Making the lukewarmer case

by Judith Curry

Many skeptics have attempted to lay out their arguments in a broad sense for the broader public, presumably hoping to convince the uninformed or the weakly convinced.  There are books, booklets, ppt presentations, youtube videos.  While these may inform people that are already skeptical, and maybe catch the attention of the uninformed, I suspect that the do not make much if any headway in convincing to be skeptical those that are already convinced.

The latest example of such an attempt is by Ira Glickstein at WUWT, who states:

In this posting, I’ve summarized the main points I think are most likely to align people who are both intelligent and reasonable to the Skeptic side. My Powerpoint (with talking points for each chart in the Notes section under each slide) is available [click here] for you to use and adapt as you wish.

My personal reaction to this (and I assume I am part of the target audience here) is to yawn.   My opinion is that this won’t convince the astute public who aren’t already convinced to be skeptical.  Your thoughts?

Lord Turnbull’s essay

I recently came  across this essay, written by Lord Turnbull, that was published by the GWPF.  This is a 20 page booklet with 12 pages of main text.   IMO this is the best essay that  I’ve seen, that is most likely to make someone that is “convinced”  to say “hmmm……” and think about it.  I would characterize this essay as making the lukewarmer argument.  I don’t recall ever seeing a thorough exposition of the lukewarmer position?

The essay starts with a number of points about UK Government Policy on climate/energy, designed to capture the attention of any concerned citizen, not to mention policy makers.

In terms of challenges to actual physical science, he keeps it simple: focuses on the paleo reconstruction discrepancies between the FAR and the TAR, and also the irregularities in the historical global surface temperature anomalies for the past 150 years relative to regularity of the CO2 increase.  Not particularly thorough arguments, but this strikes at the heart of some major controversies.  He then briefly raises the uncertainty about sensitivity and the water vapor feedback.  He then states:

The problems of measurement are formidable. Even in the era of reliable instruments, which have been available for the last 150 years, there are problems of aggregation of individual readings and there are so-called heat island effects where urbanisation may have affected the time series. But tracing the history back over millennia presents even greater problems. Efforts are made to splice together records of proxies such as ice cores, tree rings, ocean sediments and also social history. But the statistical manipulations of the data required make it possible to achieve almost any result.

Also controversial is the way the IPCC, despite all the difficulties of measurement and the substantial ‘play’ in the various linkages, has made categorical statements of its findings. For example, its Fourth Assessment (2007) states:

“Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely (their emphasis) due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

Simple arguments, but in two pages he has managed to identify what are regarded as the main achille’s heels in the IPCC case for AGW.  He then states:

To summarise this part of the argument:

The IPCC view, upon which the UK Government has based its policy, and around which much of the international debate takes place, sees anthropogenic CO2 as the principal driver of the increase in temperature. It also foresees a substantial acceleration in temperature change, possibly reaching 3°C by the end of the century. An alternative view is that there has been a gentle rise in temperature as the world comes out of the Little Ice Age, with multi-decadal oscillations around the trend. The increase in temperature by the end of the century is likely to be significantly lower than foreseen by the IPCC We have experienced a faster phase of temperature rise from the early 1970’s to the mid 1990’s and we have been in one the slower phases for the past 15 years or so. In this view both the trend and the fluctuations are largely the result of natural influences, with CO2 being possibly a modest net addition.

The IPCC view is a narrowly based and over simplified one, concentrating heavily on the impact of CO2 while downplaying the role of natural forces. David Whitehouse, the former BBC Science Correspondent, highlighted the difference:

“How many times have you seen, read or heard some climate “expert” or other say that mankind’s greenhouse gas emissions are largely responsible for the unprecedented warming we have seen over the past century, and especially over the past 30 years. It is as if, to some, nature has stepped back, leaving mankind to take over the climate. In reality, whatever one’s predictions for the future, such claims are gross exaggerations and misrepresentations. Natural and human climate influences mingle and even today the natural effects dominate.”

The policy conclusions of these different viewpoints are quite distinct. One sees calamity just around the corner, producing calls for dramatic CO2 reduction. The alternative sees changes which are within the capacity of the world to adapt, leaving time to adopt measured and progressive policy responses rather than one big heave to solve the problem.

In the next section on Impacts, Turnbull neatly dismisses the IPCC WGII Report:

I can deal with Level 2 of the IPCC’s work on impacts very quickly. In my view this is where their work is at its shabbiest; lots of dramatic claims about sea levels, melting glaciers, ice, crop yields, extinction of species, eg polar bears. Much of this has been shown to have come from non peer-reviewed material, the so-called grey literature and, worse still, some of it was even drawn from material supplied by green NGOs. The InterAcademy Council (IAC), a collective of the leading scientific academies of the world, produced a report in 2010 which was critical of a number of IPCC’s procedures [3]. It was very critical on the grey literature point, recommending that :

“The IPCC should strengthen and enforce its procedure for the use of unpublished and non-peer reviewed literature, including providing specific guidance on how to evaluate such information, adding guidelines on what types of literature are unacceptable, and ensuring that unpublished and non-peer-reviewed literature is appropriately flagged in the report.”

There has been a consistent pattern of cherry-picking, exaggeration, highlighting of extremes, and failure to acknowledge beneficial effects. By and large, humanity has prospered in the warmer periods. Plants grow faster and capture more CO2 in an atmosphere that is hotter, wetter and more CO2 rich. Cold causes more deaths than heat.

The main cause of more storm damage has been that we have put more people and property in harm’s way. The fears about the spread of malaria are largely discredited.

The IAC was particularly critical of the IPCC’s Working Group II on Impacts:

“The authors reported high confidence in some statements for which there is little evidence. Furthermore, by making vague statements that were difficult to refute, authors were able to attach “high confidence” to the statements. The Working Group II Summary for Policy Makers contains many such statements that are not supported sufficiently in the literature, not put in perspective, and nor expressed clearly”

With regards to  policy options:

We should concentrate on those measures which are no regret, which improve resource productivity, improve security of supply and with it our commercial bargaining position, and which do not depress living standards. In my book these are stopping deforestation, raising the energy efficiency of our buildings and our vehicle fleet (though the effect of greater energy efficiency on CO2 reduction may be limited if consumption is sustained by lowering the effective price of energy), investment in nuclear power, an expansion of energy from waste and, if we are going to adopt CCS, and the economics has yet to be established, it would be better to attach it to new gas-fired stations rather retrofitting old coal-fired stations. It also means much less wind and solar energy, and an end to current encouragement of biofuels.

And then this brief but devastating critique of the IPCC:

At the heart of the present debate is the IPCC. It likes to portray itself as an objective and independent source of advice on climate change. It is, in fact, no such thing. Its stated role is:

“To assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the latest scientific, technical and socio-economic literature produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change, its observed and projected impacts, and options for adaptation and mitigation.”

A body with these terms of reference is hardly likely to come up with the conclusion that nature trumps man. If you go to Barclays inquiring about setting up a bank account you are hardly likely to be advised that you should go to NatWest.

Its key personnel and lead authors are appointed by governments. Its Summary for Policy Makers may sound like independent scientists speaking frankly to policy makers but, in practice, the policy makers join the drafting sessions and ensure they get what their political masters want. This was another concern of the IAC, who commented on the difference in content between the SPM and the underlying report:

“The distillation of the many findings of a massive report necessarily results in the loss of important nuances and caveats that appear in the Working Group report. Moreover, the choice of messages and description of topics may be influenced in subtle ways by political considerations.”

There is a structural flaw in the IPCC. Far from being the distillation of the work of 2,500 scientists to produce a consensus, there is a core of 40-50 at its centre who are closely related, as colleagues, pupils, teachers, reviewers of each other’s work. The IPCC has failed to operate a rigorous conflicts of interest policy under which such relationships would be disclosed. It has managed to define a very simple AGW message and has sought to prevent alternative voices from being heard. The IAC criticised a tendency not to give sufficient weight to alternative views.

In my opinion, the IPCC and its current leadership no longer carry the credibility which politicians need if they are going to persuade their citizens to swallow some unpleasant medicine. It is therefore regrettable that the UK Government has taken no steps to find an alternative and more credible source of advice.

Turnbull closes with a statement on the sociology and politics of AGW, some excerpts:

Let me conclude with a few remarks on the sociology and politics of the AGW phenomenon. First there is the change in the nature of science. Great figures of the past such as Galileo and Darwin did not receive large government research grants and were not showered with honours. They were driven by curiosity and were prepared to challenge the established order. Nowadays our environmental scientists have jobs and research ratings to protect, as well as celebrity and airmiles. There has been a shameful failure by the grandees of the Royal Society who should have been the guardians of scientific integrity, upholding its motto “Nullius in verba,” i.e. no one has the final word.

Instead we have seen scientists become campaigners, trying to close down the debate by claiming that the science is settled, and failing to review rigorously the Climategate e-mails affair.

To conclude: The purpose of this paper has not been to plump for an alternative orthodoxy to replace that of the IPCC, but to recognize the major uncertainties that still exist and the wide range of scientific opinion. We need to acknowledge that there have always been fluctuations in our climate. Rather that writing natural forces out of the script, we need to build them into the analysis.

From our politicians we need open-mindedness, more rationality, less emotion and less religiosity; and an end to alarmist propaganda and to attempts to frighten us and our children. Also we want them to pay more attention to the national interest and less to being global evangelists.

Finally we need from our scientists more humility (“Do not claim to be wiser than you are” Romans 12), and a return to the tradition of scientific curiosity and challenge. We need more transparency and an end to attempts to freeze out dissenting voices. There should be more recognition of what they do not know. And acceptance of the Really Inconvenient Truth – that our understanding of the natural world does not justify the certainty in which the AGW views are expressed.

JC comments.  The last paragraph is my bolding.  I would particularly like to hear from the “convinced” regarding whether any of Turnbull’s arguments (individually or collectively) are compelling.  I suspect that politicians would find these arguments rather compelling.  Your thoughts?

398 responses to “Making the lukewarmer case

  1. Is Turnbull really a lukewarmer? I’d regard him as a skeptic.

    • not sure how/if he self labels, but this seemed to me pretty consistent with the lukewarmer position as I understand it.

      • A Lukewarmer “believes” in everything an Alarmist does, just to a lesser degree, pun intended. Both positions, as understood, are equally fallacious, though.

        A skeptic doubts what both the Alarmist and Lukewarmer profess.

        Andrew

      • I don’t know. To my mind the only real difference between genuine skeptics and lukewarmers are degrees…..of effect that is :-)

      • One more time — the real disagreement is less over climate science per se than it is over the WG2 consequences science. While we argue over whether climate sensitivity is 1 or 3 or 10 degrees, what really matters is “so what?”.

        “Lukewarmer” has as much to do with “so what?” as it does with what the temperature is if CO2 if 560 ppm, probably more so.

      • Bad Andrew

        ChE,

        If you think there is no substantial disagreement with many aspects of climate science itself, you haven’t been paying attention all these years.

        Andrew

      • I didn’t mean to imply that; just saying that in the end, it’s a distraction. In the end, this is driven by policy. It doesn’t matter what the climate sensitivity is, what matters is whether or not warming results in hellfire and damnation and pestilence and floods.

      • actually if you think he is a lukewarmer, there is hope..

        As his in my view is exactly bang on the majority sceptical viewpoint..To many people belive that sceptics are right out there on the edge because of aggressive PR tactics of the CAGW advocates.

        ie anti-science ‘flat earther’ deniars..

        To the CAGW advocates, everybody involved with the GWPF are out an out sceptics, deniars, or whatever the latest phrase is.

        If Lord Turnball is considered ‘lukewarm’ it make it very confusing how Judith Curry self labels. Please ignore he presumption, no need to clarify,just a thought.

        ie HIS IS the sceptical viewpoint, so do too many people believe the irrational sceptic arguments thrown around?

      • “If Lord Turnball is considered ‘lukewarm’ it make it very confusing how Judith Curry self labels.”

        That Dr. Curry herself is confused about it is not too far a stretch. ;)

        Andrew

      • Judith, unless an out-and-out sceptic is to be defined as one of those mythical contrarians, so beloved of warmists, but so difficult to actually find – who dispute the Tyndall Effect or believe the climate “isn’t changing”, this guy is sceptic.

      • Judy,

        With respect to labels and other uses of the language, I found this statement of yours to be a very strange one — “In terms of challenges to actual physical science …”

        I suspect you meant to point out places where he disagrees with the conclusions that some other people have reached with regard to certain questions of scientific interest. I don’t think that God or some other arbiter of truth has deigned to declare that certain opinions now constitute “the actual physical science”.

        Be careful with language. It can constrain thought and limit the potential for insight.

    • I think it can be very difficult to seperate the skeptical and lukewarmer positions sometimes- especially in heated exchanges. I think this document lays it (his position) out quite well.

      • I think it can be very difficult to seperate the skeptical and lukewarmer positions sometimes

        As one who self-identifies as a lukewarmer, I’d have to agree. While accepting of the basic science, I’m extremely skeptical of some of the remedies and those proposing them. Particularly when my reservations are re-cast as working as part of a tribe to stall “important action”.

      • Not sure how that link became a reference back to this article . It should point to this

      • Part of the problem is that the alarmists, who are have been the ones running the Climate Science show, have twisted the parameters of the debate in effect to position anyone who doesn’t strongly agree with the IPCC establish condition as deniers and unscientific. The result is that even lukewarmers are cast out as heretics, which, to some regard, is worse than being a true “denier”!

      • If Turnbull’s essay is the lukewarmers position then I am lukewarmer, if it is the sceptics position then I am a sceptic!

        However, never been keen on labels myself…so, as He says, “I am He who is I am”

  2. Yes, the Lord Turnbull essay resonates for me.

    In Lord Turnbull’s opening summary:
    The Really Inconvenient Truth is that the propositions of the IPCC do not bear the weight of certainty with which they are expressed. However, the purpose of the paper is not to argue that there is another truth which should become the new consensus, but to point out the doubts that exist about the IPCC viewpoint and serious flaws in its procedures. It is also to question why the UK Government has placed such heavy bets on one particular source of advice.
    Even if the IPCC scenarios were correct, the impacts are frequently selective and exaggerated. The economic policy choices being made will not minimize the cost of mitigation. The paper concludes with a call for more humility from scientists, more rational reflection from politicians, and more challenge from our parliamentarians.

    • David L. Hagen

      Bob Carter lays out The Central Challenge for IPCC:

      “The hypothesis of the day that the public is being encouraged to be alarmed about is that human-caused carbon dioxide emissions cause dangerous global warming.

      “That’s a testable idea. And the test is: you look at a period of the temperature record and you look at a period of the carbon dioxide emissions. So, step back 10 years to 2001. Since then there’s been a five per cent increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and that’s 25 per cent, almost a quarter of all the carbon dioxide we’ve put in the atmosphere since 1751. And what’s happened to global temperature? It’s gone down slightly by a bit less than 0.05 deg. C. As a scientific hypothesis, that’s the test; and the hypothesis fails the test.”

      I think that would support Turnbull’s “lukwarmer” position that nature dominates with:

      “a gentle rise in temperature as the world comes out of the Little Ice Age, with multi-decadal oscillations around the trend.

  3. Huh. Wasn’t expecting that, i find myself agreeing with more of that than i thought i would.

  4. Steve Milesworthy

    Starting off with the mantra about “emerging from the little ice age” doesn’t help.

    The argument concerning the IPCC terms of reference is particularly weak to me. Yes, one might argue that the ToR enforces a bias in its output, but the IPCC would not have got the level of buy-in over the 20-odd years and 4 reports it has got from the scientists if the ToR were not considered to be reasonable.

    I’m not sure I’m “convinced” on WGII, but the level of criticism of the WGII is unsupported by reports such as the IAC report which also said:

    “Although some respondents to the Committee’s questionnaire have
    recommended that only peer-reviewed literature be used in IPCC assessments, this would require the IPCC to ignore some valuable information.”

    and to me the number of “errors” that derived from this is not exceptional enough to dismiss the report as “shabby”

    I don’t think this statement is justified:

    “The IAC criticised a tendency not to give sufficient weight to alternative views.”

    The IAC report says:

    “Although all reasonable points of view should be considered, they need not be given equal weight or even described fully in an assessment report…

    …As pointed out to the Committee by a presenter10 and some questionnaire respondents, alternative views are not always
    cited in a chapter if the Lead Authors do not agree with them. Getting the
    balance right is an ongoing struggle. However, concrete steps could also be
    taken. For example, chapters could include references to all papers that
    were considered by the authoring team and describe the authors’ rationale
    for arriving at their conclusions.”

    • Craig Loehle

      So, Steve, the IPCC claim (derived from gray lit) that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 isn’t “shabby”?

      • Steve Milesworthy

        It’s nice to be perfect, but no, a handful of errors doesn’t render a large document “shabby”. The detailed reviews of the errors (such as the one cited by the IAC report) does not go so far as claiming that it is shabby.

  5. Hank Zentgraf

    Much of Turnbull’s comments resonate with me. I hope as you do Judith that those who oppose this position speak up on this thread.

  6. This doesn’t sound very lukewarmer to me:

    “stopping deforestation, raising the energy efficiency of our buildings and our vehicle fleet (though the effect of greater energy efficiency on CO2 reduction may be limited if consumption is sustained by lowering the effective price of energy), investment in nuclear power, an expansion of energy from waste and, if we are going to adopt CCS, and the economics has yet to be established, it would be better to attach it to new gas-fired stations rather retrofitting old coal-fired stations.”

    With the exception of carbon capture and sequestration, which the author admits has not been established as economically viable, I see nothing that a skeptic would object to. Unless of course he advocates these policies being implemented by governments, by force. Halting deforestation would be something that would likely require government action, but the rest are all more likely to occur in a free market than by government diktat.

    If a policy is truly “no regrets,” and makes production more economical, then the market will result in adoption of those policies because those who use them will gain a competitive advantage. And if those policies are in fact effective, they will be adopted regardless of what politicians, journalists, bloggers or scientists have to say about them. What’s lukewarmer about that?

  7. ” . . . an end to alarmist propaganda and to attempts to frighten us and our children.”

    Oh, won’t somebody please think of the children?

    No, I don’t find any of Trunbull’s assertions (they can hardly be called arguments) particularly striking.

    I think that Trunbull (and Dr. Curry) are looking at this the wrong way around. The problem for “skeptics” is not finding the right rhetoric; it’s the massive weight of evidence from direct observation of the physical world which supports the central theses of AGW. The way to fight that, if you have a strong intuition that it is wrong, is to do science. Get out into the field. As Dr. Gawande says to medical professionals, “count something.”

    Not that there have been no efforts in this direction. There was the surfacestations project. Confirmed the consensus. Roy Spenser’s satellite data. Confirmed and confirms the consensus. The BEST reanalysis. Survey says? Going to confirm the consensus.

    There is a built-in constituency for crude denialism, but more rational “lukewarmers” will make headway with serious people only by formulating their own theory and testing it with data.

    • The problem for “skeptics” is not finding the right rhetoric; it’s the massive weight of evidence from direct observation of the physical world which supports the central theses of AGW

      What direct evidence? What direct observations? You were asked that in another thread and failed to answer.

      The problem is that most of CAGW is built, NOT on direct evidence, of which there is very little, but on computer models that fail to meet the expectations and claims of the consensus.

      Not that there have been no efforts in this direction. There was the surfacestations project. Confirmed the consensus. Roy Spenser’s satellite data. Confirmed and confirms the consensus. The BEST reanalysis. Survey says? Going to confirm the consensus.

      Little to none of that is true. If it were, there would be fewer skeptics.

      • “Little to none of that is true. If it were, there would be fewer skeptics.”

        “Skeptics” have cultivated the important skill of ignoring facts they don’t like. You demonstrate it amply here. Have you not read the IPCC reports, or not understood what you have read?

        This is a good link for you too: http://www.skepticalscience.com/. Lots of references to the data.

      • As usual, there is nothing substantive or of interest in these comments of yours, Robert. Rather than throwing around generalities and links to warmist sites, how about you give us your considered and detailed reasoning why the points raised in the subject paper should be refuted.

      • “As usual, there is nothing substantive or of interest in these comments of yours, Robert.”

        Then don’t read them and don’t respond to them. Easy fix.

        If you want to dismiss the science as “warmist” when you don’t like the conclusions, feel free. But I have no intention of giving a seminar on the basic physics of climate change for people who openly admit to ignoring data that fails to confirm their belief system.

        This is a common and unprofitable exchange. The “skeptic” says “Where’s the evidence?” You give them a easy link leading to hundreds of peer-reviewed papers. They dismiss them all as “warmist”/”propaganda”/”alarmist” or some other synonym for “challenges my faith-based perspective on global warming.” Pause, and then shortly thereafter they complain that no one has ever shown them the evidence, and where is it?

        Go to it, read it, understand it to the best of your ability, and then we can discuss it further.

      • Robert, at present the sole empirical support for AGW theory is the accepted fact that in laboratory conditions CO2 has been shown to absorb a band of IR. Computer models are not empirical facts. The clear problem with AGW theory is that it is in direct and irreducible conflict with geological data. The best estimates of the GEOCARB III curves place modern CO2 levels at or near the absolute minimum for the Phanerozoic (the last 500,000,000 years). During the Mesozoic, peak CO2 levels were many times higher than at present, and during the Paleozoic even higher.

        Since both the AGW faithful and AGW skeptics accept pretty much the same mechanisms for the natural elements of the climate system, it is evident that AGW theory cannot account for the lack of past catastrophic outcomes due to CO2. Any future catastrophic change due to atmospheric CO2 levels should have occurred well before the Jurassic. This includes both global warming and ocean acidification. There is no evidence in the available geological data of any such events. What that means is that the AGW theory needs a second anthropic mechanism, in addition to CO2 production, to account for any forecast catastrophic climate change. No current climate model includes any such anthropic mechanism.

        This is not a “skeptical” view, it is a critical view. AGW theory at present has parts missing. Until those parts are empirically identified, there are no scientific grounds for assuming that our current situation will lead to catastrophic global warming. It is simply an artifact of the mathematics used in the models.

      • “Robert, at present the sole empirical support for AGW theory is the accepted fact that in laboratory conditions CO2 has been shown to absorb a band of IR.”

        Duster, that’s incorrect. I suggest you review http://www.skepticalscience.com/empirical-evidence-for-global-warming.htm.

      • Robert, I personally have trawled the skeptical science site, I have posted there and I have even downloaded data sets and done my own analysis. I have read some of the papers often cited in these discussions, and investigated thoroughly some of the arguments, peer-reviewed and otherwise.

        After examining the evidence for myself – ie not just accepted what I was being told, I have come to the conclusion a lot here that would call themselves either ‘skeptical’ or ‘lukewarm’ have come to; namely that natural climatic effects outweigh anthropogenic ones, and that there is no crisis worth rashly restructuring the world economy to mitigate.

        My impression generally of the band skeptic/lukewarmers, is that they are far more informed of both the science and the politics than tend to be ‘warmists’. What tends to happen is that if someone has invested too much pride or capital into the AGW meme, they get stuck there despite evidence they themselves divine. For educated disinterested parties, it tends to be a process of general acceptance of what is incorrectly called the consensus on CAGW, being challenged on that views in some way, leading to a thorough investigation and settling on a view almost exactly as outlined in the Turnball essay Judith has posted.

        What I suggest you do, at the risk of sounding patronising or condescending (I honestly do not intend to be), is actually examine the arguments of the sources you are citing, and hunt down the opposing or skeptical viewpoint and weigh them up against one another. Keep doing that – you can often find rebuttal of the rebuttal and so on. At some point a picture will crystallise and you can feel more confident in your opinion.

        It’s hard to imagine anyone doing that honestly could come away with an ‘alarmist’ viewpoint hardened. Believe me, I was as alarmist as the best of them until a few of my assumptions were challenged, and in my attempts to defend them found that they could not be.

      • We’ve discussed this before – and you’ve cultivated the important skill of ignoring facts you don’t like. You demonstrate it amply here

        See below.

        As for the IPCC reports, they’ve been discussed – and largely, although not entirely, dismissed – on this forum ad nauseum. Pointing at the IPCC reports is useless. Provide specific information/location that you think applies. You may find agreement – or not.

      • Robert,

        Anyone who thinks that the skepticalscience blog is a good link has pretty much declared their hand as one of the faithful, and beyond rational argument. I have had the pleasure of “debating” one of the approved content providers there, one “Dana”, on the merits or otherwise of Montford’s “Hockey Stick Illusion”, over at Amazon.com. To cut a long story short, Dana (who actually wrote a review on the HSI, as well as commenting everywhere about what idiots those who gave the book a favourable review were), finally admitted having never read the book (any of it), but maintained that he was providing a far better insight into the merits of the arguments laid out there than those of us who had actually read and comprehended it. For me, the whole Hockeystick fiasco is a litmus test. Anyone who won’t admit how utterly wrong the original work was, and how fundamentally insupportable its continued defence is, is unlikely to have any other opinions on AGW worth listening to.

      • “Anyone who thinks that the skepticalscience blog is a good link has pretty much declared their hand as one of the faithful, and beyond rational argument. . . ”

        As I said, this is how the “skeptic” brain protects itself from distasteful facts.

        A “skeptic” demands to see the evidence. They then reject the evidence because the source is not “skeptical” enough. Of course, the only source “skeptical” enough is the one that confirms what they already believe.

        We got to see a great demonstration of this cognitive dissonance when Richard Muller testified before Congress. He went from skeptical paragon to a shifty character no one had ever trusted in the course of one afternoon. Highly amusing.

        I get it. Your response to hundreds of peer reviewed papers, all collected for you in one easily accessible site, is to stick your fingers in your ears and say LA LA LA.

        Just don’t say no one showed you the evidence, when the fact is that you refuse to look at it.

      • Roy Weiler

        Wow, you really have your head in the sand a bit. Do some research.

      • Conspiracy theories have never been my specialty. In my limited free time, I like to stick to the science.

        You ought to try it. ;)

      • Let us start here:
        Skeptical science asks the question:
        “Did global warming stop in 1998?”
        They say:

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-stopped-in-1998-intermediate.htm

        Let us look here:

        and here:

        and here:

        http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/

        Their case is undermined by the evidence.
        Care to comment?

      • Seriously, if you are going to claim that a website is the “expert” on a subject, at least check some of their claims.

      • There’s not really a case to answer. You haven’t linked to a single study or argument supporting the contention that global warming stopped in 1998. You reference a few graphs that you clearly have not taken the time to understand. What can one do except be embarrassed for you?

        Oh, and can you show me where I cited Skeptical Science as “expert,” as opposed to pointing them out as an easy way to access the relevant peer-reviewed literature? You seem to have parted company with the truth there.

      • Actually you said this:

        “This is a good link for you too: http://www.skepticalscience.com/. Lots of references to the data.”

        I am not sure what you mean by this:
        “You reference a few graphs that you clearly have not taken the time to understand. What can one do except be embarrassed for you?:

        Clearly the graphs come from respected sources, and are not particularly difficult to understand. OHC flat for 10 years, temperatures based upon satellite sources flat for 10 years. What am I to be embarrassed about?
        They clearly refute a portion of what you are claiming.

      • Actually you said this:

        “This is a good link for you too: http://www.skepticalscience.com/. Lots of references to the data.”

        So I never said they were experts, as you claimed I did. You were wrong about that, wouldn’t you agree?

        “They clearly refute a portion of what you are claiming.”

        No, they do not. You’ve simply failed to understand them. Neither NOAA, nor GISS, nor HADCRUT, nor UAH claim that global warming stopped in 1998. Do you think you understand their data better than they do?

        Sadly, this is not the case. You’ve misunderstood the graphs. I recommend you read the actual peer reviewed literature and develop an understanding of the basics of the temperature record.

      • “So I never said they were experts, as you claimed I did. You were wrong about that, wouldn’t you agree?”

        You did claim the most readily available source of information supporting climate science could be found at skeptical science. If they are not experts, why would you direct us there? I want good information.

        “No, they do not. You’ve simply failed to understand them. Neither NOAA, nor GISS, nor HADCRUT, nor UAH claim that global warming stopped in 1998. Do you think you understand their data better than they do?

        Sadly, this is not the case. You’ve misunderstood the graphs. I recommend you read the actual peer reviewed literature and develop an understanding of the basics of the temperature record.”

        This seems to be a very odd thing to say. You cannot look at information and draw your own conclusions? If the temperature and OHC are lower now then they were 13 years ago, you cannot, on your own, determine that they have not risen?

        This requires a peer reviewed paper why?

        Do you close your eyes when looking at things?

      • “You did claim the most readily available source of information supporting climate science could be found at skeptical science. ”

        No, that’s wrong too. I never claimed they were “the most readily available source of information.” Citation?

        You really should make more of an effort to get your facts right. It’s really not very interesting to have an involved discussion with someone who just makes stuff up because they think it sounds good.

      • Facts are clearly something you are not interested in.

        I have offered you facts, but instead of addressing them, you move further and further away from what this discussion is about.
        You have made it clear that, in your opinion, the case for CAGW is fully supported by the information provided at Skeptical Science, but now you say you did not say that. Please get your ducks in a row before shooting them. Otherwise this is a pointless exercise in he said she said.

        My facts, such as they are, are clear. It almost seems that you argue from ignorance. Not really sure. Do you have a point, if you are not going to discuss the science?

      • Roy Weiler –
        Enough – I can’t watch this anymore –

        First, check this comment – http://judithcurry.com/2011/06/01/making-the-lukewarmer-case/#comment-72431

        Then, you said –
        My facts, such as they are, are clear. It almost seems that you argue from ignorance. Not really sure. Do you have a point, if you are not going to discuss the science?

        Which was right on the money.

        Robert is a troll. Yesterday we determined that he’s ignorant of science and of history – not to mention logic. Also that he’s a fanatic and has no interest in anything that ANYONE says if they don’t agree with him 100%. Today we’ve determined that he’s ignorant of economics and lacks any common sense at all. You’ve gotta wonder what tomorrow will reveal about him. Note that this cannot be termed an ad hom attack – he was told all of this yesterday and this is just a recitation of facts.

        Anyway, best advice is to not engage him. I did that for most of the day and was happier for it. I’ll try again tomorrow. It’s kinda like quitting smoking – hard to stick with. But he DOES have a habit of saying really dumb things.

        Have a good night anyway.

      • Robert,

        You are a true soul mate of Dana.

        I especially love the pseudo-learned pontifications on “this is how the “skeptic” brain protects itself from distasteful facts”. You don’t happen to be a close friend of another clown by the name of Lotharson, do you? He runs a particularly amusing line in “That argument does not, however, bear scrutiny”. You can almost see his head slowly shaking in disappointment at a poorly thought out argument by a lazy student. Of course, he doesn’t follow up with any facts, but why would he, he is self evidently right.
        In your case, I get the image of Dr Necessiter, in Mel Brooks’ “High Anxiety”, expounding wisely on a particularly interesting and dangerous psychopathology.

        Thanks for providing the amusement.

      • Actually you said this:

        “This is a good link for you too: http://www.skepticalscience.com/. Lots of references to the data.”

        I am not sure what you mean by this:
        “You reference a few graphs that you clearly have not taken the time to understand. What can one do except be embarrassed for you?:

        Clearly the graphs come from respected sources, and are not particularly difficult to understand. OHC flat for 10 years, temperatures based upon satellite sources flat for 10 years. What am I to be embarrassed about?
        They clearly refute a portion of what you are claiming.

      • “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking”

    • I too have asked many times for the evidence. But nobody has yet come up with it. Tell us what it is Robert.

      • I too have asked many times for the evidence. But nobody has yet come up with it.

        I highly doubt that. Try: http://www.skepticalscience.com/.

      • Robert –
        They don’t have answers, just propaganda.

      • So your response to the scientific data is to dismiss it as propaganda.

        Now we know why you can’t “find” the data. If it doesn’t fit your belief system, it’s perforce “propaganda.”

        I suggest you look at the data instead of dismissing it.

      • No, Robert – the site you treasure so is riddled with errors. As science, it rates VERY low on the scale.

        The site operators have challenged me on a prior thread. They no longer do so. And I no longer go there or accept reference to that site as anything but propaganda. .

      • “the site you treasure so is riddled with errors. As science, it rates VERY low on the scale. ”

        As a non-scientist, I’m not sure anyone much cares what peer-reviewed literature you think is “low on the scale.” I suggest you review the papers cited, if you dislike the articles used to organize them around particular questions. You might learn some interesting things.

      • Robert. You do not seem to understand what “data” is. Data are numbers that are actually measured, and hopefully these numbers have been replicated; that is, different people have measured the same numbers, and found the same answers, within the limits of accuracy.

        The output of non-validated models is NOT data, You can only call data something that has been measured. That is why, when you refer people to places like skepticalscience, they dont find any actual data there.

        What I find over and over again with people like yourself, is that they so believe in CAGW that they dont look, critically, and the references they provide. If you want to convince people like myself, then make sure any reference you give to a source of data, actually has some data presented.

      • Jim, he doesn’t want to try and convince you of his point of view. He is just trying to wreck the thread.

      • “Robert. You do not seem to understand what “data” is. ”

        And once frustrated in their attempts to fake scientific expertise, the “skeptic” then resorts to personal attacks, in the hopes of diverting the discussion . . . futile in this case.

        Take a look at the evidence. There’s far more than modelling going on. The myth that all the science confirming AGW is modelling studies is discredited nonsense. I believe Skeptical Science may even have a page about it.

        Do you really believe that, or do you just find some people are gullible enough to take your word for it?

    • Robert, regarding your pointing people to skepticalscience.com, here is my analysis of that site. It presents a lot of skeptical arguments, over 100 last I looked. Each is followed by what purports to be a pro-AGW rebuttal. So far so good, but there is more, a lot more.

      First note first that while the AGW arguments have loads of scientific references the skeptical arguments have few, if any. This makes it look like science is heavily on the side of AGW. This impression is very false, and intentional. Here is the full picture.

      Each skeptical argument is couched in lay terms, making the skeptics look ignorant. The AGW counter argument is couched in scientifically sophisticated terms, with weighty references, making AGW look scientific. What is not shown are the scientifically sophisticated skeptical responses to these AGW arguments, of which there are a great many, also with loads of weighty references. In short the site is a one-sided sham.

      However, I find the site useful as a way to begin to see the complexity of the scientific debate. Let’s begin with the 100+ starting skeptical arguments, which by the way can easily be stated in more scientifically powerful ways. Many of the AGW counters to these initial skeptical arguments involve multiple arguments, often 3 or 4, so there are perhaps 300 AGW arguments at this level.

      What is not shown is that there are in fact 3 or 4 skeptical counter arguments to most of these AGW arguments, thus perhaps 1000 distinct scientific arguments for skepticism at this (first not-shown) level. And of course there are multiple AGW responses to these 1000 skeptical arguments, giving perhaps 3000 distinct AGW arguments at this level, and perhaps 10,000 skeptical responses to those 3000 AGW responses. And so it goes, level beneath level, until we run out of words in print.

      This is in fact an issue tree, containing many thousands of branching lines of distinct scientific argument. Each line of argument alternates from side to side, many points on both sides made with weighty citations into the scientific literature. How can it be otherwise, given that millions of words have been written on both sides, by people who know some part of the literature well. (No one knows it all, or even most of it.)

      Moreover, none of this is about doing science. It is all about interpreting the science that is being done and reported in the literature. Neither skeptics nor AGW proponents are doing science when they argue their case. The science is not the question, the question is what to make of the science? That is where the disagreements lie.

      • Reference: Issue trees are explained here in my free little textbook — http://www.stemed.info/reports/Wojick_Issue_Analysis_txt.pdf
        They are a basic structure of all complex issues.

      • First note first that while the AGW arguments have loads of scientific references the skeptical arguments have few, if any. This makes it look like science is heavily on the side of AGW.

        Well, not that science has a “side,” but it is certainly true that the overwhelming weight of the empirical evidence supports the theory of AGW, which is why it is generally accepted.

        I was asked about evidence in support of the theory of AGW, which is clearly cited at Skeptical Science, helpfully organized around particular “skeptic” talking points. If you feel that there are good scientific papers supporting skeptic arguments that Skeptical Science is not referencing, I suggest you cite them in the comments section and recommend they be added to the main article. The moderators over there are very patient with questions and feedback.

      • “Moreover, none of this is about doing science.”

        Perhaps it should be? The evidence is not a neutral party. It overwhelmingly supports the theory of AGW. It is precisely the effort to distort or ignore that evidence which is futile.

        “Skeptics” often point to scientific iconoclasts like Galileo or Darwin. But what empowered these successful revolutions against scientific orthodoxy was not pontificating on the defects of their opponents but in collecting data and in formulating an explanation to account for those data and the rest of the evidence. Doing science, in other words. That’s the only thing that will convince scientists.

      • Rob Starkey

        Robert

        You write about the evidence of AGW- “It overwhelmingly supports the theory of AGW. ”

        There is evidence that it happens, but there is NOT evidence to show how much it actually happens on the earth, nor is there evidence that the outcome will be negative to humanity overall over the long term.

        I have read the link you posted, but could find nothing to support the assertion. Can you point out and harms to humanity that a warmer world would create that you feel are believeable and can be defended?

      • Your kidding right? You want me to write the 1000 rebuttals complete with references? Here is what I suggest you do. Take one of the specific AGW arguments at random then go into the skeptical field and find the counter arguments, including their references. I can assure you they exist. Did you not read the rest of my comment? I have been studying this climate debate issue tree for 18 years.

        Or if you want to make it interesting we can bet. You pick a specific AGW argument (usually a sentence or paragraph at most, not 4 arguments lumped together as they tend to do on that site) and I bet you $100 I can find a skeptical counter argument, including references into the literature. That way I get paid for my effort.

        Perhaps your problem is that you think the weight of evidence is objective, but it is in the eye of the beholder, as Bayes made clear 250 years ago. What you see as strong evidence I may see as no evidence at all, or even counter evidence.

        For example, Al Gore cites the correlation between temp and CO2 in an ice core as strong evidence for AGW, but skeptics cite the CO2 lag as evidence against AGW. Then a great argument ensues. The argument is the important fact.

      • Took a quick peek, and there doesn’t seem to be a single citation or list of references anywhere. I hope I missed something, but it’s basically an extended Op-Ed with a bunch of opinions and no evidence of any kind.

    • Robert, the frightening us and the children was in reference to the Hansen book and comments from Gore and others.

      …anyhow, did you ever “Get out into the field” and count something yourself for climate science? i.e. something other than the number of papers.

      Do you think you would make a good climate scientist?

      • I don’t need to get out into the field because I’m not the one trying to overturn an established scientific theory supported by mountains of evidence.

        To do that, you need new evidence, not better tactics.

        Not everyone needs to be a scientist, but if you want to rewrite scientific theories, it’s pretty much mandatory.

      • Erm… the theory is anything but established and i fail to see the mountains of evidence….

        I’d class ‘evolution’ as an established theory and there is mountains of evidence for that. I’d class Climate change as an incomplete theory, with SOME evidence supporting it.

        I think you need to get your distinctions correct.

      • “I don’t need to get out into the field”

        Ah, just repeating stuff you’ve heard. ‘Twas ever thus for Warmers.

        Andrew

  8. I does amaze me that logical argument follows like this

    1. There is a wide range of things that could happen from catastrophic to no-so-catastrophic

    2. Here are some reasons why it may not be so catastrophic, IPCC is bad, apparently the hottest decade on record is hot or wet enough, we don’t pay enough attention to other events, etc, etc

    3. Therefore, we shouldn’t be alarmed about, or reasonable prepare for catastrophic outcomes.

    Does anyone see the missing part of the story? Really? Does anyone understand what it means if these unjustified assumptions in premise #2 are just wrong, even by a little? Why all the reasons for decisive action are left out of the argument? Perhaps lukwarmers is a poor choice of words. Maybe the happy-go-lucky gamblers is bit more apt.

    No whammies, no whammies, no whammies, STOP!

    • AGW: “Man made global warming has been happening since 1850″

      Skeptic: “And what horrible things have occurred?”

      AGW 1980: “I don’t know of any … but they will be happening soon!!!!”

      AGW 1990: “I don’t know of any … but they will be happening soon!!!!”

      AGW 2000: “I don’t know of any … but they will be happening soon!!!!”

      AGW 2010: “I don’t know of any … but they will be happening soon!!!!”

      Skeptic: “Yawn”

      • This is a good example of a strawman argument. Yes, those are easier to answer than the real ones.

      • If someone runs around scream fire for 30 years and no fire occurs, should anyone really pay attention to them.

        Harold Camping has predicted the end of the world several times. I don’t see any difference between him and IPCC except the IPCC has wasted way more money.

      • IPCC – between 18 and 59 cm of SLR by ~2099. ~2099 has not occurred, so how is it meaningful that between 18 and 59 cm has not occurred?

      • How is it that 18cm in 100 years = 1.8mm a year which is the same rate of sea level before AGW.

      • Is that a question? Seriously?

      • I’ll rephrase.

        If the sea level rise is not accelerating, but AGW “scientists” bring out scare story after scare story about accelerating sea level rise, why pay attention to them at all?

        Which scare story has come true in the last 30 years — which coincidentally was the last time the PDO switched and was when Newsweek was doing ice age scares?

      • Hey! That describes the business plan (with different years) of a company I worked for many moons ago. :-D

    • Grypo: Item #2 is not assumptions, it is reasons. Item #1 is a range of conjectures and #2 gives the reasons not to take the catastrophic conjectures seriously. Skeptics and lukewarmers accept those reasons. That is the logic of the debate, and it makes perfect sense. People deciding what to do and what not to do. What do you not understand about this?

      Saying “the reasons could be wrong” is not an argument against them. Descartes made this point 400 years ago: The fact that any belief may be wrong is not evidence against it.

      • His reasons are assumptions. Changing the terminology doesn’t address the lack of support in any of the arguments.

      • On the contrary, these are well established positions with lots of well known support. Given the sheer magnitude of the debate, with millions of words written to date and thousands of distinct sub-argument, any article is necessarily just a tiny fragment. That is no argument against it. Assuming it relies on well established arguments, which this one certainly does, only question is whether the internal reasoning of the article is correct?

      • Assuming it relies on well established arguments, which this one certainly does, only question is whether the internal reasoning of the article is correct?

        No, he’s making an argument with his major premise being a series of baseless assumptions and what-ifs. It doesn’t matter how many words you put to it. The entire paper is asking everyone to gamble on these assumptions. It is poor logic throughout. But you can roll the dice if you want, hopefully, the rest of us will move on.

    • The ‘logic’ is that British policy on coal usage has more impact on the Amazon rain forest than Brazilian agricultural policy.

      That Japanese policy on oil impacts beaches of coral atolls more than Tuvalu’s policy on construction and road building.

      That the decision regarding “fracking” for natural gas in Flower Mound, Texas must somehow be predicated upon the effects obtaining and using such gas supposedly has on epidemics of Malaria and Dengue — and that that effect is greater than the policy decisions of Nigeria or Uganda regarding DDT.

      Any and all disasters arising from human mismanagement of natural resources and modern technology must be –FIRST– mitigated via control of the Carbon (not including “Dioxide”) footprint.

      Even were I the most fervent of “warmists” I would find it difficult to buy into that chain of reasoning.

      And anyone trying to sell me that course of treatment calls me to question his skills, and honesty, as a diagnostician.

  9. Lukewarmers are to the climate debate what libertarians are to the larger political one. Conservative on some issues, progressive on others. Luke warmers I have read almost all endorse the criticisms of the “consensus” and argue there is far greater uncertainty than the hard core consensus claims. But they just can’t let go of the idea that the government should “do something.” So they adopt the position that, yes, skeptics are right on the science, but the “consensus” is right on the policy, expect a little too extreme.

    It seems to me that most lukewarmers whose comments I read agree that:

    3) The Earth is warming globally and a substantial cause of that warming is anthropogenic (AGW);

    2) The IPCC consensus does not accurately reflect the uncertainty in the likelihood and degree of the damage that will result (not CAGW);

    3) Governments should take action to adapt to the expected warming, and adopt policies that will mitigate emissions with the least impact possible on the global and national economies (CAGW lite).

    If you get the government out of mandating energy policies, the lukewarmer and skeptic positions become indistinguishable. So part of the reason some self-identify as lukewarmers, is to avoid being associated with those neanderthal conservatives who make up most of the skeptical tribe.

    • “So they adopt the position that, yes, skeptics are right on the science, but the “consensus” is right on the policy, expect a little too extreme.”

      That’s 180 degrees wrong. Lukewarmers acknowledge that “skeptics” are wrong on the science, but oppose the policy on various pretexts.

      • randomengineer

        And your take is also spin. Neither of you are correct, but then again neither of you are lukewarmers. I am.

        The scientific fundamentals (basic precepts and things we can actually reliably measure) are correct. There is no reason whatsoever to question the notion that humans can and do affect thir environment. AGW however quickly goes off the rails with CGMs and the invention of feedbacks (rationalisations.) Data rules, and CGMs ain’t data. And frankly the hockey team needs to be jailed.

        Moreover as Turnbull notes the very inclusion of utterly vile green propaganda from lying, money grubbing NGOs masquerading as respectable science via IPCC inclusion speaks volumes about the intent of the IPCC; this alone taints the entire political aura to the point of making the IPCC uselessly moot. As such I am completely and irrevocably against the adoption of ***ANY*** policy measure that bears the imprimatuer or is otherwised sanctioned by anyone associated with the IPCC in any way. i.e. if the IPCC says it’s a bad idea, you can bank on the fact that it is an excellent idea, and vica versa.

        As a lukewarmer I am very much for the widespread use of nuclear power in the west, the development (finally!) solar power sats, and the adoption of hydrogen fuel cell tech development to replace fossil fuels (and this is because I regard oil as too damned valuable to simply burn.) That these efforts also reduce CO2 emissions is a positive side effect, but not the overarching reason (jobs.)

        As a lukewarmer and engineer I am also very much against the notion of anyone taking the hockey team seriously, and if I were king I’d draw and quarter the publishers of science journals who include “grey literature” as Turnbull so eloquently puts it — as in — “the next SOB who mentions the words ‘polar’ and ‘bear’ trying to claim a scientific case for AGW is going to be shot, hanged, and his intestines fed to the crows while he watches.”

      • randomengineer.

        Which of the three items I listed do you disagree with?

        1) The Earth is warming globally and a substantial cause of that warming is anthropogenic (AGW);

        2) The IPCC consensus does not accurately reflect the uncertainty in the likelihood and degree of the damage that will result (not CAGW);

        3) Governments should take action to adapt to the expected warming, and adopt policies that will mitigate emissions with the least impact possible on the global and national economies (CAGW lite).

    • My comments inline in bold:

      3) The Earth is warming globally yes and a substantial cause of that warming is anthropogenic (AGW); some portion, not sure on how much

      2) The IPCC consensus does not accurately reflect the uncertainty in the likelihood and degree of the damage that will result (not CAGW); along with attribution, mitigation costs, etc

      3) Governments should take action to adapt to the expected warming, and adopt policies that will mitigate emissions with the least impact possible on the global and national economies (CAGW lite).Agreed to an extent: I think actions should be geared towards reduction of risks from catastrophic events (regardless of cause), energy security and national security. Reductions in emissions are a benefit, but how much so is uncertain at this point.

    • Leonard Weinstein

      1) A small amount of warming consistent with natural variation from past, with a probably small contribution from human activity.
      2) What damage? Where is ANY evidence?
      3) Government activity proposed is all negative to progress and standard of living.
      Also it now seems more likely that we are due for a period of protracted cooling than more warming. Action to protect from warming would make things worse than no action.

      I am a modest lukewarmer, but consider the neanderthal conservatives as far more reasonable than you (and most CAGW or even main stream warmest people, MSM, and governments).

      • Leonard Weinstein,

        Perhaps you could explain how any of the three points you list are not those already asserted by skeptics? And is a modest lukewarmer closer to the middle of the road than a regular lukewarmer? What, lukewarmers are too extreme for you?

        By the way, how can neanderthal conservatives be more reasonable than I am when I am a card carrying member of the NCPA? (Neanderthal Conservative Party of America) Some folks just don’t get self deprecating humor.

  10. Ira’s not an expert communicator Lord Turnbull is a professional..
    Sadly it is all about presentation not content, otherwise how did the ‘hockey stick ‘ last so long… If Nils Axel Morner for example, has a slick PR company working with him, his sea level expertise would come across better.

    But of course Turnbull will be immediatly labelled a ‘climate change denier’ not a ‘lukewarmer’ according to many,(or the latest a ‘climate truther’) as he is actually on the advisory board of the GWPF.

    Of course what SHOULD matter is what he says, does it make sense, is it reasonable, etc

    But PR from the CAGW side of thing will dismiss him out of hand

    http://www.thegwpf.org/who-we-are/board-of-trustees.html

    As they will dismiss the academic advisory group (Freeman dyson, Paul Reiter, William Happer, Lindzen, Mckitrick, et al)

    http://www.thegwpf.org/who-we-are/academic-advisory-council.html

    Make what you will of the Crabon Brief’s thoughts on the GWPF –

    http://www.carbonbrief.org/profiles/global-warming-policy-foundation

    The Carbon Brief funded by Energy Strategy Centre the communications (PR/media) arm of the European Climate Foundation – calling for 95% reduction in C)2 in Europe by 2050 (neutral then ;) !?) (backed by multi-millions of Euro’s, Hewlett Foundation, OakFoundation and others)

  11. I guess I am a “convinced” so I read the comments posted above in terms of the two questions:

    1) do Turnbull’s comments convince me
    2) do I think they are convincing

    My initial point of view:

    in terms of 1), some of the comments began fairly, but make jumps or uses arguments from authority. The conclusion is a jumble of thoughts without, in my view, any basis and justified with false claims. The conclusion is (ironically) very pompous and based on an understanding of a golden age of science, which has no basis in reality.

    for 2) it hits a lot of the emotions that resonate with people’s beliefs and speaks with enough authority (and pseudo-expertise) to seem like it is even handed with the evidence (quoting the bible is a very American touch: This grates on a lot of British people – a British Lord being out of touch with British values, whatever next?) and emotionally seems to resonate with the values that the little guy with common sense knows best (the Bank example is a nice touch – although a false analogy). It raises some key questions, but I think it is more useful in being supportive of someone already suspicious of climate science but lacks sufficient focus to be taken on its own as a argument to sway the undecided.

    http://mitigatingapathy.blogspot.com/

  12. John Hewitt

    May I anticipate the response of “warmists”. They will do exactly as PaulM has done and dismiss Turnbull as a sceptic, using a variety of phrases and ad homs to do so.

    Fortunately their views do not matter in the context of Turnbull’s paper. He was until relatively recently the UK’s top civil servant with experience of the Environment dept. and has been active in the House of Lords. You may infer that his views are shared by current senior civil servants if not that many politicians yet.

    He is rightly critical of Nick Clegg, the leader of the the Lib Dems, the Conservatives junior partner in UK Govt. Eventually the majority of Conservative MPs in the UK will alter their position to something similar to those of Turnbull. At that point we may begin to get a more sensible energy policy and repeal the Climate Change Act.

  13. The section that jumped out at me was;

    …”There is a structural flaw in the IPCC. Far from being the distillation of the work of 2,500 scientists to produce a consensus, there is a core of 40-50 at its centre who are closely related, as colleagues, pupils, teachers, reviewers of each other’s work. The IPCC has failed to operate a rigorous conflicts of interest policy under which such relationships would be disclosed. It has managed to define a very simple AGW message and has sought to prevent alternative voices from being heard. The IAC criticised a tendency not to give sufficient weight to alternative views.”…..

    Like a number of other people prior to the “Climategate” affair I took little more than passing interest in Climate Science.
    Reassured by statements like all the world academies and 99% of all scientists agree with the IPCC position.
    I could not imagine that data sharing and peer review could be sidestepped. Possible corruption of the scientific method tolerated with high finance from hedge funds further distorting reality.
    Coming from a physics background I noted that there are a fair number of professors of physics who doubt the AGW narrative and that the radiative properties of CO2 and H2O play a significant any role in increasing the planets temperature beyond natural variation.
    The economies of the world are being dislocated to avoid what might be a bogus threat.
    Surely the sensible conclusion from Lord Turnbull’s remarks is that there should be a review group of experts drawn from all sides of the debate to reexamine the evidence with no prejudgement of the outcome.

    • Ian Blanchard

      Bryan
      The issue with the ‘2500 scientists agree…’ argument is that most of them are not climate scientists, but are e.g. biologists, ecologists etc who are exercising a ‘what if’ argument based on the model projections – interesting but it doesn’t add anything fundamental to the understanding of how the climate is operating and how it may change in the future.

      The fundamentals of climate change science are those within the scope of WG1, and that is based on the work of a relatively small cadre of scientists. I’m not sure exactly how things work in the US, but in the UK, much of their funding is through the NERC research council (i.e. a Government quango) and has been strongly influenced in the last decade or so by the likes of Jonathan Porritt, who went from being the head of Friends of the Earth to being the main environmental science advisor to the Blair and Brown governments. The point is that there has been an obvious bias at the heart of government (not a conspiracy, but Blair particularly wanted to look soft and fluffy, and so ‘the environment’ became a high profile issue, and put people into positions to spin this to the public), and no-one ever advanced their research careers (and funding) by demonstrating that something wasn’t a problem, or by failing to speculate a link to the ’cause du jour’*.

      It’s all set up to be a perfect example of confirmation bias, especially as the real world measurements are sufficiently vague and the rates of change (of temperature and CO2 levels) are slow and noisy so that any certainty from direct measurement is too far in the future to answer the questions being posed now.

      *I’m a geologist, and through much of the 90s the big scary issue was catastrophic asteroid / meteor impacts and mass extinctions. It barely mattered what your research area was, a speculative tie in to an impact-related catastrophe was tagged on to almost everything.

      • Ian Blanchard
        Thanks for the reply and you say;
        ….”*I’m a geologist, and through much of the 90s the big scary issue was catastrophic asteroid / meteor impacts and mass extinctions. It barely mattered what your research area was, a speculative tie in to an impact-related catastrophe was tagged on to almost everything.”…..

        That formed part of my own” what if speculation”.
        If as an astronomer I identified an asteroid on a possible collision course with Earth my reaction would be (as I assumed all scientists would) to say;
        “Hey guys look at my results.
        I hope I’m wrong but I think we have a big problem here.”

        Contrast this with Phil Jones refusal to share data because he feared that someone would “prove him wrong”.

      • Contrast this with Phil Jones refusal to share data because he feared that someone would “prove him wrong”.

        You put “prove him wrong” in quotes. Who are you quoting, and what is the source for that quote?

      • Robert |

        From memory slightly paraphrased but essentially correct.

        …………………………………………………..

        In his testimony Jones admitted to unlawfully concealing data.

        The former chief of the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia (CRU) looked bedraggled and forlorn as he testified that it was “standard practice” to refuse submitting data to other scientists who sought to check climate research. Climate skeptics have been quick to pick apart the apparent contradictions in his testimony which contraverts Jones’ conduct prior to 2002, when he first dealt with data sharing requests from McIntyre.

        Labour MP Graham Stringer asked Jones why he refused to comply with requests to share data to which Jones answered:

        “Because all he [a skeptic] wants to do is find something wrong with it.”

        http://www.climategate.com/climategate-professor-perjures-himself-to-parliamentary-select-committee

      • Ian –
        The point is that there has been an obvious bias at the heart of government (not a conspiracy, but Blair particularly wanted to look soft and fluffy, and so ‘the environment’ became a high profile issue, and put people into positions to spin this to the public), and no-one ever advanced their research careers (and funding) by demonstrating that something wasn’t a problem, or by failing to speculate a link to the ’cause du jour’*.

        Yes, we have the same kind of problem in the US. It started with the establishment of the EPA and the cancer spread from there. And yes – I know some of those who were the initial cadre of the EPA. I’ll leave my opinion of their competence, knowledge, parentage, etc out of this. Suffice to say that they weren’t Americas finest, but rather left-leaning bureaucrats in search of an empire. The agency started with a bias, nurtured it carefully by hiring like-minded people and spread it by transferring people with that bias to other agencies. We’re not talking Indians here – we’re talking Chiefs.

        Nor are we talking “conspiracy” on this side of the pond. Long ago on this blog I wrote about the same kind of process that I saw in the scientific community. It comes down to bureaucrats (or scientists) protecting their empires (or ideas) regardless of truth or what would be right, proper or good for the organization or science – or humanity.

        It comes back to the fact that humans are not rational and rarely act in their ow best long term interest because they can only see the short term returns.

      • John F. Pittman

        Despite being empire builders, the EPA has been successful at cleaning the environment, as the data available indicates their success. Although it has been an expense, some forget that the creation of the EPA was demanded by those who were elected to represent their fellow citizens. Some also forget that the conservative jurists also agree with the legal principle that pollution is a “taking” or a “trespass” of others property.

      • Plus some of the 2500 were political operatives with tangential connections to some science.

  14. My reaction is, does it matter? The follow up to Kyoto, which expires in 2012, is never going to happen. World governments are not going to reduce CO2 emissions. The possible exceptions are the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Whether these nations can withstand the adverse effects on their economies when they add some form of “carbon tax” – basically putting an extra cost on the use of energy – remains to be seen.

    In the meanwhile, the hard, measured data is accumulating. The forecasts of the proponents of CAGW are proving to be just plain wrong. If we deniers are correct, (and I really believe we are), in the end this data will prove that CAGW was, is , and always will be, nothing more than a hoax.

    So, since there is unlikely to be any sort of imposed reduction on the use of fuels, and the production of lots of CO2, I ask the question. Does this thread matter?

  15. I, too, find this essay rather weak. He seems to simply conclude that the observed trend is simply a natural warming since the little ice age, without explaining how that is occurring. What is the source of energy for the warming under this scenario? And in doing so he simply ignores a large literature supporting the notion that recent warming has risen above the natural variability. Is this literature iron-clad and incontrovertible? No. But one cannot simply pretend it does not exist.

  16. Never understimate the good ‘ol fashion BS detector.

  17. Sorry to carry on about a small point.. possibly a very important one

    I’m just amazed that Judith thinks that Turnball (Board of GWPF) position is the ‘lukewarm’ one. PLEASED, but surprised.

    Did the anti sceptic PR work so well?

    Google GWPF, Lord Lawson, Benny Pseiser, Lord Turnbull, anybody on the board of the GWPF, or the Academic Advisory group, and they are ALL strongly identified as sceptics and deniers, by all the usual suspects.

    ie:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/thinktanks-take-oil-money-and-use-it-to-fund-climate-deniers-1891747.html

    “Called “Global Warming: Was It Ever Really a Crisis?”, it was organised by the Heartland Institute – a group that described the event as “the world’s largest-ever gathering of global warming sceptics”. The organisation is another right-wing think-tank to have benefited from funding given by ExxonMobil in recent years.

    A large British contingent was present at the event, with speakers including Dr Benny Peiser, from Lord Lawson’s climate sceptic think-tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF);”

    GreenPEACE’s view!

    http://greenpeace.hu/up_files/1286289305.pdf

    “When questioned by the UK House of Lords Science and Technology Committee on 1 March 2010115, climate deniers Lord Lawson and Benny Peiser, of the newly-formed UK front group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation”

    If these guys are lukewarm – who are the deniers? just a construct?

    ‘Tim’ writing (bravely anonymously) at the Carbon Brief, attempts to discredit the Turnbull paper. What do people here think of Tim’s critique?

    http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2011/05/lord-turnbulls-gwpf-briefing-paper-suffers-from-basic-factual-inaccuracies

    • “If these guys are lukewarm – who are the deniers? just a construct?”

      Deniers are typically held to be the people who say that the world is not warming and/or greenhouse gases are not the primary cause.

      Lukewarmers acknowledge the basic physics while continuing to steadfastly oppose any corrective action, on various pretexts.

      Plenty of both flavors of “skeptic” out there.

  18. Steve Milesworthy

    It’s safe to say that if he had written such a paper as a civil servant he would have broken the civil service code into lots of little pieces.

    • But he is not writing as a civil servant, (he is an ex civil servant)so your comment is pointless, presumably aimed to ‘label’ Turnbull in some way?

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Of course it is not pointless. Its lack of balance results in it being *more* than unconvincing. I don’t actually believe that Turnbull has come to his conclusions for any good reasons other than personal, psychological or social.

      • Based on what?

  19. Rob Starkey

    Judith
    I found all of Turnbull’s arguments reasonable, but not really all that relevant when evaluating the issue on a global scale.

    If you are only judging potential United States actions, I would agree that the actions Turnbull recommends make sense, but again they will have virtually zero impact on global CO2 levels. (I am not at all sure deforestation is a problem the US is adding to overall)

    There is a very low probability of these actions being adopted globally, and even if they were the impact would be low. Ultimately, the issue comes down to economics. What will be the harm to individual nations vs. the cost to prevent those harms? Today we can not really even describe honestly what the harms will be at an individual nation level, so it is doubtful that those nations will take costly actions that harm their citizens in the short term in the hope that someone down the road may benefit.

    • Reforestation could sequester a lot of carbon. Unfortunately it is far from a low-cost strategy. The land in question is likely deforested either because it is desert or because it is being put to other uses. Either way it is expensive to turn it into a forest.

      Not a bad idea, not a useless undertaking from a “wedge” perspective, but hard to accomplish.

      • FYI – reforestation is an ongoing process that was initiated in the early 20th C. USFS does it, as do the Forest agencies of nearly every state in the US and Canada. It’s not hard, it’s relatively inexpensive and it’s effective.

        For example, the 1988 Yellowstone fires also extended into a 300,000 acre section of Montana – both areas are well on the way to becoming mature forest at this time. Anyone who’s interested can find reforestation projects in Alaska, Canada and at least 40 of the 50 US States. They accept volunteer labor. I know because I’ve been there.

      • Rob Starkey

        Robert

        The point Turnbull wrote about was “de”and not “re”. I wrote I did not think the US was guilty of net “de”

      • And, to be fair, we could stop fighting forest fires and let the natural carbon return to the atmosphere because of the natural lightning strikes.

      • sunshine –
        For the most part, “we” have done exactly that. Wildfires are “fought” only when life or property are at risk. Otherwise they’re allowed to burn. That’s how my wife and I got to walk through one in Montana 5 years ago – nobody knew we were in the backcountry until we popped out on top of the fire crew. They were a little upset. But then, so was my wife. :-)

      • Where I live they fight all the fires. 2000 a year or so. 80 acres each on average.

      • sunshine –
        Where I live they fight all the fires.

        Bad practice. Smokey Bear must live there. Smokey is a criminal. He promotes wildfires.

        Bad practice because it allows buildup of fuel for future REALLY BIG fires. That’s why we have the legacy of the 1988 Yellowstone/Scapegoat fires – and several thousand other bad fires since then.

      • “From 1972, the National Park Service began allowing natural fires in Yellowstone to burn under controlled conditions. Fires of this type were referred to as prescribed natural fires. Between 1972 and 1987, a total of 235 prescribed natural fires burned a relatively small 33,759 acres (137 km2) under the directives of the new policy. Of these, only 15 spread to more than 100 acres (0.4 km2). The five years prior to 1988 were much wetter than normal and this may have reduced the area of the fires during that period.[11] The prescribed natural fire policy appeared to be an effective way to manage fires, especially in the Yellowstone region.”

        Didn’t work out very well did it?

      • sunshine –
        Didn’t work out very well did it?

        Prescribed/controlled burn is an interesting subject. Well, to me anyway. Especially since I’ve walked through several active prescribed burns – and a few active non-prescribed wildfires.

        Anyway, the numbers there are truly small potatoes. Haven’t tracked it lately, but IIRC Florida alone had about that many (235) prescribed burns (but NOT natural) in 2009. Walked though one where they were actively setting the fires using napalm. And it was a whole lot bigger than 100 acres. In fact, a lot of States have specific departments that specialize in prescribed burns. They’re not called “controlled” burns anymore. That became a joke because of teh obvious LACK of control.

        One of my friends is the burn specialist for New Mexico. Biggest problem with the whole thing is keeping them under control. Walked through one in Montana that started as a prescribed burn and blew up when they got 40 mph winds instead of the predicted calm.

        Anyway, pre-1988 and post-1988 are two different worlds wrt prescribed burn. “Pre” wasn’t a seious effort, “post” was a long learning period wrt “how to” and a lot of failure, followed by some pretty serious successes – and a few spectacular failures. But the failures (like Texas this year) are generally in those places that either haven’t had prescribed burn yet – or have had serious drought AND high winds.

        FYI – in spite of a LOT of effort being put into the burn programs, there’s a LOT of country out there that hasn’t been touched yet. If you’re not walking it, you have no clue how MUCH country is out there in “flyover land. ”

        Hmm – I should add this – there’s a LOT of country that WON’T be touched by prescribed burn because it’s Wilderness area. LOTS AND LOTS of WIlderness areas – and eventually many of them will experience massive wildfires because, by law, the equipment needed to prevent the fires is not allowed. So they’ll burn, baby, burn. It’s one of the “unintended consequences” of the environmental movement – that they want is to “save the land” and what they’re doing is setting it up for destruction. Kinda like “saving the planet” – by interfering with natural processes.

    • “What will be the harm to individual nations vs. the cost to prevent those harms? Today we can not really even describe honestly what the harms will be at an individual nation level, so it is doubtful that those nations will take costly actions that harm their citizens in the short term in the hope that someone down the road may benefit.”

      Unfortunately, the Australian and UK governments are doing exactly that: they have adopted or proposed costly policies which suggest that they are true believers in CAGW even though their actions will have no significant effect on any warming.

      • Rob Starkey

        What you have written is true, but appears to be changing as nations politicians learn more of the science and economics.

  20. One (exceptionally key, in my opinion) point he misses is the continuing hypocrisy of believers. Anyone who truly accepts the tenets of AGW would stop driving, stop flying, stop using electricity out of the wall, etc. Anyone who does not and truly believes these actions are destroying the planet, is evil on a par with any crazy mass murderer you can mention. And don’t say carbon offsets – if you believe this stuff stop doing what you are doing and buy the carbon offsets anyway. That would actually put you on the side of the angels.
    For me there is no escaping the aspect of believers that ask that I do as they say and not as they do. Oh, and by the way, pay other countries hundreds of billions for the privilege.

  21. My reaction to Glickstein’s PPT was not only yawn, but one of the slides, intentionally or not, seemed to imply that making the MWP go away was the same thing as hiding the decline. The two are very distantly related, but not at all the same. The last thing we need is more fog, intentional or not.

  22. John from CA

    It might also be valuable to ask how Lord Turnbull’s essay changes the mind of Skeptics?

    I read the essay twice, was taken aback, and concluded, if the IPCC and other science organizations had take the science high road outlined in the essay, I would be far less Skeptical of the concerted effort.

    Regards to Dr. Curry for presenting a level headed debate!!!

    Perhaps there’s hope for the IPCC — standards, governance, and a new charter might turn the corner on this polarized mess.

  23. We should concentrate on those measures which are no regret, which improve resource productivity, improve security of supply and with it our commercial bargaining position, and which do not depress living standards.

    I raised this issue on another thread, I haven’t seen a clear concise definition of “no regret”. What I did get had plenty of wiggle room. I don’t think, for example, that you could get 10 people to agree on whether nuclear is or isn’t “no regret”.

    Is “no regret’ in the same category as Steve McIntyre’s elusive “engineering quality” report?

    • John from CA

      You’re presenting an opportunity?

      I, for one, would be a happy camper if the US would commit a faction of this dialogue to the Super Fund and was capable of turning past mistakes into opportunities.

      ChE, when was the last time, in all of human history, that you can honestly conclude with pride, Politics delivered an engineering solution that was insightful and in the best interest of the taxpayer?

      I can’t find a single instance but I’m hopeful. ; )

      • John from CA

        no reget if its thought out and in “our” best interest — please detail anything that has been preposed to date that is in “our” best interest.

        Climate Scientists and Politicians aren’t Engineering and Industrial Design Professionals — the idea we’ll find solutions from them is zero. Taking it for what its worth as a concern is fine.

        IMO, its time to re frame this debate!

      • Rob Starkey

        Building modern nuclear plants in the USA

      • John from CA

        I was one of the biggest advocates against nuclear when it was first introduced — I fought against the “notion” that any fool should be allowed to manage something as deadly as a meltdown because they had the political right to do so.

        Sure enough, poorly designed plants came online and we ended up with the Chernobyl disaster. The issue I was most concerned about was the human factor. It simply wasn’t logical, at that time, for welders to perfectly construct the plant. Each and every weld mistake has a logical potential for disaster. Yet, the realization that someone would be Stupid enough to construct a plant that ensured meltdown was mind boggling.

        Of the conventional Industrial power plants, nuclear falls number 3 after massive investment since 1961. In comparison, Solar and wind are just ridiculous ideas (negative ROEI).

        Yet, we’ve come a long way since 1961. I like the notion of mass produced small scale reactors and some of the safer approaches. Time will tell but the last place we’re likely to see breakthroughs from is Climate Science and Politics.

      • The advantage of a carbon tax is that it strengthens incentives without picking “winners.”

      • How so? Every carbon tax I heard of was regressive.

      • You can address that either by substituting a carbon tax for other regressive taxes, like sales tax, or by a tax-and-dividend approach such as the one proposed by Dr. Hansen.

      • Think of oil prices going up by a large amount. People still need to drive to work. What happens is that the poor and middle class pay a larger portion of their wages for gas, pay more for food and all the other products that use oil to transport them.

        The real solution is to tax environmentalists and rich poseurs like Al Gore 100% of their income.

        That would solve the carbon problem. Prices would fall. The poor and middle could afford to drive to eat and morons would be inconvenienced to no end.

        And the temperature would go up and down as it always has.

      • “Think of oil prices going up by a large amount. People still need to drive to work. ”

        Or they walk, or bike, or take the bus, or carpool. People are adaptable, as are free market economies.

        Or they pay the tax. Taxing someone’s gas instead of their property or their wages need not increase their net tax burden.

      • Or they walk, or bike, or take the bus, or carpool. People are adaptable, as are free market economies.

        Robert lives in a city. He has no clue about how people live in central PA or rural Montana or Alabama or Alaska or Maine. No clue about how one lives 50 or 100 miles or more from where they work – or from the nearest hospital, doctor or food market.

        This is a peculiar malady that’s common to those who live in or close to cities. They fail to understand what they’re proposing for the rest of the people who live in other parts of the country.

        More than that, they even fail to realize what it will mean to them. For example, let’s take something simple like a quart of milk. Let’s assume that milk starts at a dairy farm in, say, upstate New York. Robert’s carbon tax will apply to the farmer’s expenses (feed, supplies, fuel for farm equipment, etc) , which he WILL pass on to the trucker who picks up that milk and who will also be affected by that tax, which he WILL pass on to the processing plant where the cost of energy, equipment, supplies and transport will also be affected by that tax, which WILL be passed on to the distributor, who will also be affected by that tax, which he WILL pass on to the supermarkets which will also be affected by that tax, which WILL pass the inflated costs on to the consumer – meaning Robert, who lives in the city. How much “hidden tax” is Robert willing to pay for his quart of milk? And for everything else he buys?

        Let’s take it a step further – the tax increases to the point that any single part of that chain breaks down and goes out of business because they can no longer afford to buy the fuel to stay in business? Then Robert doesn’t get his milk at all – AND some of the other parts of the chain will also go out of business. This CAN happen – and HAS happened.

        Several years ago I saw hundreds of rural businesses in Alberta, British Columbia and Alaska that went out of business for just that reason – the price of fuel was beyond what they could pay for it in order to stay open. We’re not talking theory here – but proven reality.

        Or they pay the tax. Taxing someone’s gas instead of their property or their wages need not increase their net tax burden.

        Robert is apparently naive enough to think that the fuel tax will be offset by reductions in other taxes. I wonder if anyone else here is naive enough to think that would be the case?

      • “Robert lives in a city.”

        Jimmy likes to conduct discussions in the third person . . . it helps Jimmy feel less intimidated when Jimmy’s argument doesn’t really have much oopmh.

        Here it amounts to: people and markets aren’t capable of adaptation, and; taxes are bad.

        A lot of words to make two nonsensical assertions.

      • To paraphrase that late, great philosopher, Marie Antoinette – “Let them ride bikes.”

      • Here it amounts to: people and markets aren’t capable of adaptation, and; taxes are bad.

        A lot of words to make two nonsensical assertions.

        Robert is also apparently incapable of anything but handwaving generalizations and argument by assertion, which he is unable to defend.

        My dog needs a walk and that’s far more important than playing with Robert.

      • So no actual argument, eh, Jimmy? Can’t say I’m surprised. G’night.

        Anyway, as I was saying, a carbon tax is the most efficient and least risky way of reducing carbon emissions. The belief that people and business will not adapt to a carbon tax to minimize any expense to themselves requires a complete rejection of the concept of the free market. The carbon tax puts the invisible hand to work reducing CO2 emissions.

        And outside of black-helicopter-fearing paranoia, that’s about all there is to say about it.

      • There is no such thing as an “efficient tax”, have you read any history?
        Or have any understanding of how an economy works?

        You offer no evidence to substantiate that claim.

      • “There is no such thing as an “efficient tax”,”

        Citation needed.

        “have you read any history?”

        Sure. Why, is your reading of history that taxes are evil and destroy civilization? On what basis?

        Or have any understanding of how an economy works?

        Basic macroeconomic theory is what tells us that a carbon tax is the most efficient way to reduce emissions. It’s not a value judgement, just econ 101.

      • My Econ started at 601 and worked up. And it doesn’t say that. :-)

      • ““There is no such thing as an “efficient tax”,”

        Citation needed.”

        Actually no citation is needed for this. Any tax requires a bureaucracy to administer it, is is inherently inefficient as money in does not equal money out.

        “Sure. Why, is your reading of history that taxes are evil and destroy civilization? On what basis?

        Or have any understanding of how an economy works?

        Basic macroeconomic theory is what tells us that a carbon tax is the most efficient way to reduce emissions. It’s not a value judgement, just econ 101.”

        This may be true in the area of luxury goods, but breaks down when talking about things people actually need (i.e. food, shelter, and energy). As there is no way to ‘reduce emissions’ in an economical fashion, this is just a bit of a silly argument. People will have to pay up. Nothing will be reduced if they want to live. We are not talking about yachts here.

        You cannot replace something with nothing, no matter how much you tax the something. Currently there are no ‘Green’ replacements for energy that make any sense. The only one that comes close is nuclear, and for most people that is off the tabel.

      • Poor dog . . . didn’t get much of a walk.

        “My Econ started at 601 and worked up. And it doesn’t say that.”

        Well, there’s your problem, then. You need to go back and get econ 101, 102, 103, 201 and so forth. This is very basic stuff; they probably skipped over it in grad school.

        And it can’t have been much of a school if they had you doing graduate level econ courses without completing any undergraduate courses. These weren’t Mises.org seminars, were they?

        You seem to have a real problem with needing to have the last word. Feel free to accept it, in this instance, as a gift from me to you. G’night again.

      • “Actually no citation is needed for this.”

        Actually, it really is. Don’t have one? There you go.

      • “Poor dog . . . didn’t get much of a walk.

        “My Econ started at 601 and worked up. And it doesn’t say that.”

        Well, there’s your problem, then. You need to go back and get econ 101, 102, 103, 201 and so forth. This is very basic stuff; they probably skipped over it in grad school.

        And it can’t have been much of a school if they had you doing graduate level econ courses without completing any undergraduate courses. These weren’t Mises.org seminars, were they”

        Is this English? What could these words placed together possibly mean?

      • ““Actually no citation is needed for this.”

        Actually, it really is. Don’t have one? There you go.”

        You just talk, you do not read? You talk about Eco 101, then fail to understand the premise of:

        “Any tax requires a bureaucracy to administer it, is inherently inefficient as money in does not equal money out.”

        Why would this not make sense to you as common sense?

      • The belief that people and business will not adapt to a carbon tax to minimize any expense to themselves requires a complete rejection of the concept of the free market. The carbon tax puts the invisible hand to work reducing CO2 emissions.

        Yes – that’s precisely what I said. Which Robert apparently missed entirely.

        But Robert also missed the end product of that process – which is that the end user (customer) pays the freight for the entire production and distribution chain. Which means Robert’s quart of milk is gonna be VERY expensive. Which means a LOT of people are not going to be able to afford food. Or gasoline to get to work – or keep their businesses open. And some of the first businesses to go under will be the truckers. You know, the guys who haul Robert’s food, clothing, Ipods, whatever from the manufacturing plant to the city. Which then means the manufacturing plant can’t stay open because they can’t sell their product. Which puts a LOT of people out of work, which… need we keep going?

        And so far I’ve only done a light touch on a small part of the manufacturing and distribution system.

        A recent example? Examine the effect of Fukushima on some of the Japanese companies – and on the distribution system for their products in Europe and the US. That didn’t take a tax to accomplish, but it has the same economic effect.

        And Robert is still apparently incapable of anything but handwaving generalizations and argument by assertion, which he is unable to defend.

      • “You just talk, you do not read?”

        Either you have a citation or you don’t. “Common sense” is not an argument.

        This discussion is getting really long and hard to follow, and is really about economics, not lukewarmism. Let’s pick it up later.

      • Rob Starkey

        What is the goal?

        If the goal is to discourage consumption of fuel, a fuel tax in the US ould have some benefit. If the goal is to rasie government revenue, then a fuel tax would have some benefit. If the goal is to prevent or lessen potential global warming, then a fuel tax would have almost no measureable benefit.

      • I’m talking about a tax on CO2 emissions. If you raise the price of something, you will see demand fall. That’s basic economics.

        If you think reducing emissions of greenhouse gases will not lessen global warming, then you are misinformed on a whole different level.

      • John Carpenter

        Robert, which reminds me… we have not finished our calculation on the ‘futility’ thread. I am looking for agreement on the % of CO2 emissions due to fossil fuel burning we can then use to assign the amount impacting the warming calculated.

      • I thought that had been done to death. Virtually all the CO2 increase is anthropogenic, since 1850, about 2/3 fossil fuel burning and one third misc., mostly land-use changes and cement.

      • John Carpenter

        Yes, but the point was to find out how much impact the mitigation strategy would have on actual temperature change vs the cost of implementing the strategy. Then compare our calculation to what Hoskins calculated to see the difference.

      • “…a carbon tax … strengthens incentives without picking ‘winners.’”

        A carbon tax that “strengthens incentives” is absolutely about “picking winners” – all non-carbon based (and therefore non-taxed) fuels. That’s what “picking winners” means in the context of tax policy.

      • In the context of the discussion above, picking winners means subsidizing on mandating particular strategies to reduce carbon emissions, like solar or wind or nuclear, or in mandating energy-efficient construction, or mileage standards for cars.

        Of course it discourages emitting CO2 — that’s the point. It charges a fee, ideally equal to the negative externality of releasing that CO2. If the benefit of releasing that CO2 is greater than the estimate of the harm as reflected in the tax, people will go ahead and emit the CO2 and pay the tax. Hence a tax has a built in “safety valve” which prevents any great harm from coming to pass, regardless.

        If, to illustrate the principle with an extreme (and unrealistic) scenario, it were completely impossible to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 10% without huge economic costs, then a carbon tax regime would cause a limited fall in emissions and have no more impact than any other tax directed at a particular enterprise, such as property taxes or restaurant taxes. People would simply pay the tax. It really is a “low/no regrets” option, as well as the most economically efficient option.

      • John Carpenter

        Robert,

        I would regret paying more taxes.

      • Then try supporting a plan that offsets the revenue with tax cuts elsewhere, leaving no net change in the tax burden.

        Because the point of a carbon tax is to alter incentives, not raise money, it’s trivially easy to mitigate the pain.

      • And just which politicians do you know who would go for that strategy? Names, please.

      • John Carpenter

        Robert,

        “Because the point of a carbon tax is to alter incentives, not raise money, it’s trivially easy to mitigate the pain.”

        None of the many smokers I know have quit because of the exorbitant amount of taxes they pay on every pack they buy, while the government continues to increase the amount of taxes to increase the revenue stream they know they have a lock on. It’s not right.

      • “And just which politicians do you know who would go for that strategy? Names, please.”

        Jimmy, your poor dog. Give him more of a walk than that, for goodness’ sake.

        It’s premature to start assembling a political alliance. Let’s try to agree on the optimal strategy, then we can talk about how to implement it.

      • “None of the many smokers I know have quit because of the exorbitant amount of taxes they pay on every pack they buy,”

        “The people that I know” does not a scientific sample make. As the saying goes, the plural of anecdote is not data.

        Cigarette taxes do reduce smoking rates: http://journals.lww.com/jphmp/Abstract/2004/07000/The_Effects_of_Tobacco_Control_Policies_on_Smoking.11.aspx

      • Robert,

        Instead of a carbon tax, I recommend what we need a “high-carbon lifestyle tax.” Upon implementation of such a tax, a guy bought into yachts, palatial homes, private jets, luxury autos, and vacations abroad would quickly be cleaned out by a confiscatory “high-carbon lifestyle tax.”

        So if there is really something to this Co2 CAGW business, then the beautiful people would not hesitate to be the first to give up their high-carbon toys and “high-flying” lifestyle, I’m sure. Indeed, they could be trend-setters and models for the pre-industrial life-style. Leadership from the front and by example and that sort of stuff, you know.

        On the other hand, if our betters are only interested screwing Joe-Six-Pack out of his Monster Truck while they hang on to their own high-carbon toys and pleasures, then we know the whole “warmist” deal is a crock.

        And speaking of setting the example, Robert, why haven’t our universities and other lefty hives gone cold-turkey and made themselves fossil-fuel free zones? You know, show us “little people” how it’s done.

        So until I see some real leadership by the “greenshirt” hustlers–and I mean leadership by example and from the front, in terms of the carbon-free life-style–I’m raising the BS flag on the CAGW agit-prop and I suspect my ol’ pal, J-S-P, has his flag flying too.

      • John from CA

        Taxation is the answer for those who lack insight. If these issues are actually about making a difference, then we need to see more insightful solutions.

        The obvious problem, there simply aren’t insightful solutions on the table.

        The last place we’re likely to find them (IMO) is in politics and politicized science.

        ok, so the UN’s science team has managed to express a concern from their jigsaw puzzle of research papers and climate. Let’s simply conclude, they have done their best and move forward.

        What action should we take that’s in the best interest of the taxpayer?

      • John,

        I can’t disagree with anything in your comment. However, I would advocate that if we are to go down the taxation road, my proposed “High Carbon Lifestyle Tax” should go first and be the test-bed for any other follow-on type of carbon tax.

        If we’re to destroy lifestyles in the name of Gaia, then let it be a mutually assured destruction of the life-styles of one and all.

      • John from CA

        Mike,
        Let’s dial the “time back machine” to USA 1785.

        “Under the 1785 act, section 16 of each township was set aside for school purposes, and as such was often called the school section. Section 36 was also subsequently added as a school section in western states. The various states and counties ignored, altered or amended this provision in their own ways, but the general (intended) effect was a guarantee that local schools would have an income and that the community schoolhouses would be centrally located for all children.”
        source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Land_Survey_System#Education

        In 1785, founding architects realized that resources needed to be set aside for the benefit of each township. They didn’t decide to tax the stuffing out of each resident and chose an interesting alternative that was in the best interest of township residents.

        The idiots in township government then sold the land off, typical lowbrow solution, yet the “Education Section” idea is very hindsight insightful.

        Taxation, (IMO) is a lowbrow solution.

        Potential Alternatives that are in the best interest of the taxpayer:
        (assumes any reduction in taxation will stimulate demand etc…)

        Should USA municipalities:
        • own and generate the power for all government related infa-structure using a 501c3 not for profit instrument and eliminate the middle man
        • maximize landfill and biogas conversion to electricity to reduce the cost of heating and waste management services
        • maximize the use of available resources including Natural Gas for compressed air powered municipal vehicles
        • support local incubator projects which manufacture energy efficient appliances for regional taxpayer residences

        … I could go on for hours, the point is, we’re not likely to see anything insightful/innovative from politics and lowbrow taxation approaches that meet the common sense objective of reducing taxpayer burden. If we do, its a win win and will be immediately adopted.

      • John from CA

        correction to my last post:

        last para should read:
        I could go on for hours, the point is, we’re not likely to see anything insightful/innovative from politics and lowbrow taxation approaches because the fail to meet common sense objectives — reduce taxpayer burden. If we do find encounter appropriate solutions, they will be a win win and will be immediately adopted.

      • John from CA

        I hate it when I become grammatically challenged:

        last para should read:
        I could go on for hours, the point is, we’re not likely to see anything insightful/innovative from politics and lowbrow taxation approaches because they fail to meet common sense objectives —> fail to reduce taxpayer burden. If we encounter appropriate solutions that meet this simple, common sense, objective, its a win win and will be immediately adopted.

  24. sorry to disagree.. it is getting quite interesting.

    if Turbbull is Lukewarm – who are the sceptics and deniars?

    ie Turnbull is part of the GWPF.

    so is Ross Mckitrick (ie those Mcintyre and Mckitrick)?
    Benny Pieser is the Director of the GWPF, is on the advisory board of Energy and Environment, that ‘lukewarm’ journal that published those non sceptics – Mcintyre and Mckittrick…

    sorry sarc off..

    • But Barry we have been steered into arguing about the definition of a lukewarmer and the nature of the author’s organization. That rather misses the point of Judith’s post which was about the author’s arguments and whether they have any merit.

      • the point is that they are the ‘sceptical arguments’.

        the fact they are considered ‘lukewarm’ by a climate scientist like Judith Curry, demonstrates how much the ‘ anti-science’ flat earth, fossil fuel funded deniar construct has taken hold.

        ie the PR propaganda of the CAGW advocates has worked.

        Lord Lawsons and Benny Peisers GWPF (who Lord Turnbull and Professor Ross Mckitrick is a part of) is in various ‘deniars Halls of Shame.

        http://www.campaigncc.org/hallofshame

        http://www.campaigncc.org/whoweare

        George Monbiot, Mark Lynas, Caroline Lucas/Jean Lambert (Green Party Leader, Green MEP)

        I wonder what M Mann’s view is of these people.. ;)

      • But it doesn’t really matter whether Turnbull’s arguments are called skeptical, luke warm or denier. The relevant question is whether they have any merit. What do you think?

      • well as I think they are entirely reasonable.. It seems I’m no longer a sceptic/deniar. But a lukewarmer..

        Now how to break this startling news to Bishop Hill and Watts Up (I write for them occasionally) ;)

      • If a luke-warmer is merely some-one who scratches their head at the Chicken-Little-narrative, refuses to panic, seeks long-term ‘no regret’ solutions, understands the Second Law, accepts that CO2 is a ‘greenhouse gas'(sic) but has grave doubts about feed-backs (they don’t even know the sign, let alone the magnitude!), and accepts moderate (0.7° over 150 years) warming, then count me in.

      • Much merit (IMHO). They’re correct. BUT there are further skeptical comments which could be made. Again, IMHO.

    • There have been many indications that McIntyre is more of a lukewarmer than he’s given credit for. Since he tends to focus on picking apart the more extreme end of the warmist spectrum, this is easily missed. But ask him instead what he’d be willing for governments to do to fight Global Warming right now, and I think you’d get a pretty classic lukewarmer answer.

  25. I’ve done some cleaning up of the thread, arguably things that aren’t in violation of blog rules, but side discussions that are extraneous and are taking up too much space. Please try to keep your comments substantive and not personal.

  26. I love that Turnbull paper. Very calm, very easy to understand.

  27. I consider myself a lukewarmer and a skeptic. I’m not skeptical of the possibility that atmospheric CO2 could drive planetary temperature increases. I’m just skeptical of the apocalyptic claims and the certainty to which they are attached. I’m a skeptic on a scientific basis. Once you get beyond the ‘atmosphere in a jar’ type of physics, the case for decadal certainty just isn’t there.

    What I stand forsquare against is the solution advocacy that has developed. Here, I see only garden-variety anti-capitalism married to romantic enviromentalism. Indeed, one could take any of 100 texts from the 1970s, replace a few words here and there, and they would fit perfectly as a global warming screed. I can rationally accept the possibility of a small increase in surface temps without buying into the total destruction of the modern industrial world.

    • That’s pretty much where I stand.

      I would add that I believe that current climate change scientists, by their arrogance, dogmatism and dishonesty (a word that I will not shy from using as long as “denier” remains a standard term of abuse on the climate change side) have done serious damage to the credibility of science and scientists.

      I see this as part of the ongoing decline of Western elites since the sixties.

  28. W F Lenihan

    How much more information and contrary date will it take to convert sophisticated and intelligent climate alarmists that the IPCC reports are pure crap based upon cooked books and flawed data?

  29. Judith, an interesting article. I thought I was a skeptic but I don’t disagree with any of the excerpts of Lord Turnbull’s report that you have used. So I guess you have re-defined me as a lukewarmist as well ;-).

    I was disappointed with your reaction to Ira Glickstein’s article. You thought you were part of the target audience? Puh-lese!!! I would expect any of your undergraduates to be familar with the material Ira presents. I would think that Ira’s atricle would be a reasonable starting point for creating aq presentation for school kids ( pre University ) and for adults who are interested in popular science books such as “A brief History of Time”

    I think that Lord Turnbull’s article is persuasive for those politicians that are open minded. But not compelling. And, will not change government policy. Here in the U.K. to change government policy you need something so compelling that the politicians are prepared to suffer the embarassment of a ‘U’ turn, or you gradually persuade the ‘back-benchers’ who in turn, gradually persuade the government to change course. A bit like turning a super tanker ship.

  30. My instinct is to say that the only reliable way to deliniate between a “skeptic” and a “lukewarmer” is to ask them what, if anything, they are willing to do *right now* about Global Warming.

    If the answer is “nothing” or very close to it (with an exception for “more study” expenditures), you’re looking at a sceptic. If the answer is a range of low cost, low impact, “good anyway on other useful grounds even if AGW is totally wrong”, then you’re looking at a lukewarmer.

    • The above would be at the “sceptic/lukewarmer” boundary. Now, what would we offer as a reasonable rule-of-thumb deliniation at the “lukewarmer/warmist” boundary?

    • And to reply to myself one last time (I hope!) what makes Turnbull a “lukewarmer” by the definition I offered above is this:

      “In my view we should concentrate on those things which have a clear no regret benefit, of which there are many, and advance into the rest of the agenda only as part of international action.”

      In my view, his comments on nuclear and shale natural gas also show evidence of a lukewarmer bent.

      • The question at the lukewarmer/warmist boundary is, “How much are you willing to make others do right now?” Your first question, posed along with this one, would greatly illuminate the mindset of the person being quizzed.

      • I’ll go first myself. My answer to the first question is that I am willing to turn on all the lights in my house and run the air conditioner (or heater) on earth day to celebrate the great achievements of man and the health and standard of living benefits that have come with them. My answer to the second is absolutely nothing.

    • Geo, I think the term luke-warmer applies to somebody’s view of the science rather than of their opinion of the policy response. To my mind, a luke warmer accepts the theoretical warming effects of CO2 but disputes the magnitude of the effect in the real atmosphere where other factors, often poorly understood, come into play. Whether they would support ‘no regrets’ policies or would prefer a ‘wait and see’ approach is a separate matter altogether and one that belongs in the political domain.

      • RobB–

        If you go there, then there are 10 “skeptics” huddling in a cave somewhere (but with internet –go figure!). Yes, I could dig up a tiny handful of people who utterly deny that it has been proven that C02 is a greenhouse gas. If that’s the only people we can call “skeptics”, then it becomes a useless term, IMO.

        I did say “totallly wrong” initially, but I regret it now –I meant the current (represented as) consensus on positive feedbacks, and almost total denial of natural variability on a multi-decadal scale. I did not mean to include basic understanding of C02 itself as a greenhouse gas.

  31. At the end of the day Climate Science, as it exists in broad measure, is very much like economic studies or social sciences. People largely break down their beliefs as they are tied to common policy disputes among activists (leftists) and those who oppose them.

    I realize there is real science going on as well, but it’s inconclusive as to inputs or reliable predictions. It’s dominated by politcal use. It’s a sad and growing trend found in many diciplines and fields. It probably always existed to some degree but we live in a hyper partisan age.

    It took close to thirty years of spinning and manipulation to weed out all the Dr. Lindzen and others to get the IPCC to the ar4 conclusions that were long sought by the fringe that declares itself the “consensus” and “settled science”. It’s a bad situation when a fringe declairs itself “mainsteam” but this why we are here. A fuzzy, inconclusive field to be used for a global tax and regulation, U.N. power grab on a statist and collectivist agenda setting adventure.

    • cwon1 –
      It’s a bad situation when a fringe declairs itself “mainsteam” but this why we are here.

      This is common in the US – the far left continually proclaims itself as “mainstream”, ignoring the fact that the real mainstream is the 60% of those who subscribe to neither the far left nor the far right. And that 60% is the group that controls US (and probably UK, Australian and Canadian) elections. We’ve had a few people on this blog who have made that claim.

    • cwon1,

      I would disagree that the “consensus” scientists are a fringe element of the climate debate. Until recently, politicians endorsing the consensus position on policy in the U.S. were in control of the Presidency, both houses of Congress, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Only the House of Representatives is now controlled by those who reject the consensus. And the governments of Australia and almost all of Europe are also controlled by progressive politicians who endorse the IPCC/consensus agenda.

      If they were really a fringe, the debate would not be as heated, because the stakes would not be so high. The climate debate is far from over, and the CAGW side could still win, even in the U.S. Those who wish to avoid the type of power grab you describe should not minimize its potential for success.

      • Looking at history, I don’t under estimate fringe groups or populist ignorance that buys in.

        Consider Lord Keynes for example, 80 years wrong and still worshipped.

  32. Craig Loehle

    It only takes a single scientific point to unravel the whole alarmist position. If the assumptions of positive feedback are wrong, and the Earth system is neutral (no water vapor positive feedback) then a CO2 doubling gives only 1 to 1.3 deg C warming, which would be almost entirely beneficial to health and the biosphere (not at every spot, obviously). And there is NO proof of this feedback, it is just an assumption based on lapse rates as if there were no cloud and rain system dynamics. In fact there are reasons to suspect that more water vapor speeds up the formation of storms which clear the air (think of the rainfall times in the tropics or S. USA and how nice and cool it feels after a good rain) rather than it simply getting more and more muggy as it gets hotter.

  33. JC

    My opinion is that this won’t convince the astute public who aren’t already convinced to be skeptical.

    But, in your opinion, are the points he raised valid?

    In my opinion, the article is an excellent summary of the sceptical case.

  34. ” I would particularly like to hear from the “convinced” regarding whether any of Turnbull’s arguments (individually or collectively) are compelling.”

    Judy – If “convinced” means “encased in cement”, then it will be rare for a “convinced” individual to change views. I read the quoted Turnbull excerpts as someone who considers himself open to rational argument, even though I already have some convictions on the topic.

    My reaction to the excerpts is that they are primarily a condemnation of the IPCC rather than a rigorous analysis of the state of climate science. The sins and virtues of the IPCC are a legitimate subject for discussion, but they are not synonymous with the science itself. My own views have been shaped largely independently of the IPCC. I conclude, subject to revision, that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are a substantial contributor to global warming, and will continue to exert major effects if unabated, with consequences that may vary from minor to catastrophic, but are most likely in the coming decades to fall somewhere in between – perhaps at a level that can be deemed “serious”.

    For Turnbull’s claims to convince me otherwise, they would find themselves in competition with the sources of information that have led to my current perspective. These include a long history as a professional scientist (outside of climatology), a good familiarity with basic geophysics and paleoclimatology through a variety of sources, including textbooks such as Pierrehumbert’s “Principles of Planetary Climate”, and a conscientious attempt to follow the climate science literature monthly as reported in GRL, JGR, J. Climate, Climatic Change, Nature Geoscience, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Society, several other climate science journals, and general science journals that include PNAS, Science, and Nature. Paywalled articles are an occasional problem, but when they report new findings of general significance, I have usually found a means to find their full content. I also follow a number of climate blogs, including this one and Isaac Held’s blog, and I often visit RC and WUWT to see whether important new topics are addressed there within the respective biases of those blogs.

    In the “denizens” page, I pointed out that this level of knowledge does not qualify me as an expert at the level of those who do climate science for a living, but it does qualify me to discuss climate issues at a higher level of knowledge than can be obtained by individuals whose primary source of information is the blogosphere and Google. I encourage those individuals to be more tentative in their claims than sometimes tends to be the case.

    There are other participants in these threads capable of valuable insights from their skills in mathematics, information technology, certain aspects of engineering, and model development with some relevance to climate models. I attempt to learn from them, although always with the understanding that every field of science, including climate science, is unique, and that extrapolation from other fields is not always warranted to the degree that it is attempted. I have sometimes observed that conclusions that are supportable mathematically cannot be reconciled with the principles of physics or empirical observations, which is a reason why one has to understand climate before criticizing the conclusion of those who study it.

    I have read the IPCC reports, with most attention to WG1. I find some of the material and associated references informative, but my perspective would be little altered if I were unaware of those reports.

    I doubt that many readers are interested in the details of my biography. I’ve commented at some length only to illustrate the point that convincing someone to alter his views requires evidence commensurate with the evidence from which those views emanated. Lord Turnbull would be more convincing, in my opinion, if he were more proficient in climate science and less focused on the deficiencies of the IPCC.

    • John Carpenter

      Fred, of the ‘more convinced’ posters that frequent this site, I find your comments among the best wrt understanding the actual science. Though you can be a bit long winded on explanations, they are well founded and it’s obvious you are well read on the subject matter. What I admire most is your ability to stay on topic without resorting to playing dirty… you maintain a civil tone that others should follow. You also provide good links that back up your arguments and are worth reading.

      Despite all my gushing… you have not convinced me to change my views on the severity of the ‘problem’. I value your input more than most, but I just can’t accept CO2 is the biggest problem we face with man-kinds interactions w/ our environment. For what it’s worth, I agree with you it is very difficult to convince someone to change their mind.

      • Alexander Harvey

        John,

        Your: “… but I just can’t accept CO2 is the biggest problem we face with man-kinds interactions w/ our environment.”

        I cannot know what you mean by biggest so I will propose some other terms, and argue about those. I am not sure if we share much common ground but if I outline a point of view perhaps this may become clearer.

        AGW: is it, or should it be considered, the most pressing problem, the most urgent?

        I am sure that point of view has its constituency, but I must doubt that it is a majority, and whereas it may be vocal it is not particularly militant.

        Is it the most serious chronic environmental issue?

        Obviously that is possible but not at all certain. It has serious competition from many forms of exploitation from fishing, to logging, mining, damming, polluting, etc..

        Should it viewed as a significant issue? Does it need consideration? Should it be addressed at all?

        This is where I feel that there is a parting of the tribes. Even if it be neither the most pressing, nor the salient chronic issue, I think that there is a large constituency that does wish for actions to reflect concerns that AGW is an issue that could become first the most serious chronic issue and ultimately the most pressing. There is of course a point of view that states that there is little or no possibility that this could ever be the case.

        If I have a beef with what I perceive as the strong AGW activists agenda, one is in any attempt to characterise the issue as being either certainly the most serious chronic issue, or even the most pressing issue.

        I am not sure why this happens, perhaps it is in the belief that politicians cannot walk and chew gum at the same time, or that the public must be convinced of the need for change before change can occur.

        The tactic of playing even the worst chronic existential threat as being critically pressing is likely to cry wolf. To risk doing so is easy, for the media commonly overstates the tenuous, and loves to build up positions in hope that it gets to knock them down again.

        Perhaps another beef must be the tendency to feel that is necessary to present the public with both the evidence and the conclusion. They may buy either and take pleasure from surmising the other, but given both together they may suspect coercion and take a jaundiced view of both. Viewed cynically, it is better to lead the horse to water and let the drinking take care of itself.

        It is my view that the better strategy would have been for the issue to be relentlessly underplayed. On stage throughout but never the lead. It simply lacks the material to sustain it centre stage. It belongs upstage from where it can be seen to do its business and act as commentary to the plot.

        I see it as a nagging issue, difficult to deal with, but unlikely to go away. Unsettling for being difficult to pin down. Less the elephant in the room than the ghost of such.

        I think there is now a very real risk of stasis, in part from a paralysis borne of principled rejection of anything that smacks of AGW mitigation. A reaction to overstatement that is being fed by just those that see things otherwise.

        I see AGW activism as the launcher of ill-conceived campaigns doomed to become gloom, followed by a bewildering failure to retreat in good order and with good grace. Defense, if not of the indefensible, of the not worth defending.

        I doubt that the AGW issue was ever susceptable to a frontal assault. Precisely because it is neither the most critically pressing, nor chronically depressing of problems. I think that there has been an ill-judged attempt to characterise it as such that is now failing and counter-productive.

        I hope it is clear that I worry about the consequences of AGW and that I fret over what should be done. I also have some confidence that there is a mood, amongst those that most directly influence future outcomes, that points towards actions that will mitigate if only colaterally. Some of my darkest fear is that the perils of a public engagement that touts both the evidence and the conclusions will act to undermine just those influences that would be happier working away from centre stage.

        Alex

      • John Carpenter

        Alex,

        “Should it viewed as a significant issue? Does it need consideration? Should it be addressed at all?”

        For me I think it needs consideration (‘it’ being CO2 emissions due to any number of human actvities with the burning of fossil fuels as the lead). I agree the AGW movement overhyped the consequences of elevated CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and the IPCC WG2 and WG3 portions of their reports are an example of that. We should be, as we are, monitoring our environment/climate for any measurable effects of higher [CO2]. We should be, as we are, investigating alternative energy sources. I have my opinions on all these matters, but I am much less alarmist that the ‘problem’ is as consequencial as some make it out to be.

  35. ian (not the ash)

    JC states:

    I would particularly like to hear from the “convinced” regarding whether any of Turnbull’s arguments (individually or collectively) are compelling.

    I suspect that even the most reasonable and eloquently expressed arguments have little influence on those whose opinions buttress an overarching narrative (whether skeptical or proponent of CAGW).

    If what Princeton philosopher Thomas Kelly postulated in his paper Disagreement, Dogmatism, and Belief Polarization is correct:
    <a href=http://judithcurry.com/2011/02/18/epistemology-of-disagreement/

    Suppose that you and I disagree about some non-straightforward matter of fact. Psychologists have demonstrated the following striking phenomenon: if you and I are subsequently exposed to a mixed body of evidence that bears on the question, doing so tends to increase the extent of our initial disagreement.

    i believe it will take nothing short of one of those all to rare ‘aha’ moments to create a fissure in our cherished belief systems.

  36. The truth will out. The world will learn — the hard way, it now appears — who is right.

  37. To me, the litmus test is this IPCC statement.
    “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”
    Turnbull’s opposition to this view puts him in the skeptic camp, because since the mid-20th century, the temperature has risen by about 0. 5 C, and even the no-feedback response to the CO2 increase would be 0.3 C, so the IPCC statement is even consistent with no feedback (something not often realized). If someone doesn’t even uphold the no-feedback response, that would make them a skeptic.

    Also, as someone who is convinced, I am not at all swayed by the science-free argument here. Give me the science, not talk of people and conspiracies. I understand the science which dates well back before the current IPCC reports, and that whole IPCC-bashing issue is a red herring in the real debate.

    • Norm Kalmanovitch

      The litmus test resides at http://www.climate4you.com This is a website that maintains up to date government data on climate so when prople say the Earth has been cooling since 2002 they heve the five global datasets to back up their statement. This site also has the outgoing longwave radiation data as measured by satellites since their launch in late 1978. According to the IPCC and global warming orthodoxy the increase in atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases is causing an enhanced greenhouse effect which is preventing more and more energy from leaving the Earth resulting in the increase in global temperature. If this was actually the case there would be at least some noticible decline in OLR as measured by these satellites.
      On the other hand if the Earth is warming due to increased energy reaching the Earth the increase in temperature will result in an increase in OLR roughly proportional to the fourth power of the Earth’s absolute temperature.
      Since 1979 there has been a 57.1% increase in CO2 emissions from fossil fuels but instead of the decrease in outgoing longwave radiation from the enhanced greenhouse effect there is a 2watt per square metre increase in OLR proving conclusively that it is changes to the incoming energy from the sun and definitely not any changes to the greenhouse effect that have caused the observed overall warming since 1979.
      The five datasets including James Hansen’s GISS and the Hadley CRU temperasture dataset show no warming past 2002 and the OLR flattens out in direct response to temperature and not to the 18ppmv increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration that has occurred in the past nine years.
      This is incontrovertable proof that all claims of Anthropogenic Global Warming are completely fraudulent.

      • Clearly you don’t believe the sun has gone into a long minimum since the early 2000’s, or cloud reflectivity has increased possibly due to increased aerosols, or that surface warming has counteracted the outgoing longwave cooling effect of CO2, despite measurements that indicate these things. So you prefer to rule out CO2 physics rather than take these other factors into account.

      • Jim – I glanced quickly at that website, but I didn’t immediately see data showing OLR trends at the main absorption wavelengths for CO2 – between about 13 and 17 um. However, for Norm’s benefit, let’s assume that OLR in those wavelengths has been rising beyond the normal interannual fluctuations inherent in these measurements. What does that mean? Here is a thought experiment for Norm or for anyone else interested in the relationship between climate forcing and OLR:

        Imagine that atmospheric CO2 were instantaneously doubled, nothing else changed (the sun, aerosols, internal climate dynamics, etc.), and OLR measurements were conducted over the next several decades. What would the OLR trend look like? Pick any wavelength you wish.

      • The graph of OLR at climate4you is derived from the window region with an algorithm developed many decades ago to derive a total OLR from the window. I doubt this algorithm accounts for changing constituents. Looking at only the window region is the same mistake Miskolczi makes. As you say, they need to look at the CO2 bands, and ideally the whole spectrum. I am sure that is done elsewhere, but not at climate4you.

      • Jim – As I expect you know, OLR in the window region is nothing but a very rough index of surface temperature. As the surface warms, window OLR will rise in accordance with the Stefan-Boltzmann relationship. It would be a better index if the “window” were totally IR transparent, but some IR is absorbed by water and ozone.

        My larger point in the earlier comment was that a change in OLR overall is a manifestation of the radiative flux imbalance at the top of the atmosphere. A constant forcing (e.g., from increased CO2) can initially result in a reduced OLR in IR-absorbable wavelengths (with a spectral shift of some IR into window regions), but over time, OLR will increase at all wavelengths because of surface and atmospheric warming. If the forcing also increases (from a continuing rise in CO2), the trend in OLR will depend on the balance betwen the forcing increase and the temperature increase, with a forcing increase tending to reduce OLR and a temperature increase tending to increase it. The effect that predominates will depend on the relative rates of these two different processes.

        Although my comment was ostensibly addressed to Norm, who deems anthropogenic global warming “fraudulent”, I did not judge him likely to be convincible. My sense is that those most amenable to the strength of convincing evidence are probably individuals who don’t actively participate in these forums, or at least don’t come to the forums with strongly held views. Some of them may be interested in the relevant principles underlying IR emissions and absorption, and I thought it worthwhile to put to rest the notion that the climate4u site was an objective source from which reliable conclusions could be derived, or that Norm’s interpretation of the data on that site was accurate.

      • Fred,
        – CO2 does not work isolated from other factors in the atmosphere/earth system
        – How is that list of mitigation successes going?

      • All those things you recite fall apart upon a bit of scrutiny. Have some scientific/sceptical attitude!

        Ruling out CO2 physics is a strawman. You don’t have to rule it out. It’s likely that CO2 physics is simply insignificant, not modelled properly or easily overwhelmed by natural factors/variations.

  38. The critique of Andrew Turnbull’s GWPF report by “Tim” (no relation!) claims that the Climategate emails do not in fact support Turnbull’s claim there was a move “to get rid” of the Medieval Warm Period. How about these emails?

    • Mann tells Jones that it would be nice to ‘”contain” the putative Medieval Warm Period’. (1054736277)
    • Overpeck has no recollection of saying that he wanted to “get rid of the Medieval Warm Period”. Thinks he may have been quoted out of context.(1206628118)

  39. Just to point out that Judith Curry isn’t a lukewarmer. On the question of climate sensitivity she says, or at least she said in February 2011, so I have to agree that it is quite possible that she’s changed her mind yet again in the meantime:

    “To bound at a 90% level, I would say the bounds need to be 0-10C.”

    So Judith is thinking there is at least a 50% chance that our days are well and truly numbered! Is that a reasonable interpretation?

    If so, then it does perhaps make sense to downplay the scale of the problem. Maybe we’d all be better off just not knowing.

    • “To bound at a 90% level, I would say the bounds need to be 0-10C.”

      I just don’t understand this. How could a very intelligent and well-trained scientific mind feel that there was a significant chance that climate sensitivity could be greater than 6C/doubling, and not perceive the current circumstances as an imminent threat to our civilization?

      It’s baffling to me.

      • I suspect that we are talking about climate sensitivities calculated from GCMs here, and like any grown up facing the end of the world in a computer game we’d be inclined to play the odds (or turn the computer off).

      • there are 3 sources of estimates. models are but one

    • You disapprove of people that changing their mind?

      I would rather a scientist be able to change their mind than never being able to change their mind.

      • Of course its quite necessary to constantly modify one’s position as new evidence and information becomes available.
        However, the term ‘modify’ hardly seems adequate in Judith’s case. She really needs to explain why she now thinks she was wrong to write articles like her 2007 op-ed for the Washington Post.
        More seriously, she ought to make it clear whether she believes any testimony she may have given to the US Congress in previous years may not now be correct.

    • the right way to ask her is in the form of an over/under bet.

      you have to make a bet. Do you bet over 3C or under 3C. based on the evidence you have today.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      You ask:

      So Judith is thinking there is at least a 50% chance that our days are well and truly numbered! Is that a reasonable interpretation?

      No. First, one’s opinion on how much warming should be expected doesn’t inherently equate to a particular amount of damage caused by said warming.

      Second, and far more importantly, values are not (necessarily) evenly distributed when giving ranges like this.

    • And that’s only from CAGW! Don’t forget asteroids, volcanism, supernova in our neighborhood, mars attacks…

      In total there is close to 100% chance that our days are wll and trully numbered. It’s worse than we thought!

  40. Well we all lose a few marbles as we get older :-)

    • Tonto,

      That’s quite a little zinger you’ve directed at Dr. Curry. You’re quite the wit aren’t you? In deference to Dr. Curry’s desire that the rest of us not rise to the bait you and your tee-pee mate, Robert, regularly dangle in front of us, I’m taking the high-road and will not respond in kind.

      Rather, I’ll simply ask: Why don’t you describe the carbon-free life-style you and your buddy, Bob, pursue. In detail, please. We can all learn from you guys, I’m sure.

      And when other say “Tonto and Robert? A couple of blow-hard zit-scab freak-face hustlers!” I’ll be able to say: “No, no, you’ve got these guys all wrong.” And then show them a copy of your response to this comment that tells the remarkable tale of your zero-carbon way of life.

      • What’s a tee-pee mate?

      • Jeez, tonto,

        You seem to be avoiding my previous request. Please tell us about your carbon free lifestyle, tonto.

        Tee-pee mate=roomate, bunkie, that sort of thing. Or figuratively, an ol’ buddy-buddy who shares your zit-twit sense of humor. But I think you already knew that, right? Nice try, tonto.

      • Mike,
        I’d guessed it was an Americanism. Usually Google turns up a meaning when I come across one with which I’m unfamiliar – but not in this case.
        Isn’t it past your bedtime over there?

      • What’s a “bedtime?”

  41. Maybe its time to remake the 50′s sci -fi classic “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers” but this time the plot could be centred on scientists who look the same as the originals, have all the same memories etc, but inexplicably start to talk total nonsense in their areas of previous expertise.

  42. Lukewarmer ( hey I’m a founding member) was first coined on climate Audit.
    There were two core beliefs we held about the SCIENCE.

    1. IR opaque gases in the atmosphere lead to a warmer planet. That is, an atmosphere with, say, twice the C02 will be warmer than one with half the C02. Most of the initial members of the group are engineers or former engineers who understand the physics of radiative transfer.

    2. The key question of climate science is how sensitive is the long term temperature average ( one climate metric) to the doubling of C02.

    Our belief in radiative physics separates us from those in the Sky Dragon camp and from people who believe that GHGs have nothing to do with the temperature of the planet. We see them as flouting basic physics known to work. They are anti scientific. I cant think of a better word. This is measured working physics.

    The second question is one that we believe can divide the debate into 3 rough groups. The IPCC puts a range of sensitivity between 1.5C and and 6C for a doubling of C02. We see a skeptical camp falling anywhere below ~1C. They are skeptical of the accepted science. You might class Lindzen and Spencer in this group. We dont see them as being anti scientific. They fall outside the mainstream, but they are dedicated to doing science.
    Lukewarmers fall anywhere between 1C and 3C. They believe that the real sensitivity will fall below the mean value of the IPCC (~3C). For reference, ModelE has a sensitivity of 2.7C. Those who believe that the real sensitivity lies above 3 ( say hansen, perhaps) we call them warmers. Lukewarmers are within the mainstream of climate science.

    Policy: There really isnt any consolidated lukewarmer position on policy. Why? well, because science doesnt determine policy. Science can inform policy, but my belief that sensitivity lies between 1.5C and 3C has no logical connection to what I think we SHOULD do. is verus ought. As a Lukewarmer, I’d argue that we really should not have an accepted policy position. We’ve expressed on a few occasions that we support a policy of no regrets. Simply, those actions we would do regardless of the truth of AGW. For example, we tend to support nuclear.

    Of course I realize that the first Lukewarmers have no control over what other people who use the term mean by it. So, I’m just recounting some of our initial thinking. Lukewarmer is a description of a position about the science. GHGs cause warming. Sensitivity is more likely to be less than 3C than it is to be greater than 3C. If you accept those two, you’re a lukewarmer.

    The other thing we all agreed on was the first credo for Lukerwarmers
    Free the data; free the code; open the debate.

    By open the debate I mean this. There IS a debate in climate science. That debate is about sensitivity. If you accept #1 ( see above) you can join the debate.

    The nice thing about the lukewarmer position is that you really don’t need to have a position on tangential issues like the Hockey stick or the ice free arctic or any other number of distractions. It’s all about the sensitivity.

    • FWIW.
      If expected sensitivity be the acid test, then, further to my previous witterings, I must count myself on the Skeptic end of Mosh’s spectrum of Luke-Warmers. I would suggest that there is little (no?) hard, physical, real-world, objective, experimental scientific evidence that sensitivity exceeds 1°C.
      (hypothesising ‘sensitivity’ to be measurable, calculable, meaningful, useful, whatever as a physical concept) .
      I would not, I think, see myself differing much from Lord Turnbull, although from much lurking, I count myself as definitely more skeptic than Mosh.

      • Jan.

        A better way to look at this is found here

        http://rankexploits.com/musings/2011/a-simple-analysis-of-equilibrium-climate-sensitivity/

        Which would put the lower bound of a being a Luker at 1.56C per doubling.

        Do you have any evidence indicating that the better estimate lies below 1.56 as opposed to above 1.56?

        Burden of proof games don’t interest me so much. A good first order estimate of the sensitivity is 1.56C. If you have a better first order estimate thats interesting. Otherwise the question is this:
        Considering all the evidence ( marginal, suggestive, experimental, models, paleo, etc) do you take the over bet or the under bet? over 1.56C or under?

      • Rob Starkey

        Steve

        My compliments on considerable valuable thought that was included in the body of several of your last posts.

        Steve wrote:
        The key question of climate science is how sensitive is the long term temperature average ( one climate metric) to the doubling of C02

        My response: Steve is 100% correct on the key issue.

        Steve wrote:
        We see a skeptical camp falling anywhere below ~1C. They are skeptical of the accepted science.

        My response;
        Here I believe that what Steve is writing is probably incorrect and that he is (possible unintentionally) demeaning those whom do not agree with him. On an issue where the “science is clearly not “settled” such as the sensitivity of a doubling of CO2″, imo it is inappropriate to state that someone who believes that sensitivity is below 1C to be “skeptical of accepted science”. That is not necessarily true at all. It is very possible that they believe that we do not yet understand all the factors and weights of those factors impacting sensitivity, and therefore would not agree on the range of sensitivity that you have posted.

        I dislike labels, but seem to fit into your lukewarmer category.

        I am also interested in your statement: “some people think science is about finding the truth, or discovering reality. I think its observationally more accurate to say that science is about finding useful incomplete answers.”

        I believe science is about finding the truth, and that in reality that the process of finding the truth involves researching a myriad of incorrect potential conclusions.

      • Rob Starkey

        Steve

        Also, since I like a good bet, I might be willing to make a real wager with you on your 1.56C estimate. Please define the time period you wish for the measurements.

    • Interesting post, thanks.

      • JanvJ. You bring up what I feel is the really vital issue with respect to climate sensitivity. What I call “total climate sensitivity” is a viable concept. The idea that as CO2 levels rise, you can measure the temperature anomaly, and so, measure the sensitivity. Whether there is a CO2 signal against the background of natural variability, is a good question.

        However, there is no way to estimate what the sensitivity is from theoretical considerations. No-feedback climate sensitivity is simply hypothetical nonsense. This is why I am opposed to people theorizing what climate sensitivity is, from estimations. We should only be talking about MEASURED climate sensitivity. All the other numbers are meaningless.

      • Bravo Jim!

        But then again, we are not even close to know all the natural forcings/variations.

        We might start cooling rapidly (say -0.3 °C/decade) and sensitivity could still be 3 or more due to overwhelming nature of other forcings, compared to CO2.

    • Not sure we should say sceptics fall into the sky dargon group! Should we not invent a new group for the skydragons?

      The definition for lukewarmer you provide is based on numbers, which is fine. I am not a scientiest or statistician, but I am unconvinced that anthropogenic CO2 could dominate the climate system. My view is that nature’s natural variations & cycles that create climate forcings will always trump man made climate forcings in the short and long term.

      Further I do not believe human understanding of nature’s natural variation is anywhere near complete enough to assign importance to CO2 in the medium term. So, using my common sense, I do not consider long term climate modeling to be science.

      But I am not a scientiest or statistician, so my application of my view of common sense should not carry much wait & I would always change my view when persuaded to by science & statistics.

      It’s interesting though, what people understand to be the difference between a lukewarmer & sceptic.

      Cheers

      Paul

    • Alexander Harvey

      If I have a recognisable position it would be that of an experimentalist. Someone that thinks that we should act to learn.

      The only experiment that I can think of that might payback in a timely way would be to act on aerosol emissions. Either as a matter of fact or to gauge what people really think via such a proposal.

      Aerosols effects are a big unknown in energy balance calculations. If effects are great then the your warmist position gains support, if they are small then your lukewarmist position gains support.

      In the scheme of things acting of aerosol emissions is not that expensive compared to acting on CO2. It is also more timely in that aerosols are short lived and I think much of the technology already exists.

      I cannot see why anyone of a lukewarmist or cooler disposition should object as it is unlikely to do much harm to the planet and it will make the air cleaner, sure it will cost something but it would seem a wise investment if it shows that we can downscale mitigation.

      I am not sure how anyone of a warmist or hotter disposition should react. It may seem to pose the risk of tipping the climate on its ear, but even still adopting a stance that says that it is an experiment that must not be undertaken on safety grounds would sit uneasily with any policy to shut down the same emissions due to concerns over CO2.

      The experiment is resonably reversible, one goes back to producing the aerosols but rename it geo-engineering.

      I think that reducing aerosols would be a good thing if it made no difference to the climate. I think that finding out their climatic effect would be a very good thing. If it turns out the planet takes some awful climatic lurch then we could call it, smelling the coffee.

      So I guess I am an experimentalist, a findingoutist. I am also possibly an allonmyownist but I should prefer not to be a waitingforgodotist.

      Alex

    • Mosh, as others have noted, your taxonomy of positions leaves out most skeptics. Your claim is basically that if one believes in the greenhouse theory then one must believe there is a specific sensitivity, so the only issue is its magnitude. This is false. The alternative is to believe that the climate system is complex, such that while CO2 levels play a role, it is not decisive.

      That is, your tacit assumption is that CO2 levels are doubled and nothing else happens. This kind of abstraction is standard for physics, but it does not work to take the result and apply it to a system where lots of things happen, both non-linear feedbacks and independent things like ice ages.

      To see this note your central idea: “an atmosphere with, say, twice the C02 will be warmer than one with half the C02.” Of course this is not true if the atmos with twice the CO2 is 10 times farther from the sun. So you are really talking about the same atmosphere.

      But suppose we double the CO2 just as an ice age kicks in. The temp is now 10 degrees lower, even though CO2 doubled. Does this make the sensitivity minus 10? If so then we simply have no idea what the sensitivity is, because it merely means what will happen, including doubling and everything else that goes on. In this case the sensitivity is largely independent of the CO2 level. If not then sensitivity is a relatively useless (and highly misleading) abstraction because it does not apply to our world, where many things are going on.

      Note too that observation strongly suggests tat many things are going on besides CO2 radiative physics. This is mainstream skepticism.

    • Mosh

      A very helpful post.

      So a policy maker is confronted with dedicated scientists genuinely disagreeing on the most like value of sensitivity with a range from around 1C (Spencer, Lindzen) to around 3C (IPCC) to around 5C (Hansen).

      What’s a policy maker to do? Assign an equal probability that 1C, 3C and 5C will prove to be correct and work from there? If there’s a reasonable chance (a vague term, I know!) the 5C will prove to be true, waiting to see if there’s convergence doesn’t seem an option.

      How the policy maker acts rationally seems to me to be a particularly knotty problem.

    • Marlowe Johnson

      Mosher,

      What evidence *convinces* lukewarmers such as yourself that sensitivity is 3 C or less? The funny thing is that the lower end is much more constrained by evidence/physics than the upper end of the range and yet *lukewarmers* never seem to be able to build a convincing case that sensitivity is similarly constrained/implausible on the higher end (i.e. 3-4.5 C). Why is that?

      • Marlowe, I am curious what you mean here by constrained? The lower end is of course the no-feedback case, so anything higher is more speculative. The higher it gets the more speculative it becomes, until it becomes completely implausible at 6, 8, 10 degrees or higher. My view is that the implausibly higher temps are solely due to runaway positive feedbacks, in the models, not the world. In fact they invalidate the models that produce them. Given this evidence for excess positive feedbacks in the model, it becomes questionable whether any of the values higher than the no-feedback case are acceptable. Hence the lukewarmer position.

      • Over at Lucia’s we spend a bunch of time assembling a series of reasons that constitute an epistemic warrant for the belief in a sensitivity that is less than 3C. The constraint on the Left is more well established than the constraint on the right. But the mean is about 3. 50% above and 50% below. So, using the word convinced is not really appropriate.

        If we are asked to place an over/under bet at even odds, we pick the under. I trust yoy know how that works

        We believe that we have valid reasons to pick this. If you like you can wander over to Lucia’s and hunt down the answers. if you want short answers

        1. We tend to rely on the estimates of sensitivity using the instrumental period. See Knutti. Almost all of that work has means below 3C, but long tails to the right. have a look at all the two box model world Lucia and others did. Basically, its the kind of work we can do ourselves and check ourselves. Also, we tend to be more observationally oriented.

        2. Models with lower sensitivity have had more skill than models with higher sensitivity. Basically .2C warming per decade isnt looking so good, observationally. So you have a logical choice
        A: this is a fluke and the higher sensitivity models will prove better in the long run.
        B. the true value lies in the lower range.
        See the work Lucia has done.

        there are some other arguments as well, interestingly 1000 year paleo also have a mean below 3C.

        The reasons for taking the Over bet? what reasons does one have for betting it is greater than 3C? i’ve seen some people use fear to justify this bet.

        You’ll note in Knutti 2008 that the expert elicitation also have experts suggesting numbers well below 3. You might consider also asking them why they hold this view.

        So ur turn. If given an over under bet at 3C do you pick the over?
        what reasons, what evidence would you look at to back that up.

        Note, worrying that the value could be as high as 6C, is not a reason for taking the over bet. It might be a thing to consider for policy,

        Which form of estimating the value do you find most convincing and why?

      • Marlowe Johnson

        Thanks for the reply Steve. Given an over under I pick 3. Having said that I think that you hit the nail on the head when you say “worrying that the value could be as high as 6C, is not a reason for taking the over bet. It might be a thing to consider for policy.

        Now I’m curious again what a lukewarmer actually is. Because I don’t really see any difference from the position you describe and the mainstream if the definition of a lukewarmer is restricted to one’s position on science. It seems to me that the practical dividing line is on the appropriate policy response not the science.

      • “Because I don’t really see any difference from the position you describe and the mainstream if the definition of a lukewarmer is restricted to one’s position on science.”

        That’s pretty accurate. We would say that we are within the mainstream position. Understand this started out on a thread in CA where people where discussing sensitivity. So it literally describes a position on that question. well in the begining it did. Of course since then some folks have been trying to derive policy positions from that science position. I think that’s wrong headed .

      • Marlowe Johnson

        Would you also agree then that the term has largely been appropriated (at least on climate blogs) to mean someone who rejects any sensitivity higher than the no-feedback case (i.e. 1 C)?

      • “We would say that we are within the mainstream position.”

        I think that lukewarmism is an effort to stay within the mainstream science while still resisting any policy changes, but it is not very successful. See my discussion here:

        http://theidiottracker.blogspot.com/2010/09/between-science-and-hard-place.html

  43. Jack Hughes

    @sm

    There is a “prior debate” about whether climate science is advanced enough to make any predictions about anything – and about when that happy will arive :-)

    • I can make predictions about anything and everything.

      be precise. can I make skillful or useful predictions. can I beat coin tossing.

      some people think science is about finding the truth, or discovering reality.
      I think its observationally more accurate to say that science is about finding useful incomplete answers.

      • Joe Lalonde

        Steven,

        That depends on how you come at the problem you are looking at.
        If you want accuracy, you will not find it in the current science.
        If you scrap current science and start with a clean slate, you can find accuracy, but it takes a vast amount of research of understanding the interactions of many areas to generate this planet’ s climate system.
        Physics has made a real mess of science.

      • “If you want accuracy, you will not find it in the current science.
        If you scrap current science and start with a clean slate, you can find accuracy, but it takes a vast amount of research of understanding the interactions of many areas to generate this planet’ s climate system.”

        well you’ve made the simple mistake of failing to specify what you mean by accuracy. Accurate for what purpose? Second, there is no such thing as a clean slate. Third, I fail to see what evidence you have for concluding that a fresh start will lead to a better answer faster than the current path. nevertheless, get started nothing stands in your way

      • Joe Lalonde

        Accuracy of cleaning up the mess physics made of uncertainty.
        Physics came up with a pile of theories generating more theories to back-up the old theories.
        From gravity to black hole to the shape of our planet.

        NOT one single mechanical mechanism.
        Meanwhile planetary rotation has a vast amount of mechanics that can be reproduced to show how gravity is aided by the suns rotating magnetic field. NOT INERTIA or mass garbage.

  44. Many scientists would support an alternative hypothesis that the globe has been on a gentle warming trend since the end of the Little Ice Age around two hundred years ago, with alternating periods measured in decades of faster and slower growth, or even periods of moderate decline. Such an alternative view would not justify the alarmism which characterizes much of the public debate

    Andrew Turnbull

    Engineers too: http://bit.ly/cO94in

  45. Steven Mosher,

    I ‘believe’ that the world is about 0.8 deg C warmer than it would be without human influence.

    Under a BAU scenario I ‘believe’ that temperatures will continue to rise at a decadal rate of 0.15 deg C.

    I ‘believe’ that in ~ 100 years time CO2 concentrations will have doubled, and other GHG’s significantly increased under a BAU scenario.
    So, by then the Earth will have warmed by 2.3 degrees.

    Does that make me a lukewarmer?

    I further ‘believe’ that the world won’t end before the year 2111 and we do need to consider later effects on climate

    I further believe that, even if CO2 levels stop at 560ppmv, warming will continue into the 22 nd century . 3 deg C, in total, seems about right.

    I guess I’m a fairly hot lukewarmer by now.

    Furthermore, I think I’m smart enough to know my beliefs may not turn out to be correct. There is a more than 50% chance that it will turn out worse.

    Am I still a lukewarmer?

    • Stirling English

      I, for one, am extremely glad that we are nearly a whole degree warmer than we otherwise would be.

      When it was cold, where I live in Scotland was under 1/2 a mile of ice. I prefer it warmer. There was no wildlife. There were no trees. The mountains were not visible. That was only 7000 or so years ago.

      Cold is bad, warmer is good.

      • I can understand a desire to live in a warmer climate than might be commonly experienced in Scotland. But, equally, you might appreciate that the inhabitants of areas like Northern Africa might be somewhat concerned if the climate was to warm significantly.

        They might all want to move to Scotland! And you’ll be head of the welcoming committee , will you?

      • Stirling English

        Trite and superficial remark avoiding the point. Quelle surprise!

    • That’s warmist in my book. And having no scientific/sceptical attitude. No critical scrutiny. Fooling oneself…

    • Under a BAU scenario I ‘believe’ that temperatures will continue to rise at a decadal rate of 0.15 deg C.

      This was another approach some of us have mentioned.

      The IPCC forecast is .2C decade.. Lukewarmers tended to be in .15C range

      • Steven Mosher,

        ” Lukewarmers tended to be in .15C range [per decade]”

        So every century, which is a blink of an eye on a geological time scale, would see a warming of 1.5 degrees.

        That’s nothing to be complacent about in the least.

      • Is/ Ought.

        The world will eventually end by fire or ice. For me that assurance is comforting because it gives meaning to the moment. Seize the day.

        You see, our estimate about what may happen is an educated guess. heck the laws of physics could change tommorrow. That educated guess can certainly be a part of my ethical judgement, but it does not determine my ethical judgement.

        Chances are if I leave a fetus undisturbed in a womb a human will emerge. That’s a simple fact. Some people see this fact as one that determines the judgement to leave that fetus alone. Other people see that fact as not being important and value other facts more highly.
        so they differ on attitudes about what should be done.

        So in my mind what we should do is a distinctly different question than a guess about the future. I’m more than willing to stipulate a 3C warming for a doubling and considering all plans for handling that.
        That’s a good thought exercise

        Those plans will not be decided by apply any form of calculus. Folks could very well decide that our duty to present issues outweighs or duty to future generations. Maybe they wont decide that.

        At it’s base lukewarmism, doesnt have a consensus opinon on what should be done. That’s cause it’s about the science. not the morals.

      • One thing the lukewarmers I have read, including here, they, like CAGW proponents, claim that their positions are all about the science. It’s always those other narrow minded folks who keep injecting politics into the discussion.

        Yet somehow there sure are a whole lot of folks who self-identify as lukewarmers who argue for all kinds of policy positions.

        Take the politics (the massive policy implications) out of the debate, and I wonder how many copies of books about climategate would have been sold?

      • I hope I succeed in limiting the number of moral and political statements I make when I talk about what it means to be a Lukewarmer. That does not mean that I succeed, but usually if you point out this examples I will take it to heart. I’m also not arguing that we can every be free of politics. What I have tried to do is to push for open code and open data so that the possibility of individual blind spots are diminished. One Jones give me his code and his data he has really given me a portion of his power. His politics cease mattering to me. That doesnt mean his result is free of politics, it means I am now more free to find and correct any politics that may have entered into his answer.
        Not many people get this aspect of the Lukewarmer credo. Why ask for code and data? It’s about power. When I surrender my code and data to you I give you the best tool to prove me wrong. I give you my power.

        Now WRT your hypothetical. Tom has been asking me to do a book on Lukewarmer solutions. I’m resistant to that for several reasons mostly, because I recognize that Ought is distinct from IS and that the best I can do is to avoid pretending that IS determines OUGHT.

        If we took the politics out of the debate, I think that we would have sold far fewer books. However, If I really wanted to boost the sales we would not have taken the position we did. The mails dont change the science. And I suppose we would have not spent so much time doing a boring chronology. And we would not have argued that administrative failures surrounding FOIA were the key wrong doings. And we would not have closed the book by taking issue with both side in the debate. Trust me Tom and I both know that we lost audience by appearing on right wing sites and arguing that Jones did not commit fraud.

        So you think about this thing in a very odd way. You should have asked what politics could those two have thrown in to make it more successful. Coming down in the middle of a highly charged political debate was a not the best choice from a market standpoint. But it happened to be what we believed.

      • I was not suggesting that you took any position based on maximizing sales of y0ur book, just noting that politics is driving the debate, on blogs, in books, in the news, in elections. My point is that I think it is a mistake to characterize “coming down in the middle of a political debate” as anything other than political in itself.

        I don’t think the habit of many, on all sides of the debate, of claiming their position is purely scientific while everybody else is political, is terribly helpful.

        The majority of skeptics are conservative, the majority of the consensus are progressive, and from everything I have read, the majority of lukewarmers self-identify politically as “moderate” or “independent.” While there are exceptions to these, they seem to be the general rule. And I just don’t think that is a coincidence. Not even for lukewarmers.

      • “I don’t think the habit of many, on all sides of the debate, of claiming their position is purely scientific while everybody else is political, is terribly helpful.”

        I think you miss it again. I am not saying that we can free ourselves of political bias. What I am saying is that there are methods we can employ to limit that bias. Are we political creatures us lukewarmers? of course. Me personally, I try to avoid jumping to an prescriptive statements. Now of course people see that as a form of delayism. But that’s inaccurate. Let me make it perfectly clear. Lukewarmer DESCRIBES a POSITION on TWO QUESTIONS
        1. Do GHGs warm the planet? Yes
        2. Is the sensitivity between 1-3C Yes

        “The majority of skeptics are conservative, the majority of the consensus are progressive, and from everything I have read, the majority of lukewarmers self-identify politically as “moderate” or “independent.” While there are exceptions to these, they seem to be the general rule. And I just don’t think that is a coincidence. Not even for lukewarmers.”

        Lets see. My co author Tom is a flaming San Francisco Liberal and I’m a Libertarian. The point is simple. You wanna know if you are a lukewarmer? answer two questions. those questions happen to be about scientific issues. Naturally this can draw people from all persuasions, and it most likely draws those people who are disgusted by the political extremes. But since its simply two factual questions it can also draw two polar opposites such as Tom and myself.

      • “Also, I am a ‘lukewarmer’ who thinks that the world is warmer than it would otherwise be due to anthropogenic gases (but doubts that the impact will be extreme).” David Smith, WUWT, 2008.

        That is what I have taken to be the typical definition of a lukewarmer. AGW, without the C. You may define it however you see fit.

        The comments “…it’s about the science, not the morals…” and “…our estimate about what may happen is an educated guess…,” do not differentiate lukewarmers from anyone else in the debate. Every position on the climate spectrum can be described in simply scientific terms.

        You write that I “think about this in a very odd way,” while I believe you think about this in a very typical way – your position is purely scientific, while the positions of those who disagree with you are not. I was just describing how I see you as mistaken.

        Gavin Schmidt will assure you just as ardently that his positions are pure science. He too avoids discussing policy issues, though when he answered a question about them when asked on Collide-a-scape some time ago, shockingly, they were right in line with other progressive CAGWers.

        You show the liberaltarian’s (and moderate’s and independent’s and progressive’s) typical disdain for those who disagree. I was simply pointing out that your attempt to paint your position as somehow more “science based” than those of others is, while quite typical, wrong.

      • This obsession with defining peoples’ views by attaching labels to them is utterly pointless and gets us nowhere. Steve – you do not hold the hammer on who is a luke warmer and who is a skeptic or who is a denier. Nobody does. They are just names, often used for political purposes, to belittle any opposition and to mask the substantive debate. The only things that matter are the various scientific arguments and the political responses (if any). Names are a pointless distraction.

      • steven mosher

        Global mean temperature trends

        The overall global warming rate is about 0.06 deg C per decade.

        http://bit.ly/dDbqoA

        The positive PDO contributes to an additional 30 year warming of about 0.1 deg C per decade to provide an overall warming of about 0.06+0.1=0.16 deg C per decade. (Trend from 1970 to 2000)

        http://bit.ly/aHNjLK

        The negative PDO contributes to a 30 year cooling of about 0.1 deg C per decade to provide an overall cooling of about 0.06-0.1=-0.04 deg C per decade. (Trend from 1940 to 1970; and hopefully from 2000 to 2030)

        http://bit.ly/d5GyIz

      • absolutely beside the point for a process with a long lag. You can diagnose the sensitivity from observation but you need more data than you show. get a grip

      • steven mosher

        How about you and me betting on the global mean temperature trend for the period 2005 to 2015 for the hadcrut data?

        If the trend is positive, you win. If it is negative or zero, I win.

        How about that?

      • I’d make bets on future data from here forward, but a bet on 2005 to 2015, is a bit silly. its essentially a bet on 2011 to 2015 which in climate terms is a crap shoot. A bet on the next 10 years might make more sense. I’d bet the warming was less than .2C, you can take the over .2C half of the bet. In anycase the next 4 years of data will not change my position on #1. and WRT #2, I dont think 4 more years of cooling would change the sensitivity estimate below 1.56C.

      • Mosh, if you get a chance please reply to my comment to you at http://judithcurry.com/2011/06/01/making-the-lukewarmer-case/#comment-72716
        I think I may be on to something regarding confusion over the concept of sensitivity in the debate.

      • Rob Starkey

        LOL…sucker bet offered there.

        What if the bet was 2011 to 2021, and the over/under was a .14 C rise by then. Which side would you put $100K usd on?

      • steven mosher

        A bet on the next 10 years might make more sense

        Fine.

        How about betting on the global mean temperature trend for the period 2010 to 2020 for the hadcrut3vgl.txt data?

        If the trend is greater or equal to 0.1 deg C per decade you win. If it is less than 0.1 deg C per decade, I win.

        How about that?

      • Since nothing less than a decadal average temperature should count (think solar cycles), your bet should compare 2011-2020 with 2001-2010. Is the former going to be warmer? I don’t think skeptics would take the bet that the coming decade would be cooler than the last one, despite their claims we have reached a peak due to PDO and/or a coming solar decline. I would suggest it will be warmer by at least 0.15 C, just like the last three decades have been.

      • 10 years from june 2011. Sure

    • well. look at the questions I asked and answer them. you know how to do that.

  46. Turnbull writes well and avoids obvious pitfalls. He doesn’t make any outrageous assertions. Many of his points are very similar to some of my comments on this site or my own site.

    Should I be happy and tell that I agree?

    Unfortunately the issue is not that simple. His argumentation is in a sense of the most dangerous nature. It’s largely based an using logic in a way that I fight against continuously in my own thinking. That way of thinking may easily lead to self-deception – and to an attempt to spread this deception to others.

    The article is good in almost every detail, but not in the overall message that it promotes.

    • Pekka I am intrigued by your comments. I agree that it is an effective piece of writing. Can you expand on your concerns about his mode of argumentation?

      • Judith,
        What have in mind basically is increasing confidence to a questionable argument by very subtle systematic bias. That kind of bias may form and develop unintentionally, and that is the risk that I’m fighting against in my own mind. A person with excellent writing capabilities and an ability to foresee, how his writings will be read by others, can also write text of this nature purposefully. (Often it may be impossible to judge, whether the author believes himself everything in such presentation.)

        It’s essential that there are no clear errors either in details or in the logic, but there may be small almost unnoticeable gaps in the logic, and there is of course some cherry picking in what is said and what is not, but even that’s done so that pinpointing, where is done wrongly is difficult. This is made easier by the fact that every article of a reasonable length must be selective with respect to both data and logic. Thus any single detail is not evidence on the bias, only the outcome as whole.

        When the same is done more crudely, we get papers, that are obviously wrong, but even in those cases it may sometimes take considerable effort to find, where the logic fails in the way that the wrong conclusions are reached. We have seen many such papers on climate science in the gray literature, and some of them have been discussed extensively also in some threads of this site.

      • Pekka, I know English is not your native language, but Judith asked you a straightforward question, and you have replied with waffle. Can you provide instances in the paper of any of the faults you complain of?

        As far as I could see, this paper was, by contrast with your own efforts, admirably lucid, such that anyone who wished to dispute any of its substance ought to have no difficulty in doing so.

        From what you’ve written so far, all we can gather is that you can’t actually dispute any of what he says, but you kinda don’t like it. Which doesn’t really move us forward, does it?

      • The waffle is the answer.

      • Well at least that’s something we can agree on.

      • I hope that others understood better, what I mean.

      • andrew adams

        I understood it perfectly well and largely agree.

      • Alexander Harvey

        Pekka,

        Perhaps I do understand what you mean but to see so I must comment on the paper a little.

        He writes:

        “However, the purpose of the paper is not to argue that there is another truth which should become the new consensus, but to point out the doubts that exist about the IPCC viewpoint and serious flaws in its procedures.”

        Rather than arguing for another position directly, he elects to muddy the waters. This is a well considered approach as it is much easier to defend than proposing a counter-augument. It is a tactic that his detractors should learn.

        Here he slips a premise:

        “But most scientists will admit that a doubling of CO2 alone will not produce the 3°C or more that is built
        into the IPCC models.”

        Not the more neutral “indicated by the models” we have “built into”. Now in a very general sense of course it is “built into”. The models were built and it is in them. However it could be said that he has slipped in a statement about the modelers’ intent. This is very difficult to challenge.

        Here again:

        “The IPCC models have assumed but not proven a strongly positive, ie amplifying, feedback, but have ignored the possibility of negative feedbacks.”

        Well one could argue about the meaning of “assumed” and it does cover occassions when things just come to pass, but I think that he is slipping the premise that specific assumptions about the sensitivity were deliberately built into the models. Again this is very difficult to challenge and hence a good ploy.

        He goes on:

        “The IPCC view is a narrowly based and over simplified one, concentrating heavily on the impact of CO2 while downplaying the role of natural forces.”

        How is this to be challenged? Given its terms, what broader basis did it avoid. Also it is the IPCC’s intent to simplify, to be a digest. How does one challenge the “over” term. He also slips the premise that it “downplayed” e.g. actively sought to understate the role of natural forces. Again this is very difficult to challenge, as it turns on the IPCCs intent. There is also the question of whether any publicly state views of IPCC members are evidence that the IPCC deliberately taints its output with such prejudices. Yet again this is open for speculation.

        Personally I think that it is a well written paper that argues a particular case in a particular way. I cannot tell but I suspect that it could come across as being more than the sum of its parts. It is not easily challenged and importantly I think it leaves traps for the unwary challenger. I suspect he is muddying pools and I feel entilted to my suspicions, I also suspect that he may know that attempts to challenge this would result in further muddying.

        Alex

      • Alex, I think you may be reading a little bit too much into the construct of his language. It’s just a lucid exposition (IMHO).

      • Alexander Harvey

        I think a lot must turn on how people assess the following:

        Also controversial is the way the IPCC, despite all the difficulties of measurement and the substantial ‘play’ in the various linkages, has made categorical statements of its findings. For example, its Fourth Assessment (2007) states:

        “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely (their emphasis) due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

        The set up is that it is a categorical statement and this may either be a misdirection or his understanding that it supports such partial reading.

        To me, it is an obsurdity, for like it as not, and despite what negative reactions I might have to the IPCC, statements that contain “most” and “very likely” are not categoric unless that category be uncategoric statements.

        I read this as slipping a premise. I fully expect others to disagree not because they feel that it is categoric, but because they think the statement is untrue.

        Thinking that he is slipping me a premise, I should consider whether he actually thinks the IPCC statement is untrue but declines to say so, and has opt for a more gently persuasive approach and is trusting that he will carry his existing constituency and pick up some waverers on the way.

        Now I may think the IPCC to be largely a waste of effort, but I don’t buy his categoric, so he loses me.

        Alex

      • Pekka, i see where you are coming from. this is the gap issue in the consilience of evidence approach. It is pretty much everywhere (esp in the IPCC), the only way around it I think is via David Wojick’s issue tree and evidence combination approaches (e.g. Demspter Shafer, Tesla). But the consilience of evidence approach (minus obvious factual errors) combined with effective rhetoric can be pretty convincing to all but the very discerning reader. That is why I think this essay is about the most rhetorically effective skeptical/lukewarmer (whatever you want to call it) that I’ve seen.

      • Judith
        ‘Rhetorically effective’? More specifically, do you think his points are correct?

      • My education has emphasized methodologies and I have worked quite a lot with systems analysis, but finally I have grown to suspect the relative value of methods as opposed to less formalized common sense on issues of this type. Approaching the problems systematically and analytically is important, but most predefined explicit methods tend to fail in practical applications.

        The problem with every method is that it’s based on a set of assumptions, while the practical problems almost never satisfy these assumptions fully. It’s not at all rare that exactly those assumptions are violated, which would be essential for the validity of the method. Thus any conclusion based on a method must be checked to find out, whether the chain of logic is indeed valid.

        In the case of climate change misuse of methods has certainly occurred on both sides of the debate.

    • Jack Hughes

      Hi Pekka,

      His message is that there is nothing to worry about. What is wrong with that message ? Can you give us more details about your concerns.

    • Hi Pekka,

      Does your unease stems from the fact that Turnbull has presented a new, more compelling way to promote the UN’s “Earth Summit Agenda 21″?

      http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/

      Is “Earth Summit Agenda 21″ the fertilizer that feeds the AGW story, regardless of data, observations, and styles of presentation?

  47. Relationship between CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and global mean temperature anomaly: http://bit.ly/iWnr63

  48. Consensus should also state what’s CO2 sensitivity to deltaT. How can we talk about climate sensitivity without CO2 sensitivity?

    Not that I believe in any sensitivities as constants.

  49. Reality makes the best case for the lukewarmer position.
    The behavior and failed predictions of the AGW consensus promoters fails the climate crisis argument.
    Clearly the climate changes, but we are not in an Hansonian/Romm/RC/greenpeace apocalypse, so the last theory standing is lukewarming.

  50. “One sees calamity just around the corner, producing calls for dramatic CO2 reduction. The alternative sees changes which are within the capacity of the world to adapt…”

    That is a false dichotomy.

    The issue is reasonable policy options for rapid climate change and Turnbull’s is not an accurate framing of either the issue or the options. It is also completely indifferent to challenging health, social and moral issues, too.

    Long-term responsiblity-taking is always part of a successful economy and society. Mitigating the long-term pace of climate change is prudent and anyone with knowledge of sustainable economics says the related actions are not only desirable but possible.

    Did you prefer to participate in unsustainable economics, instead?

    Also, in the U.S. you are faced with a serious foreign policy problem. Since the transboundary, long-range emissions of the U.S. are reducing the long-term benefits of emissions reductions by other countries (including many small and developing countries as well as developed ones), a main issue is the ongoing damage your country is doing to others and the effect this is having on international relations. For those with any political insight, this means that the U.S. will be compelled to act by internationalism
    (outside the U.N. framework, so a focus on that is irrelevant) if it continues to refuse to direct itself to make a much bigger effort to reduce emissions; and my understanding from your oft-expressed political views, Judith, is that this is precisely what you do not want.

    • Martha,
      Thank you for wasting so many bytes to say nothing worthwhile at all.

    • Rob Starkey

      Martha

      It is difficult to understand the basis upon which you reach your conclusions based upon what you have written.

      Martha writes:
      “The issue is reasonable policy options for rapid climate change and Turnbull’s is not an accurate framing of either the issue or the options.”

      My question(s):
      If/since there is no evidence of rapid climate change how does it make sense for any nation to implement policies about this issue?

      If there was evidence of rapid climate change, but the actions of an individual nation could/would do nothing measureable to effect that situation, but were very expensive; what would be the justification to implement said actions.

      Wouldn’t it be reasonable for those nations’ citizens to be against implementing these ineffective expensive actions?

      Martha writes:
      Mitigating the long-term pace of climate change is prudent and anyone with knowledge of sustainable economics says the related actions are not only desirable but possible.

      My response:
      Your conclusion is 100% incorrect based upon economics and reality in the world. From an economic perspective if it is perceived that (a) human caused climate change is happening, and (b) that the human caused climate change is causing undesirable results, then (c) the reasonable course would be to perform a cost and benefit analysis of potential courses of action and to select those actions which provide the greatest reduction in the potential harms with the lowest overall cost to the society incurring those costs.

      You have jumped to the incorrect conclusion that reducing the pace of climate change is the correct response when mitigation by other means is more cost effective. This is especially true since there is no reasonable probability that actions will be implemented by a unified planet earth to reduce worldwide CO2.

    • For those with any political insight, this means that the U.S. will be compelled to act by internationalism
      (outside the U.N. framework, so a focus on that is irrelevant) if it continues to refuse to direct itself to make a much bigger effort to reduce emissions

      Evidence of this?

    • John Carpenter

      Martha,

      “Also, in the U.S. you are faced with a serious foreign policy problem. Since the transboundary, long-range emissions of the U.S. are reducing the long-term benefits of emissions reductions by other countries (including many small and developing countries as well as developed ones), a main issue is the ongoing damage your country is doing to others and the effect this is having on international relations. For those with any political insight, this means that the U.S. will be compelled to act by internationalism
      (outside the U.N. framework, so a focus on that is irrelevant) if it continues to refuse to direct itself to make a much bigger effort to reduce emissions;…”

      Sigh… if you think CO2 emissions produced here in the US are going to be a significant driver of our (existing) foriegn policy problems and world perceptions… you might need to expand your horizons a bit further East toward China and India as well.

      It is only too easy to point the blame at other people and places for your own problems. Europe has centuries of history where they think they know what is best for everyone else. How many european countries colonized the planet attempting to change cultures in order to enlighten them to their knowledge? Colonization proved to be a failure…. but it seems the underlying mentality has not changed…. same wolf, different sheep suit. Just because some EU countries are adopting policies that will economically hamper their ability to maintain global relevance (not just by CO2 mitigation stretegies, but through banning the use of many common and useful manufacturing materials as well) does not mean the rest of the global economic community will follow along.

    • Craig Loehle

      “reasonable policy options” assumes that you have properly characterized the rough direction and magnitude of both costs and benefits. But IMO the costs of carbon reduction are routinely underestimated, the impacts of warming are exaggerated, and the benefits of modest warming are ignored. How can one determine what if any policy is good under these circumstances?

  51. Ira Glickstein may be trying to ‘tread a middle way’ in order to win over the uncommitted, but there are so many fallacies in his arguments it isn’t worth the candle in my opinion. Here’s how global warming really works:

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/what-caused-global-warming-in-the-late-c20th/

    • I agree, tallbloke.

      Earth’s climate is controlled mostly by Earth’s heat source – the Sun.

      This is difficult for climatologists and other scientists to accept because:

      a.) Astrology and fortune-telling were discredited for making claims about the influence of the stars on individuals, and

      b.) Astronomers and astrophysicists promoted the equally false illusion – as mainstream science – that the interior of the Sun is 91% H and 9% He like the glowing ball of waste products seen at the top of the photosphere.

      Earth’s heat source is, in fact, a violent neutron star at the core of the Sun – much like the pulsar at the core of the Crab Nebula that recently surprised astronomers and astronomers by emitting “super-flares.”

    • A well thought out post at your blog, tallbloke. I too have been skeptical that more attention isn’t being paid to solar variability. Your inclusion of ocean H2O thermal energy is quite interesting. I will predict that we will see more research involving the solar/ocean dynamic in the next decade.

      • Thanks!

        I agree that as longer data series from ARGO become available, better studies will be done on climate sensitivity, and more searching questions will be asked about the ‘missing heat’.

        Then the light will dawn and my ideas about the long term storage of solar derived energy in the ocean will gain currency. At least, I hope so.

    • tallbloke
      As a site owner perhaps you could comment on what I fear might be the reason for three posts by Ira Glickstein at WUWT.
      Is it possible that Anthony Watts is trying to attract a wider spectrum of viewers/posters to his site?

      The Ira Glickstein posts are very naive and he just ignores the overwhelming negative response that his threads occasion.
      Ira seems to be very happy with the 900..+.. replies as an end in itself.

      There has been a very similar development on JoNovas site with posts by Michael Hammer.
      So if Judith is ever wanting to rack up numbers just for the hell of it, start topics like the Greenhouse Effect and the Second Law.

    • “The current small recovery in temperature following La Nina will be short lived, and global surface temperature will fall again, dropping to below January 2008 levels sometime in the next 6-10 months. This is risky, because ocean dynamics are poorly understood, and no-one knows how much or how fast the accumulated heat in them will be released. So, we will see. If the prediction fails, it isn’t a fatal blow to my hypothesis, but a rethink on temperature stratification in the deep will be in order. Another risk is that a couple of big volcanic eruptions going stratospheric might affect short term temperatures too. Volcanos and Earthquakes are more frequent at times of solar minimum, as we’ll see in another post.”

      Good to see that you grant yourself a rethink.
      But lets have some real numbers, lets be as hard on ourselves as we are on others. Lets see the maths on the temperature stratification

  52. andrew adams

    I would particularly like to hear from the “convinced” regarding whether any of Turnbull’s arguments (individually or collectively) are compelling.

    No. I’ve seen them a hundred times before and not found then compelling then, why would I do so now?

    I will comment on one particular remark of Turnbull’s.

    A body with these terms of reference is hardly likely to come up with the conclusion that nature trumps man. If you go to Barclays inquiring about setting up a bank account you are hardly likely to be advised that you should go to NatWest.

    Even if this analogy was valid (which it isn’t) it would be rather ironic given that his essay was published by the GWPF. Why would one expect an impartial viewpoint from a think tank dedicated to pushing “skeptical” views?

    Having said that, I can certainly think of occasions when I have approached a business with a view to using their services and been given honest advice which has led me to either declining their services altogether or spending less money than I may have otherwise have done. In fact I’d like to think I am similarly honest when dealing with customers of the organisation I work for.

    • aa,
      You have demonstrated many times that you are highly resistant to reason and facts.
      Turnbull is not going to help you deal with that problem.

      • andrew adams

        hunter,

        Well what you consider to be “reason and facts” generally appear to me to be unsupported assertions, exaggerations or outright falsehoods, non-sequiteurs, straw man arguments and such like.

      • aa,
        You mean like those claims that the Russian heatwave was caused by AGW?
        Or that the Australian floods were caused by AGW?
        Or that Katrina was caused by AGW?
        Or that no matter the weather, it is caused by AGW?
        Or that the sea levels are rising at alalrming rates?
        An AGW believer is the last person who should be talking about using “unsupported assertions, exaggerations or outright falsehoods, non-sequiteurs, straw man arguments and such like.”

      • andrew adams

        hunter,

        If anyone claims with confidence that those events were caused by AGW then that would indeed be an unsubstantiated assertion, but then that is not the mainstream pro-AGW view – most of us are extremely cautious about attributing specific extreme events to AGW. Of course if anyone claims with confidence that there is no link between these events and AGW then that would be equally unsubstantiated.

        And of course I could quote many far more ridiculous claims from your “side”, we could play this game all day and much longer – it is never exactly difficult to find people saying silly thinks on the internet on both sides of any argument.

      • andrew adams,
        I’m hesitant to belabor a side issue, but the logical onus of tying individual events to AGW rests with the proponents. One doesn’t show/prove that Charlie didn’t rob the bank or the horse didn’t climb the tree.

        Secondly, many to most (but certainly not all) proponents try to convince people that extreme events are caused by AGW but in such a way to have plausible deniability and an escape hatch. They say “it could be,” “it very well might be,” evidence indicates,” “there is a good chance,” “makes logical sense,” etc. all with the hope against hope that the people will buy it and become a convert to the cause. But if called to task they can always claim that they never said, “IS caused.” Why don’t they say ‘it could be something else’? Why say anything at all?

      • andrew adams

        Rod B,

        Sure, of course the onus is on those making the case to provide the proof, which is why most of us are generally hesitant to appear too confident about claims linking extreme events with AGW. But it seems that we can’t win either way – we get castigated when we use language which is over-confident but when we are careful to properly reflect the uncertainties you see it as an attempt to avoid taking responsibility for our arguments. Your comment seems to make an assumption that we are arguing in bad faith, in which case there seems little point in me responding at all.
        But to answer your point anyway, there is a difference between pointing out that there is no proof that specific extreme events are caused by AGW and denying the possibility of any link. The latter requires an assumption that factors resulting from AGW, ie higher air temperatures, more moisture in the atmosphere, more heat in the oceans will not influence weather events. To me that is absurd so it is entirely reasonable to point out that such claims require justification.

      • Equally, the ridiculous claims you mention may not necessarily be the mainstream sceptical view.
        Also, some or other view can be majority without being mainstream – or vice-versa

      • My view is that those events are linked to AGW in much the same way as getting rich is linked to buying a lottery ticket.

      • aa,
        Direct this to Trenberth, Romm, etc.
        We are not talking about people who do not understand physics and think there is no ghg effect. We are talking about the well funded, nobel prize winning promoters of AGW.
        To twist this into a blame-the-skeptic point is ridiculous and only underscores how far off base true believers are.
        To pretend there is symmetry in this is to admit defeat on your part.

      • andrew adams

        hunter,

        Any impression I gave that there is some kind of symmetry came out of a desire not to make this argument unduly confrontational. Actually the “skeptics” are far more guilty of the kind of arguments I mentioned.

      • aa,
        If by ‘far more guilty’ you were referring to believers, you are right on the money.
        But if you really think skeptics publish more bs on the climate and sell more fear mongering crap than believers, then you need to either recharge your integrity battery or buy a new one.

  53. “My opinion is that this won’t convince the astute public who aren’t already convinced to be skeptical. Your thoughts?”

    In my opinion being “sceptical” means being “scientific”. To argue from the facts and not from some “authority” – that’s what the UK Royal Society’s motto means – but one that apparently is neither understood nor put into action by the present “scientists” running that society.

    But this question of believing the “experts” is much wider than just science. In the law we are constantly finding expert testimony being accepted even though it amounts to little more than personal opinion.

    But to put a positive light on it, I think that is just how some people like to work. There are many people (indeed all of at one time or other) base our assessment of truth on what others say. If you like that way of working, you tend to favour the “alarmist” viewpoint. If however, you like to draw your conclusions from the evidence, then you tend to favour a sceptical (i.e. scientific) approach.

    So, to be quite frank, there are many people who you could argue the facts to until you are blue in the face, and unless you happen to be some wellknown “scientist” they won’t listen to a word you say.

    On the other hand, there are sceptics (like me) who will look at the evidence, come to our own interpretations, and won’t care a hoot what some so-called “expert” has to say … believing that the facts speak louder than anyone’s opinion.

    Of course, life is not so black and white. Everyone sources truth from both facts and other people’s opinions, so there is a vast bulk of people in the middle many of whom are very influential, many persuaded by the “eminent scientists” spreading the global warming hysteria, but who could be persuaded by a good dollop of evidence to lean to the sceptic side.

    • andrew adams

      If however, you like to draw your conclusions from the evidence, then you tend to favour a sceptical (i.e. scientific) approach.

      Well I’m certainly in favour of people adopting a properly sceptical approach when dealing with this or any other scientific question. Of course it’s perfectly possible to do this and still conclude that AGW is real and is a threat. Similarly, just because someone call themselves an “AGW sceptic” that does not in itself prove that they have adopted such an approach themselves.

      On the other hand, there are sceptics (like me) who will look at the evidence, come to our own interpretations, and won’t care a hoot what some so-called “expert” has to say … believing that the facts speak louder than anyone’s opinion.

      Well being properly sceptical of expert opinion is one thing, “not giving a hoot” about it is another. Science is often counter-intuitive, evidence and facts often require interpretation. Being aware of the limits of our own knowlege and understanding is also important when trying to reach conclusions on complex subjects and we should be wary of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

      • Andrew, of course it is possible to be properly sceptical and come to a conclusion that mankind is warming the globe. That is after all the likeliest outcome of the science. However the science only supports around 1C of warming and anything more is a load of BS from people who seem to have nothing better than inventing imaginary reasons why the world would warm a lot more (3x) than the science would support.

        As for your Dunning Kruger effect. What a load of codswallop. Of course people underestimate and overestimate their ability … but it hardly needs some expert to tell me the blindingly obvious let alone give some ridiculous name to it. Next they’ll be saying that some people make mistakes when adding up numbers and creating the Codswallop-de-boolship effect.

        As for science being counter-intuitive … I’ve never found it to be counter intuitive … but then I’ve never had any problem understanding science … but then again I find many people intentionally explain science in the most complicated way possible presumably in a vain attempt to pretend they understand something incredibly complex that only a few people can understand. As far as I am concerned, if science sounds counter-intuitive, then you would best find a better instructor.

      • Rob Starkey

        It is difficult to understand the actions implemented in the UK to limit climate change. How do people manage to get elected?

      • andrew adams

        Scottish Sceptic

        However the science only supports around 1C of warming and anything more is a load of BS from people who seem to have nothing better than inventing imaginary reasons why the world would warm a lot more (3x) than the science would support.

        Except that estimates of climate sensitivity are not “invented”, they are the outcome of a great deal of research based on multiple lines of inquiry. On what basis do you feel able to dismiss this large body of research out of hand?

        As for DK, there are all kinds of fallacies which people fall prey to in debates on many issues and they are indeed often blindingly obvious. But we still give them fancy Latin names and the fact that they are obvious and often pointed out does not stop people using them time and time again, and as long as they do so it is reasonable to point it out. And we do often see examples of DK in arguments about AGW.

  54. To the Ira Glickstein ppt show I agree with Judith’s “yawn” (this has all been said before). There are some cute ppt effects, the Orland/Marysville comparison is real (but has been made earlier on WUWT), the hockey “schtick” story is old hat by now (Montford’s book tells it all), as are the stories of manipulation of the US GISS temperature record (with the interactive graph showing the impact of the ex post facto adjustment).

    The Lord Turnbull essay is something else. It also does not reveal anything basically new per se, but gives a well-reasoned and clearly expressed rationale for his position in the ongoing scientific and political debate surrounding AGW.

    The Really Inconvenient Truth is that the propositions of the IPCC do not bear the weight of certainty with which they are expressed.

    Even if the IPCC scenarios were correct, the impacts are frequently selective and exaggerated

    And especially:

    From our politicians we need open-mindedness, more rationality, less emotion and less religiosity; and an end to alarmist propaganda and to attempts to frighten us and our children. Also we want them to pay more attention to the national interest and less to being global evangelists.

    Finally we need from our scientists more humility (“Do not claim to be wiser than you are” Romans 12), and a return to the tradition of scientific curiosity and challenge. We need more transparency and an end to attempts to freeze out dissenting voices. There should be more recognition of what they do not know. And acceptance of the Really Inconvenient Truth – that our understanding of the natural world does not justify the certainty in which the AGW views are expressed.

    “Uncertainty” is what it’s all about, folks.

    Good stuff.

    The debate (Judith/PaulM) on whether Turnbull is a “lukewarmer” or a “skeptic” depends on where you sit, IMO.

    As I understand it, a “lukewarmer” agrees that there is a theoretical and practical GH effect, that CO2 is a GHG and that humans add CO2 to the environment. However, he/she is “skeptical” of the IPCC premise that AGW, caused principally by human CO2 emissions, has been the primary cause of 20th century warming and thus represents a serious potential threat to our society and our environment.

    So, to a “true believer” in the IPCC premise, this person is a “skeptic” (as he/she is “skeptical” of the premise.

    But to a complete denier that there even is a GHE, this person is a “lukewarmer”.

    Proving the statement (I think by FDR):

    Where you stand [on an issue] depends on where you sit.

    Max

  55. Alexander Harvey

    Is this just wonderful rhetoric or is it sophistry?

    To affirm the latter would be to infer his intent and impugn his honour. A thought I must disdain, for Lord Turnbull is an honourable man, to be so honoured.

    By borrowing another device, I can say what his precise words would be were I their author. An essay in the art of the plausible: pure sophistry.

    For I, unlike Lord Turnbill who is an honourable man, would be lying by intent if not by word. I would be inviting the reader to mislead themself by my careful choice of phrase. Careful not to be caught out in a flat lie, I would use much that sounds knowledgeable but is little more than plausibly unfalse. I would keep careful account that things dubious be outnumbered by things beyond much doubt. I would gently hide my intent yet include guidance to your finding it. Keeping my designs to the subtextual, I would offer up a banquet to delight your palate. I would risk no new controversy, just state that the matter is controversial. I would keep a careful watch on all risk of direct challenge and set traps for the unwary critic. I would have mapped out the field prior to such conflicts.

    So I would be mendacious, and given that quality of the writing and the subtlety of my deceipt, a sophist. So I invite all, to read my version, which is word for word the same. I must let you be the judge of how misleading and manipulative my essay is, in contrast to his, for Lord Turnbull is an honourable man.

    Alex

  56. Used to like your site Judith but am now sick of Robert and his ilk. I’ll miss the good stuff though.

  57. Over at Joe Romm’s new blog, John Cook (skepticalscience) had a post entitled “How to tell a climate denier from a genuine skeptic.”

    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/06/02/234774/skeptic-climate-science-denier/

    According to this definition, IPCC ideologues

    http://judithcurry.com/2010/11/07/no-ideologues-part-iii/

    are climate deniers :)

    • Based on the criteria of John Cook, nobody passes the criteria of real skeptic, all are deniers of very many things.

      • Pekka Pirilä

        How about you and me (or any other person) betting on the global mean temperature trend for the period 2005 to 2015 for the hadcrut3vgl.txt data?

        If the trend is positive, you win. If it is negative or zero, I win.

        How about that?

        For example, for hadcrut3vgl.txt, from WoodForTrees.org, the global mean temperature trend for the period 1990 to 2000 was +0.25 deg C per decade warming. (http://bit.ly/laNiOu)

    • I don’t think I’ll be taking their word for it ;-)

    • Cook’s diatribe is ludicrous. He presents a list of highly controversial pro-AGW assertions and defines a denier as anyone who questions them. This is simply the school of AGW that insists that the science is settled beyond all rational doubt, so skeptics are irrational. Hence the psychological term “denial” which is a form of irrationality, typically induced by grief.

      • I have long held a similar view. By their definition a skeptic can not exist. True skeptics question evidence. But since AGWers own and present the evidence, if one doesn’t accept all of it, he, by their definition, is a “denier.”

    • Hi Judith,
      I recently had a comment pointing out the difficulty of determining the climate sensitivity and the lack of warming in the last decade censored by deletion at John Cook’s blog. Anecdotal evidence is arriving at a thread I set up of others who have suffered the same fate, leaving the warmista looking like the debate winners. This is intellectual dishonesty, and self delusion.

      It’s not surprising John Cook headed over to censor in chief Romm’s blog to tout his biased views and nasty tendency to psychologise about the mental state of his opponents. That way he can leave Romm to do the comment deletion while maintaining clean hands and a holier than thou attitude.

      http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/05/31/cooking-the-books-snip-snip-go-the-censors-scissors/

  58. Beth Cooper

    Thanks Tallbloke , your arguments and empirical observations helped clarify my own evolving view of the science, given the emerging data.

  59. Harold Pierce Jr

    Robert says:

    “Anyway, as I was saying, a carbon tax is the most efficient and least risky way of reducing carbon emissions. The belief that people and business will not adapt to a carbon tax to minimize any expense to themselves requires a complete rejection of the concept of the free market. The carbon tax puts the invisible hand to work reducing CO2 emissions.”

    We have a carbon sin tax here in BC which the gov sold to the people as being revenue neutral to it. To get us to accept this tax on fossil fuels, they bribed us by giving tax cuts to two lowest income tax brackets and to corporations and businesses but not to the indvidual wage earners and families with high incomes much above $120,ooo per year. The carbon tax on fossil fuels is essentially a wealth redistribution scheme.

    Presently, the carbon tax is $20 per tonne of CO2 equivalent (CE), will increase to $25 per tonne of CE on July 1 this year and to $30 per tonne of CE on July 1, 2012. The tax on nat gas is 22% of the commodity price for BC nat gas (ca $4.50 per gigajoule) and this is outrageous. I’m heavily taxed for space and water heating.

    So far this tax has had no effect on reduction of GHG emissions especially in the transportation sector.

    The carbon tax was introduced on July 1, 2008 and there was an implied promise the the tax would not be used any other government programs. We bought that.

    Just recently, our new premier, Christy “Crispy” Clark has proposed raiding carbon tax revenues to fund several public transportation projects. The carbon tax revenue is a big hony pot and the politicians can’t wait to get their greedy paws into it.

    The carbon sin tax on fossil fuels is just another consumption tax. Most people have no clue to the amount of carbon taxes they are paying and are not paying attention to the true intentions of the BC gov.

    You can download the “BC Climate Action Plan, The New Communist Manifesto” from:

    http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/cas/cap.html#cap

  60. UK Government Policy

    In the business-as-usual scenario, temperature is projected to rise by 1-1.5 deg C within the next 50 years

    20% of the mentioned period has been completed, and the rise in temperature was ZERO. How is this ZERO suddenly to jump to 1-1.5 deg C in the remaining 80% of the period?

    http://bit.ly/iWnr63

    These people don’t believe their own eyes.

  61. UK Government Policy

    “It is the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 80 percent lower than the 1990 baseline.”

    What if the global mean temperature anomaly is still about 0.5 deg C by 2030, instead of projected value of 1.1 to 1.9 deg C?

  62. Turnbull, p 7: “Low level cloud does have an insulating property but high-level cloud also has what is known as an albedo effect, reflecting the sun back into space, which is why cloudy days are cooler.” I had thought the conventional view was that that while all clouds absorb long-wave radiation and all reflect some sunlight, higher (cirrus) clouds reflect a smaller proportion of sunlight than deeper (low level, cumulus) clouds, and so are more likely to have a net warming effect. Have I misunderstood this?

    • Some clouds are ice particles, some are liquid droplets.
      Each behaves differently, if I recall correctly.
      Then there is the issue of vapor in the atmosphere, which I believe has different properties also.

    • Coldish – You are right. High cirrus clouds are net warmers, while low cumulus clouds are net coolers. Low level clouds exert a greenhouse effect, but it replaces the greenhouse effect of cloud-free air at low altitudes, which is already strong, and so the net increase in infrared (IR) absorption is only modest. In contrast, the albedo effect is strong.

      High cirrus clouds are composed of ice and tend to be thin. Clouds at high altitude exert a greenhouse effect much stronger than the cloud-free air they replace, which is low in CO2 and water vapor. Reflective (albedo) effects are highly dependent on cloud thickness, whereas IR absorption is almost complete within a thin layer. In addition, the ice particles are larger but less numerous than water droplets in lower clouds. The larger size confers additional light-scattering (reflective) capacity, but this is outweighed by the reduction in number. For all these reasons, high cirrus clouds exert only modest albedo effects while retaining the ability of lower clouds to absorb almost all IR they encounter.

      • The main reason for the difference of the effect of low and high clouds is in my understanding in the fact that the high clouds have a lower temperature, while the temperature of the low clouds differs much less from the surface temperature. Therefore the high clouds radiate significantly less IR upwards than they absorb from below, while the difference is small for the low clouds.

        The strength of radiation from below is determined by the temperature of the point of origin, while the strength of radiation from the cloud is determined by it’s own temperature.

      • Pekka – I think we are largely saying the same thing about cloud radiative properties, although I put it in the context of a comparison between clouds and the cloud-free atmosphere they replace. At high altitudes, cirrus clouds behave very differently from the surrounding air – absorbing much more IR while emitting the absorbed IR both upward and downward at the ambient temperature – whereas at low altitudes, the cloud/air difference is smaller . In other words, the high clouds redirect much more radiation downward than the surrounding air, which is the essence of a potent greenhouse effect.

        The cloud temperature and emission phenonema are relevant to an important issue related to cloud feedbacks. Dennis Hartmann has suggested that due to altitude increases at which high clouds form in a warming climate, high cloud temperature will rise much less than surface temperature, thereby reducing heat loss to space and imparting a positive feedback to high cloud properties. This is discussed extensively in the J. Climate paper on the Fixed Anvil Temperature hypothesis.

      • Fred,
        You emphasized the difference between clouds at the same altitude, while I emphasized the influence of the altitude on the influence of the clouds on the radiation originating at the surface. They are different effects, and my belief is that the one I mentioned is much larger.

        Whether I’m correct or not, we both and Coldfish all agree on the sign of the effect. We disagree only on details of the mechanisms that lead to this effect.

      • Low clouds at a slightly lower temperature than the Earth surface will also reduce the magnitude of the convective flow.
        Since convection is by far the biggest heat transfer mechanism in the atmosphere, its changes should not be overlooked.

      • Pekka – I emphasized the difference between clouds and cloud-free air at the same altitude, and between clouds at different altitudes – also between the dimensions and properties of high, thin ice clouds and low, thick water droplet clouds.

        Although it may be a small point, at high altitudes, clouds will emit all the radiative energy they absorb, just as they do at low altitudes, warming to whatever temperature is necessary for that to happen. If they absorb much IR, they will emit much IR. To me, the critical “greenhouse” aspect to that radiative effect is that it redirects about half of upwardly directed radiation from below back downward, whereas air at the same altitude would allow almost all IR to proceed upward without interception.

      • Fred,

        “If they absorb much IR, they will emit much IR.”

        I’m not sure, whether I interpret that in the way you mean. It’s equally true for clouds as it’s for all other substances that the emissivity is equal to absorptivity, but the temperature of the clouds is very close to that of the atmosphere outside of the clouds at the same altitude. Thus their emission is determined by this emissivity and the temperature at that altitude, while their absorption is determined by the absorptivity (=emissivity) and the intensity of the radiation that reaches them. At wavelengths of the most transparent atmospheric window that intensity is given by the Planck’s law at the temperature of the Earth surface. They stop this radiation and replace it by the reduced radiation that corresponds to their own temperature. This is a major effect for the high clouds, but much smaller for the low clouds.

      • My interpretation is that clouds will absorb IR, leading to thermalization within the clouds and in surrounding air, but that ultimately, absorbed energy must be re-emitted in the form of IR photons that will be directed both upwards and downwards. Some will come from the clouds themselves and some from CO2 and water in their surroundings, but it must all be accounted for. That is why I stated that energy absorbed must equal energy emitted, and why I emphasized the directional change rather than the quantity emitted. What else could happen to absorbed radiation if it is not eventually to be re-emitted?

      • My view is that the extra energy is transferred to the surrounding gas through conduction and also by radiation at wavelengths absorbed strongly also by the surrounding gas, while the influence on the radiative balance comes from the wavelengths of the atmospheric window.

      • From Pierrehumberts book, page 355:

        “In essence, a cloud that is optically thick in the infrared acts like a new “ground,” radiating upward into the upper part of the atmosphere with a blackbody temperature Tc (Tc = temperature of the cloud).”

      • What about thunderclouds, in which massive updrafts hoist huge amounts of heat many thousands of feet in altitude?
        Radiation is not the only game in town.

      • The uplift connected to the thunderclouds is part of the convective transfer of heat and moisture that results in the exiting lapse rate. They have also their share in the radiative balance, but only to the extent that their prevalence allows.

      • Peter317 says;

        …..”Radiation is not the only game in town.”…..

        How true!!!
        Convection is regarded by all serious commentators as the most significant method of heat transfer in the atmosphere.
        Yet here we have a dialog between Pekka and Fred ( both IPCC advocates) concerning low clouds with near Earth surface temperatures.
        Both convective and radiative heat transfer will be reduced.
        No mention, is made at all, of the convective component.
        Stereotypes are being confirmed!

      • Radiation is only the only game in town at the TOA.
        Below that, it plays a relatively minor role.

      • Right Peter. Convection determines the lapse rate in most of the troposphere (not so clearly in polar regions). That’s part of the picture we have been discussing with Fred, although our discussion has concentrated on radiation that’s the only significant mechanism for energy loss from the Earth to space.

        The clouds have a significant role in determining, how easily IR radiation can escape to the space. The high clouds are effective in reducing this energy flux.

      • A clarification question:

        Pekka, I think the spontaneous emission from a mass of gas is only indirectly related to temperature as a factor in how many molecules on average are excited to begin with, but has no relationship on the tendency of an individual molecule to emit. Is this correct? Though I don’t think this applies to clouds, so I might have missed your point.

      • Temperature determines, how many molecules of gas are in each excited state. The rate of emission of those molecules that are in a particular state depends on the properties of that state, not on temperature. Thus the actual rate of emission is the product of the number of molecules in the excited as state determined by the temperature and the coefficient that depends on the properties of that state.

        The same properties of the excited states determine also, how strongly the gas absorbs radiation in a process that leads to these excited states. The strength of emission and the strength of absorption are linked through this connection. This is the way the Kirchoff’s law applies to each type of molecule and each wavelength separately. (Kirchoff didn’t know anything about these microscopic phenomena, but the law can anyway be interpreted in this way.)

        For liquids and solids the situation is different as both can absorb and emit at all wavelengths of a wide range. The droplets and crystals are essentially small black bodies for the IR wavelengths.

      • “clouds will emit all the radiative energy they absorb, just as they do at low altitudes, warming to whatever temperature is necessary for that to happen.”

        Actually I should have picked this sentence. I don’t believe that it’s true that the clouds warm to whatever temperature is necessary for that to happen. Rather I believe that they remain at a temperature close to that typical for the altitude. Radiation at the wavelengths of high absorptivity in the atmosphere is automatically close to balance the its coming from gas at essentially the same temperature. Where the difference is, is in the radiation of the atmospheric window, and that cannot warm the clouds much. Otherwise they would rise even higher and cool by that. Even in the clouds the mass fraction of droplets or ice crystals is very small and most of the material is gas.

      • I mixed something in one sentence of my message, where I meant to say: “.. close to balance, because the radiation is emitted by gas at essentially the same temperature.”

      • Pekka,
        If clouds warm too much, they dissolve- they pass the dew point.
        What difference, if any, is there between clouds of ice, clouds of water, and water vapor, in terms of IR and reflectivity?

      • Although we don’t seem to be in complete disagreement, my perception is best summarized by my earlier comment at Comment 73117, to which I would add that the thermalization will result in warming of both clouds and surrounding air, with the temperatures of the two remaining fairly similar, but higher than in the absence of the absorbed IR or the absence of the clouds. The rise in temperature may be relatively small, but when back calculated to the surface via the lapse rate, it yields a rise in surface temperature, as might be expected from atmospheric greenhouse effects.

        I’m not sure how “window” wavelengths come into this. I also don’t know how much of the “window” IR is absorbed by cloud water, but it may be considerable. However, that should be true regardless of altitude.

        (Regarding the temperature change required for absorptions and emissions to remain balanced when a cloud is added to an atmospheric layer, I haven’t seen this formally addressed, but it’s reasonable to relate this to the increase in internal absorptions/emissions within the layer as a fraction of the total. I expect that the rate of internal absorptions might be proportional to the square of the water molecule concentration (or perhaps some other power), but in any case, when the concentration is high, a larger fraction of emitted IR will fail to escape the layer, and so a temperature increase would be required for escaping emissions to equal IR photon energy entering the layer.)

      • To some extent, a rise in temperature would also be expected due to mixing with lower layers that have warmed due to the down radiation from the clouds.

      • Stirling English

        Have either of you guys got anything close to any experimental data and/or maths to go with your theories?

        Coz if not you are reminiscent of two old guys endlessly droning on at each other in the local boozer.

        Hypothesising is all very well, but eventually you have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

        Show us the numbers.

      • Fred,

        Perhaps we have been talking partially on different issues.

        The radiative warming of the high clouds increases their temperature for stratospheric clouds, but not for the clouds of the upper troposphere, where the convection controls the temperature and an increase in radiative heating is automatically counteracted by a decrease in convective heat transfer, which continues until the adiabatic lapse rate has been reached.

        As the troposphere is most important in determining the surface temperature, I had only the tropospheric clouds in mind.

      • Alexander Harvey

        Fred, Pekka, and all,

        This is a very good reason for why we have models. It is very easy to find oneself arguing about the effect of one change with all else being equal. I do not think one can inject a cloud into a cloudless sky while all else is equal. One needs to change the water vapour profile for a start and also consider the corresponding variation in the lapse rate and whether stratification is occurring.

        I do not think one can consider energy budgets at the cloud surfaces or in the radiative path above and below without considering SW absorption and hence cloud type, time of day, latitude, season, and of course what happens at night.

        If one is trying to generate a rule that compares the effects of low clouds vs high clouds in a climatic sense (where one is looking at long term changes in cloud patterns and deducing whether the changes tend to cool or warm). One needs to know the about cloud development and what types of clouds are occurring in the morning, around midday, in the evening, and at night.

        Put it this way, I would be happier not to attempt all this.

        I think it is true that in general that a sky with just high clouds tends to minimise outbound IR and may not have a high albedo, and low clouds may produce the opposing effects. But albedo does not, in isolation, tell us all we need to know about outbound SW.

        Also it is not that uncommon for clouds to form at several heights above the same spot, or for different layers to shade each other even though the are not vertically above each other.

        There are two obvious approaches to this issue, to take longer term measurements that include cloud cover and radiation measurements, or to use climate models to ascertain the cloud and radiation patterns and deduce their effect according to that particular happenstance.

        I think the general rule probably holds, but I should not like to attempt to justify or explain it in any detail.

        Alex

      • For the radiation budget, the important thing about clouds is how they appear from space in the longwave and shortwave compared to clear sky. High clouds reflect shortwave and emit relatively little longwave, due to having cold tops, so the shortwave effect is one of cooling, and the longwave effect is one of relative warming (less outgoing radiation than clear sky). These offset each other to a large extent. Low clouds also reflect shortwave (cooling), and emit less longwave than clear sky, but only a little less because their tops are almost as warm as the surface. So low clouds are dominated by albedo and have a cooling effect.

      • Alexander Harvey

        Jim D:

        I also asked about at night or in winter?

        It is a where, when, what question. In particular I think one can get onto very sticky ground if one tries to infer the difference that a trend towards more high or low level cloud would have. One cannot have just more of a cloud type, one must also have the atmospheric conditions needed to produce it.

        I thnk people are trying to answer an “all other things being equal” question, which is fine, but I doubt that it is necessarily applicable when all other things take on their necessary values or if the trends differ between night and day or summer and winter.

        Alex

      • “I think people are trying to answer an “all other things being equal” question, which is fine, but I doubt that it is necessarily applicable when all other things take on their necessary values or if the trends differ between night and day or summer and winter.”

        Alex – Your statement is irrefutable, but “all other things being equal” is a valuable tool for me, and I presume others, to examine, test, and refine our understanding of how a particular process operates – in this case, radiative transfer in the presence of clouds with potent IR-absorbing properties. In fact, from the discussion since yesterday, I believe I’ve acquired a firmer grasp of the relationship between the concentration of an IR absorber, cloud water, and the effect on radiative emissions and temperature at both the top and bottom of clouds, within the clouds, the surrounding air, the atmosphere below the clouds, the surface, and the extent to which the fraction of escaping IR shifts in its spectral distribution. As you suggest, this would have to be put into a model that allows interaction with all other climate elements for a quantitative interpretation, and in some cases, but probably not most, for even the sign of the change.

        Regarding night/day and winter/summer differences, I believe that during intense sunshine hours, the albedo (cooling) effect predominates for all cloud types, whereas at night, all clouds warm. In the case of high cirrus clouds, the net effect is likely to be one of warming at latitudes or seasons with relatively low solar intensity, but in the tropics, longwave warming and shortwave cooling are likely to be similar in magnitude but opposite in sign, with little net effect.

      • Alexander Harvey

        Fred,

        I have been trying to dream up some sort of example to illustrate why I hesitate over clasifying clouds into warming and cooling so easily.

        To do this I will propose the existence of a neutral cloud, one that neither warms nor cools and speculate.

        Obviously this is a cloud that (on average?) reflects as much SW as it blocks outgoing LW.

        First I will consider a totally LW opaque cloud, that radiates LW according to its characteristic temperature.

        I want to know how much this reduces outbound LW. This depends on many things. In addition to the LW upwards from the cloud, I need the upwards LW which would have occurred at the the height of the top of the cloud if the cloud was not there, but I also need to consider differences between how the with, and the without, cloud upwards LW is modified by the atmosphere above the cloud. These two terms are sensitive to the water vapour profiles above and below the cloud.

        Let’s say I can calculate a maximum for the amout of LW that could be blocked in a particular case. The maximum would occur when all the LW entering the cloud from below was absorbed. Let’s also say that I know an e-folding coefficient for the blocking effect in terms of cloud thickness.

        Now viewed from above I have similar problems for I need to know more than the reflectivity of the cloud. To know what would have happened to the incident SW if the cloud hadn’t been there and also what happens to the reflected light from the cloud. So I would need to know about the reflectivity of the land/ocean below, etc. Let’s say I can do all that and come up with a value for the maximum increase in reflected SW due to the cloud. Let’s also say that I know the SW reflection coefficient for the cloud in terms of thickness. Hopefully this is the end of the boring bit and I can get on to the speculative bit.

        Now how could I use this information to build a neutral cloud. This is were I speculate that the relative e-folding coefficients for LW blocking and SW reflection in terms cloud thinkness differ with the SW coefficient having the greater characteristic distance.

        So as I create my cloud by thickening, starting from nothing, the LW blocking approaches its maximum before the SW reflection approaches its.

        The relative sizes of the maximal LW and SW effects will eventually come to dominate for a thick cloud. For a thin cloud it is the relative rate of change of the LW and SW effects with distance that tells me whether the cloud initially tends to warm or cool. If the initial and final dominances differ then somewhere in between I will have a neutral cloud at a certain thickness.

        I think that the prevailing wisdom is that for clouds of some types, at some altitudes, and for some column profiles, such a neutral thickness exists. E.G. at high altitudes (e.g. cirrus) but also at medium altitudes.

        See: “Cloud Feedbacks in the Climate System: A Critical Review (GL STEPHENS – 2005)” Table 1 for an analysis that shows both high and medium level clouds changing sign with thickness.

        Now it may be, and likely is, the case that for a particular column profile there exists a critical height below/above which neutral clouds cannot exist. So for lower/higher heights one could be definitive about stating that a cloud was cooling (or warming) irrespective of thickness. Above/below this critical height the determination of cooling or warming is dependent on thickness.

        Now my speculation as to cause may be incorrect wholely, or in many details (update see * below), but some of the factors mentioned might yet play their parts in assertaining a value for the critical height, and I haven’t even mentioned droplet size!

        If asked to guess, my inclination would be that where a critical height exists it is lower in the tropics and higher at the poles, as I think that most of the tendencies involved favour that interpretation. Even so, I would be at a loss to give a value to the neutral thickness for clouds at particular altitudes, and not knowing that, I would resist saying whether a particular cloud at a particular height would be warming or cooling.

        To go any further than this I would need a LW/SW radiative model that included the various cloud types and thicknesses, and the various latitudinal zones in the varying seasons. Maybe I am being pedantic, but I would prefer to say, cautious.

        (Update *)

        Here is a professional analysis:

        “Stephens and Webster: Clouds and Climate: Sensitivity of Simple Systems 1981″

        http://webster.eas.gatech.edu/Papers/Webster1981a.pdf

        I haven’t read this paper yet it is cited by the first paper (Stephens 2004 above), it gives a method of figuring out whether a cloud is warming or cooling and should be a better guide than mine.

        Skimming I can see that it comes to the same orthodox general conclusion but indicates conditions under which those conclusions are wrong (e.g. all clouds warm in high latitude winters and critical values of albedo at which warming/cooling changes sign). It uses temperature to indicate warming not TOA balance, and I think this may add an additional complication which makes a direct comparison difficult.

        *****

        On a general note, I fear that popular descriptions of these effects have arisen from a need to explain the existence of positive cloud feedback and that an emphasis on the existence of warming clouds is going to come back and haunt us, if it hasn’t already. I feel that these effects are complex and worry that too narrow and tidy a picture of clouds has been put over in the blogoshpere.

        It is my opinion that there is going to be trouble afoot from either the satellite data in the long term or perhaps from the CLOUD experiment which is due out soon. I watched a recent videod presentation by Jasper Kirkby and he seemed like a happy bunny. If he has come up with something that suggests a strong possibility of cloud cover modulation in regions with low natural CCN densities, I may personally throttle some people who I think have been overly dismissive of the possibility of a significant GCR effect, should this all turn into Cloudgate.

        Should this effect exist (and I think that a regional effect probably does) it would be better had it been embraced and scoped (it is not going to be dominant) and even looked forward to in the range of a multiplier of 2-4 times direct TSI effect. If this goes pear shaped orthodox AGW theory could be a laughing stock.

        Alex

      • Alex – If your comment (before the update) represented your original thinking, I would say your insight is extraordinary, because it all matches what I’ve seen written on the topic. The update on polar winters is also important in identifying a circumstance where cloud warming is likely to predominate. Much of what you state is described in Pierrehumbert’s 2011 book, “Principles of Planetary Climate”, on pp. 354-358.

        The one point I would add is that while it is true that there are few clouds that are strongly biased toward warming and many that tend to cool, high, thin cirrus ice clouds exhibit a greater warming tendency and a lesser cooling tendency than low, thick, cumulus clouds. Therefore, while overall cloud effects in our climate will inevitably be negative, changes that increase the high cirrus/low cumulus ratio will constitute a warming phenomenon. Both HIRS and ISCCP data suggest that over recent decades, which have seen a warming trend for surface temperature, there has been a general tendency for this ratio to increase, with either little change in overall cloud cover or perhaps a slight reduction. There has also been considerable interannual variation. The results can be interpreted in a variety of ways, but tend to be inconsistent with a process involving a strong negative cloud feedback response to rises in temperature on a multidecadal basis.

      • PS – As far as I know, the CLOUD experiment is unlikely to shed much light on the quantitative significance of the GCR effect in the real world. However, I agree with you that the effect is probably real, and small.

      • Fred –
        Therefore, while overall cloud effects in our climate will inevitably be negative

        Never seen that admission written in the blogosphere before – maybe I run in the wrong circles? :-)

        What Alex wrote is, for the most part, in agreement with the results of cloud analyses that were done in the 1970’s.

        AFAIK, those studies were never published, they were internal studies that were done to improve spacecraft scheduling and data acquisition for Landsat – and later for the LACIE program. Those studies are part of my skepticism – the results don’t match what I’ve heard for the last 10-12 years about cloud effects. I’ll know more after I read Alex’s reference – tonight.

      • Jim – This is universally concluded in the climatology literature – that clouds have an overall cooling influence. I have never seen any disagreement on that point. The critical question involves the direction and magnitude of change in response to warming – do the clouds cool more (a negative feedback), or do they cool less (a positive feedback)? The HIRS and ISCCP data are hard to reconcile with a significant multidecadal negative feedback.

      • Jim,

        Fred’s revelation is not extraordinary. As another source IPCC AR4 WG1 report states on page 635:

        The balance between these two components depends on many factors, including macrophysical and microphysical cloud properties. In the current climate, clouds exert a cooling effect on climate (the global mean CRF is negative).

        When the report goes further and starts to discuss the influence of clouds as feedback to warming by additional CO2, the conclusion is not as clear:

        8.6.3.2.4 Conclusion on cloud feedbacks

        Despite some advances in the understanding of the physical processes that control the cloud response to climate change and in the evaluation of some components of cloud feedbacks in current models, it is not yet possible to assess which of the model estimates of cloud feedback is the most reliable. However, progress has been made in the identifi cation of the cloud types, the dynamical regimes and the regions of the globe responsible for the large spread of cloud feedback estimates among current models. This is likely to foster more specific observational analyses and model evaluations that will improve future assessments of climate change cloud feedbacks.

        These conclusions don’t tell anything about the sign of the cloud feedbacks. In the text between these two quotes we can read:

        .. roughly half of the climate models predicting a more negative CRF in response to global warming, and half predicting the opposite. Several studies suggest that the sign of cloud feedbacks may not be necessarily that of CRF changes (Zhang et al., 1994; Colman, 2003a; Soden et al., 2004), due to the contribution of clear-sky radiation
        changes (i.e., of water vapour, temperature and surface albedo changes) to the change in CRF. The Partial Radiative Perturbation (PRP) method, that excludes clear-sky changes from the definition of cloud feedbacks, diagnoses a positive global net cloud feedback in virtually
        all the models.

        Thus one way of looking at the net change in the influence of clouds leaves the sign completely open while another definition gives more positive results to the extent that almost all models conclude that the cloud feedback is positive. The two different ways do not refer to different overall feedbacks, but to a different way of dividing that overall effect to components.

        My purpose is not to start any argument on the quality of these results, but only to show, that IPCC reports are quite different from many are led to think.

      • Alexander Harvey

        Fred,

        Yes that was my original thinking, supported only by the principle that cooling does in fact turn to warming at some point.

        Regarding Jasper Kirkby:

        Google “Jasper Kirkby: The CLOUD experiment at CERN” for a recent presentation. He gives no results and it is the UV chemistry part that seems the most interesting. He isn’t telling what they have found but it could be significant as I think no one else has been able to afford such experimentation. He also discusses some other authors work that indicates tropospheric cooling during solar maxima. If that is respected work and he has found anyhting in the chemistry that also points the wrong way then we are searching for an effect to explain the observed warming.

        I cannot give more details as I was not able to concentrate all that well at the time I was watching it. I may have got the wrong end of the stick.

        Regarding the IPCC, those that have tried to give it an impartial reading find themsleves wading through doubt and uncertainty. That people have been told the opposite is significant. That Lord Turnbull, who is an honourable man, can get away with his characterisation is alarming.

        There are scientists and commentators that object to a percieved IPCC bias towards including too much leeway for uncertainty. I think that some have taken it upon themselves to correct for this on the internut and in the media. I don’t think this is helpful, the IPCC has many purposes and one of those it it indicate the defensible positions.

        Anyway I am pleased if my physical insights still work on occassion, even if this be a rarity. The road from prodigious infancy to premature senility has few blessings.

        Alex

      • Alex, your point is well taken but I demur your thought that this is all too complex for scientists to think it through and they/we had best just leave it to the models to give us the answer.

      • Alexander Harvey

        Rob,

        Actually I do think that it is necessary to use a model as I think it is important to get some quantative idea. I think there are cases where general rules can even get the sign wrong.

        If it interests you take a look at my thinking on what needs to be considered that I incuded in my reply to Fred above.

        Alex

      • I agree with your general idea. I was commenting on that models contain or produce nothing that the confused scientists didn’t put in them. They just handle complex math better.

  63. Harry Bergeron

    As to what “politicians will find compelling”, you are on thin ice.
    Their mindsets allow them to ignore the “compelling” in favor of their getting themselves elected.

    They lie to themselves as readily as they lie to us.

  64. Pekka says

    …..”The uplift connected to the thunderclouds is part of the convective transfer of heat and moisture that results in the exiting lapse rate.”….

    The adiabatic lapse rate is derived from hydrostatic considerations.
    The convective overlay depends on acceleration conditions and other factors such as latent heat.
    The atmosphere is very complex and cannot be reduced to radiative transfer.

    • Bryan,

      Nobody is claiming that radiation would be the whole picture, but there are issues, where arguments based on radiation are powerful. Even they depend on the understanding of the atmosphere, where convection and latent heat are very important. Thus the convection is not forgotten, but it’s role is not restated in every message.

      Jim D presents in the above message concisely the same argument that I have perhaps not been able to give clearly enough.

  65. Over at Bishop Hill a commenter gave the following description of lukewarmer:

    “Now I’m probably some sort of a lukewarmer – I don’t e.g. agree with Turning Tide that the fact that CO2 concentrations are low means ipso facto that it is irrelevant.”

    ROTFL

  66. Stephen Wilde

    As regards clouds it all comes down to albedo.

    Energy that never enters the system is more important than energy which is slowed down in leaving the system.

    Here is a possible mechanism:

    http://www.irishweatheronline.com/features-2/wilde-weather/the-sun-could-control-earths-temperature/290.html

  67. The last (boldened) paragraph is not the least bit convincing to me (as a supporter of mainstream climate science), since it seems an almost literal translation of a bunch of assertions for which there is no compelling evidence.

    To the contrary, it evokes a defensive reaction because it reads as a thinly veiled accusation.

    • I also see it as an accusation and it is well deserved. Mainstream climate science does not even deserve to be called science. It’s bureaucracy.

    • Qouting the bible as a response to science was the ‘face-palm’ moment, coming as it did just a few sentances after demanding “less religiosity”. !

      What’s with the fascination of the ‘skeptics’ with people who call themselves ‘Lord’??