Climatic Change special issue on uncertainty guidance for the IPCC

by Judith Curry

It is now published:  the Climatic Change Special Issue on Guidance for Characterizing and Communicating Uncertainty and Confidence in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change.

Table of Contents

The online link for the special issue is [here].  The table of contents and links to the abstracts are provided below.  Open access is noted where available, and I also provide links to a few other papers that I managed to find online.

Evaluation, characterization, and communication of uncertainty by the intergovernmental panel on climate change—an introductory essay.  Gary Yohe and Michael Oppenheimer   (open access)

Reducing doubt about uncertainty: Guidance for IPCC’s third assessment.  Richard H. Moss

Treatment of uncertainties in IPCC Assessment Reports: past approaches and considerations for the Fifth Assessment Report.  Michael D. Mastrandrea and Katharine J. Mach                                                                          .

The IPCC AR5 guidance note on consistent treatment of uncertainties: a common approach across the working groups.  Michael D. MastrandreaKatharine J. MachGian-Kasper PlattnerOttmar Edenhofer and Thomas F. Stocker, et al. (open access)

Differentiating theory from evidence in determining confidence in an assessment finding.  Kristie L. Ebi

Applying the science of communication to the communication of science.  Baruch Fischhoff                                                                                                                                         .

Certainty, uncertainty, and climate change.  M. Granger Morgan and Carnegie Mellon                                                                                       .

Reasoning about climate uncertaintyJudith Curry   (open access)

The latest iteration of IPCC uncertainty guidance—an author perspective.  Roger N. Jones (open access)

Improving conveyance of uncertainties in the findings of the IPCC.  Rachael Jonassen and Roger Pielke [link]

High-consequence outcomes and internal disagreements: tell us more, please.  Robert H. Socolow (open access)

Climate uncertainties and their discontents: increasing the impact of assessments on public understanding of climate risks and choices.  Brenda EkwurzelPeter C. Frumhoff and James J. McCarthy  (open access)

Defense community perspectives on uncertainty and confidence judgments.  Marcus King and Sherri Goodman

Communicating climate change risks in a skeptical world.  John D. Sterman

Regulating knowledge monopolies: the case of the IPCC.  Richard S. J. Tol    [link] http://www.esri.ie/UserFiles/publications/WP350/WP350.pdf

Yohe and Oppenheimer’s overview paper

The editors of the special issue wrote an overview paper for the special issues. Some excerpts:

From the Introduction:

Since its inception in 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has worked with the growing recognition that uncertainty is pervasive in our understanding of the climate system: what drives climate change, what will determine its future course, and what influence it will have on important social and ecological aspects of our world. It is not news that the IPCC has struggled, with varying degrees of success, in its efforts to describe these uncertainties and to judge the confidence with which it can offer its major conclusions.  This most recent attempt, informed by the history of previous assessments, is the point of departure for the papers in this special issue of Climatic Change.

AR5 authors must do their work in a world that is marked by several recent, major changes in the climate change landscape that present larger challenges and opportunities. First of all, the Inter-Academy Council (IAC 2010) review of IPCC emphasized the treatment of uncertainty and, among other things, called for improvement in the way IPCC describes and communicates uncertainty with particular emphasis on increased consistency across working groups in order that conclusions become more comparable and more credible.

From “Description of the Special Issue”:

This Special Issue provides an opportunity for a wide-ranging discussion of IPCC’s past and possible future approaches to the evaluation, characterization, and communication of uncertainty. Authors who were invited to contribute to this collection of papers approached their assignments from a variety of perspectives. Some, like Richard Moss, Michael Mastrandrea, and Katharine Mach, were intimately involved in producing the guidance documents; their contributions describe the objectives of these documents and offer some introspective considerations of past experience and what we might expect in AR5. Others, like Kristie Ebi, Gian-Kasper Plattner, Ottmar Edenhofer, Thomas F. Stocker, Christopher B. Field, and Patrick R. Matschoss, are playing key roles as working group co-chairs or members of associated technical support units in the AR5 process; they, as well as one of us (G.Yohe) were involved in developing the AR5 Guidance document, and their contributions describe their aspirations and concerns as the AR5 authors set to work. Still others, like Granger Morgan and Baruch Fischoff, articulate weaknesses and strengths in IPCC guidance efforts from an extraordinarily experienced and informed vantage point: that of research into uncertainty judgment and communication. Meanwhile, Marcus King and Sherri Goodman use their experience with the defense and national security communities to describe an approach to communicating and coping with profound and unique types of risk and uncertainty. James Risbey, Roger Jones, Roger Pielke, Jr., Rachael Jonassen, and Judith Curry have already contributed to the literature, discussions and evaluations of IPCC practices and procedures with regard to judging and communicating uncertainty. Pielke and Jonassen offer an empirical evaluation of uncertainty language in the AR4 while Risbey, Jones and Curry suggest “ignorance” as another category of confidence—not one that brings the process to a complete standstill, but one that best describes the state of affairs in some circumstances. Humility, they would all argue, would be a virtue. Brenda Ekwurzel and Peter Frumhoff have worked from IPCC documents to try to communicate with broader audiences in language that is more accessible than the dense prose that IPCC prefers; their paper describes some of the challenges and opportunities that they have faced or enjoyed, respectively. John Sterman and Robert Socolow represent users of that information from within the broader research community; they express some frustration in interpreting summary statements from previous assessments and offer suggestions for reducing that burden. Finally, Richard Tol, who has been an IPCC participant for many years and has thought seriously about the structure and efficiency in the entire enterprise, offers an analogy between a standard natural monopoly in economic theory and the IPCC in practice vis a vis providing climate information to the international community. It allows him to offer some stark but constructive hypotheses and some novel but intriguing remedies.

From “The issue of consensus”:

To many, notably including Risbey and Curry in this special issue, the emphasis on consensus is the most troublesome limitation of IPCC assessment processes (for a general critique of the consensus approach to science, see Moore and Beatty 2010). Achieving consensus is, to be clear, one of the major objectives of IPCC activities. Paragraph 10 of the amended Procedures Guiding IPCC Work, for example, states that “In taking decisions, and approving, adopting and accepting reports, the Panel, its Working Groups and any Task Forces shall use all best endeavors to reach consensus” (http://ipcc.ch/pdf/ipcc-principles/ ipcc-principles.pdf). 

Two proposals have been advanced repeatedly for beginning to address the problem of creating, defending and communicating consensus results as well as departures from the consensus. The degree to which IPCC, through its working group leadership structure, resisted these proposals during the AR4 process is unsettling, given that the scientific communities from which IPCC authors are drawn are supposed to think analytically about the world as a whole. Apparently, this dictum does not extend to reflexive consideration within the IPCC process as it performs its assessments. Such reflexivity is entirely normal in social sciences, and increases, rather than decreases, the rigor of and confidence in the associated findings.

The first proposal calls for relaxing the focus on consensus and instead putting as much effort into presenting the full range of expert judgments. We and others have gone so far as to suggest that consensus on many key aspects of climate change is well known to governments; and we agree with Socolow in this issue, and others, when they argue that the value added from an assessment is in displaying the range of views. The most complete way to do so would be to present not only the range of views in the community, but also the range of views within the assessment group and perhaps even consider ripping off the mask of anonymity that cloaks our deliberations. Other ideas to increase transparency about the full spectrum of beliefs have surfaced, including opening author deliberations to scholars of decision-making, or/and the media.

The second urges that all Working Groups forgo the fiction that expert deliberations are entirely objective and that arriving at judgments by deliberation within what are usually small subgroups is the only permissible approach to assessment. Formal expert elicitation  (Morgan and Henrion; Morgan, this issue) has been proposed again and again (for example, before the first uncertainty guidance in the report of the Aspen workshop (see Moss 2011 and Hassol 1996) and it is troubling that the IPCC has repeatedly declined to explore its value. After all, there is only a sparse literature on the efficacy of IPCC’s favored approach (see below) in comparison to the relatively extensive scholarly literature on formalized elicitation of judgments This observation raises an important question in our mind: Why is IPCC so tied to a method whose value remains largely speculative, given how little it has been subject to scholarly study? Furthermore, it is unlikely that formalized elicitation as currently practiced is the only or even the best available alternative method for assessing expert knowledge. IPCC should be encouraging research into such approaches (much as they encourage research into new emissions scenarios, for example) rather than turning its back on them. If those who do such research had a client as large and visible as IPCC, then progress might occur quickly.

JC’s comments

I’ve read the abstracts to all of the papers, and about half of the entire articles.  I’ll briefly mention the papers that I found most interesting.

From Kristie Ebi’s paper:

The process begins with an assessment of the scientific evidence and agreement supporting a finding, where evidence is defined as including mechanistic understanding, theory, data, models, and expert judgment. Further, decision-makers often find it valuable for scientists to differentiate situations where a theory is generally agreed but for which supporting data are limited, from situations where empirical data lack an explanatory theory. The paper describes the approach used by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) for assessing the relative robustness of a theory separately from the strength and quality of its supporting evidence, and then developing consensus statements of whether an agent is a human carcinogenic. Although the IARC and IPCC processes are very similar, the IARC process also differs by combining theory, evidence, and agreement as equal partners in a limited set of standardized categories of confidence.

From Robert Socolow’s paper:

My principal recommendation for making the IPCC more helpful to the policy- making community is to strive in the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) to communicate fully what the climate science community understands and does not understand about high- consequence outcomes. This will require the AR5 authors to provide vivid information about future worlds where high-consequence outcomes have emerged. It will also require the AR5 authors to reveal any disagreements persisting among them after the give-and-take of the writing process has run its course. In the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) the presentation of high-consequence outcomes had shortcomings that can be rectified in AR5.

When knowledge is preliminary, it is also usually controversial, and the AR5 authors will need guidance regarding how to summarize discordant views. The AR5 Guidance Notes should help the authors distinguish synthesis from consensus. Disclosing only consensus should not be the objective. Rather, producing a synthesis, one that presents not only what everyone can agree upon but also important residual disagreements, is the objective. 

From Risbey and O’Kane’s paper:

Ignorance is an inevitable component of climate change research, and yet it has not been specifically catered for in standard uncertainty guidance documents for climate assessments. Reports of ignorance in understanding require context to explain how such ignorance does and does not affect understanding more generally. The focus of this article is on dynamical sources of ignorance in regional climate change projections.

Note that the admission of ignorance is different from admitting uncertainty more generally. There has been a relatively frank reporting of climate uncertainties in the literature and IPCC reports. However, these documents and the reporting of uncertainties in the literature have generally shied away from the border with ignorance (Funtowicz and Ravetz, 1990).

One reflection of the avoidance of ignorance is the categorization of the level of certainty of changes in climate variables in the IPCC uncertainty guidance. In the IPCC guidance documents  the degree of precision or knowledge of changes in climate variables can be expressed on a scale from “ambiguous” at the low certainty end through to quantification via a probability distribution at the high certainty end of the scale. There is no scope in the IPCC scale for professing less certainty than ambiguity. In the original schemes that the IPCC scale was based on  there is an additional category to represent “ignorance” (Risbey et al., 2002) or “effective ignorance” (Risbey and Kandlikar, 2007) at the low end of the certainty scale.

One could argue that there is no great need for a category of ‘ignorance’ in summarizing and categorizing findings in the IPCC. If the goal is to summarize what we know, then by definition there is no need for a category that connotes that we don’t know. We just wouldn’t report such things in a summary. However, the IPCC is also there to address relevant questions of the science for policy, and has a mandate to assess potential environmental and socio-economic impacts. Sometimes the best answer to some of the questions of the science asked by policy may be “we don’t know”, and that is why we have need for a category of ignorance. It would be nice just to dispense science advice where we know all the answers, but that would mean ignoring some of the most critical questions.

The paper by King and Goodman looks very interesting, but I have been unable to find a copy.

The issue of expert elicitation discussed in the Granger Morgan paper will be the topic of a future post.

My paper was discussed previously [here].

And finally, if you missed our previous discussion of Richard Tol’s paper, check it it, fascinating paper (and discussion).

JC conclusion:  Kudos to Yohe and Oppenheimer for organizing this special issue; I hope it has some impact on the IPCC.

190 responses to “Climatic Change special issue on uncertainty guidance for the IPCC

  1. But what about all the energy in the Sun……..

    :-)

  2. Judith –

    Do you consider this publication to be a product of the “climate science community?”

    If not, could you explain why you consider it not to be?

    • Also – if not, could you explain why it has relatively high impact factors?

    • It is a collection of papers authored by individuals, who were invited by the editors.

      • I’m trying to figure out how that answers my question.

        It seems to me that the description you just gave could be applied to any science journal.

        Anyway, does that mean that no, you don’t consider it to be a product of the “climate science community?”

      • It seems to me that the description you just gave could be applied to any science journal.

        Well – now that I think about it more, except the “invited by” part, as most journals accept articles for publication that were submitted without specific invitations being offered.

        Is that what you consider to be the distinction? And would that distinction mean that this publication is not a product of the “climate science community?”

      • Bar bar.
        =====

      • Is there some theoretical point at which an accumulation of publications such as this one would indicate that the “climate science community” is not fairly characterized as monolithic in nature?

        Since this is obviously a product of the climate science community, and since it highlights issues Dr Curry thinks are very important, there are a couple of possibilities:

        1. The climate science community is coming to agree with Dr. Curry and echo her concerns.

        2. The climate science community has been and continues to be more aware and open to these issues than Dr. Curry acknowledges.

        Dr. Curry may be disposed to think the former is the case, while you and I have been arguing the latter for some time. But this might be a case in which it is best to focus on where we are now: whether it represents a sea change or just business as usual, the climate science community acknowledges uncertainty and is actively seeking to better characterize it and account for it.

        That’s good news, and maybe debating whether it is breaking news or old news is a distraction.

      • Joshua,
        What part of “Special Edition” do you not fail to understand?

      • So – I guess that your answer is that it isn’t a product of the “climate science community?”

        I read posts on a regular basis at WUWT linking to articles published in well-established journals that (Anthony at least says) provide evidence that contrasts with the “dogma” of the “religion of AGW.”

        Is there some theoretical point at which an accumulation of publications such as this one would indicate that the “climate science community” is not fairly characterized as monolithic in nature?

      • Joshua
        Please don’t gum up the thread by introducing your pet theory yet again. It gets a bit boring after a while. Try something else for goodness sake!

      • Please don’t gum up the thread by introducing your pet theory yet again. It gets a bit boring after a while. Try something else for goodness sake!

        It would help if you didn’t post comments like that one!

        Anyway, this “pet theory” could have been cut off at the pass, if Judith had answered a yes or no question with a “yes,” or a “no.”

      • wawawa.. Judith didnt answer my question.
        stomp your feet next time IDJT

      • Actually, Steven, I’m not complaining.

        Ducking questions helps to prove my point that sometimes, Judith fails to live up to the high standards she, appropriately, sets for others.

      • Funny after reading Joshua for a while and now seeing him first on the thread stroking his pet theory, I long for the days of Oliver’s iron sun screed. I draw any parallels between the two men, other than the one you all get

      • Yet again focusing on “me,” eh steven? This is becoming a habit with you, isn’t it?

        W/hat I find interesting is that you very consistently respond to my posts, yet seem (AFAIK) ignore Oliver’s.

        Obviously, that must be because I’m a “troll,” who deserves your analysis of my intelligence, motivations, etc. Perhaps one day Judith will heed your call to delete my posts?

      • Anyway, I’m out for now.

        I’ll leave you all free from my “distractions” from your important work.

        Well, for a while.

      • Joshua,
        Ask the editors.
        The constant little drip-drip of your trying to be clever only makes you look like a drip.

      • steven mosher

        Ignore Oliver? Man have you got it wrong. You should catch up on your reading. But go ahead and suggest that I treat you exactly the same.

      • Yet again focusing on “me,” eh steven? This is becoming a habit with you, isn’t it?

        Don’t take it personally. Stevie will rant and rave at any skeptic of pseudoskepticism who will engage with him. On the bright side, humiliating him is easy work. Then, like a gambler on a losing streak, getting spanked makes him more desperate to go another round.

        At that point remind him of his failures in the prior discussions, and decline to open a new one. Drives him nuts. :)

      • , Anyway, this “pet theory” could have been cut off at the pass, if Judith had answered a yes or no question with a “yes,” or a “no.”

        As if she would !

    • More importantly Joshua do you consider it to be or not to be. that is the question. contribute something here for once.

      • Yes.

        And I consider it significant, in fact, that the “climate science community” issued specific invitations to authors to submit these articles. To me, it shows two things:

        1) That the good work of contributors like Judith are paying dividends that will likely improve the science (which doesn’t mean that anyone should look the other way when Judith doesn’t always live up to high standards).

        2) That the ubiquitous monolithic characterizations of the “climate science community” are ill-reasoned.

        It’s nice to see the process of “science” living up to an ideal of being “self-correcting.”

      • steven mosher

        First off this isnt science. Second, skeptics have been saying what Judith and others have been saying for years. But those voices were not allowed into the discussion. Now that one of the tribe has dared to speak what was the reaction? burn her at the stake as I recall. but now yes she is listened to. You call this progress? The planet is at stake

      • you mean, the f*&@#$g future of the f*@##$%^g planet!

      • steven mosher

        as for self correcting here is what we have suggested

        1. Open access. Take a look at all the papers Joshua, we have to pay to read this stuff. This stuff thats suppose to give us faith in the system. this stuff thats suppose to save the planet. Some is open, others are trapped behind the paywall. Its progress when all of this material is available.
        2. Minority reports. Been asking for it for years.
        3. Accepting contributions from your opponents. A strong assessment
        addresses the most challenging opposition.
        4. Drop the anonymous crap.

        You want to count it as progress when after years of ignoring valid complaints the community finally addresses some of the issues? The plant Joshua, the planet is at stake. Ar5 is ALREADY past the ZOD and into the FOD. hows that issue of LA conflict of interest being addressed? What about Stoddards position on opening up the drafting stage to public display? You know Tom, right? Tom is the guy that phil jones briefed on FOIA and the IPCC, ya, the guy who broke the law on FOIA met with Tom and pathcy to advise them on FOIA, and then Tom set the policy for how drafts would be excluded from the public domain. Progress?

      • steven mosher, you think that conclusions first and data second is common in other areas?
        I bet the conclusions for AR5 and AR6 have already been drafted.

      • Publish the all the ^&^%$*())*&^##@$^& code and ALL the !&*^##)*^(%@$#$&^)*&^ data and make it free to access. Is that REALLY so *&$%^#!#%&*&%%$$ hard to do??? REALLY???

      • “I bet the conclusions for AR5 and AR6 have already been drafted.”

        Rest easy. Even though you seem to think that the “AGW hoax” is all about ways that evil politicians may want to screw you for a few more dollars in taxes, I think we can safely say that these same evil politicians aren’t likely to take any more notice of the next IPCC reports than they did of previous ones.

      • tt,
        Your comment is non-responsive and shows a fact-free faith in AGW worthy of a rattlesnake dancer.

  3. AR5? Isn’t it a tad late for that? It’s all been written already, its conclusions to say the least. More like, this stuff could help AR6…

    • steven mosher

      Its called kicking the can down the road. Oppenheimer knows the game

    • My best guess is that “this stuff” is not intended to “help” the AR5, or the AR6. It is designed to deflect criticism of the CAGW consensus’ failure to properly address uncertainty, for purposes of the coming U.S. election. The political component of the climate debate will come to a head in the U.S. in November 2012. If conservatives win on the scale that now seems likely, AR5 will be irrelevant before it is even published.

      Whatever limited logic there is to urging decarbonization by the west while China, India and Russia burn fossil fuels unabated, will disappear. If the U.S. continues to back away from the decarbonization abyss, the rest of the west will have to eventually follow. How do you keep selling “green energy” and “save the planet” taxes and regulation, when the 500 pound gorilla in the room is competing against you without such handicaps? Short answer, you don’t. It will be the equivalent of the East German government trying to sell its socialism to its poor citizens while they watch their rich, capitalist West German neighbors next door leave them in the dust economically.

      The CAGW consensus’ efforts between now November, 2012 will be designed to avoid that result at all costs. First, there will be ever more frequent and dire predictions of coming catastrophes. As Robert Socolow writes: “This will require the AR5 authors to provide vivid information about future worlds where high-consequence outcomes have emerged.” (Notice the curious combination of a futuristic subject with a verb in the past tense. The high-consequence outcomes of the future have already apparently emerged.)

      This is how the IPCC defines expectations for the AR5: “Compared to previous reports, the AR5 will put greater emphasis on assessing the socio-economic aspects of climate change and implications for sustainable development, risk management and the framing of a response through both adaptation and mitigation.” So the AR5 will be even more dramatic, and more political than the AR4.

      Now the IPCC currently projects the WG1 report to be completed in September, 2013, WG2 in March 2014 and WG3 in October, 2013. But you can rest assured – there will be drafts, preliminary summaries, and leaks galore in the spring and summer of 2012, particularly from WG2 and WG3. This is the method typical of the CAGW movement from its inception.

      But while publicizing the thermogeddon to come, there will also be an attempt to address the arguments against the consensus that have been most effective to date. The CAGW movement leaders, and their political sponsors, learned from the collapse of Copenhagen and their political defeat in the 2010 U.S. elections. It is no longer enough to simply ignore the skeptics and lukewarmers, and keep them out of the peer reviewed literature. They and their arguments have to be dealt with.

      Thus, there will be discussion of conflict of interest rules, but no implementation before the AR5; the president of the IPCC will be term limited, after the AR5 is issued; and uncertainty/ignorance will be loudly discussed, but never properly applied to climate science until after the AR5. (Personally I think the Berkely BEST project is part of this effort. But time, and their published results will tell.)

      Maybe this is all wrong. Maybe some in the consensus are beginning to see the light of reason, and this series of articles signals the beginning of a genuine dialogue. But history suggests otherwise, and the odds are probably 10 to 1 against.

      • Here’s a scenario/projection that needs to be fleshed out:
        Imagine the IPCC is disbanded, defunded, discredited, interred.
        Then what? IPCC-2? Regional/national policy and science committees to commission and assess their own studies? Nothing, just a huge sigh of relief and a mass backing off from economic suicide?

  4. When the facilitators in academia stood by as ‘global warming’ was eventually rebranded for marketing purposes as disastrous climate change, it all became very clear as to what really changed when ‘describing’ the climate: the Left is talking now about ‘Climactic’ weather.

  5. John DeFayette

    Something positive under the sun. My bête noir, “more likely than not,” has been removed from Table 1 in the Mastrandrea et al. paper. Too bad they still allow this category’s use “where appropriate.” To my thinking it is never appropriate.

  6. Neutron repulsion causes neutrons to be emitted faster from smaller neutron stars, as water evaporates faster from smaller water droplets.

    Today’s Nobel Prize in Physics went to three physicists who reported faster expansion of the universe, the foundation of “dark energy” for those who overlooked neutron repulsion.

    http://www.canada.com/technology/science/Faster+expanding+universe+work+wins+physics+Nobel/5499804/story.html

  7. And here I thought I had a good reading rate.

    An hour, and already the learned commentators above have digested and come to conclusions on the massive reading list to the point they feel confident to comment.

    One is humbled by their intellectual vigor.

  8. “Comment by invitation only”

    Now isn’t that concept the basis for all the ills that beset climate science and the IPCC.

    The public not only have a right to know but they also a right to reply.

  9. “Kudos to Yohe and Oppenheimer for organizing this special issue; I hope it has some impact on the IPCC.”

    Sorry to be cynical, but the IPCC is locked in. They can’t start talking about uncertainty at this late date. Or at least, they won’t under current leadership. They’re “all in” in poker terms, and once your money’s in the pot you can’t take it back.

    Meanwhile over in Revkin-land, the man has unleashed a fire-storm of angry comments in response to his poison-pen post regarding “Organized Climate Denial.” The skeptical posters are generally articulate and well-informed as usual, while the supportive comments from the true believers are as ever, breathtakingly vapid.

    Truly, the world has gone mad.

    • The skeptical posters are generally articulate and well-informed as usual, while the supportive comments from the true believers are as ever, breathtakingly vapid.

      lol!

      • indeed and thanks, Joshua.

      • “lol”
        Joshua,
        I defy you to go over to Revkin’s pitiable site and read a couple dozen responses from the faithful, then come back and tell me that you’re still laughing. Most of them are so intellectually barren as to be beyond endurance.

  10. Judith

    Consistent with the concept of acknowledging uncertainty, how do papers such as the attached get accepted and published if not to spread misinformation.

    http://www.eenews.net/assets/2011/10/03/document_cw_01.pdf

    The basis of the article:
    “The analysis focused on the specific regions where cocoa is currently-grown. The study used predictions of the future climate to predict the suitability of current cocoa-growing areas to continue growing it by 2030 and 2050. “

    “The applied methodology is based on the combination of current climate data with future climate change predictions from 19Global Circulation Models for 2030 and 2050. The data of the current and the future climates were used as input to MAXENT, a crop prediction model.”

    Peer reviewed papers are routinely published that point to “likely” harms to specific areas based upon GCMs. Why is it not appropriate for these papers to be rejected based on the models not having the demonstrated ability to make such predictions reliably?

    When papers are written that only identify potential harms that will result from a change to the climate, it is very probable that a poor conclusion of the total impact of the change by the public.

    I ask this question in hopes of real information. Is there really reliable evidence of more long term harm from potential climate change than benefit? With reasonable infrastructure planning and construction, might not there more “net benefits”?

    • Consistent with the concept of acknowledging uncertainty, how do papers such as the attached get accepted and published if not to spread misinformation.

      The environmental ecologists are among the best scientists at dealing with uncertainty and minimal information. Witness the progress that they have made by using formulations such as the maximum entropy principle in the last few years. Some even go so far as to say that explaining diversity mechanistically is pointless when you can let information theory fill in the gaps. It is fascinating reading, and one of the main guys in the field Roderick Dewar is trying to apply the principles to climate science, building on the work of Paltridge.

    • @Rob Starkey…

      Peer reviewed papers are routinely published that point to “likely” harms to specific areas based upon GCMs. Why is it not appropriate for these papers to be rejected based on the models not having the demonstrated ability to make such predictions reliably?

      Some pretty silly “peer reviewed” papers have been published (especially in PNAS). My favorite example is Caterpillars evolved from onychophorans by hybridogenesis by Donald I. Williamson, apparently the culmination of over two decades of “research”. The appropriate response is evidently not to reject the papers but to critique them, as did Michael W. Harta and Richard K. Grosberg in Caterpillars did not evolve from onychophorans by hybridogenesis [my bolding]. If you understand the science well enough to follow them, these two papers are a real howler.

      On a more serious note, I agree it’s disturbing for so many papers to be published that casually accept as “fact” theories that actually are still subject to verification, but it doesn’t just happen in climate science. I’ve seen it (granted not in such profusion) in every scientific field I’ve read papers in.

    • Rob, you make a very good point. A lot of climate scepticism has to do with the over the top claims of harm resulting from CAGW. We routinely build marvelous facillities in such diverse places as Florida, Arizona, Vermont, etc. In fact, I spent three years with my family in a perfectly lovely compound in the middle of Saudi Arabia, as hostile a place as many can imagine. Man is adaptable. We didn’t used to be, but we are now.

      An important part of the design process is setting design criteria. Any model (earthquake, rainfall, wind velocity, temperature, etc.) that has no proven prediction quality is useless in this process. Even so, it is well recognized that the models currently in use have limitations. That is managed by including Safety Factor’s in the design. These Safety Factors are based on the level of “Uncertainty” in the design citeria models.

      Since GCM’s do not produce any practical information from an engineer’s point of view, they are viewed as science projects. Interesting to be sure, and maybe one day even reliable, but not now.

      • “We didn’t used to be [adaptable], but we are now.”

        I think that humans have long been adaptable, enabling our ancestors to spread all around the world tens of thousands of years ago. That innate ability is now supported by great technological ability.

    • “The data of the … future climates were used as input….”

      Data of future climates? This sounds eerily similar to Socolow’s comment in his article about “…future worlds where high-consequence outcomes have emerged.”

      It’s one thing to be confident in models’ predictions of potential future outcomes. But this tendency to describe model outputs as essentially historical data would be hilarious, if the stakes weren’t so serious.

      This manner of writing and speaking of the future as though we already know what it is, is just another way of hiding uncertainty/ignorance, and claiming “the science is settled,” without actually saying so.

      There is nothing new in the climate debate.

    • Norm Kalmanovitch

      This paper (http://www.eenews.net/assets/2011/10/03/document_cw_01.pdf) uses a temperature projection of:
      “Temperatures increase and the average increase is 2.1°C for 2050 passing through 1.2°C in 2030″
      The world is currently cooling at a rate of over 0.02°C/decade and with our current solar cycle 24 mimicking the solar cycles of the Dalton Minimum that brought an extension of the Little Ice Age with a low temperature point in 1811, all evidence points to this cooling trend continuing at least to the end of solar cycle 25 in 2031.
      This paper is based on warming of 1.2°C by 2030 which is obviously not based on anything more than computer projections which to date have yet to predict one thing correctly.
      If miraculously this current cooling trend ends today and the world returns to the warming trend of the past century depicted by the IPCC in the 2001 TAR as 0.6°C =/- 0.2°C per century and projects this rate to 2050 the 39 years at this rate only projects to 0.234°C of average global temperature increase and not the 2.1°C that this paper is based on.

      “Consistent with the concept of acknowledging uncertainty, how do papers such as the attached get accepted and published if not to spread misinformation.” is too polite a way of describing a so called scientific paper based on magical projections of global temperature that are in violation of scientific protocol which demands at least some connection to reality

      • The question is how the study got funded, not how it got published.

      • David

        I believe you are missing the major point.

        The point I was trying to get Judith’s attention of is the fact that these types of papers make it through the peer review process very easily and are leading reasonable people to believe “scientists” accept it a “fact” that science has proven “global warming” harms .

        I wish there was greater representation at this site of those who support publishing the paper I referenced because I’d like to better understand why it is valid science to write about the subject conclusions as any more likely than many other potential outcomes. Perhaps it is even more important to ask why you do not read about a greater number of “scientists” immediately wiring that papers similar to it are invalid conclusions based on the available data.

      • You can not stop, (or shouldn’t stop) people from publishing anything they want. It “scientists” in the field would quickly state that these types of papers were bad science based on the models accuracy, then the papers would stop (or at least be held in less esteem by the general public)

  11. Kudos indeed to those who have worked for the recognition of ‘ignorance’ as an accepted category for the present state of scientific knowledge in some aspects of climatology. ‘Ignorance’ seems a particularly suitable description for the results of attempts to attach a number to the elusive concept known as ‘surface air temperature sensitivity’ or more commonly ‘climate sensitivity’. After decades of work and probably hundreds of papers published in peer-reviewed journals, estimates of this supposedly key quantity still range over more than an order of magnitude. To me, that looks like ignorance.

  12. Norm Kalmanovitch

    Today there is only one certainty in the climate change issue and that is the five global temperature datasets all showing no global warming since 2002.
    The uncertainty that the AR5 authors must deal with is whether the current cooling trend of over 0.2°C/century as demonstrated by the HadCRUT3 data since 2002 will still be in place when they make new proposals about stopping the currently non existant global warming by incentives that remove 6.5% of the world’s grain supply as feedstock for ethanol and starve the world’s poorest people in the process.

    • 2002 was a solar maximum and an el nino year. You are cherrypicking a start point which is at an ENSO and solar cycle high.

  13. I thought it was funny where Risbey speaks about “where we know all the answers,” sort of the fundamental issue in a nutshell.

  14. It’s a pity that Dr. Tol’s paper isn’t open access, I enjoyed the excerpts and discussion a while back and would love to see what developed.

  15. Willis Eschenbach

    This observation raises an important question in our mind: Why is IPCC so tied to a method whose value remains largely speculative, given how little it has been subject to scholarly study? Furthermore, it is unlikely that formalized elicitation as currently practiced is the only or even the best available alternative method for assessing expert knowledge. IPCC should be encouraging research into such approaches (much as they encourage research into new emissions scenarios, for example) rather than turning its back on them.

    Um … if the author of that statement thinks that the IPCC is an “honest broker”, then I can see how the above question might mystify the author. But the IPCC is not trying to do honest science, nor was it designed to do so. It was set up to obfuscate and confuse honest science.

    The obvious answer to the question is that the IPCC is tied to the method specifically BECAUSE of “how little it has been subject to scholarly study”. Are there people out there that still really think that the IPCC is trying to get to the bottom of the question, rather than trying to obfuscate and shuffle and sell a predetermined solution?

    Judith, I love the way that you and the others frame the problem. The frame is that the IPCC is a noble institution that has just gotten a little bit off the right track, and y’all are going to nudge it back on the road. You guys are precious, the willful blindness is breathtaking, Pollyanna has nothing on you in this, the best of all possible worlds.

    The IPCC, as is spelled out in its founding documents, is not there to report on the science. It is there to justify a theory, a theory which has not proven to be productive in the slightest.

    So I find it hilarious to see you guys beavering away at trying to make the IPCC into something it not only is not, but something was never designed to be … an honest organization.

    Good luck, dear friends, you’re swimming upstream trying to introduce the first hints of science into the IPCC …

    Here’s my problem with y’all’s actions. You didn’t scream when Caspar got the Jesus Paper through the door. You didn’t scream when the Climategate folks rode their Trojan horses through the door and dismounted. You didn’t scream when the IPCC refused to reveal the crooked machinations of the review editors.

    Now you’re screaming like neglected virgins about how uncertainty isn’t treated right, and you want us to believe you care?

    Sorry, but if you cared about the IPCC, you would have treated Caspar and his mates like crooks, and changed the rules so they couldn’t do it again.

    Instead, you did … NOTHING. Nobody said a word. No rules were changed. None of the folks listed above as authors cared enough to say a single word about the Jesus Paper, including you. The IPCC luminaries who committed the malfeasance and the crimes have dodged the investigations, lied like soldiers, and received only honors and accolades from their peers.

    And now, Judith, you want us to believe that you and those same people all want to improve the IPCC?

    Sorry, I can believe six impossible things before breakfast, but I’m not buying it. People who want to fix the IPCC actually care when the rules are broken. You know how you can tell when people actually care, instead of pretending to care like you guys are doing?

    You can tell because the rules get changed and the miscreants get their just desserts … neither of which have happened. Ergo, you guys don’t give a flying farce about the IPCC, except as a way to spread your “scientific” claims of future Thermageddon.

    Heck, we’re four reports down the line and have a fifth one in the works and you IPCC supporters don’t seem to notice that the IPCC hasn’t even got to the conflict of interest statements yet … and you want us to believe you are serious about reforming the IPCC? BWAHAHAHAHA … sorry, it slipped out, I know it’s not polite to laugh, I should at least act like you’re making sense when you’re not, but sometimes it all gets to be too much, and a huge belly-laugh erupts at your antics.

    You’re just part of the chorus singing the IPCC song about how “we’re doing the best we can” … no, you’re not doing the best you can, Judith. You and the mainstream scientists of the IPCC are doing a third-rate, shabby job, and it shows.

    You’re pretending that good science will somehow save a corrupt, failed organization, an organization which has been anti-science from the start. Good luck with that one … I’ll try not to laugh again.

    w.

    PS – My solution? Burn the IPCC down and start over—the termites have eaten the posts and beams, snacked on the tables and chairs, taken up residence in the foundation, and are now debating uncertainty on Climate Etc. … it’s what is known in the construction industry as a “teardown”, not worth fixing.

    • Stirling English

      Willis is right to highlight a that major reason for people not to trust the IPCC is the conduct of its members.

      Seems to me that whenever there is a choice between the right way and the wrong way, between the path of integrity and openness and the path of concealment and obfuscation, between the way of debate and the way of assertion ..that many climatologists instinctively choose the latter.

      It may not be wilful – it may not even be conscious. But it seems to be hardwired encoded deep into the DNA of ‘climate science’ that the last thing they should ever contemplate doing is honesty and square dealing. I guess the youngsters learn it from the elders…some of whom have managed to have pretty cushy careers from such tactics.

      The problem is that if a whole ‘profession’ bases itself on such fundamentally shaky grund, all its members get tainted. That is why ‘Trust Me, I’m A Climate Scientist’ is increasingly poorly regarded as a catchphrase. To paraphrase: If they walk like shysters, talk like shysters and act like shysters, the chances are that they are shysters.

      And if they are not, then they should clean up ther act pronto..and stop giving the impression that they should not be trusted as far as they could be thrown.

    • The IPCC wasnt designed to “do” science. It’s an assesment. Read Oppenheimer to see the issues with an assessment that go to the heart of the matter

      • And who might be doing this assessment Mosh?
        Hop over to Donna Laframboises blog and read all about the 40 members of the “core writing team” of the AR4.

        Policy makers don’t read ‘the science’, ‘the technical reports’ etc. They wouldn’t know an uncertainty bar or a polynomal fit if they fell on their head from the sky.
        They read the summaries prepared by this “core writing team”.

        Well guess what, it would have been simpler and more honest if the UN just got WWF and Greenpeace to write this stuff directly and cut out the middle men.

        http://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2011/10/04/wwf-influence-at-the-highest-levels-of-the-ipcc/#wpl-likebox

        http://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2011/09/23/how-the-wwf-infiltrated-the-ipcc-%e2%80%93-part-1/

        http://climatechange.mensnewsdaily.com/2011/10/01/78-names/

        Kudos to Willis, the man has big ones.

        p.s. Gary Yohe? Bwahaha he was a member of the Climate Witness Scientific Advisory Panel of the WWF. Any independent scientist worth his salt would have run a mile from a advocacy gig like that.

      • “The IPCC wasnt designed to “do” science. It’s an assesment.”

        The IPCC wasn’t designed to do an assessment, it was designed to do politics from the start. The IPCC has operated exactly as it was intended to. The problem isn’t the faulty implementation of the IPCC’s mandate, the problem is the IPCC.

        From the preface to the AR4:

        “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was jointly established in 1988, by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with the mandate to assess scientific information related to climate change, to evaluate the environmental and socio-economic consequences of climate change, and to formulate realistic response strategies.”

        So that’s three mandates: 1) assess the science (WG1); 2) evaluate the the impacts of “climate change” (WG2; and 3) “formulate realistic [oh please] response strategies” (WG3). (Notice how assessing the costs of the consensus’ “response strategies” is not even to be addressed. A cost benefit analysis – without any consideration of the cost.)

        And that is how each of the ARs has been structured. From the First Assessment Report of WG3 in 1990: “The charge of IPCC to RSWG was to lay out as fully and fairly as possible a set of response policy options and the factual basis for those options.”

        If it ain’t broke, but it don’t work, don’t fix it – get rid of it.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        steven mosher | October 4, 2011 at 6:34 pm

        The IPCC wasnt designed to “do” science. It’s an assesment. Read Oppenheimer to see the issues with an assessment that go to the heart of the matter

        Thanks, Mosh. It appears my meaning wasn’t clear. The IPCC wasn’t supposed to do “an assessment”. It was claimed that it was to do a scientific assessment, which is certainly a part of doing science and which was my meaning. It has not done so in any sense of the word “scientific”. Instead, it has been a kangaroo court.

        Neither you nor anyone has explained why we need such an “assessment”. No one has explained why the “assessment” just accidentally put a huge scientific error, the “hockeystick” as its frontispiece. That’s not an “assessment”, that’s the scientific equivalent of the National Enquirer. As near as I can tell, the IPCC has not done any scientific assessment at all.

        Instead, it has silenced opposing voices; hawked a false consensus; bent its own rules time after time; never required conflict-of-interest statements; been insistently, defiantly, and almost proudly non-transparent; promoted bogus results; allowed scientists to “assess” their own studies; refused to institute necessary reforms; promoted the reports and opinions of NGOs as if they were scientific studies; refused to use PPP instead of MER as everyone else does; made egregious errors and then stupidly defended them; and pushed a hugely alarmist point of view.

        Can you dispute a single one of those claims?

        And what have we gotten, where is the positive outcome or result that could even begin to offset all of that destructive hype and bogus results and scientific malfeasance and damage to public trust in science?

        So tell me again, Mosh … why do we need the IPCC? It is a divisive and destructive organization with a huge downside and almost no upside at all.

        And if it’s so darn valuable, if it does some mystery benefits that you’re going to explain to me, if it really is of value … then why aren’t the other scientific fields not agitating for the equivalent organization for their field?

        w.

      • randomengineer

        IPCC is a political body intended to to share information used in political decisions that couldn’t be developed by a single country. The USA had the resources to do the science, but not the Danes or Italians by themselves. The “problem” to solve is too big.

        The composition reveals much — by and large the contributing countries were largely socialist and/or “democracies” barely removed from monarchs or dictators, and the IPCC by definition assumes policy makers simply make diktats and the subjects comply.

        When the composition of the “delegate” attitudes make certain base assumptions this tilts the direction the political body takes; i.e. a majority of republics with citizens rather than subjects similar to the US would inevitably result in a more politically rightward entity. The leftward tilt and assumption of subject peoples is the sort of skewed baseline assumption that allows NGO grey lit to hide within the folds, and precisely because this is “good for people” which seems to be appealing to the baseline. And since the people are subjects who need but be told what to do, why, it’s the job of the political class to tend their flocks and “good for the people” is mighty persuasive in the same pseudo-altruistic way that indulgences were popular in 1500 CE. (If I do good things for the serfs this will insure my position on heaven.)

        In reality the grey lit allowed in the political entity’s output (never forget that the IPCC is a political body) mixed up with science makes the assessments corrupt and worthless. Add to that the growing “rightness” of the politics (the same “rightness” allowing NGO grey lit) involved and toss funding money in the mix, and scientists in vassal countries are finding themselves awash in funding. Soon enough you create the Phil Jones type. This is inevitable. Read up on Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy; the IPCC and funding concerns act as one that spans multiple countries.

        It is this hopelessly corrupt admixture based on curious assumptions that is tainting everything it touches, and this is what WIllis addresses. And Willis is completely and utterly correct. In spades.

        In short, if you stick a crapload of carrots in your soup, it ought not be surprising that somehow, the soup tastes a great deal like carrots.

        Meanwhile.

        I find it amusing that for years the mantra was that the great unwashed weren’t hearing the message, therefore the problem was solvable in that it was merely one of communication. We’re all gonna die, the IPCC says this is very very likely. “Apparently we’re failing to communicate this to you, meaning you’re a big oil shill or just plain stupid.” After considerable failure, the new focus is about the concept of “uncertainty” meaning that the new plan, amazingly like the old one, is focused on communication, only this time we’re all gonna die +/- 10%. Ahh. Much more believable.

        (Where’s the icon for eye rolling?)

        And Willis is right about that, too.

    • “The IPCC, as is spelled out in its founding documents, is not there to report on the science. It is there to justify a theory, a theory which has not proven to be productive in the slightest.”

      The IPCC reports are the finest synthesis of human knowledge about climate and how man’s actions are affecting it. The IPCC report accurately summarizes the dominant theory. It would be inexcusable to end these reports at a time when the dangers of human interference with the climate are growing.

      Yes the IPCC isn’t perfect, but your talk about destroying the IPCC and rebuilding it is just playing into the hands of those who want all that knowledge to silently disappear or unjustifiably watered down so that it doesn’t interfere with their worldviews.

      • You oughtta check out the links I provided in my response to Mosh above.
        Wake up and smell the coffee. This is about NGOs flexing their substantial muscle. Science is just a side issue.

      • randomengineer

        Yes the IPCC isn’t perfect, but …

        If I read Willis correctly he’s not demanding perfection when simple competence would do the job.

    • For the IPCC the output is the input.

  16. Willis Eschenbach

    Oh, yeah, forgot to mention that I loved rehashing of stale memes in the opening to the article, viz:

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been extraordinarily successful in the task of knowledge synthesis and risk assessment. However, the strong scientific consensus on the detection, attribution, and risks of climate change stands in stark contrast to widespread confusion, complacency and denial among policymakers and the public.

    Extraordinarily successful? BWAHAHAHA … sorry, it slipped out again.

    Same old same old. They’re back to the “strong scientific consensus” lie once again. Once again they’re talking about “confusion, complacency, and denial” among the public. Stuck in 2005 much?

    And don’t you guys ever get the memos? “Denial” is a loaded word, anyone using it is not interested in pushing science, they’re pushing an agenda.

    The problem is not communication as the authors claim. Poor communication is not why folks are skeptical. It’s third-rate science, false claims of “consensus”, and flat out lying and fraud that makes people not believe the “consensus”.

    The article says:

    Risk communication is now a major bottleneck preventing science from playing an appropriate role in climate policy.

    That dog won’t hunt. The problem is not a communication problem. The problem is bozo, grade-school playground simple:

    WE DON’T BELIEVE Y’ALL BECAUSE YOUR LEADERS LIED TO US AND YOU DID NOTHING.

    And that won’t get solved by a bunch of professors quacking about uncertainty and acting like no lies were ever told …

    w.

    • Although I wouldn’t use the same language, I think Willis is right. [But his criticism of Judith is misplaced, given her outspoken criticism of the IPCC]. The problem with the IPCC is not that it needs to be more careful in how it portrays uncertainty. The problem with the IPCC is its misleading bias, distortion and exaggeration of global warming. One glance at IPCC FAQ 3.1 Figure 1 should be sufficient to discredit the IPCC in the eyes of any genuine scientist. 47 examples on my webpage.

    • well said.

    • Willis

      There may be gentler ways of getting the message across, Willis, but I won’t hold that against you because your message is correct.

      I do, however, not believe that our host here is implicit in the deception you describe, but rather that she is trying, in as polite a way as possible, to draw attention to the problem without being written off by “the establishment” as a total “denier”.

      (And I think she is achieving this objective, slowly but surely).

      Max

    • Willis,
      Honey, not vinegar.
      I know, I know- pot-kettle etc.
      But still.
      Honey.

    • “The problem is not communication as the authors claim. Poor communication is not why folks are skeptical. It’s third-rate science, false claims of “consensus”, and flat out lying and fraud that makes people not believe the “consensus”.”

      No the reason most people do not believe the consensus is that they don’t like it for political reasons. They want to deny the science.

      Little different to creationists and why they want to deny evolution. They’ll paint themselves as “skeptics” and make excuses, but what it boils down to is that the science has inconvenient implications for their worldview.

      That is why most of the claims of lying and fraud made by “skeptics” are themselves false. It’s why so many skeptic arguments – see SkS – are complete balls. It’s why “skeptics” fail to educate themselves and their blogs refuse to do so.

      It’s because they want to deny the science. So they come up with silly excuses to deny it. I see it on all these threads – “skeptics” completely out of touch with the science and parroting all manner of false claims.

      • lolwot,

        Do you with absolute 100% certain know that their is a god?

        I know with absolute 100% certainty that their is not.
        I am an absolute evidence person with many areas from past to present on how this planet evolved. And it was not from “divine intervention” but from a highly complex system.

      • lolwot – that is your prejudice speaking, which is so very typical of many on the left of politics. I guess it shows the lack of faith in their own ideals that Leftists must always denigrate the people who don’t agree with them, instead of argueing against their beliefs. Why is it not possible for Leftists to accept that people who disagree with them are not always redneck thugs with an IQ of 50? Personally, my IQ is over 100, I have more often voted for leftwing candidates than rightwingers, & I have no faith in the claims of the IPCC. It is nothing to do with politics, simply that AGW claims are not based on solid evidence, & the researchers making those claims refuse to allow access to their methods & data so others can replicate them. What faith does that show in the veracity of their claims?

      • given that im not on the left of politics you should consider what mistake you made

      • lolwot, my apologies for thinking that someone who repeated the standard “play the man, not the ball” mantra used by so-called progressives also shares their political beliefs. However, I will say that in my opinion you have not thought about the claims of the AGW alarmists to any degree. Just because someone with an academic title says that the sky is green doesn’t make it so, because even a layman like me can see the sky is blue. Read the story of Dan Shechtman at Yahoo News, who has just been awarded the Nobel for Chemistry. He was exiled from his peers in the early 1980’s when he discovered something new in crystallography, but instead of his peers checking out his discovery, they ridiculed him. Linus Pauling was his boss, & he fired him. Hows that for being a sceptical scientist, eh?

      • Oh, & his discovery is now used to make the strongest steel ever!

      • Read the story of Dan Shechtman at Yahoo News, who has just been awarded the Nobel for Chemistry. He was exiled from his peers in the early 1980′s when he discovered something new in crystallography, but instead of his peers checking out his discovery, they ridiculed him. Linus Pauling was his boss, & he fired him. Hows that for being a sceptical scientist, eh?

        That’s a bunch of BS. I did diffraction research at that time and actually have some diffraction algorithms, based on disordered material, named after me. No one that I was aware of ridiculed Shechtman because it was interesting stuff, and diffraction patterns don’t lie.
        Pauling turned into a kook as he got older, big surprise as it happens.

      • Cool down, lolwot, or you’ll blow a fuse.

        Rational skeptics are skeptical of the AGW craze simply because it is not supported by empirical scientific evidence. See Wiki description of scientific (or rational) skepticism.

        Max

      • there are very few rational skeptics and they certainly don’t claim AGW is not supported by empirical scientific evidence. Although you did say “AGW craze”, whatever difference that makes.

        The bulk of skeptics however are denying a scientific theory much like creationists deny evolution. It has nothing to do with the science, although they try to come up with excuses for why their position is scientific not just political.

      • Latimer Alder

        It isn’t conveneient or inconvenient to my ‘world view’. But it is a lousy theory, unsupported by much observational or experimental evidence and conducted by a bunch of people who largely behave like charlatians and hucksters.

        When I first came to study climatology a few years back I heard teh phrase ‘The Sceience is Settled’, and I thought ‘Wow, they muct have done some really good experiements to get to that point. I must learn more’. So I went looking for the details. As a one-time atmospheric chemist I wanted to see how they’d got there…really ‘cool’ stuff.

        And I’m still looking. There is a great deal of assertion about warming and all the supposed terrible consequences. But very very little observational backup. And what little there is has been so buggered about with by teh chief protagonists as to be near worthless. And then hidde away so nobody can see it. This is not science, this is not investigation. this is propaganda based on the increasingly laughable idea of ‘Trust Me, I’m a Climate Scientist’

        So forget all these complicated explanations about my ‘worldview’. Do some proper science…with observations and data and methods and results all published and available for scrutiny. Open the debate, not restrict it to the insiders. Answer teh questions, not avoid them…if your theory is good enough it wil stand up to rigorous testing. If it doesn’t, it isn’t good enough.

        Do all that succesfully – and I’ll begin to believe you. As it is, you all sound increasingly like a bunch of dodgy second-hand car salesmen. You need to show honesty and integrity in all your work. It is a great pity that the last fifteen or twenty years of climatology have been characterised by the opposite.

      • Well lets check. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, humans are elevating CO2 levels. The greenhouse effect is real. The human driven CO2 forcing dwarfs all known natural forcings. All these things are based on observations and experimental evidence. Given what we know human activity is driving the climate to a much warmer state. The science is settled on this.

        The details on the edge – like how much warming this will be (1C warming? 5C warming) are less certain but certainly don’t justify deniers claiming it’s all a big old hoax, that CO2 supposedly has no chance of elevating global temperatures, etc etc. That’s where most skeptics are, making trite arguments like “CO2 is plant food”

      • Stirling English

        We differ only on the detail. You say that ‘most of the claims of lying and fraud are false’. I believe – to use the IPCC terminology – ‘it is extremely likely that many of the claims of lying and fraud are true’

        We both agree that there is lying and fraud…it is only the degree that divides us. That there is any at all should be a matter of concern to those who advance the AGW theory. But amyabe you just don’t care…the end justifying the means. If so, then your personal credibility and scientific integrity is zero.

    • Willis Eschenbach

      Yeah, I know, honey, not vinegar is the best … but I don’t care about catching flies. I want to extirpate the IPCC root and branch.

      As to whether my “criticism of Judith is misplaced, given her outspoken criticism of the IPCC”, she is still proposing that the problem is communications, and she is still suggesting a band-aid approach designed to fix up the IPCC.

      Look, the IPCC was set up with a mission, which was to push the AGW agenda. It has done that very poorly to date, which is a very good thing. And it has damaged climate science greatly in the process, which is a very bad thing.

      Now, do we want the IPCC patched up and bandaged and given IV fluids so that it can pursue that mission more vigorously?

      Not me. I want to burn it down. Seriously, what of value has it provided us? What do we know now that we would not have known without the IPCC? What scientific disputes or disagreements has it ever either settled or highlighted? What has it done?

      No other branch of science has such a foolish organization, nor would most branches stand for one. It serves no useful purpose.,

      As a result, I see anyone who wants to fix it up, just so it can limp along some more and do some more damage, as being seriously misguided and strongly anti-scientific, whether they realize it or not.

      So yes, I do think that in this regard, Judith’s unrelenting claims that it is just a communication problem are very damaging to climate science. It is NOT a communication problem. The organization has an incorrect and misguided mission, and has failed miserably. Kill it now.

      Does anyone really think that the AR5 report will be actually used for anything more than propaganda? I mean, except where there’s a shortage of papel higiénico? Does anyone think it will advance our understanding of climate science, or settle any arguments, or help us in any way?

      The IPCC is a strait jacket, and the sad part is that the inmates of the climate asylum don’t even seem to notice that they are wearing it …

      Is that “honey”?

      Well … not really. But when people are painting over the cracks in the facade rather than fixing them, and meanwhile they are loudly insisting that in fact they are doing serious structural repairs to the foundation, what’s the polite way to tell them that if they pull their head out of their … aww, never mind. Some honey-tongued devil’s gonna have to take over from here, I’m off the rails again.

      w.

      • Willis, all correct. Over the years I’ve several times suggested via The Australian letters page that Australia needed to re-examine all data and scientific claims completely independently of the IPCC process and authors before making any decisions on whether or not there were grounds to reduce greenhouse emissions. And even if that examination supported AGW, we’d still need to examine whether harmful changes exceeded beneficial ones, and the cost and benefits of any emissions-reduction actions. But the IPCC story still holds sway with our pollies, decreasingly so with the populace.

      • [ Standing ovation ]

        IMO It [ IPCC ] is the most politically corrupted UN Organization –

        I don’t think it can even be policed / regulated. :(

        XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

        Dr Curry, I don’t fear climate change – It has always changed – I fear you grownups leaving this [ IPCC ] to go unchecked for so long, and thinking a carbuncle doesn’t need to be excised.
        With this power… you’ve let it corrupt , my education, [ true ] environmental problems, economy, and politics.

        Because of this unbridled power…It has festered and infected almost every field of science, in the minds of kids [ Probably, in the minds of many other in the general population, as well ]. Trying to bandage this politically corrupted organization – will never work.

        By IPCC’s own “solutions” – we can’t change temperatures even 1C up or down…..

        We hear from many, “we are concerned about CAGW because of the legacy we leave kids.”

        Nonsense : The legacy we deserve is Transparent – accountable Science.
        With that alone, we can honestly face the future.

        Just my thoughts :)

      • Excellent thoughts, Kim.

        Max

      • Thank you :)

      • kim

        The most politically corrupted?!

        The most!

        Without looking it up, how many UN organizations can you name off the top of your head?

        When did they form?

        Who is the head of each?

        How many people are in the organization?

        What is its reporting structure?

        What audit controls are in place?

        What are the top scandals of each?

        What methods of transparent operation do each use?

        The most!

        What a great source of reliable information is our kim.

      • Bart R | October 5, 2011 at 10:53 am

        What a great source of logical debate you offer .
        AND strawman attempts.

        IT’s your burden to provide proof that out of the 60 + UN Organizations there is one you can name more corrupted….OR IPCC isn’t corrupted at all.

        That is how logical debate works :)

      • kim:) http://judithcurry.com/2011/10/04/climatic-change-special-issue-on-uncertainty-guidance-for-the-ipcc/#comment-118591

        re: “strawman attempts”

        While I’m not above using rhetorical devices, even lowly and duplicitous informal fallacy, I try to keep track of mine, at least in the short term.. and try as I might, I cannot find the straw man you allege I concoct.

        Could you cite the reference, and explain the straw man you see? That is, where I have misrepresented your meaning and then knocked down the sham of your actual presentation (an idiotic thing to attempt in a blog in my opinion, as the original is right there in the thread for all to read, so shame on me if I did this!).

        To help you, lest you have confused some other mechanic, here’s the wiki definition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man.

        Perhaps you mean I used lampoon, aka parody (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parody) to mock or deride your argument?

        That’d be something different from a straw man.

        Now as to my understanding of the informal rules of logical debate and burden of proof: you have not met yours, so I am hardly obliged to meet ones you fabricate post factum.

        That is, your claim of “most politically corrupt” is — in particular in the case of UN organizations — an extraordinary assertion, requiring extraordinary evidence.

        You’ve furnished none, other than that you think there are 60+ UN organizations.

        So, my weak reply to your weak proposition was enough to do the job, and I felt no need to escalate to actual effort to provide facts or reasoning, which might be construed as showing off.

        Go ahead, kim:).. show off.

        If you can.

      • I can see you must have skipped comprehension and logic, in your educational endeavorers. :)

        Let’s see:
        Bart R | October 5, 2011 at 10:53 am | Reply

        kim

        The most politically corrupted?!
        xxxxxxxxxxx

        You attempted to dispute my original claim, here.

        WITH:
        Bart R | October 5, 2011 at 10:53 am | Reply
        The most!

        Without looking it up, how many UN organizations can you name off the top of your head?

        When did they form?

        Who is the head of each?

        How many people are in the organization?

        What is its reporting structure?

        What audit controls are in place?

        What are the top scandals of each?

        What methods of transparent operation do each use?

        The most!

        What a great source of reliable information is our kim.

        xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

        MAYBE, you should actually read the examples in your link :)

        You tried to insert all the straw-men…They have nothing to do with disputation of my IMO claim:

        Let’s see what my original statement said:

        kim☺ | October 5, 2011 at 4:48 am | Reply
        “IMO It [ IPCC ] is the most politically corrupted UN Organization –”
        xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

        For the logic and comprehension in-pared: IMO = In My Opinion.

        Logic demands:
        IMO… Needs no evidence.
        Your attempted disputation – REQUIRES evidence.

        Don’t worry, I’m sure your ego will survive being “Schooled” by a kid. :)

      • Sorry typo….. Impaired.

      • kim :) http://judithcurry.com/2011/10/04/climatic-change-special-issue-on-uncertainty-guidance-for-the-ipcc/#comment-118820

        I see the source of our failure to have a meeting of the minds.

        You think your opinion need no support, and the opinions of others requires profound proof.

        Hardly a symmetrical position. We can dismiss it as a meaningless objection on the evidence of its own internal contradiction.

        So, as to support for your opinion, which you are invited to extend to seem less silly in the eyes of the rational:

        I proffered a list of questions with the challenge “without looking it up” that one would necessarily need be familiar with to validate so extraordinary a superlative opinion as “the most politically corrupted”.

        You, being a validation and verification booster, ought be familiar with the function of validation, and its relevance.

        And, as you use the words ‘straw man’, you ought figure out what that phrase means, too. Which is not what you claim it to be.

        You’re offering opinion out of your hat about things you clearly are unqualified to speak to.

        I’m merely pointing that out, in the hopes you modify your habits to saying things that have some semblance of truthiness. Or sense.

      • OK, Willis, I’ll bite.

        I’m sure you and I agree that the IPCC process itself is corrupt, and has been from the very start, as its aim was not to find the “truth” about what makes our climate do what it does, but rather the “proof” that human-induced climate change is a serious potential threat.

        This was its brief from its inception. No alarming human-induced climate change = no need for IPCC to continue as a political committee (and which political committee wants to disband?).

        In addition, IPCC has been increasingly arrogant in how it communicated its one-sided findings.

        It has also been abysmally stupid in it’s communication, because some errors. exaggerations and outright lies were so easy to spot. [These are not just WG2 and WG3 errors, like “Himalayagate”, but go right to the core of WG1, as a detailed summary put together by PaulM itemizes.]

        So there has, indeed, been a “communication problem”, as well, but this is secondary to the basic process problem.

        Can the process problem be fixed by a band-aid?

        No.

        In my opinion, it will require completely dismantling the old, corrupted process and replacing it with a totally new “clean” process, as I and other posters have suggested to Judith.

        I believe there should be a separate thread on this topic, because this thread skirts around the basic problem with silly re-definitions of what should be considered “evidence”, what is needed to “improve confidence” and how to do a better job of “framing” or “improve communication skills”, This is all just “fog” intended to sidetrack from the real problem..

        Obviously the individuals responsible for the creation and continuation of the old corrupted process and those that have become activists rather than objective scientists will also need to be removed from the equation. Hasta la vista, baby…

        I hope our host picks up the challenge and runs an open thread on “The IPCC is mortally sick. Should we try to revive it or let it die a natural death and replace it with something new and healthy?”

        It would take a lot of guts to run such a thread, but our host has shown such courage in the past, for example in congressional hearings where she was being urged to lend support for urgent “mitigation” actions but was the only expert witness to do just the opposite.

        I’m sure she would get a lot of constructive ideas on how to put climate science on a scientific rather than a purely political track, as it is now.

        Max

        Max

        If our host is “still proposing that the problem is communications, and she is still suggesting a band-aid approach designed to fix up the IPCC” then she is wrong in my opinion.

      • In my view your criticism is misplaced because Judith is realistic in acknowledging that “burning down” the IPCC is not going to happen. While all of your criticisms of the IPCC are demonstrably valid, there are more ways of taking the fight to the monster than by unsheathing a sword.

        Judith’s tactic, and others like her, is more subtle – more like a computer virus perhaps. By changing the way the IPCC communicates uncertainty and the justification for uncertainty, it has the potential to undermine the advocacy and dirty tricks that have been played in the past, by leaving a window open through which such behaviour can be exposed.

        Yelling at the oncoming train probably won’t stop it (see – uncertainty is habit forming :-) ) but getting behind the wheel and steering it in a different direction might stop it from ploughing into something.

      • this was in response to Willis

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Agnostic | October 5, 2011 at 5:24 am

        Judith’s tactic, and others like her, is more subtle – more like a computer virus perhaps. By changing the way the IPCC communicates uncertainty and the justification for uncertainty, it has the potential to undermine the advocacy and dirty tricks that have been played in the past, by leaving a window open through which such behaviour can be exposed.

        Yelling at the oncoming train probably won’t stop it (see – uncertainty is habit forming ) but getting behind the wheel and steering it in a different direction might stop it from ploughing into something.

        Unfortunately, your suggestion to reform the IPCC is about a valuable as your suggestion that someone get “behind the wheel” and steer the IPCC train in a different direction … don’t know if you’ve noticed, but neither the IPCC nor a train have steering wheels.

        Which is why the idea of steering the IPCC in a new direction is a non-starter. It doesn’t have a steering wheel. It will continue along the path of the tracks laid down at its creation. People claiming that they can reform it are blowing smoke. Here’s an example. Despite their best efforts, the IPCC reformers have not succeeded in something as obvious and necessary as conflict-of-interest statements. Despite their best efforts, they still have not succeeded in replacing MER with PPP in the economic calculations. In fact, I do not see the slightest change or the most trivial improvement since the First Assessment Report. We still have NGO apologists as Lead Authors. We still have no bar to authors flogging their own work. We still have no guarantee that the comments of reviewers will go anywhere but the trash can, just as they did for the first Assessment Report

        So no matter what you do, Agnostic, the AR5 will be wracked by conflicts of interest, full of crap science, and with an agenda so big it needs its own postal code … and it will be tossed in the trash can immediately by any real scientist.

        Do I think that the “burning down” of the IPCC is going to happen? Likely not … but I think that it is quite possible to burn down its reputation, in fact they’ve already laid the kindling and lit the match themselves with their shabby science and their pathetic cover-ups.

        I am merely hastening the slow but inevitable death of the IPCC’s reputation, which can’t happen too soon to suit me.

        w.

        PS – you say Judith might be “leaving a window open through which such [advocacy and dirty tricks] can be exposed.” What, like we don’t see them now? The problem has never been that their advocacy and dirty tricks weren’t exposed. We know about them in all of their ugliness, that’s not the issue.

        The issue is that mainstream climate scientists haven’t said boo about the advocacy and dirty tricks, including our good host. Instead, they act like the IPCC is a scientific organization worthy of respect, when it is nothing but a nesting place for charlatans and NGO activists.

      • Willis, to clarify why I think you are being a bit unfair to J, you write “Judith’s unrelenting claims that it is just a communication problem”. But I don’t see that she is saying this is the only problem with the IPCC. Here she was invited to write a paper about communicating uncertainty, and she has done so, but elsewhere she has made other criticisms e.g. in her MIT talk she said that the ‘explanations’ for the early 20thC rise and mid 20thC cooling were not valid. IMHO the small handful of climate scientists who are prepared to criticise the IPCC in any way should be supported, not attacked.
        As previously stated, I agree with most of what you say about the IPCC. I like Max’s proposal for a thread topic!

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Paul, Judith wants to reform the IPCC, which I think is a cop-out. There hasn’t been a scrap of reform in all the years that the IPCC has been in business, so history says she’s in fantasy about even the possibility of it happening.

        But it is not a harmless fantasy. While she and other do-gooders are busy racking their brain and coming up with all kinds of plans on how to do good for the IPCC, the IPCC ignores them completely and continues doing bad.

        Which means that, although she thinks she is doing good, in reality all she is doing is being the IPCC’s “beard” to convince people that the IPCC is reformable when it isn’t anything of the sort … and that means that instead of doing good, or even being neutral, she’s actively doing bad.

        I doubt very much that she sees it that way. But me, I look at results, not at people’s good intentions, and the result of all these folks’ whiz-bang plans for reforming the IPCC is zero. Zilch. Nothing. Can’t even get them to require that most bozo and grade-school of fraud prevention measures, the conflict-of-interest statement, for the next Assassment Report or whatever it’s called.

        That’s why I lump Judith in with the rest. The results show that despite her acknowledged good intentions, she’s just engaging in intellectual onanism and pretending that it will make a difference to the IPCC.

        w

      • Don’t worry, Willis; poor people are hollerin’ and beatin’ the drums.
        ==========

      • I think you need to get off the fence Willis… :-)

        It’s extremely hard to argue against your main points, and I really don’t think many would seriously try, although they may well argue for something more moderate. But given the reality that it (the IPCC) exists and is what it is, setting yourself against it completely, prevents further opportunity to influence it. If Dr Curry were to come out completely against it and argue for its total disbandment, I doubt whether she and other like her would be invited to participate. And so the culture of mutual self-agrandisement and conflicted interests are left to go unchecked, feeding the authority governments require in order to develop policy that is unnecessary and possibly harmful.

        “PS – you say Judith might be “leaving a window open through which such [advocacy and dirty tricks] can be exposed.” What, like we don’t see them now?”

        No – WE see them. But the general pubic do not, nor even the government(s). Not that many are as interested in the climate change and the politics of it as we are. But governments will have a much harder time trying to assert the need for a daft policy option if opponents can point to an “authority”, the very same “authority” being called upon to inform the justification for the policy itself.

        This is not to suggest that advocacy won’t continue, that foolish policy won’t be dreamt up, and that the same old dirty tricks won’t still be attempted, but just one Dr Curry represents a major crack in the dam wall of “consensus” that the IPCC is built on. It just seems to me if i were in Dr Curry’s position that’s the way I would play it. If AR5 comes out and is not a major improvement on AR4 then sure, it might be time to play rough.

        It is worth noting that I think in principle the IPCC or something like it is a good thing. But it does have to be done honestly and transparently, and without being hijacked into advocacy,

      • “Look, the IPCC was set up with a mission, which was to push the AGW agenda.”

        Science shows AGW being the most likely case. So any body, such as the IPCC producing an overview of the field of course it’s going to end up “pushing the AGW agenda”.

        “What do we know now that we would not have known without the IPCC? What scientific disputes or disagreements has it ever either settled or highlighted? What has it done?”

        The IPCC reports bring together vast amounts of current knowledge about various sub-topics in climate. Without that where would a layperson go to get that information? Or is that the point?

        I don’t believe the disband the IPCC drive by skeptics is actually about improving the accuracy of scientific information conveyed to the public, because skeptics are the worse culprits at conveying inaccurate information to the public. No disbanding the IPCC is all about trying to silence the issue.

    • randomengineer

      IPCC support is highest in the countries the extreme leftward tilt in the governmental political baseline. See above comment from me.

      As I see it IPCC support is waning in these countries not due to bad science but to economics; some people are waking up to the fact that idiotic socialist entitlement policy is bankrupting them and what the IPCC represents looks and feels and quacks just like another money hungry entitlement duck that they can’t afford.

      But make no mistake… if they COULD afford it, the same imbeciles who enabled it the first time would gladly do so again, while at the same time poking fun at stupid, unsophisticated yanks.

      What ‘hunter’ et al are on about re an anti-american UN seems over the top, but there is a certain amount of truth there.

  17. The IPCC’s produces scientific reports. They should use the accepted scientific terminology for describing uncertainty, not terms such as “likely” that can be easily misinterpreted. The IPCC’s reports cover scientific subjects that are more complicated than the statistical terminology they avoid, so there is no real justification for such statistical “baby-talk”. Policymakers and citizens have a decent innate understanding of probability and statistics from exposure to betting, polling, and investing.

    In the long run, the IPCC only hurts itself by using imprecise language. The TAR said that it was only “likely” that temperatures in the 1990’s were warmer than any in the past millennium. If they had simply said that there was at least a 2/3 chance that recent temperatures were warmer than any in the past millennium, there probably wouldn’t have been a hockey-stick controversy. Who, in their right mind, would have made the hockey stick the icon of the TAR if the SPM clearly admitted as much as a 1/3 chance its conclusion was wrong? Mann, of course, claimed p<0.05, but his peers must have recognized that it didn't make sense to fully endorse a hockey-stick lacking any sign of the well-documented Little Ice Age. "Likely" provided them with a comfortable compromise between "statistically significant" and "clearly flawed" (lacking the LIA).

    • Frank,
      The IPCC compiles reports on work others do.
      The IPCC does not “do” science.
      It markets a product carefully controlled by insiders.

  18. Judith Curry

    Let’s look at:

    Differentiating theory from evidence in determining confidence in an assessment finding

    by Kristie L. Ebi

    The full paper is behind a paywall, but we start off with a problem right in the abstract of the pdf preview.

    The process begins with an assessment of the scientific evidence and agreement supporting a finding, where evidence is defined as including mechanistic understanding, theory, data, models, and expert judgment

    None of these are scientific (or empirical) ”evidence”.

    Empirical evidence is based either on physical observations or on reproducible experimentation (see Wiki):

    The word empirical denotes information gained by means of observation or experiments. Empirical data is data produced by an experiment or observation.
    A central concept in modern science and the scientific method is that all evidence must be empirical, or empirically based, that is, dependent on evidence or consequences that are observable by the senses.

    “Mechanistic understanding” does not make the grade of ”evidence”, nor does ”theory” or “expert judgment”, nor do ”models” per se.

    ”Data” might fill the bill, as long as they are based either on physical observations or on reproducible experimentation.

    This is one of the key problems IPCC has had from the start, i.e. the failure to separate model studies based on theoretical deliberations from empirical data.

    It looks like this basic problem will not go away for AR5.

    Max

  19. When ice melts and oceans rise, ice mass leaves locations near the axis of rotation and wind up in the ocean bulge around the equator and the inertia of earth increases and the spin rate goes down. When Ice Volume increases the water leaves the bulge around the equator and ends up on land mass nearer to the spin axis and the inertia of earth decreases and the spin rate increases.

    http://www.nist.gov/pml/div688/grp50/leapsecond.cfm

    The leap second data shows that less leap seconds are needed than in years past. That means the ice volume is increasing and the oceans are dropping.
    The uncertainty of this is less than a second in a year!

  20. As you might guess from my previous posts, I would like to see a more detailed and complete assessment of the inaccuracies introduced by the many approximations used. Approximations are necessary to get at least some answers, but the IPCC forecast of 2K – 4.5K for the climate sensitivity is relatively precise, compared to the base temperature of 288K.

    It’s almost as if, or it seems to me, that the consensus relies on an implicit assumption that, except for measurement error entailed in the parameter estimates, the mathematical models for the climate would be as precise as Newton’s laws for motion and the law of gravitational attraction. These are amazingly accurate: the error in the model for the precession of the perihelion of Mercury was so small that most scientists did not even think it mattered until Einstein produced a more accurate model. These laws are accurate enough to plan and execute interplanetary missions. But mathematical derivations and numerical computations in climate science begin with assumptions that are known to be inaccurate by more than a few percent right at the start. Raymond T. Pierrehumbert’s book “Principles of Planetary Climate” is replete with calculations showing that the errors of approximation are in the range of 3% – 10%. That’s good enough for understanding differences between Venus, Earth and Mars (his usage); and it is good enough for most pharmacokinetics and laboratory results for medical diagnostics. But I do not see how anyone can believe it is accurate enough for a predicted 1% change over an indefinite period of time from 50 – 100 years. I don’t see how it is accurate enough to substantiate a belief that cooling will not occur in that interval.

    The problem is not to communicate uncertainty. The problem is to accept that we might be wrong in our most important forecast.

    • MattStat – I think this is one of those circumstances where you can’t reason from generalizations but need to know exactly what is being estimated. For example, we know from many measurements that the past century has been characterized by a flux imbalance at the tropopause resulting in an excess of energy entering the climate system over the quantity leaving it- the exact magnitude does involve some uncertainty (of more than a few percent) but not the existence of a positive (warming) imbalance. We know from both measurements and theory that additional CO2 will increase the imbalance and accelerate the warming, and we know from equilibrium climate sensitivity estimates (with their broad range) and from transient sensitivity estimates (with more confidence) approximately how much warming will occur approximately how fast when CO2 is the only variable. To refer to your point, we can’t currently predict the warming rate for a given CO2 forcing within a 1 percent error rate, or even a 10 percent error rate, but we can predict the general amplitude of the effect, and we can certainly say that the direction will be one of warming rather than no warming or a cooling. Notice that this is true even for, let’s say, a 1 deg C warming, which is much less than 1 percent of a surface temperature of 288 K.

      This would be true if only CO2 were to change and we knew how much. However, climate science in general and the GCM models in particular don’t predict human decision-making but only its consequences. In addition, all CO2-based predictions could be offset or even outweighed by additional climate factors operating in a cooling direction (the sun, volcanoes, industrial aerosols, the PDO, etc.). Here, however, we need to know what factors operate at what level in order to estimate the consequences – they can’t be derived simply by invoking the word “uncertainty”. Based on knowledge of climatology, we can exclude with reasonable but not absolute confidence outcomes that are mathematically possible but physically unlikely. This requires a knowledge of the subject matter that I don’t believe can be circumvented. It allows us to estimate with high probability that continuing or increasing CO2 emissions will cause the global climate to warm averaged over the next several decades, despite fluctuations within that interval.

      My main point from all this is that citing a particular percentage inaccuracy tells us little about how well we can estimate future climate change unless that uncertainty is applied to specific variables. To do that requires detailed knowledge about climate dynamics as well as statistical variation. From my perspective, I believe we can estimate general temperature trends fairly well on a global, multidecadal scale, but less well on very short or much longer timescales or regionally rather than globally. Uncertainty must be evaluated in that context. As you state, we might be wrong in our most important forecasts – in fact, it’s a certainty we will be off by at least some amount – but it’s highly unlikely we will err by making a forecast in the wrong direction.

      Much blogosphere debate challenges climate science interpretations regarding climate behavior. That’s fine, but I hope no-one expects that comments within this thread will resolve arguments about climate sensitivity, the sun, the PDO, warming rates, ocean heat content, and the like – dozens of past threads in this blog as well as material elsewhere have been devoted to these topics. To discuss this intelligently, however, requires more detailed understanding of climate behavior than is sometimes evident in blogosphere arguments.

      • Fred Moolton: To discuss this intelligently, however, requires more detailed understanding of climate behavior than is sometimes evident in blogosphere arguments.

        In particular, it would be good to have a detailed understanding of cloud behavior, including the effects of the storm clouds in tornado season in the US tornado belt, and ocean clouds and squalls in hurricane season over oceans. There is frequently a sunny am warming with clear skies, followed by cloud accumulations and eventually total cloud cover, followed by cooling and rainfall. What would be the effect of increased atmospheric CO2 in this system? Would the sunny am warming with clear skies warm more quickly and raise more water vapor? Would the clouds and eventual total cloud cover happen earlier, with a greater reduction of accumulated insolation? Would the eventual rainfall be a greater rainfall than without CO2?

        That may sound fanciful, but the answers are not known, and the possibility of increased rainfall with increased temperature has been (at least partially) supported by the paper in Nature earlier this year reporting a gradual increase in maximum rainfall in a large area of the U.S., concomitant with gradual warming.

        I would venture that the single most important known unknown is the cloud system and its response to more CO2. And it is really unknown.

        I believe that you overestimate the accuracy with which Top of Atmosphere outbound radiation has been measured. The detailed understanding to which I refer probably will require knowledge of when and where the outbound and inbound radiation are measured. Trenberth’s paper earlier this year used a model-based, not measured, value for TOA outbound radiation. “Trenberth’s complaint” about missing heat could well be due to mismeasurement of total annual outbound TOA radiation.

        The most disturbing attribute of mature experts, commented upon by many, is their unwillingness to acknowledge that there might be something important that they don’t know. Nonexperts like me have the same problem, no denying that; but as I read more and more, it becomes more apparent that the gaps in climate science preclude any confidence in projections of small temperature changes in response to CO2 changes.

      • “I would venture that the single most important known unknown is the cloud system and its response to more CO2. And it is really unknown…
        I believe that you overestimate the accuracy with which Top of Atmosphere outbound radiation has been measured.”

        I quoted these two excerpts from your comment because I believe they illustrate my point about the need to be familiar with our current understanding of climate in order to evaluate it. I agree partially with both comments. However, it’s not true that cloud behavior is completely unknown. For a long term forcing (e.g., from CO2), we need to know the long term responses of clouds to the warming, despite short term fluctuations. From both the HIRS and ISCCP observational data, we see that over recent warming decades, total cloud cover has tended to decline, low (cooling) clouds have remained stable or declined, high (warming) clouds have tended to show an absolute increase and/or an increase in the high/low cloud ratios. All these are consistent with a positive cloud feedback long term. They don’t prove it (the correlation could be something other than causal) but are inconsistent with a strong negative cloud feedback.

        In the case of outbound radiation, I haven’t overestimated the accuracy of measurement because I didn’t comment on it. It turns out I agree with you that it has not been measured accurately. What we do know, however, with very high confidence, is that the past century has been associated with an excess of incoming over outgoing radiation. This knowledge doesn’t come from TOA measurements but from a multiplicity of other measures that reflect the imbalance, including surface warming and multidecadal increases in ocean heat content determined from temperature readings and measurements of sea level. We also observe short term fluctuations in these phenomena that require additional evaluation to sort out the technical from the climatic factors, but the long term trends are not in doubt. As I mentioned earlier, short term climate projections based on a specified emissions scenario are still subject to more uncertainty than multidecadal projections, and this is an area that needs more work.

      • However, it’s not true that cloud behavior is completely unknown.

        Nor did I say that it was. I said that more detailed knowledge was necessary.

        short term climate projections based on a specified emissions scenario are still subject to more uncertainty than multidecadal projections,

        I have read that assertion often, but I have never seen it substantiated with evidence. What’s being predicted is the long-term equilibrium response of a system that is never in equilibrium, and won’t be.

        I expect that long-term behavior of Earth climate in response to doubling CO2 in the atmosphere can not be understood without understanding of the short-term dynamics of clouds.

  21. Some day, WordPress will let us block commenters, like Facebook does now. It would make reading these threads and teasing out the useful comments much easier. A single troll can make a thread virtually unreadable.

    The post itself is as interesting as ever. Carry on! ;-)

    • A useful comment is one you agree with.
      A comment that should be blocked is one you disagree with.
      You might be on top and block other people’s comments. You might be on the bottom and your comments might be blocked.
      That defeats the purpose of having an online debate.
      Someday a single troll may turn out to have been right.
      That did happen with Galileo. He was the troll and now we know he was right. Just because we know we are right does not necessarily mean that we are right. I believe I am right, but I do read other opinions and do give it some thought.
      Give this some thought.

      • Excellent point. When it comes to arriving applying reason to the facts to arrive at a decision there is no greater expectation from a group of government-paid scientists than from a jury in a celebrity murder trial.

      • In trials, regular people with no published, peer-reviewed papers, are considered qualified to listen to evidence and arrive at a correct, proper and just verdict. It does not always happen that way, but our system is based on the idea that it usually does. Consensus Climate Scientists generally consider regular people not qualified to make a judgment based on evidence. They need to think again. In a trial, we are as qualified as they are to decide. We can decide that their expert testimony is valid or useless. Make no mistake, they are on trial.

      • Herman,

        Well played and well said!
        NASA will look at any research and evidence that is not by an approved institution, company or group and MUST have a government grant.
        So free information discoveries are discouraged.

        Who knew?

      • Herman,

        I’ve made this point many times. I’ve even given some thought to the idea of writing a book from this perspective. Under cross-examination by a skilled litigator, alarmist scientists would be forced to answer for the sloppy mess they’ve created. E.g. — you’ve testified that the world faces a great catastrophe requiring unprecedented measures. Given the extreme gravity of your claims, we would assume you would have worked hard to insure that your work met the highest standards for quality. And then imagine the squirming as the jury heard about the shoddy instruments, poor data, databases lacking quality control, lost data, Harry Readme; the absence of transparency, the lack of audit or replication, and the abuse of the peer review system; the track record of butchered statistics and the messes created by Mann, Rahmstorf, Jones, Steig, Briffa, and Dressler; the politicization and failure of accountability of the IPCC; and the inability of the GCMs to be verified and validated.

        In the end, I suspect that the jury would be most appalled by the utter lack of interest in audit or replication — they demanded that the world fundamentally change, but were too lazy to bother checking each others’ work or get help from stats and software experts.

  22. Judith Curry

    Thanks for bringing this very pertinent post with the many cited discussions on uncertainty.

    Your paper addresses many of the issues regarding uncertainty in IPCC reports, with which I would wholeheartedly agree. (So far, it is the only paper cited, which addresses the real problem and with which I can identify.)

    Your conclusions make sense to me, as well, but I have one small caveat.

    They are based on the implicit premise that the “uncertainty” problem of the IPCC is not a problem of bad will, but simply that IPCC has oversimplified the issue of uncertainty in its Assessment Reports, which can lead to misleading overconfidence.

    You wrote:

    The uncertainty associated with climate science and the range of decision making frameworks and policy options provides much fodder for disagreement. Here I argue that the IPCC’s consensus approach enforces overconfidence, marginalization of skeptical arguments, and belief polarization.

    This is all true and pertinent, Judith, but IMO it fails to address the key problem head on: the IPCC process itself has been corrupted by the need for a consensus supporting alarming anthropogenic greenhouse warming, which is backed by selected scientific “evidence” .

    This “evidence” is in most cases not really “evidence” in the scientific definition, but simply model simulations based largely on theoretical deliberations or expert judgment.

    Yet these are included as “evidence” by IPCC as we read in the definition of “evidence” in the paper you cited: Differentiating theory from evidence in determining confidence in an assessment finding by Kristie L. Ebi – see separate post).

    Worse yet, scientific evidence, which does not support the IPCC agenda, is simply ignored or discarded in several cases, a process, which you indirectly acknowledge is occurring and refer to as “marginalization of skeptical arguments” and “belief polarization” (but I think goes much further than that).

    IMO we have a basic process problem here, Judith. Until the current IPCC process is replaced, the uncertainty problem you cite will not be resolved.

    Max

    • Max,
      I agree that selection bias (aka cherry-picking of the literature) has been a major problem in IPCC. It’s a pity the IAC Review is couched in such diplomatic language that understates the issues.

  23. Prof. Curry, have you ever heard of the Earth System Governance Project? I found it while looking over papers referencing Silke Beck’s Moving beyond the linear model of expertise? IPCC and the test of adaptation. There’s a paper titled The Shifting Multiscale Ideal: Science, Governance and the Sub-Global in the
    Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
    presented at the 2011 Colorado Conference on Earth System Governance sponsored by the Earth System Governance Project, a ten-year research program under the auspices of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change. This paper starts out:

    On December 20, 2010 members of the UN General Assembly approved the establishment of an Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Often referred to as an ‘IPCC for nature’, IPBES promises to become a key institution in global environmental governance (Anonymous 2010, Larigauderie and Mooney 2010, Loreau et al 2006).

    I’ve reproduced the references below.

    This is the first I’ve heard of such an animal, but given the real issues raised by the subject of this post, it seems relevant.

    Ref’s

    Anonymous. 2010. Wanted: an IPCC for biodiversity. Nature 465(7298): 525

    Larigauderie, A., and H. A Mooney. 2010. The Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: moving a step closer to an IPCC-like mechanism for biodiversity. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 2, no. 1-2: 9–14.

    Loreau, M., A. Oteng-Yeboah, M. T. K. Arroyo, D. Babin, R. Barbault, M. Donoghue, M. Gadgil, et al. 2006. Diversity without representation. Nature 442, no. 7100: 245–246

    • AK thanks for these links. I am broadly familiar with the issues you raise, but not these particular references. It seems that ecosystems are replacing climate as the focus for such politics. Which is a good thing for climate science, anyways.

    • AK: An IPCC for Biodiversity.There’s a frightening thought! And they’ve already got a name for it: Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Here’s the vision of cloning the IPCC from climate to ecology:

      Provided it smartens up in response to recent hiccups, the IPCC remains the gold standard for independent scientific assessment on an international level. Its reports are the outputs of a formal, intergovernmental process. Representatives in Busan should do their best to reproduce those attributes to make the IPBES as strong.

      When I was a kid in the fifties and sixties I had such starry-eyed hopes that the UN and related international bodies were going to make the world work. It still seems to me that it could someday work, but the current UN has become such a corrupt anti-US, anti-Israel organization that it’s hard to imagine anything decent coming out of it.

  24. I do not think the tunes you play on your fiddles will ever be sweet enough to detract from the discomfort of the heat that is coming but what the heck it must be worth a try.

    Why must you always be running around with these awful scare stories about all the scientists are in cahoots to do evil deeds. It is as bad as the ” commie plot to destroy our minds with flouride in the water ” Get a grip folks.

    • The malfeasance of the IPCC is unprecedented (almost).

      http://reviewipcc.interacademycouncil.net/report.html

      And a large part of the problem is that politicians latch onto phrases such as “very likely” and translate them into “certainly” and then use the “consensus” to screw money out of their citizens and thereby sabotage national economies. Have you noticed how well Europe is doing? Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireleand to name a few.

  25. Judith, no reply for Willis? Too rude? Too right?

    • Well, there’s nothing new here that I haven’t responded to previously (responded directly to Willis).

      • Dr. Curry,

        You mean “There’s nothing new here that I have or haven’t responded to previously.” ;)

        Andrew

      • She hasn’t deleted the posts. That is stellar in comparison to others.
        Perhaps she doesn’t have a good response- that doesn’t mean Willis
        is right or wrong.
        Nothing add or nothing to correct- no response.
        That any political body has corruption shouldn’t need to be pointed out.
        That IPCC is utterly entirely corrupt isn’t be news, but IPCC probably
        isn’t going to go away.
        I don’t even want it to go away:)

      • Willis Eschenbach

        I have no problem with Judith replying or not replying exactly as or when she pleases.

        I would note that, as far as I know, she has not responded to whether the IPCC should be disbanded and if not, why not, or what we’ve gotten from the IPCC that we would not have without it.

        Thus, while she is perfectly free to reply or not reply to the issues I raise,I fear that her claim that “there’s nothing new here” is not entirely true.

        w.

  26. Judith,

    Have you ever played with density of fluid materials?
    How stackable fluids of different densities are and how heat and cold changes densities?

    Shooters are a good thing to practice with! :-)

  27. Dr Gary Yohe, one of the guest editors, is a member of WWF Climate Witness Science Advisory Panel

    Climate Witness gathers hundreds of stories from people around the world who can see real climate change. Witnesses can fill out a form which included the following:

    3. CONSEQUENCES OF CHANGES
    T…….
    U. Activities of extraterrestrial organizations and bodies []

  28. Judith,

    I’m not sure if you wish to submit your own comments on uncertainty to the next IPCC report. I know how busy you must be, so I thought I might lend a hand and I’ve come with the following.

    “We need to understand regional effects, including uncertainty, we have to consider having to do things differently (?), with more uncertainty and incorporating natural climate variability. Notwithstanding these considerations, the need for robust measures (taking into account uncertainty) is still paramount (?) if this leads to a low regrets policy. There should be a new ways of looking at uncertainty, and building bridges which both climate heretics, uncertainty monsters, scientists and skeptics can cross. That is, those skeptics who aren’t spreading ideas about uncertainty on the GH effect itself. We aren’t uncertain about that (?) and they can definitely (?) stay on their own side of the bridge! They, and everyone else, need to understand that Climate science is entirely correct, but climate scientists are not, and never will be (?), certain enough to support doing anything about it. That way we can get back to the sort of careers we thought we would have free from political controversy “

  29. Judith Curry

    As you can read, there are several posters here who believe that the “IPCC problem” is more than just a problem of how uncertainty has been handled and communicated but is a basic underlying problem of a corrupted IPCC process, which should be covered in a specific thread, for example:

    “Is the IPCC process mortally sick – and, if so, should we try to revive it (and how) or should we let it die a natural death and replace it with a healthy new process (and what should this new process be)?”

    I would suggest that you open such a thread for general discussion.

    Maybe you would like a lead article (from Willis, myself or anyone else) to describe the basic process problem in the eyes of a rational skeptic and make some general recommendations on what could be done about it, as a catalyst for getting the discussion going.

    What do you think of this suggestion?

    Max

    • Max

      I think a thread along the lines you suggest-with a suitable objective intro-would be a good idea.

      I don’t go along with the idea that there is merely a need for ‘better communication.’

      As an increasingly relucant member of the EU I have lost count of the number of times that a proponent of the EU or the Euro said ‘I didn’t understand’ and what was needed was ‘better communication.

      The EU has a large budget devoted to putting over their message and I’m sure the IPCC have the same. If they can’t communicate with the resources at their disposal perhaps the IPCC should realise there is something wrong with their message.

      I’m uncomfortable with the word’ corrupt’ when applied to the IPCC and- by association- those whose papers they synthesise. Perhaps ‘dysfunctional’ would be more accurate.
      tonyb

      • When, by the time of the 2nd assessment report (1995), the IPCC still couldn’t pin blame on mans activities, they ask the usual suspects (Santer, Wigley, Karoly, Jones, Ramaswamy et al) to come up with a paper, which they do titled “A Search for Human Influences on the Thermal Structure of the Atmosphere” (Nature Vol.382, 4 July 1996) and this paper makes its way into the 1995 report AFTER the meeting of drafting scientists in Madrid, and despite the uncertainties detailed in the paper, despite the cherry picked time frame of the study, the IPCC trumpets “A DISCERNABLE HUMAN INFLUENCE ON CLIMATE” (chapter 8), I’d call that corruption of the first order punishable by gaol time.

        This is the period chosen by the papers authors..

        This is the period that was available to the authors

        This is the late great John L Dalys take on the matter.

        http://www.john-daly.com/sonde.htm

      • Oh, and for what it’s worth, below is a lnk to the notorious paper.

        http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/bibliography/related_files/bds9601.pdf

    • I disagree that the “IPCC process” is sick, corrupted or dysfuntional. The IPCC is an NGO, created under the auspices of another NGO.

      The entire purpose of such “non-governmental” organizations is to remove functions of government from the control of the governed. Progressives can lose elections, because voters can vote them out when their incompetence becomes impossible to hide. But with a properly constituted NGO, taxes collected from the voters can be distributed to the NGOs, which can then continue with progressive policies without regard to election returns.

      The IPCC will not be reformed as Dr. Curry would like, because that would be contrary to the progressives who run it, and their political sponsors. It will also not be disbanded as Willis Eschenbach would like because, well, they are designed to be anti-democratic.

      What will happen, if the U.S. continues electing more conservative political leaders is, the IPCC will become irrelevant. Elect enough conservatives here, and the American taxpayers might even eventually stop funding the entire anti-democratic UN structure. The UN is an organization comprised of a majority of authoritarian governments, whose primary purpose it to vote to allocate the funds collected by the tax payers of freer societies to pursue their own agendas.

      How can a creature of such a rankly political, anti-democratic organization ever be “reformed” to abjure politics in favor of pure” science? It can’t. The good news is that the damage the IPCC could has been doing has been stopped for now (in the U.S. at least), and pretty soon, the halt may become permanent.

  30. The IPCC’s inadequacies run deeper than mere failure to properly address the uncertainties that surround climate change. An honest IPCC would have headed its Assessment Report 4 with an admission of the fact that, under the Daubert standard, climate “science” was not a science from the lack of the falsifiability of its theoretical claims and thus there was not a scientific basis for public policy on CO2 emissions.

  31. Willis Eschenbach

    tonyb | October 5, 2011 at 11:09 am

    ‘… I’m uncomfortable with the word’ corrupt’ when applied to the IPCC and- by association- those whose papers they synthesise. Perhaps ‘dysfunctional’ would be more accurate.”

    I, on the other hand, am comfortable with words, but very uncomfortable with the corruption exhibited by the IPCC.

    See the Climategate emails for more specific examples, or follow the story of Caspar and the Jesus paper, or consider the appointment of Michael Mann, a newly fledged PhD, as a lead author where he corruptly advanced his own shabby excuse for science … or think about the fact that they have flat-out refused to require conflict of interest statements from the AR5 authors.

    That’s not “dysfunctional”. Disfunctional is not getting stuff done. This is corruption. For example, you don’t categorically refuse to institute conflict of interest statements for AR5 because you are “dysfunctional”.

    You do it because you are corrupt and you are trying to protect and defend the corruption. Please offer an alternate explanation for their actions if you have one, “dysfunctional” doesn’t even begin to explain them.

    w.

    PS – Nobody I’ve heard has ever generalized their dislike of the IPCC’s actions to a claim that some scientist whose paper the IPCC “synthesized” is tainted by association. I haven’t heard that anywhere, that because a paper by Steve McIntyre was discussed by the IPCC he is somehow tainted.

    I do like the idea of the IPCC “synthesizing” papers, though, that’s a pretty accurate description of some of the corruption, synthesizing instead of summarizing.

    • “or think about the fact that they have flat-out refused to require conflict of interest statements from the AR5 authors.”

      I haven’t heard of this. You aren’t interpreting them not doing it for AR5 with them refusing to do it are you?

      • Willis Eschenbach

        I am interpreting it just the way I said, that despite repeated requests they have flat-out refused to require the AR5 authors to give conflict-of-interest statements. How do you interpret that fact?

        And more to the point, how do you interpret the intention behind the refusal? What scientific principle are they serving by their refusal, pray tell?

        Go ahead, lolwot. I can hardly wait to hear your justifications for this one.

        w.

      • Hi Willis

        I think ‘dysfunctional family’ describes PRECISELY the IPCC

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dysfunctional_family

        “A dysfunctional family is a family in which conflict, misbehavior, and often abuse on the part of individual members occur continually and regularly, leading other members to accommodate such actions. Children sometimes grow up in such families with the understanding that such an arrangement is normal. Dysfunctional families are primarily a result of co-dependent adults, and may also be affected “

        You have certainly accused Judith of accommodating bad behaviour of certain members of the family-she would no doubt see herself as a peacemaker and bridge bullder as would I

        As regards ‘corruption’-its a strong word;.

        “In philosophical, theological, or moral discussions, corruption is spiritual or moral impurity or deviation from an ideal. In economy, corruption is payment for services or material which the recipient is not due, under law. This may be called bribery, kickback, or, in the Middle East, baksheesh.”

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption

        I am happy to think of the IPCC as a corrupt AND dysfunctional family if we accept both epithets only apply to certain family members and we are talking only about spiritual or moral corruption rather than the criminal financial kind which the word may mean to many people

        tonyb

      • If we are going to speak in terms of the IPCC as a dysfunctional family, wouldn’t that make its defenders enablers? At what point do you tell the family member who is trashing the house (science) and pushing the family (the western economy) toward bankruptcy to get out and stay out? At what point do you tell the enablers to stop, look at, and accept reality?

      • tonyb and Willis

        It appears to me that you basically agree on what the problem is, but are stumbling over the use of the word “corrupt” in connection with the IPCC “consensus process”.

        The word “corrupt” may have different connotations (criminal, moral, ethical, technical) to different people, but let me give you my take on this.

        If you read Judith’s paper, you will see that, starting with the abstract, she refers to the consensus process as having introduced bias:

        A concerted effort by the IPCC is needed to … eliminate bias from the consensus building process itself.

        Later on she goes into more detail on this, but it is clear to me that the IPCC consensus process has been corrupted by introducing bias.

        The IPCC “consensus view” (and message of its reports) is that AGW, caused principally by human CO2 emissions, has been the primary cause for late 20th century warming and, therefore, represents a serious potential threat for humanity and our environment unless mitigating action is taken.

        Scientific studies and opinions, which support this “consensus view” are eagerly embraced, often without first doing adequate “due diligence” (as was the case for the since discredited Mann hockey stick), while those that do not are ignored or rejected outright.

        This is a clear “corruption” of the process IMO.

        Instead of searching for the scientific “truth” about what makes our climate do what it does, IPCC has concentrated on the search for the scientific “proof” to support its “consensus view”.

        As we saw from one of the other papers cited here, i.e. Differentiating theory from evidence in determining confidence in an assessment finding by Kristie L. Ebi, scientific “evidence” itself is being redefined to accommodate this corrupted “consensus process”.

        So, tony, I would agree with Willis that the problem is more than just a “dysfunctional” process (which it incidentally may be).

        The IPCC consensus process is “corrupt”.

        Max

  32. Hi Max

    I think we just need to slip in a qiualifying word-for example ‘morally corrupt’ or ‘ethically corrupt’..

    My original objection to the word is that it has unpleasant connotations as regards the criminal act of taking money, and I dont think it helps to introduce that sort of dimension into the process. Being called ‘corrupt’ without qualifying it is at least as bad as being called a ‘denier’
    tonyb

    • Willis Eschenbach

      tonyb | October 5, 2011 at 6:08 pm

      Hi Max

      I think we just need to slip in a qiualifying word-for example ‘morally corrupt’ or ‘ethically corrupt’.

      My original objection to the word is that it has unpleasant connotations …

      I wouldn’t have a clue how to tell the difference between your sub-species of corruption. For example, Phil Jones, Michael Mann, and others worked together and used their official IPCC positions to get the Jesus Paper improperly accepted into AR4.

      Now it’s clear that those actions are corruption. But is that ethically corrupt, morally corrupt, or some other kinda corrupt?

      My answer is that I don’t care in the slightest what kind of corruption it is, the good oldfashioned kind or some newfangled variety. I’m not interested in parsing their purulence.

      You’re way overthinking it, Tony

      w.

      PS – Yes, “corrupt” does have what you call “unpleasant connotations”, that’s it’s purpose, it describes unpleasant individuals, so stop trying to qualify it and whitewash it.

  33. They do say that there in quantum mechanics there is a superposition of all possible states and many worlds or universes are possible. If so, there could be a world where the IPCC have just issued a report to the effect that CO2 and other GH gases are quite benign and of course there is absolutely no cause for any concern!
    I just wonder what GaryM’s “conservatives” are saying in that universe? Is it likely they’ll be making accusations of fraud, and corruption?
    I can’t see it somehow.
    If the IPCC want to gain approval from hardcore climate rejectionists , including many denizens on this blog, they just need to tell you what you want to hear, don’t they?

    • Go to hell. Your bitching is not just frivolous, it is wasteful. Do you have any idea how many people’s time you are wasting?

      • David, It doesn’t pay to lose your temper! Its a good thing I’m thick skinned about these sort of comments :-)

    • “If the IPCC want to gain approval”

      They aren’t going to gain approval with all the corruption, jank science and bad pr they have to overcome first.

      Andrew

  34. Willis Eschenbach

    Agnostic | October 5, 2011 at 6:40 pm |

    I think you need to get off the fence Willis…

    It’s extremely hard to argue against your main points, and I really don’t think many would seriously try, although they may well argue for something more moderate. But given the reality that it (the IPCC) exists and is what it is, setting yourself against it completely, prevents further opportunity to influence it.

    Agnostic I have no interest in influencing it. I want to see it abandoned, defunded, pull the plug and go home.

    And if I can’t do that I want to see it discredited and totally ignored and become a pariah for all of the unscientific and anti-scientific things it has done.

    I’m not interested in giving it a coat of makeup and fixing its bad teeth so it can go out in public and not be instantly embarrassed.

    I want it to go away. Not go away mad, just go away. It is a useless appendage like a badly infected appendix … and when that happens, you don’t hear doctors saying “don’t cut it out, that prevents further opportunity to influence it”.

    Will I succeed? I hope so. Depends in part on the 2012 elections, and unfortunately, I’m a liberal politically … can you say “conflicted”? I knew you could …

    But if the Republicans sweep the floor, I can see that the US might stop spending money on the IPCC.

    And if not, well, it’s not a huge loss, because for a growing number of people these days, when they hear “IPCC” they just point and laugh …

    But no way am I going to claim that it just needs a few tweaks or some fixing of uncertainty rules to make it better. It was set up as a partisan PR organization, it has lived as a partisan PR organization, it will always be a partisan PR organization, it is part of the institutional culture.

    So if you think you can “influence” that malignant core into something useful, be my guest … me, when I’m not being a skeptic, I’m a realist, and my realistic opinion is that there’s less chance of the IPCC changing its low-down ways than there is of getting it de-funded.

    w.

    • Willis,

      Its quite possible that the USA will defund the IPCC. It is also possible that every scientific organisation which conducts climate science will also be starved of funds and closed down. No more GISS/NASA, NOAA , NSIDC etc.
      The same with all university departments whose staff write scientific papers supporting the consensus position. You could even put guys like Michael Mann and James Hansen in jail on some trumped up charge.

      Ever thought of how that might look?

      • tt,
        As much as I would love to see the USA turn off the IPCC, it is not going to happen.
        You are just creating a new apocalypse to believe in.
        Isn’t AGW enough for you?
        The chances of GISS/NASA, NOAA and NSIDC being closed by rascally Republican tea party denialist Koch brother funded scum is zero.
        In fact, that you actually seem to offer his as a serious idea shows more about how out of touch with reality you are than about any credible attempt by skeptics to shut off science funding in the US or anywhere.
        The only real risk to science funding will be if the arrogant twits like Mann and his gang at U Penn keep pretending that their whitewashes are actually anything other than whitewashes,and if arrogant University insiders keep pretending that they are not accountable to normal review processes.

      • Possibly you’re right. I’d say though that pressure will be exerted behind the scenes to force out those who aren’t quite “on message”, if a radically right wing government is elected in the USA .

        It might not fit your agenda of government led hoaxes, but its quite likely there will, in the USA, be a clash between government and science after 2012.

      • tempterrain

        It might not fit your agenda of government led hoaxes, but its quite likely there will, in the USA, be a clash between government and science after 2012.

        The clash after 2012 will be between government and the pseudo science of climategate:

        I would not give them *anything*. I would not respond or even acknowledge receipt of their emails. There is no reason to give them any data, in my opinion, and I think we do so at our own peril!

        It would be good to remove at least part of the 1940s blip, but we are still left with “why the blip”.

        Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise.

        Be awkward if we went through a early 1940s type swing!

        …the fact is that in doing so the rules of IPCC have been softened to the point that in this way the IPCC is not any more an assessment of published science (which is its proclaimed goal) but production of results

  35. Willis Eschenbach

    tempterrain | October 5, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Reply

    Willis,

    Its quite possible that the USA will defund the IPCC. It is also possible that every scientific organisation which conducts climate science will also be starved of funds and closed down. No more GISS/NASA, NOAA , NSIDC etc.
    The same with all university departments whose staff write scientific papers supporting the consensus position. You could even put guys like Michael Mann and James Hansen in jail on some trumped up charge.

    Ever thought of how that might look?

    I have not, because I’m not into fantasies …

    But since you seem to be, it is also possible that every part of every government on earth could close down all of their departments and universities, and shutter all the churches and the whorehouses, and even put guys like Johnny Depp and Homer Simpson in jail on some trumped up charge, and change all the pizza parlors into roofing tile warehouses.

    Ever though of how that might look?

    You can see why I’m not into “what if”. As soon as you start it you’ve left reality, and any conclusion is possible.

    Finally, you very blithely assume that because I’d like to see a typically corrupt and very damaging UN organization shut down, that I also want to see GISS, NASA, NOAA, NSIDC, and all the universities shut down … and you think I’m off the rails? You’re ready for the Olympics, where conclusion-jumping is a recognized sport …

    w.

    • Hi Willis

      You say I’m way overthinking the word ‘corruption’ in my desire to insert a ‘qualifying’ word, such as ‘ethically,’

      I repeat the description;

      “In philosophical, theological, or moral discussions, corruption is spiritual or moral impurity or deviation from an ideal. In economy, corruption is payment for services or material which the recipient is not due, under law. This may be called bribery, kickback, or, in the Middle East, baksheesh.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption

      All I am suggesting is that the word corruption has a number of meanings some of which can be applied to the IPCC and some can’t. My concern is that we are escalating the language if we use the meaning of ‘bribery’ (usually for money)

      Are you seriously suggesting the IPCC or contributors accept or offer bribes?

      I also am uncomfortable with the word ‘hoax’ (I’m not sure you’ve ever used the word but many others do). Misguided, incompetent, unwilling to admit mistakes, all of these and many more, but Hoax?

      Language is impprtant in setting a tone and boundaries. and I just think there are some words that are inappropriate. Which is not to say that I don’t agree with your basic premise that the IPCC should be shut down. Indeed, if they were just about to issue Assesment 1 instead of Assement 5 would world governments feel there was sufficient ‘evidence’ to fund a follow up?

      tonyb

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Thanks, Tony. You didn’t answer my question. It was:

        For example, Phil Jones, Michael Mann, and others worked together and used their official IPCC positions to get the Jesus Paper improperly accepted into AR4.

        Now it’s clear that those actions are corruption. But is that ethically corrupt, morally corrupt, or some other kinda corrupt?

        Please note as well that what I said was that the IPCC is “a corrupt, failed organization”. Is it ethically corrupt, or morally corrupt? I don’t know. It’s scientifically corrupt.

        I find a very different definition from the one you posted, as usual Wikipedia can’t be trusted, that’s why we have dictionaries. The one I found says:

        Having or showing a willingness to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain.

        The essence is twofold. 1) act dishonestly and 2) personal gain (money or otherwise)

        And no, I don’t mean for money, I would have thought that was evident. They act dishonestly for personal gain, as well as for a worse reason—what is called “noble cause corruption”. This is where you act dishonestly because you are totally convinced of that your purpose is noble and necessary and proper and required and urgent. In other words, noble cause corruption is acting dishonestly in the firm but mistaken belief that you are saving the world. (And losing your soul, but that’s another question.)

        Hope that helps, I’m still interested in whether what Phil Jones et al. did is moral or ethical corruption, I could never keep those two straight.

        w.

      • Hi Willis

        Here is the corruption index applied to 170 countries. Also recorded in it is the UN convention on corruption (ironic perhaps-especially bearing in mind the index specfically refers to climate change.)

        http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010/results

        I am quite happy with your use of the term ‘scientfcally corrupt.’ My point was that there are various escalating degrees of corruption right up to criminality involving bribes. The taking of money is a popularly understood meaning of corruption and one that- whatever its many faiults-we have to be careful to levy against the IPCC or those contributing to it.

        I do appreciate that the term ‘noble cause corruption’ is widely bandied about in regards to climate scientists and their supporters, but again we have a qualifying word, no matter how inappropriate it might be.

        So I shall use the term ‘scientifcally corrupt’ and also try to avoid the word ‘hoax.’ What words you use are of course up to you :)
        all the best

        tonyb.

    • Willis,

      Would it be such a bad thing if the IPCC were shut down? I’m not sure that it would. They have essentially done their job and it could well be argued that, from now on, it should be left to science to form its own consensus in the normal way. There is no need for bodies like the IPCC in any other field. So why not look at what the world’s leading universities, and research institutes say? That’s essentially all the IPCC do anyway. They just package it all up into a single report every few years.

      You ask if I think you are off the rails? Well now you come to mention it, it does seem a bit odd that you’ve brought “whorehouses” and “shuttered churches” into the discussion!

      And, even odder that you think a cartoon character like Homer Simpson could actually be put in jail!

      • Willis Eschenbach

        You ask if I think you are off the rails? Well now you come to mention it, it does seem a bit odd that you’ve brought “whorehouses” and “shuttered churches” into the discussion!

        And, even odder that you think a cartoon character like Homer Simpson could actually be put in jail!

        My point was that once you went into fantasy by starting a question “it is also possible that …”, as you did, there was no limit to what could be imagined. At that point, reality is not a requirement, as I was hinting. Which is inter alia why I don’t deal in those kind of “if …” questions like the ones you posed.

        The Sufis have a story about this. The Mullah Nasruddin was walking down the street, and a man fell from a roof five stories up and landed on top of him. Nasruddin was hurt and was taken to the hospital, but the man was uninjured. Some of the Mullah’s disciples went to see him in his hospital bed and asked him “Master, what can we learn from this experience?”

        “Shun reliance on theoretical questions,” said Nasruddin, “like ‘If a man falls five stories from the roof, will he be injured?'”

        w.

  36. tempterrain

    left to science to form its own consensus in the normal way

    Sounds OK, except for the “consensus” part; the need for a “consensus” was what caused IPCC to fail.

    why not look at what the world’s leading universities, and research institutes say?

    Ouch!

    The political leadership of these organizations (viz. Paul Nurse, etc.) has already sold out to the politically correct “consensus” position, so will be of no help in correcting the broken process.

    Max

    • In other words its not really about the IPCC at all! All organisations in the scientific world are saying that AGW is a problem to be taken seriously, and they aren’t going to be of any help in your campaign to undermine action to curtail CO2 and other GH gas emissions.

      • tempterrain

        The organizations you mention will, unfortunately, be of little help in breaking bias introduced by the IPCC consensus process – because they have bought into this process politically.

        It will take new, more objective, groupings of scientists and others to achieve this.

        Max

  37. Willis Eschenbach

    WebHubTelescope | October 6, 2011 at 1:41 am |

    Read the story of Dan Shechtman at Yahoo News, who has just been awarded the Nobel for Chemistry. He was exiled from his peers in the early 1980′s when he discovered something new in crystallography, but instead of his peers checking out his discovery, they ridiculed him. Linus Pauling was his boss, & he fired him. Hows that for being a sceptical scientist, eh?

    That’s a bunch of BS. I did diffraction research at that time and actually have some diffraction algorithms, based on disordered material, named after me. No one that I was aware of ridiculed Shechtman because it was interesting stuff, and diffraction patterns don’t lie.

    Why do people post garbage when Google is so near? From MSNBC:

    In 1982, Shechtman discovered what are now called “quasicrystals” — atoms arranged in patterns that seemed forbidden by nature.

    “I was thrown out of my research group. They said I brought shame on them with what I was saying,” he recalled. “I never took it personally. I knew I was right and they were wrong.”

    Gosh, who should I believe? The man himself, or some commenter who doesn’t put his name to his claims and didn’t know Shechtman, but says they had the same general line of work? Let me think about this one, it’s a tough question …

    w.

    • There’s more than one truth on this issue. I have no reason to doubt, what Shechtman tells, but it’s also certain that his work was taken seriously by many other scientists immediately after it was published in November 1984 (Received by the journal Oct 9, 1984). Google Scholar tells that several papers on quasicrystals that referred on his paper were published in 1984-5 in Physical Review Letters, where his paper was also published, and which was at least at time the most valued publication channel for new important work in Physics.

      This leaves open, what happened before his paper was published in late 1984 as the time of the discovery has been given as 1982 and “early 1980’s”. Perhaps the recollections of WHT are after publication and the problems with colleagues prior to publication.

      • Ray Boorman said that Pauling was Shechtmann’s boss and fired him.
        From his own university home page, recently updated:

        In 1981-l983 he was on Sabbatical at the Johns Hopkins University, where he studied rapidly solidified aluminum transition metal alloys (joint program with NBS). During this study he discovered the Icosahedral Phase which opened the new field of quasiperiodic crystals

        So he was on sabbatical at NIST during 1981 to 1983, obviously working with the famous material scientist John Cahn, as Cahn co-authored the first paper in PRL with Shechtmann. No way did he get fired from a sabbatical, and you can read what Cahn’s own history says about their discovery here: http://nvl.nist.gov/pub/nistpubs/jres/106/6/j66cah.pdf

        Quasicrystals provided win-win opportunities for crystallographers: If we were mistaken about them, expert crystallographers could debunk us; if we were right, here was an opportunity to be a trail blazer. While many crystallographers worldwide availed themselves of the opportunity, U.S. crystallographers avoided it, to a large extent because of Pauling’s influence.

        So it looked like it was just Pauling’s influence that prevented this from being immediately settled science, and that took at worst two years from the finding when he was at NIST to when it got published.
        ——
        My take on the situation: none of my colleagues were really taken aback by this because were seeing our own weird results and we could explain it by disorder as well.
        If you understand disorder, what Pauling did was pretty comical in any case. He kept on increasing the size of his basis crystal lattice so that it contained around 1000 atoms. Like I said, my take is that diffraction patterns don’t lie and whether it was due to some disorder or due to a new form of aperiodic structure is a detail that matters more to people awarding prizes. As I have written myself, no one will ever get a Nobel prize for demonstrating that some effect comes about from entropy. Its not interesting to award seekers, but is interesting to me because it explains quite a bit about the natural world around us.

  38. Agnostic @ October 5, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    I’ve often heard the “reform from inside” argument made re government economic and other policy, but I’ve never seen it work. Those with vested interests in the status quo and little or no concern for the public interest always triumph. The IPCC issue might only be resolved by a US Republican government telling it as it as and withdrawing all support, financial and otherwise. Given the burgeoning emissions in China and India, which will dominate total emissions over the next several decades, withdrawal of support by the US would render the IPCC irrelevant. It would be hard (but sadly not impossible) for countries such as Australia to persist with absurd emissions reductions in those circumstances.

  39. “Uncertainty” must include uncertain political and economic futures.

    Five Truths About Climate Change

    . . . the U.S. is the world’s second-largest energy consumer. But over the past decade, carbon-dioxide emissions in the U.S. fell by 1.7%. . . .
    Meanwhile, China’s emissions jumped by 123% over the past decade and now exceed those of the U.S. by more than two billion tons per year.

    Did the IPCC predict this?

    Are the IPCC’s policy recommendations based on sound science? cf

    In September, Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder published a report that determined “switching from coal to natural gas would do little for global climate.” Mr. Wigley found that the particulates put into the atmosphere by coal-fired power plants, “although detrimental to the environment, cool the planet by blocking incoming sunlight.”

    If Mr. Wigley’s right, then using sources that emit no particulates, like nuclear and natural gas, will not make a major difference in averting near-term changes in the climate caused by carbon dioxide.

  40. How should we recognize the uncertainty due to the large errors already found between observations and IPCC’s AR4 GCMs?

    tropical surface temperature trend of the multi-model ensemble mean is more than 60% larger than that derived from observations, “indicating that AR4 GCMs overestimate the warming in the tropics for 1979-2010.”

    Fu, Q., Manabe, S. and Johanson, C.M. 2011. On the warming in the tropical upper troposphere: Models versus observations. Geophysical Research Letters 38: 10.1029/2011GL048101.

  41. Eisenhower’s 2nd warning.
    “…that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.” … “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.”

    Ah yes, the never ending “climate change” effort and academia need ever larger piles of US taxpayer money.