except it was well hidden in multiple fallacies.

      • andrew adams

        hunter,

        It’s pretty unequivocal that both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass

        http://climate.nasa.gov/keyIndicators/

      • Bart Verheggen

        Thanks for your reply.

        Looks like we agree that:

        A claim…that sea level would rise by 6 m in 2100 is also absurd.

        But I have seen such scare-mongering, among others from Ban Ki Moon himself (in an editorial entitled “At the tipping point” in the International Herald Tribune on November 17, 2007).

        …sea levels could rise by six meters. Think of the effect on the coastlines and cities: New York, Mumbai and Shanghai, not to mention small island nations. It may not happen for 100 years – or it could happen in 10.

        In the same article he wrote:

        I am not scare-mongering. But I believe we are nearing a tipping point.

        Not scare-mongering? Ouch!

        Max

  45. I don’t see this paper as any kind of proposal for a communication breakthrough. Nobody even has a theoretical proposal on the table for being able to control “global average temperature” within “acceptable” limits. Nobody knows if “global average temperature” is the right thing to try to control.

    Basically, this paper is saying that modern political messaging techniques should be applied to reeducate the citizenry, creating a wider support base for the desired political action. While they are right in that their proposal has the best chance of succeeding, the political “solution” was preordained in 1992, long before science came close to supporting the politics. I guess if you’re selling a box full of sunshine, how you decorate the box is the most important thing.

  46. Willis Eschenbach

    maxwell said on Communicating Uncertain Climate Risks
    March 31, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Willis,

    my already low expectations for your ‘analysis’ of this situation were shattered by your last comment.

    ‘It is to laugh … a bit new to science, are you? In science nothing can be proven.’

    might be the single stupidest thing written on this blog so far, counting even all that Sky Dragon crap. Do you tell yourself that at night after you’ve basically conjured up whatever ‘new’ conclusion you’ve come with regards to climate science?

    Gosh, you mean it is possible to “prove” that Global Warming is real?

    Then why haven’t you done it yet? What are you waiting for? The world awaits your proof!

    We can’t even prove bozo simple scientific statements that we’re pretty sure are true, like “No human lives forever”. I say again, in general, you can’t prove anything in science. You can only falsify things …

    Google “falsifiable” sometime, or perhaps “Karl Popper”, there’s a good fellow … and perhaps dial back on the invective. I know you may not like my ideas, but that’s no reason to be so unpleasant.

    w.

  47. Unfortunately, there are other “communications” issues at play. As in, the only messages that get broadly communicated are those that the IPCC condone. Differing messages, differing views are rebuffed. Research that looks at concepts that differ from the CO2 = warming hypothesis don’t get funded and papers don’t get published. Right now, the message IS being tightly controlled. In my opinion, that’s a huge part of the problem.

    If the hypothesis were sound, there wouldn’t be the need to stifle dissent. There wouldn’t need to be researchers failing to follow usual scientific practices such as sharing/checking/validating of data. Small cabals of collaborators can’t unduly influence the process. Research gets funded and papers get published based on their merit, not based on whether their findings fit in with the larger belief.

    If the process is done properly, it’s open and can’t readily be questioned.

    BTW: To get an idea of other possibly influences on climate, check out this presentation from Vincent Courtillot. His experiences in trying to assess climate science (as compared to the experience with usual physics research) and their groups explorations of solar influences on climate are very worthwhile.

    Bruce

    Bruce

    • Thanks Bruce, Interesting video.

      As he said though, there has to be a mechanism other than TSI variation to lend support to it’s the sun theory. The various combination of factors mentioned will require a Chaotic math approach which I firmly believe is required. Unfortunately, his five year estimate is probably a minimum.

      All of which brings me back to my main frustration, there are a variety of energy options that deal with other issues, as well as hedging our bet on AGW. The “warm and fuzzies” and the “fair and imbalanced” cannot come to terms.

  48. Willis Eschenbach

    maxwell said on Communicating Uncertain Climate Risks
    March 31, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    …And in my opinion, making a claim that ‘nothing’ is proven in science is more than simplistic and detracts a great deal more from a conversation in a scientific arena than it adds. Even if in the most rigorous philosophical theory of the scientific process such a conclusion is ‘correct’.

    That is not how I was using the word ‘prove’ in asking Willis to substantiate his claims that ‘Climategate’ has driven the largest portion of variation we’ve seen polling results nor do I it is the meaning of ‘prove’ that any of us use in the context of this blog when it comes to scientific evidence for supporting a hypothesis.

    So let me see if I got this right. Whether things can be proven in science was at one time a major question in science, generally settled now. Most folks in the field follow Popper, they know nobody can prove that all swans are white. We can falsify things (by finding a black swan), but we cannot ever prove them.

    You, however, apparently have some other definition of “prove” and “proven”. You haven’t shared that definition with us, but you think we should use it.

    Now, if you want to use your curious provincial definition of “prove”, that’s up to you. But claiming that things can be proven in science? Sorry, that’s a bridge too far. You’re all alone in that claim, which is why I said “New to science, are you?”

    Even discussing this distinction I think is more than two steps back with respect to understanding how to communicate about science. And, in my opinion, that has been the stupidest thing I’ve seen so far. The Sky Dragon crap was up, for sure, but, in my opinion, making claims concerning the absolute ‘provability’ of science is more stupid. Especially when you make claims you can’t back up.

    You’re going to insist that your odd definition of “prove” be used by everyone, despite the fact that scientists generally use another, totally different definition … and then you want to lecture us on how to communicate about science? Really? That’s sweet.

    Is this interchange an example of your communication expertise in action? How would you score yourself in your ability to get your ideas across in this venue?

    Because so far, all I’ve seen is the same-old same-old, just another generic AGW supporter in full flight, a farrago of unsupportable claims mixed with personal attacks. Is this your new communications plan?

    Rock on, my friend. So far you’ve only been funny. But you are now approaching hilarious, I’m popping some popcorn and pulling up a chair.

    w.

    • all I’ve seen is the same-old same-old, just another generic AGW supporter in full flight,

      Seems that you may have blinders on, Willis, and that you may tend to see only what you want to see. I’ll bring you back to a case in point. The other day you were elaborating how the public is fleeing away from the work of some climate scientists, because of the abundantly apparent fraud and “climategate.”

      re these “inside-baseball” issues? No, from my observations a good chunk of the American public thinks that the AGW movement contains liars, cheats, and thieves … which, curiously, is the unvarnished truth, and not inside-baseball at all.

      Yet – that opinion seems to be rather stunningly unfounded:

      Several questions in the June survey addressed the so-called “climategate” controversy, which made headlines in late 2009 and early 2010.

      “Growing public skepticism has, in recent months, been attributed to news reports about e-mail messages hacked from the computer system at the University of East Anglia in Britain – characterized as showing climate scientists colluding to silence unconvinced colleagues – and by the discoveries of alleged flaws in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC),” Krosnick said. “Our survey discredited this claim in multiple ways. “

      For example, only 9 percent of respondents said they knew about the East Anglia e-mail messages and believed they indicate that climate scientists should not be trusted, and only 13 percent said the same about the controversial IPPC reports.

      “Overall, we found no decline in Americans’ trust in environmental scientists,” Krosnick said. “Fully 71 percent of respondents said they trust scientists a moderate amount, a lot or completely.”

      Looks like what you “see” and reality part ways sometimes, eh Willis?

    • Ah Willis,

      ‘You’re going to insist that your odd definition of “prove” be used by everyone, despite the fact that scientists generally use another, totally different definition’

      as a physical scientist, I am perfectly capable of identifying what understandings of word ‘prove’ are meaningful when establishing evidence for a specific hypothesis or claim.

      In most scientific discussions, the word ‘prove’ is synonymous with the word ‘substantiate’. If you are willing to go through the threads at this blog and many others, you’ll find that many scientists very often will make the statement ‘prove it’. Making such a statement is imploring whoever has made the claim in question to provide scientifically rigorous evidence that supports his/her position. Working with scientists on a daily basis who seem paid to disagree with my personal assessments, I hear this phrase quite often in fact.

      It does not mean to relinquish any doubt that there may be a change in our understanding of that question in the future. It means that one must provide evidence that one’s assertions are meaningful in the real world where such evidence can be gathered.

      What does not occur in any instance of a REAL scientific discussion is the parsing of terms based on esoteric interpretations of the philosophy of science or the scientific method. We do not regularly stop each other and say “well no one can ‘prove’ such and such statement’. That is basically a way to distract the discussion. Either you have evidence that is rigorous or you do not.

      The very fact that you are willing to distract a conversation in which you make claims that can be very easily ‘falsified’ with a barrage of comments concerning the language used to communicate between scientists (which even by your admission, you are not), it is fairly substantial proof to me that you are mistaken in this instance.

      More than that, we’re all still waiting for the evidence to ‘substantiate’ the claim that polls showing decreasing interest in AGW because of ‘Climategate’. So far you have speculation and what I believe to be a spurious correlation. That evidence does not fall under the category of ‘rigorous’ by any definition.

      As for my take on AGW, I’m actually quite skeptical of many assertions made concerning our risk, including a rather lengthy comment above which you have ignored before making your assessment. Surprise, surprise.

      • I’ll re-post (just in case Willis misses it above just as he missed it the other day):

        Several questions in the June survey addressed the so-called “climategate” controversy, which made headlines in late 2009 and early 2010.

        “Growing public skepticism has, in recent months, been attributed to news reports about e-mail messages hacked from the computer system at the University of East Anglia in Britain – characterized as showing climate scientists colluding to silence unconvinced colleagues – and by the discoveries of alleged flaws in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC),” Krosnick said. “Our survey discredited this claim in multiple ways. “

        For example, only 9 percent of respondents said they knew about the East Anglia e-mail messages and believed they indicate that climate scientists should not be trusted, and only 13 percent said the same about the controversial IPPC reports.

        “Overall, we found no decline in Americans’ trust in environmental scientists,” Krosnick said. “Fully 71 percent of respondents said they trust scientists a moderate amount, a lot or completely.”

    • One thing I’ve learned living with a lawyer is that “prove” means different things to different groups. Scientists and engineers tend to use the mathematicians’ rigorous definition. In law, “prove” is always wrt a standard, i.e. preponderance of evidence, or beyond a reasonable doubt. IOW, rigorous mathematical proof isn’t practical in court. But they still use the word “prove”.

      This may be why it’s the scientists and engineers who are the hardest on the climate scientists. When we say “prove” we mean absolutely airtight. When the rest of the world says “prove”, it’s a much sloppier standard. Even the criminal standard by which someone can be sent to the gallows, “beyond a reasonable doubt”, isn’t good enough for science.

      • To a defense lawyer “prove” means he got a jury acquittal.

        To a DA is means he got a conviction.

        But a majority of cases never make it to a jury and are settled by good ol’ plea bargaining and negotiation (give a little here, squeeze a little there…).

        Looks like we are headed that way in climatology today. The scientific foundation is about as solid as quicksand.

        Max

      • Even the criminal standard by which someone can be sent to the gallows, “beyond a reasonable doubt”, isn’t good enough for science.

        Not independent of risk assessment or an estimate of consequences.

        I think the point is that for anyone, scientists or lawyer or engineer, the weight of proof is a function, at least to some degree, on the assignment of risk or evaluation of consequences. The burden of proof is greater in a criminal trial than in a civil trial because the consequences are greater and proportionately, so is the risk of a wrong determination.

        You aren’t really saying that for an engineer, say, the level of proof is so high that they won’t manufacture anything unless it is positively proven to be without flaw. I mean seriously, I see manifestations of incredibly bad engineering on a daily basis – the reason being that the consequences of the bad engineering are relatively minor in nature, and thus the risk involved is limited. And sometimes even when the risk is not so limited we can see poor engineering that was approved without a proper proof of design validated. One time when I was working as a carpenter for Amtrak, we put a bridge on a supporting structure that sank inches overnight. If a train had gone over that bridge it would have derailed and plunged into a river hundreds of feet below.

        Not to completely dismiss your distinction, but I think it was overstated.

  49. [Posted this yesterday, but it didn't get through]

    Fischhoff and Pidgeon have missed the point entirely.

    The problem here is not (as it is in the world of PR or advertising) one of “communication” or “framing” of the message to make a sale to a public who is otherwise not intelligent enough and therefore unable to understand it.

    Instead, it is quite clearly that the general public has become more knowledgeable regarding the many open issues surrounding the debate on AGW and no longer trusts the purveyors of the message, starting with the IPCC. It’s just that simple.

    In the lead-in to one of the earlier threads on uncertainty, Judith wrote of the IPCC:

    Overconfidence comes across as selling snake oil.

    This is, indeed, a large part of the problem, as seen by the people surveyed in the poll she cited.

    IPCC is perceived today to be a bunch of snake oil salesmen, no matter how it “communicates” or “frames” its message.

    The statement:

    Few citizens or political leaders understand the underlying science well enough to evaluate climate-related proposals and controversies

    reeks of elitism and arrogance.

    Starting with this arrogant assumption is NOT the way to demonstrate to a skeptical public that you are not “selling snake oil”.

    The way to do it is quite simply to be HONEST in admitting what you do not know (which in climate science today is a helluva lot more that what is known).

    Admit openly that there are not enough hard data today for “policymakers” to make any kind of educated judgment on policy decisions, rather than trying to bamboozle them into doing so with half-baked and meaningless projections.

    It’s “back to the drawing board”, folks. And, next time, give HONEST information, not silly, poorly founded projections and, above all, admit what you do not know rather than exuding overconfidence.

    Max

  50. I think the thread just got rogered, but…

    The problem with talking about uncertainty and degrees of proof, is that you can do a risk assessment is you are certain about the levels of uncertainty. If we can say with reasonable confidence that it’s 40% or 70% certain that sea levels will rise 2 meters, then all the risk assessment becomes a tractable problem. The problem we face in climate science is that we’re even uncertain about the uncertainty. If you don’t even know the odds, you’re just guessing.

  51. There are always exceptions that prove the rules.

    Occasionally we hear of a bridge collapsing.

    But these are exceptions. Almost all bridges do NOT collapse.

    On the other hand, the science supporting the “dangerous AGW” hypothesis is weak. It is, in fact, collapsing under pressure.

    I am not speaking of the GH theory per se, or the fact that CO2 is a GHG and that it is emitted by human activity.

    I am speaking specifically of the premise that AGW, caused principally by human CO2 emissions, has been the primary cause of past warming and represents a serious potential threat to humanity and our environment unless corrective action is taken.

    This is the premise being “sold” to policymakers and the public by IPCC.

    And this is the premise that has its foundation on model simulations based on theoretical deliberations, but is poorly supported by empirical scientific evidence.

    As Willis has pointed out repeatedly, this hypothesis has not yet been validated scientifically.

    The recent lack of warming of both the atmosphere and the upper ocean, despite CO2 increase to record levels, represents a de facto falsification of the “dangerous AGW” premise.

    It is now up to the defenders of the premise to refute this falsification, or the hypothesis moves from being an uncorroborated hypothesis to a falsified hypothesis.

    This seems pretty straightforward to me, simply following the scientific method.

    And I believe that this is the point that Willis is making.

    The rather elitist theme of this thread was how IPCC could do a better job of “communicating” or “framing” the desired message so that the (less intelligent) general public or policymakers could better understand it. But this misses the point entirely.

    This is not a “communication” or “framing” problem; it is a “substance” problem.

    And the public is not as stupid as Fischhoff and Pidgeon argue. In fact, the more knowledgeable it gets, the more skeptical it gets of the IPCC view and process.

    Max

    • Well said.
      It is like the eugneics movement using evolution to support their legal and social claims.
      The failure of eugenics (incredibly well supported by the political and intellectual elites of the day) was not due to evolution being proven wrong.
      It was the eugenicist’s bad interpretation of evolution and misapplication of science that justified their incredibly bad policies.

      • Does comparing theories of AGW to eugenics qualify as Godwining?

        Maybe you could just stick with: “Some meteorologists were wrong in the 70s about an ice age coming, therefore all climate scientists today who think that GW is A are frauds or bad scientists.”

        Stooping to analogizing people to eugenicists tends to be a bit incendiary.

      • No. I know Mike and I think he would find your dodging very humorous.
        Eugenics, if you knew your history which you obviously don’t, existed long before fascism.
        I think a good corallary to Godwin’s law is that it is easy to spot the loser in a discussion by the one who seeks to make ignorant attempts to invoke said law.
        As to your assertion about metoerologists and the 1970’s ice age scare, it is almost a credible way to pretend it was never scientifically serious, except for its reliance on falsely presenting the facts of the matter.
        But hey, you gave it a great shot.

      • Your explanation is that since eugenics came before fascism, comparing someone to a eugenicist isn’t analogous to comparing someone a Nazi?

        That’s pretty funny, hunter.

        It’s also funny that you apparently have no sense that comparing people to eugenicists might just be a bit over the top.

      • Joshua,
        Sadly, you are only making yourself look funny.
        do you even understand Godwin’s law and what it is about?
        You are hoping to shut down a line of thought you do not like by falsely claiming even a discussion of eugenics is an invocation of it. Too bad.
        My expanation is that I would no more claim talking about uniforms, since fascists liked uniforms, was invoking Godwin’s law than I would say that talking about Eugenics was an invocation of Godwin’s law.
        But again, I give you points for your effort to derail the valid historical comparisons between eugenics and AGW. If I was on the side of promoting crap science like you are, I would flail away as much as possible to distract everyone, too.
        Is pointing out the reality of eugneics as offensive as falsely comparing skeptics to holocaust deniers?
        Just wondering.

      • andrew adams

        A comparison which exists entirely in the minds of the skeptics.

      • aa,
        A more accurate and honest statement would have been to point out that the comparison is obvious to anyone who pays the slightest bit of attention.
        Keep those eyes shut and keep praying your CO2 rosary.

      • Joshua –
        You should learn something about eugenics before making a fool of yourself. It was called “science” at one time – and it was promoted by both scientists and politicians. Not obscure scientists and politicians, but the biggest, most important names. Most of those people alter refused to acknowledge their views and participation, but history is not kind enough to erase their actions.

        BTW – I”m NOT talking about Europeans, but Americans – although the Europeans were also willing and enthusiastic participants. Eugenics had nothing to do with Nazis or Godwins Law – it was in vogue before they existed.

        Does comparing theories of AGW to eugenics qualify as Godwining?

        No – the AGW/eugenics comparison is valid in that both have been promoted by an elite for the benefit of that elite and both spell death for large numbers of people who are not of that elite.

      • Another interesting historical tidbit between AGW and eugenics is that the Nobel committee leader and prize recipient,
        Svante Arrhenius
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svante_Arrhenius
        “About 1900, Arrhenius became involved in setting up the Nobel Institutes and the Nobel Prizes. He was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1901. For the rest of his life, he would be a member of the Nobel Committee on Physics and a de facto member of the Nobel Committee on Chemistry. He used his positions to arrange prizes for his friends (Jacobus van’t Hoff, Wilhelm Ostwald, Theodore Richards) and to attempt to deny them to his enemies (Paul Ehrlich, Walther Nernst).[1] In 1901 Arrhenius was elected to the Swedish Academy of Sciences, against strong opposition. In 1903 he became the first Swede to be awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry. In 1905, upon the founding of the Nobel Institute for Physical Research at Stockholm, he was appointed rector of the institute, the position where he remained until retirement in 1927. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1910.[2]”
        And……
        A big promoter of eugenics and racial biology:
        “Arrhenius developed a theory to explain the ice ages, and in 1896 he was the first scientist to speculate that changes in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could substantially alter the surface temperature through the greenhouse effect”
        Ooops! sorry, I meant:
        “Svante Arrhenius was one of several leading Swedish scientists actively engaged in the process leading to the creation in 1922 of The State Institute for Racial Biology in Uppsala, Sweden, which had originally been proposed as a Nobel Institute. Arrhenius was a member of the institute’s board, as he had been in The Swedish Society for Racial Hygiene (Eugenics), founded in 1909 [5]”

        So yes, please let all good believers pretend that this is too rude, too crude and too offensive to discuss in polite society.
        And above all, dissemble and filibuster and distract away from the problems of AGW and try to blame it all on those wicked Koch family denialist conspirators.

      • Ooops. Hit too soon.
        If the parallel between eugenics and AGW makes you uncomfortable, too bad.
        I was not the first to notice the sad similarity, and the ease with which one can read eugenics promoters and AGW promoters and interchange ‘eugenics’ and ‘AGW’ or ‘Climate Change’ means I will not be the last.
        AGW is a social movement that offers nothing to help people and much to hurt them.
        Just like eugenics.

      • If eugenics is off limits, we could always talk about Lysenkoism. Despite being obviously ridiculous, it drove official agricultural policy. Right into the ground.

      • ChE,
        Tha interesting thing that joshua is deomonstrating is that belief in AGW leaves one with no room to examine things historically.
        Weather events are always the worst….until one looks at the record.
        Historical parallels to AGW are off limits, since it might be that someone can grasp at Godwin’s law for a straw to cling to.
        Notice how he could not address the issue, but could only hope to end the discussion as ‘offensive’. For how many years have we been called denialists or been accused of working for ‘big oil’, etc.?
        The believer mythos of CO2 driven apoclaypse fails under any sort of critical exam. No wonder the believer community has to hide, suppress, dissemble and filibuster so much.

      • aa,
        Thou doth protesteth too much. I used to think you were sincere.
        Now, maybe not so sincere.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_denial
        “Journalists and newspaper columnists including George Monbiot[10] and Ellen Goodman,[11] among others,[12][13] have described climate change denial as a form of denialism.[8][9] Several commentators, including Goodman, have also compared climate change denial with Holocaust denial,[11][12][13] though others, such as conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager, have decried those comparisons as inappropriate and trivializing Holocaust denial.[23][24] Institute of Economic Affairs member Richard D. North notes that outright denial by climate scientists of the major points of scientific consensus is rare, though scientists are known to dispute certain points. He says, “It is deeply pejorative to call someone a ‘climate change denier’. This is because it is a phrase designedly reminiscent of the idea of Holocaust Denial …”. He acknowledges that “there are many varieties of climate change denial”, but says that “[s]ome people labeled as ‘deniers’, aren’t.”[25] Peter Christoff also emphasizes the distinction between scepticism and denial, he says “Climate change deniers should be distinguished from climate sceptics. Scepticism is essential to good science.”[12]“

      • Notice also the believer myth that the 1970’s ice age was the product of meteorologists run amuck? All they have to do is ignore the truth to sustain that one.
        And how they cannot even respond to their misuse of Godwin’s law and their inability to address the eugenics parallel except to either dismiss it or distract by pretending it is something other than what it is? Neither aa or Joshua can point out where I am wrong factually. They just pretend it is either too gauche to talk about in the delicate society of believers, or deny it exists.
        Cowardly does not begin to describe this.

      • The 1970s “global cooling” scare was touted by many scientists in the field, including Stephen Schneider (Stanford) and Reid Bryson (Wisconsin), although it never got the traction or became a multi-billion dollar business like AGW.

        Schneider later jumped horses to start actively promoting the “global warming” scare while Bryson ended up being largely skeptical of the IPCC claims.

        Both have since passed. RIP.

        Max

      • andrew adams

        hunter,

        Neither aa or Joshua can point out where I am wrong factually.

        About what? Eugenics? I never made any comment about it and don’t claim to know much about it. If you’re claiming that eugenics is comparable with the pro-AGW position on an intellectual level then you’re wrong but I wouldn’t take mortal offence at the suggestion. If you’re claiming equivalence on moral level (which I didn’t think you were originally but now I’m not so sure) then that would be pretty reprehensible but I’m happy to give you the benefit of the doubt.
        All I commented on was your objection to the word “denier”. All I’ll say about that is you seem to object very strongly when people mistakenly take offence at your comments but are very quick to take offence at the languate used by others.
        The words “denier” and “denial” have a clear meaning which can be applied to a number of subjects- they are not specific or unique to discussion on the Holocaust. Our govt in the UK uses the term “deficit deniers” to describe those like me who object to its economic policies. I think the term is incorrect on a factual level but I don’t take offence at it.

      • aa,
        My comparison between AGW and eugenics is what you have not been able to dispute.
        You have been good at avoiding it, dismissing it, pretending it does not exist.
        My question was straightforward:
        Is pointing out as many well qualified academics and thinkers have done, that there are significant similarities between AGW and eugenics more offensive than calling skeptics ‘deniers’ in a deliberate well documented effort to link AGW skeptics to holocaust deniers?

      • andrew adams

        Oh, I just read some more of your posts on the subject and you really ARE making a moral comparison between eugenecists and us on the pro-AGW side. Oh well, it still doesn’t mean that people are comparing you with Holocaust deniers but if they were that would still be pretty mild compared with what you are doing.

      • andrew adams

        I hadn’t seen your last comment before I posted my above one but I think I answred your question anyway. So I’ll just ask if there has been a “well documented effort to link AGW skeptics to holocaust deniers” then where is it documented?

      • Jim,
        Somehow I doubt if aa is going to say much in response to those links.

      • Says Help the Aged in Wales spokesman Iwan Rhys Roberts, “It would seem that 50% of the people who took part in our survey in Wales are of the opinion that it is healthy to sleep with your bedroom window open in winter time.

        Somehow this has to be Al Gore’s fault.

      • andrew adams

        Wrong, see below.

      • So you think that comparing climate scientists who thing that GW might be A to Eugenicists is valid? Really?

        The “interventions” advocated and practiced by eugenicists involved prominently the identification and classification of individuals and their families, including the poor, mentally ill, blind, deaf, developmentally disabled, promiscuous women, homosexuals and entire racial groups — such as the Roma and Jews — as “degenerate” or “unfit”; the segregation or institutionalisation of such individuals and groups, their sterilization, euthanasia, and in the extreme case of Nazi Germany, their mass extermination.

        The practices engaged in by eugenicists involving violations of privacy, attacks on reputation, violations of the right to life, to found a family, to freedom from discrimination are all today classified as violations of human rights. The practice of negative racial aspects of eugenics, after World War II, fell within the definition of the new international crime of genocide, set out in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

        Nah. Nothing over the top about that analogy. Nosirreebub.

      • Joshua

        You asked:

        “So you think that comparing climate scientists who thing that GW might be A to Eugenicists is valid? Really?”

        You asked the wrong question.

        The real question is:

        “So you think that comparing climate scientists who think that AGW represents a serious threat to humanity and our environment to Eugenicists is valid? Really?”

        The answer here is “YES”, simply because there is no empirical data based on physical observations or reproducible experimentation that can validate either premise.

        Both are “uncorroborated” hypotheses.

        “Dangerous AGW” may have been falsified de facto by the most recent “unexplained” lack of warming of both the atmosphere and the ocean despite CO2 levels increasing to record levels (Trenberth’s “travesty”) . It certainly showed that the climate models cited by IPCC, which projected 0.2C/decade warming were unable to ptoject 10 years in advance, raising serious doubts regarding their ability to project 100 years in advance.

        Wouldn’t you agree?

        Max

      • Joshua, I am pleasantly surprised you have begun to look into the issue. But of course you have picked a shallow and uninformative citation.
        But let us unpack the eugenics a bit and compare with our modern social movement using science, AGW:
        “The practices engaged in by eugenicists involving violations of privacy, attacks on reputation, violations of the right to life, to found a family, to freedom from discrimination are all today classified as violations of human rights. ”

        Hmmm…if you actually read the writings of eugenics promoters, you see that AGW promoters as well call for the destruction of reputation and revocation of license for skeptics.
        You see AGW prompters calling for xenocide in ‘Time’s Up!’ and endorsed by no less than James Hansen.
        You see open calls by AGW believers to end democracy in the face of the CO2 threat since the mere people do not react with sufficient agreement.
        You read of various opinion leaders in AGW calling for criminalization of cliamte dissent and trials for industrialists who disagree with CO2 believers.
        But I think here is a good summary of the interesting similarities between eugenics and AGW:
        eaps.mit.edu/faculty/lindzen/180_Eugenics.pdf
        And here is another nice summary of the similarities between eugenics and AGW:
        http://www.crichton-official.com/essay-stateoffear-whypoliticizedscienceisdangerous.html
        So good luck learning the complex and sad history of eugenics. Pushing beyond some superficial article like the one you found would be a good thing.
        You might even learn something.

      • Joshua –
        You’re learning – but not much.

        You found “some” information on eugenics – but your passages fail to define the entire horror – nor do they define the culprits. You need to do more research.

        And then you need to think about the results of the policies that would result from the solutions proposed by your side of the dance floor. How many would die – or just live out their lives in utter, extreme poverty – simply because of the fear engendered by an unproven, uncertain and incomplete, not to mention at least partially corrupt, “science”.

        How many have already died for that cause? Or don’t you know about the the environmental activsts who have, and are, trying to convince third world governments to NOT build power plants in their countries – or to NOT use GM seeds that could provide better nutrition for their people.

        Or perhaps you’d rather talk about the UK, where the carbon taxes have raised energy prices such that the old and sick can no longer afford them – and have been dying in the cold and dark. A year ago there were stories of pensioners going to used book shops and buying books to burn in order to keep warm because the books were cheaper than running their furnaces.

        Can you define the difference between the actions of the eugenicists and the actions of those who would turn the tide of technology back to the 1850’s or earlier? In practical terms, in terms of the suffering and the numbers of deaths, there is no difference. And if you believe there is, then you fail to understand the problem – or the solution.

        Is the deconstruction of modern industrializes society, with all the attendant suffering and death the kind of world you want for your children and grandchildren? It’s the kind of world envisioned by some of your compatriots. And some of them have put that vision in writing.

        Don’t come on to me about Godwin – because it’s your side of the dance floor that’s promoting a repeat event.

      • I have to say, you fellas are hilarious.

        You’re sticking by your assertions that climate scientists who think that GW might be A are analogous to folks who ” advocated and practiced … the identification and classification of individuals and their families,..as “degenerate” or “unfit”

        Also hilarious is your unbelievable condescension about what I do or don’t know, based on a complete lack of data.

        Say, Judith – are you reading this?

        These are the folks that you think are part of that group that is “asymmetrically” unrepresented in the phenomenon of tribalism surrounding the climate debate.

        Take a good look, Judith.

      • Sorry – that should be “asymmetrically” underrepresented…

      • Joshua –
        Spoken like a true progressive – whose mind is made up and doesn’t want to be confused by facts. :-)

      • Joshua,
        We don’t need to presume much about what you don’t know. You demonstrate it very well.
        You know little have interest in knowing less.
        If you continue to work hard you can be completely ignorant, and go by faith in AGW alone.
        If you can ever work up the guts to discuss the issue, let me know.

      • Then why did you try to shut off the discussion?

        Jim – that last post was a very instructive example also.

        I didn’t try to “shut off the discussion.” I pointed out that analogizing climate scientists to Eugenicists is similar to “Godwinizing.” Obviously, making such a statement would get a response, and it did. Numerous responses, in fact. It was easily predictable before-hand. If I were trying to “shut off” the conversation, I would simply have ignored hunter’s post.

        So what we here is another illustrative post. Out of some fantasized sense of persecution, you have determined that I was trying to shut off the conversation. Why would I want to do that. hunter writing posts comparing climate scientists who think that GW is A to Eugenicists is a perfect example of exactly the kind of tribalism I was trying to point out to Judith when I first started posting on this blog. She explained how such tribalism was “asymmetrically” underrepresented in the debate, and sure enough, you and hunter write post after post to help me prove my point.

        Actually, truth be told, I didn’t expect it to be quite so easy. I didn’t really think that such extremism would be so simple to undercover. In that sense, not only should it prove instructive for Judith, it has proven instructive for me also. Despite my general skepticism, I honestly didn’t expect extremists to be so open about their extremism. I guess with the resurgence of political extremists such as the John Birch society I should have known better.

        Hey, you live and learn, eh?

      • If you continue to work hard you can be completely ignorant, and go by faith in AGW alone.

        Yet another instructive example. In truth, you have no idea what I do or don’t believe wrt AGW. I haven’t posted what I believe on that issue here at Climate etc.

        All you know is that I remark on extremist comments by “skeptics/denialists,” about such issues as tribalism in the climate debate, the impact of policies on DDT, etc.

        Yet, in numerous posts, I have been placed into some category of “warmist” or “climate change worshipper” or some such nonsense.

        The problem is, hunter, when you formulate your opinions without data or facts on one issue, it suggests that you would have a tendency to do so on other issues. And lo and behold, you’re convinced that you know what I do or don’t know about Eugenics without any data to back up your determination there either. You even went so far as to assume that I didn’t know that Eugenics predated Nazism.

        Keep going, hunter. It continues to be very instructive.

        Judith – are you reading?

      • Joshua –
        I didn’t try to “shut off the discussion.” I pointed out that analogizing climate scientists to Eugenicists is similar to “Godwinizing.”

        Of course you did. There are ONLY two reasons for mentioning Godwin’s Law. First, to shut off discussion and second, to tar and feather those accused which then brings a defensive reaction and, again, shuts off discussion.

        Obviously, making such a statement would get a response, and it did.

        Yes, but not the response you expected because neither hunter nor I are about to back off on what is a legitiimate analogy.

        What you don’t understand is that I’ve been on Internet forums for over 19 years. And your protestation of deviousness in order to “smoke out the extremists” is a transparent fabrication. You’re either totally ignorant of Internet paracticalities (which I don’t believe) or you were trying to shut off the conversation. I won’t ask why because that’s transparent, too.

        I didn’t really think that such extremism would be so simple to undercover.

        The reason you think I’m an extremist is because you’re so far to the left that the center is a foreign country to you. If I were as extreme as you think, my wife would be beating me.

        In addition, there’s been no secret about who either I or hunter are. Never has been, so the idea that you had to “smoke us out” is just plain dumb.

        But the real cap on it is that you either can’t or won’t actually have a conversation on the subject. You provide no rationale, no counter to the AGW/eugenics comparison except argument by assertion, accusations of extremism and tribalism and ties to John Birch.

        Pathetic.

        Seems like argument by character assassination is what you consider “polite conversation” but facts or real debate are beneath your station in life? I thought better of you – but as you say – we live and learn.

      • Joshua –
        so let’s go ahead and compare those scientists to some of the most morally repugnant people in the history of the planet.

        Only “some” of those scientists. The real comparison is to those who espouse the extreme solutions – like reverting to a no-carbon society and celebrating the deaths of several billion people. You perhaps? Although, as you say, you’ve never given that much of yourself on this blog so that’s indeterminate at this time. But you’re apparently defending that viewpoint.

        But if you want an example of those who deserve the comparison, read Keith Farnish’s book “Time’s Up”. It comes highly recommended – by Jim Hansen – who, BTW is one of those scientists you think so much of.

        The real extremists are on your side of the dance floor, babe.

      • Jim,
        Our friend Joshua is working hard to not understand this topic, and to make certain he maintains his contempt for anyone that challenges his faith.

      • andrew adams

        Or perhaps you’d rather talk about the UK, where the carbon taxes have raised energy prices such that the old and sick can no longer afford them – and have been dying in the cold and dark. A year ago there were stories of pensioners going to used book shops and buying books to burn in order to keep warm because the books were cheaper than running their furnaces.

        Well I’d rather talk about the UK because it’s where I live and I’m going to call bulls**t on this unless you can provide some actual evidence to back it up.

      • aa –
        Yeah, I know – it’s “your” country – so why don’t you know about this? Because you’re not paying attention or because it’s not reported there? But the latter can’t be true this item came from BBC –
        http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1754561.stm

        and from a slightly less reputable source – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1332343/Nine-pensioners-died-cold-hour-winter-prices-soar.html

        Or maybe you’d prefer this one – http://www.newswales.co.uk/?section=Health&F=1&id=9822

        There are more if you bother to look.

      • hunter –
        Joshua reminded last night of nothing so much as a 5-year-old standing in the middle of the street taunting the 4-year-olds. He’s apparently been looking for evidence of tribalism on the sceptic side of the house – and fails to understand that that’s specifically why Dr Curry opened the Conservative/Religious/Libertarian threads a month or so ago. He also fails to understand the nature of the “tribalism” in this context – that, for example, a liberal-progressive might join with conservatives and libertarians in opposing the tenets of consensus “science”. Yes, I know some of those – not many, but they ARE out there. There are many ways to classify people – and few of them are as simple as Joshua seems to believe.

        What he’s been looking for has been hiding in plain sight all along – and he totally missed it. :-)

        Nor do I believe he understands the depth of his own tribalism. I’d tell him to look in a mirror, but I think he’s either blind to what it shows him – or the mirror lies.

        Whatever – as I recall, I called him a troll when he first showed up – and I haven’t changed my mind about that.

      • andrew adams

        Jim,

        Yes I’m well aware that these things happen, it has been an issue for a number of years and part of the reason has been the fact that fuel prices have risen – for a number of different reasons. This is why the government give pensioners an extra payment in winter to assist in fuel costs.
        The bit I object to is where you try to pin the whole thing on carbon taxes, sorry if that wasn’t clear.

      • And ChE –

        In no way to I think that making comparisons between climate scientists who think that GW is A and Eugenicists is “off limits.”

        First, the only one who can determine what is or isn’t off limits here is Judith.

        Second, I am more than happy to have folks who want to make those kinds of analogies have full space to do so. It serves a very useful function in giving exposure to the full range of beliefs at play.

        It is extremely instructive – and I would not have it any other way.

      • It is extremely instructive – and I would not have it any other way.

        Then why did you try to shut off the discussion?

      • Joshua, in true believer style you cannot address the issue or the extensive points, links and quotes, You can only filibuster and bluster and hope no one will notice the utter lack of substance in your position.

      • Joshua,
        Here is another essay for you to have your faux outrage over:
        eaps.mit.edu/faculty/lindzen/180_Eugenics.pdf

        If you keep digging much deeper you will be to a place where you will not be able to tell if it is day or night.
        Keep up that nice pose. It helps you avoid thinking about stuff.

      • Joshua,
        Now are you going to claim that the point of this post of yours:
        “Does comparing theories of AGW to eugenics qualify as Godwining?

        Maybe you could just stick with: “Some meteorologists were wrong in the 70s about an ice age coming, therefore all climate scientists today who think that GW is A are frauds or bad scientists.”

        Stooping to analogizing people to eugenicists tends to be a bit incendiary.”
        Was to encourage discussion?
        Are you going to pretend that not responding to any one of my specific points in response, but instead only come up with evasions and false accusations of inflammatory writing was designed to explore the topic further?
        Do you think ignoring the factually accurate bio on a hero of the AGW movement is an effective to way to prove you understand the topic?
        Do you think ignoring Lindzen and Chrichton and making soliloquial appeals to our hostess to ban me for daring point out what has been openly discussed for years makes you look intellectually capable?
        Please do continue.

      • That was an instructive post also, hunter. From Lindzen’s article:

        In the case of eugenics, it is evident that the progressive moral fashion of one era later came to be regarded as morally repugnant. Whether the same fate awaits today’s environmental ethos is impossible to predict, if only because of the ambiguities of the environmental ethos.

        So there we have it. It is impossible to predict what the outcomes of the theories of climate scientists who think that GW might be A, but it is theoretically conceivable that the outcomes might be detrimental, so let’s go ahead and compare those scientists to some of the most morally repugnant people in the history of the planet.

        It reminds me of when leftists try to tell me that Tea Partiers are analogous to prot0-Nazis. Such hyperbole says much more about the analogizers than the anolgizees.

        But don’t let the “impossibility” of knowing the validity of your analogy get in the way of making the analogy. I wouldn’t want you to hold back in the slightest from letting us know your your reasoning process works.

      • Do you think ignoring Lindzen and Chrichton and making soliloquial appeals to our hostess to ban me ….

        hunter,

        You are still mistaken. I suppose that it might be reflective of some persecution complex, but I have no interest in having Judith ban you.

        First, I find your posts very amusing.

        Second, I find them very instructive.

        Seriously, I love your posts. In no way would I like to see you banned. I haven’t seen Judith ban anyone since I’ve been hanging out here, and while your posts may indeed be among the most extreme I’ve read here, it is a matter of degree that separates them and not a matter of kind, and I would have no reason to think that my commenting on the extremeness of your rhetoric would motivate Judith to ban you.

        Really, calm down. I like your posts, hunter. I find their extremism rather quaint. I really don’t want to see you banned.

      • Was to encourage discussion?

        Not really. The intent was to make clear my reaction to your hyperbole, to point out the extremism of your analogy. The intent wasn’t necessarily to encourage discussion, but I certainly would have predicted that you would respond. I certainly would not have predicted that it would “shut off” discussion, as Jim thinks was my intent. From past experience, neither you nor Jim tend to shy away when your extremism is commented upon. Why would I assume that your behavior would differ on this occasion?

        If, in the past, you seemed to have a sense of remorse when you made an over-the-top statement, then I might have reason to think that pointing out your extremism would cause you to “shut off.” But you certainly haven’t demonstrated that tendency since I’ve been reading this blog.

        Is there something that has been affecting you recently to cause your behavior during the past few weeks to be uncharacteristic? Was it the case prior to these last few weeks that when someone pointed out the extremism of your posts, you would “shut off?” Is that why you and Jim think I was intending to “shut off” the discussion?

        If so, just let me know in advance how you’re feeling, K? If you’re feeling particularly sensitive, I’ll go light on pointing out your extremism. Would that be better?

      • Anyway, hunter. I’m going to bed.

        Have a nice night.

        But do remember to be careful – just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that those Eugenicists aren’t out to get you.

      • Joshua,
        You have a lot of practice at snark, but your talent is lacking.
        As to your caring and need to think you are more than a shallow reactionary, I reciprocate it in the spirit it is offered.
        You get an “A” for effort, but you still come in last.
        As to extremism, I think history will show the extremists are the people who have promoted the global climate scare, those many, like you, who were duped into believing the scare, and those who profited from it.
        Like any other dead end social mania, in other words.
        Cheers, good luck, and all of that,

      • if only because of the ambiguities of the environmental ethos.

        You ignored that part, Joshua. You should pay attention to those details. They make a difference in the meaning.

      • Notice that Joshua did not answer the question:
        Is it worse to point out historical similarities between eugenics and AGW than it is to compare skeptics to holocaust deniers?

      • Eugenics led to the holocaust. Modern malthusiasts who deny their eugenicism are the holocaust deniers.

        Ever again.
        ======

      • kim,
        An interesting aspect is on display in how hard Joshua works to find any rationalization to avoid actually dealing with the obvious parallels between AGW and eugenics.
        One part he will need to carefully ignore is how a minority of scientists of the day pointed out how bad the science was, and how misapplied the claims that the social demands of eugenics were based on science actually were.
        Another thing for an AGW believer to ignore is how the critics of eugenics were attacked personally and professionally by the consensus supporters.

      • On little cat feet
        Evil creeps in.
        Don’t worry, Mate;
        The mice will win.
        ======

    • Max,

      I think you make some interesting points. It’s important to recognize that some scientists and advocates have over-hyped the ‘consensus’ on global warming. It’s important to recognize that there is still a great deal to learn about our climate and our role in it.

      I also think that scientists ‘framing’ climate change/global warming in a particular way is unfortunate and won’t be nearly as useful as they think. My comment above describes why I feel that way.

      But some points you make I think are overstated.

      ‘ The recent lack of warming of both the atmosphere and the upper ocean, despite CO2 increase to record levels, represents a de facto falsification of the “dangerous AGW” premise.’

      If there are substantial uncertainties in the response of the climate to variety of parameters that influence such a response, focusing on any 10 year time span is not going to provide enough data to say whether or not CO2 forced warming is dangerous over much longer time periods. So no, the recent lack of warming is not a falsification of anything other than some over-simplified model predictions.

      Most important to me is that science does not give us a prescription for how to deal with reality. Science may do its best to assess specific risks we face, but it’s up to the political process to decide how to manage those risks. We do a pretty good job with respect to health and the economy, as evidenced by our GDP and ever increasing life expectancy. But the inherent uncertainty with respect to natural disaster is much harder to manage because the costs and benefits can be so large.

      To me, we can simply identify what we care about in our society and work to protect those things appropriately, even with uncertain information on probability of a specific event. Science doesn’t need to tell us where or when to do those things. I don’t think that’s really the job of science in the first place.

      • Maxwell

        The 10-year time span of “lack of warming” of ocean and atmosphere is a short period, to be sure.

        But it showed the inability of the climate models cited by IPCC to project even 10 years in advance (let alone 100).

        The Met Office attributed it to “natural variability”.

        A 30-year time span is also very short. Yet it essentially forms the basis for the AGW hypothesis.

        The entire 160-year record shows a rough sine curve, with an amplitude of +/- 0.2C, a total cycle time of approximately 60 years, all on a tilted axis showing an underlying warming rate of around 0.04C per decade.

        The CO2 record (based on measurements since 1958 and more questionable ice core data prior to 1958) shows a slow increase at first (1750 is estimated to have been 280 ppmv) to around 390 ppmv today. Since 1958 the compounded annual growth rate has remained fairly constant at slightly above 0.4% per year.

        There is no robust statistical correlation between the two curves (R^2 = 0.4), It is more of a “random walk”. As a result, the case for causation is quite weak.

        And then there are several solar studies, which attribute around 0.35C 20th century warming to solar activity (the highest in several thousand years), with most of this occurring during the early 20th century warming cycle.

        So, looking at the whole record (including he last 10 years), it raises several questions regarding the premise that the warming was principally caused by human CO2 emissions, and that these, therefore represent a serious potential threat for the future (i.e. the “dangerous AGW” hypothesis).

        Max

    • But the fundamental LIE is far worse than uncertain uncertainties.

      Warming is beneficial.
      CO2 is mankind’s #1 contribution to plant life on Earth, and to all the animals that live off it (which, directly or indirectly, is all of them (us)).

      The Warmists, Alarmists, and even Lukewarmists are de facto mass murderous swine.

  52. Bart V said:”Tim Curtin brought up that even +10 deg warming would be ok. I replied that even much more modest warming would *eventually* lead to a sea level rise that was larger than we could adapt to.” I actually implied that at least 10 oC is the minimum for many of us refugees like me from the ghastly climates at higher than 40 oLat. In the Netherlands it would mean you could do without greenhouses to grow food as it could be getting warm enough to grow tomatoes year round. In Gabi Hegerl’s Edinburgh she would need 15 oC to get to the 25 oC mean annual temperature for winter cropping – at present Scotland’s agriculture and forestry are totally unproductive for half the year, yet she thinks living there would be intolerable with 2 oC rise.

  53. Willis Eschenbach

    Joshua | March 31, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I’ll re-post (just in case Willis misses it above just as he missed it the other day):

    I know this will come as a shock to you, but answering your posts is not the number one thing on my list of priorities … and comments like that remove you from the list entirely. I’m sure there was something further down in your post, but you know what?

    I never got to it. Your opening salvo was gratuitously unpleasant and untrue, and I stopped right there, copied it, and came here to answer it. Not going back, either. I have plenty of folks to discuss things with who exhibit common politeness.

    Bye,

    w.

  54. Here’s the Abstract of a paper I have just submitted for peer review. All comments/crits welcome before I submit Final on 15th April.

    Econometrics has a very long history as the technique of choice for testing the merits of alternative hypotheses across most of the social sciences as well as many of the natural and materials sciences, not to mention pharmacology, where it is widely used to evaluate the efficacy of alternative medications, including the use of placebos as counterfactuals. It is acknowledged by most climate scientists that the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is not necessarily the only determinant of climate change, as they accept that there are natural factors also at work. Nevertheless one will in vain search the literature of climate science for any evidence of the use of econometrics to test the IPCC’s core hypothesis that “most” of the temperature change observed over the last century is attributable to the build-up in the atmosphere of anthropogenic emissions of CO2e, of which CO2 is by far the largest in volume terms. In particular none of the leading texts such as the IPCC’s Solomon et al. (2007), Stern (2006) and Garnaut (2008) performs or reports any econometric analysis of their core hypothesis. This paper seeks to begin filling that gap, and finds that the core hypothesis is falsified at all of a wide variety of locations with lengthy time series data on various climatic variables, including atmospheric precipitable water opacity of the sky (OPQ), and solar radiation (SR) received at the earth’s surface (as opposed to the top of the atmosphere). Multi-variate econometric analysis shows that at none of these locations is the role of [CO2] statistically significant, and even that it is often negatively correlated with changes in temperature, whereas these other variables play highly significant roles. If the core hypothesis of climate science cannot be confirmed at any specific location, then by Popper’s Black Swan paradigm, it cannot be confirmed for the globe, as that is the sum of the local.

    • Interesting.
      In contrast, even if the LIA was not global, it is well proven regionally.
      But AGW is not proven at all regionally.

  55. Andrew Adams,
    I am trying to see where my response your amazing post about denialism and its origins went.
    Here is what I am trying to post in response:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_denial
    In particular:
    “Journalists and newspaper columnists including George Monbiot[10] and Ellen Goodman,[11] among others,[12][13] have described climate change denial as a form of denialism.[8][9] Several commentators, including Goodman, have also compared climate change denial with Holocaust denial,[11][12][13] though others, such as conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager, have decried those comparisons as inappropriate and trivializing Holocaust denial.[23][24] Institute of Economic Affairs member Richard D. North notes that outright denial by climate scientists of the major points of scientific consensus is rare, though scientists are known to dispute certain points. He says, “It is deeply pejorative to call someone a ‘climate change denier’. This is because it is a phrase designedly reminiscent of the idea of Holocaust Denial …”. He acknowledges that “there are many varieties of climate change denial”, but says that “[s]ome people labeled as ‘deniers’, aren’t.”[25] Peter Christoff also emphasizes the distinction between scepticism and denial, he says “Climate change deniers should be distinguished from climate sceptics. Scepticism is essential to good science.”[12]”
    and here, more explicitly:
    http://sites.google.com/site/climategenocide/hamilton-clive
    and:
    http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/1782/
    What is interesting is that your pal Joshua started this by seeking to invoke Godwin’s law to shut down this conversation, and then was too cowardly to admit it.
    You, who are clearly informed on the social aspects of AGW, feign ignorance of how the termn is used.
    This sort of evasion is fascinating.
    As to your surprise that elderly Brits are suffering from cold + high energyc costs- you typically do not come across so cumbersome and awkward.

  56. Eric Ollivet

    Dr Curry,

    It looks the answer is in the question:

    Despite much research that demonstrates potential dangers from climate change, public concern has not been increasing.
    One theory is that this is because the public is not intimately familiar with the nature of the climate uncertainties being discussed.
    “A major challenge facing climate scientists is explaining to non-specialists the risks and uncertainties surrounding potential climate change”….

    As quoted in your thread, risks related to climate change are only “potential”
    Actually, climate has always changed since Earth’s origin and looking back to your previous threads:
    1) It has never been proven that present climate change is unprecedented: MWP, Holocene and some of the previous interglacial periods have been warmer.
    2) Attribution of present climate change to human CO2 emissions is still not demonstrated.
    3) Main risks deals with extreme events (floods, droughts, hurricanes…) but we do not experience any noticeable increase of the extreme events’ frequency. What we do experience is only the increase of the number of reports in the media.
    4) Attribution of these extreme events to Global Warming is also not demonstrated.

    In front of those “potential” risks, there are much more likely risks that have been unfortunately experienced 3 weeks ago in Japan. Even if partly linked to human activity (nuclear accident), the root cause for Japanese disaster is purely natural (earthquake and subsequent tsunami). It has nothing to do with climate change.

    So no wonder why “potential dangers from climate change, public concern has not been increasing” !

    • Eric,
      Lets see what the recent experience tells us about the risks (given the 2 main factors: Japan’s high overall readiness level, and the 5-10X higher intensity of the quake than worst projections in the 60s when the construction occurred):
      Deaths:
      Tsunami: 100.0000000000000000%
      Earthquake: 0.0000000000000000%
      Nuclear radiation: 0.0000000000000000%

      Lesson: improve tsunami warning and defense systems.

      Any implication, of course, that climate and or CO2 had diddley to do with any of it are ludicrous, risible, and laughable. Not to mention comical.

    • Eric Ollivet, 4/2/11 4:40 am Communicating Uncertainty

      You say, In front of those “potential” risks, there are much more likely risks that have been unfortunately experienced 3 weeks ago in Japan. Even if partly linked to human activity (nuclear accident), the root cause for Japanese disaster is purely natural (earthquake and subsequent tsunami). It has nothing to do with climate change.

      Are you sure? Do you mean that none of the AGW quacks has come forward to say that but for anthropogenic CO2 the sea level would have been normal and the tsunami mitigated?

      So far, earthquakes, meteor collisions, and the Sun going nova may be the only potential risks working their way through the queue to be connected to ACO2. We can’t wait on a little uncertainty, science is never absolutely certain; now is the time to panic.

      • Eric Ollivet

        Jeff
        Please forgive my wording if incorrect and / or misleading.
        English is not my mother language.

        Actually I did not intend to make any connection between AGW and the Japanese disaster. This was just a wink at AGW proponents who are often claiming that Global Warming is more or less the root cause for almost any disaster on Earth… Extreme cold or snowfall events, droughts, floods, hurricanes… Hearing to their complaints, we could even come to the conclusion that earthquakes, meteor collisions, or super-nova are also caused by AGW, which would actually be ridiculous.

        I also do not claim that lower sea level rise would have limited tsunami’s impact. Such a claim would also be ridiculous. Sea level is only rising by about 2 or 3 mm a year, whereas tsunami’s wave was about 10 m high…

        PS1: I did not catch you last sentence and why this would be time for panic?

        PS2: I had a look on your blog and will try to read it more carefully as your papers look very interesting (even though I’m not a climate scientist). I just wonder why you called it “Rocket Scientist’s Journal” as it doesn’t look to be related to rockets or launchers)

      • Eric Ollivet, 4/2/11 5:14 am, Communicating Uncertainty:

        We were like Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence. HW Longfellow

        Humor may be the last thing that translates well.

        You wrote with humor, which I mistook to respond wryly [dryly humorous, with a touch of irony; exaggerated], only to miss the mark in the other direction. In other words, I was winking back, but unwittingly. My motivation included taking a poke at all the wasted effort here and there on the link between global warming and sea level rise, which is promoted as a consequence of man’s CO2 emissions instead of the Sun, all to create fear, to promote regulation, to release funds, and to win Nobel prizes.

        Our President recently said on TV with respect to the uprising in Libya that “this was not the time to panic”. That is a silly thing to say because, taken literally, it means the time to panic has yet to come. So continuing with our wink-wink, I was suggesting that the catastrophists are just now working on linking the trifecta of natural disasters on Honshu might to AGW so that they could resound the alarm, not to let it fall into silence.

        We have a couple of sayings in English that “it isn’t rocket science” (ce n’est pas si difficile) and “it doesn’t take a rocket scientist … “. My co-workers called me Dr. Rocket, and I kept it for fun. See my bio on Denizens. My theme for my journal is that “sometimes it takes a rocket scientist”.

      • Eric Ollivet

        Many thanks Jeff for your explanations and English lessons (I need some!), with that touch of humor and poetry.

        I had a look on your bio in Denizens, which is really impressive.
        Though I’ve not your expertize in electronics, applied mathematics, digital systems, data processing, system modeling etc…, I see we have some common interests in air and space science and technologies. I got an engineering degree in this flied and I’m currently in charge of Ariane 5 launcher (this is why I was asking the question about Rockets Scientist !) in French and European Space Agencies.

        I fully share your concerns about IPCC’s TAR and AR4 reports in the extent (as you very well explained) they “promotes public action based a scientific model that is less than a theory, lacking validation. It was promoting a model that was less than a hypothesis (1) lacking any prediction for validation other than the ultimate catastrophe, and (2) not fitting all the data in its domain.”

        I would just add that public actions prescribed by AGW proponents are very likely to rush our countries into an infernal spiral of (economic) decline, whose consequences would be much more damaging than 1 or 2°C more or less.

  57. Kim,
    More black humour? From the meece’s POV, little cat feet are huge, crushing, slashing terror weapons.

  58. John F. Pittman

    Dr. Curry, Strategic listening is part of the process that was developed for such things as effectively communicating the risk associated with large chemical or nuclear facilities. It is called risk perception by some of the practitioners such as Dr. Baruch Fischhoff. He helped the chemical industries with Risk Management Program (RMP) requirement of communicating with the public. When I attended his workshop in preparation for RMP, one of the most impressive aspects is that the lecturers implemented what they were teaching with us. As representatives of companies who were not to thrilled at having to essentially tell people we could kill them or worse, kill their children, he used us to evaluate ourselves in terms of dealing with a “hostile” communication scenario. Those unfamiliar with Dr. Fischhoff work need to understand that the proposed work group is to communicate. What the strategic listening is about, is how do you communicate if you don’t know what it is that persons need to hear? You need to listen. Importantly , respect is a two way street. I think your readers would benefit from some of the practical aspects of his work. The linked article is setting up a team. Perhaps, I know it worked for us, if they were to look at some of the elements that will be incorporated in this team, both sides would appreciate what is being proposed. I would like to use his work shop book “Communicating with Confidence: Preparing for Successful Community Dialogue on RMP.”

    The workshop book was based on an assessment that involved more than 250 one on one interviews with stakeholders. Stakeholders ranged from CEO’s to the general population. The interviews were based on “mental modes” methodology. In the article you linked one can read of these elements. What I would like to quote is the more practical information.

    His (Their) research showed that actions can build or can destroy credibility with citizens. Examples of positive actions are demonstrating the creation of meaningful improvements for the citizenry, helping people get information, demonstrating that the information and activities are readily available, providing tangible evidence that concerns have been addressed, demonstrating a commitment to build shared understandings, demonstrating that deeds match words. Examples of negative actions are demanding that hard science, facts, and data dictate people’s decisions and choices, “educating” people, refusing to release information, or releasing gradually ( I would add releasing information only when forced, to the list), dismissing people’s questions and concerns as not relevant or not as important as facts or data (shades of RC), insisting on legal rights (prelude to Climategate). So, I think those who have questioned the good doctor’s intention are well off base. What the article is about is a methodology for successful communication.

    There is a good list from Slovic, Fischhoff et al. for what makes risk less or more acceptable that also indirectly gives some insight into what is meant by “mental modes.” Also, it contains the “Tell” Process and the Dialogue Process. I would say that historically climate science used the “Tell” process. One of the interesting conclusions of the research is that the Tell process can work in high trust/low concern environments, but tends to be counterproductive in low trust/high concern environments. This indicates that perhaps the IPCC and others overplayed the process because of the high concern that should have been generated when we cause the end of life as we know it, and that helped destroy the trust that they had as much, or more than Climategate… victims of their own success. I wonder if Dr. Fischhoff would agree?

    Four points are made about the Tell process, 1) beliefs about stakeholders and communication are untested or flawed; 2) communication strategies are limited to “get the message out”, educate, or Decide-Announce-Defend ( I would add “Stay on Message” and “The Science Is Settled”), 3) the process does NOT (emphasis mine) recognize that actions are a form of communications; 4) there is no opportunity for systematic improvement. There is an * which states “You can’t improve your performance of the Tell Process. The only improvement possible is doing the Tell Process faster or “louder.””

    In fact there is so much useful information, I wonder if you could get them to post a stripped down version for us. Like there is a list of beliefs that can block communication. One is the belief that “Dialogue will shift power and erode authority.” Sound familiar? “Communication is unnecessary when the law (data, science, etc, I would add) is on our side.” The RMP shows that much of the climate science community could write a “How NOT to Communicate” book.

    Those who think the Dr. Frischhoff’s recommendations are just another typical faster and louder spin are way off mark. THe product they are trying to setup in this article is called the “Dialogue Process” in the RMP manual. IT tends to produce good results in low trust/high concern environments. It employs testing, communication strategies are limited only by the capabilities and opportunities of those involved, highly sensitive to changing conditions, questions, adverse events, etc., includes a pre-test of communication plans and messages (I believe this is what the article is really proposing), requires evaluation. It has advantages. One that I think is most important in the climate arena is that the process enables effective public participation.

    There are literally dozens of great and relevant quotes in this manual. Plus it is a practical guide on how to learn to make effective communications, and effective communication strategies. How to form teams, set goals, test, evaluate, etc. Here is one “Some experts have noted that there are three types of components of credibility…A third component is the degree to which people perceive the process of decision-making and risk management to be credible.” Sums up a lot of the criticism to the IPCC process to date. Anyway, I hope Dr. Fischhoff joins us. I believe he could really add to our discussions here.

  59. Good to be reminded that Baruch Fischhoff is an eminent social scientist who has done great work in risk communication. I just now sent him an email asking who would choose all those experts he mentioned? In the Climategate debate, the choice would have been one-sided, and so the purpose of the exercise would have been frustrated. What we have learned here is that ‘respectful listening’ relates not only to the subjective worries of the uneducated public, but to the serious criticisms of those who share the concerns but not the conclusions of the mainstream scientists. Otherwise it is quickly recognised as just another reassurance exercise by the Talking Heads.

    • Little does he know! The building fury of the electorate(s) at having been so comprehensively scammed is going to make his postural proposals into taunts and jibes. They will not be taken kindly.