Reducing the future to climate

by Judith Curry

One hundred years ago, a popular theory contended that various aspects of climate determined the physiology and psychology of individuals, which in turn defined the behavior and culture of the societies that those individuals formed. As the ideological wars of the twentieth century re- shaped political and moral worlds, environmental determinism became discredited and marginalised within mainstream academic thought. Yet at the beginning of a new century with heightening anxieties about changes in climate, the idea that climate can determine the fate of people and society has re-emerged in the form of ‘climate reductionism’. 

So begins the abstract of a new paper by Mike Hulme, which was pointed out by Hans von Storch and BishopHill.

Reducing the Future to Climate: a Story of Climate Determinism and Reductionism

by Mike Hulme

Remainder of Abstract:   This paper traces how climate has moved from playing a deterministic to a reductionist role in discourses about environment, society and the future. Climate determinism previously offered an explanation, and hence a justification, for the superiority of certain imperial races and cultures. The argument put forward here is that the new climate reductionism is driven by the hegemony exercised by the predictive natural sciences over contingent, imaginative and humanistic accounts of social life and visions of the future. It is a hegemony which lends disproportionate power in political and social discourse to model-based descriptions of putative future climates. Some possible reasons for this climate reductionism, as well as some of the limitations and dangers of this position for human relationships with the future, are suggested.

Published in Osiris, Vol. 26, No. 1, (2011), pp. 245-266.  Link to revised draft manuscript [here].

Some excerpts are provided below:

Introduction

Understanding and theorising the relationship between climate and society is therefore prey to two distinct fallacies. The first is that of ‘climate determinism’ in which climate is elevated to become a – if not the – universal predictor (and cause) of individual physiology and psychology and of collective social organisation and behaviour. The second fallacy is that of ‘climate indeterminism’ in which climate is relegated to a footnote in human affairs and stripped of any explanatory power. Geographers have at times been most guilty of the former fallacy; historians at times most guilty of the latter6. Yet not even historical geographers or environmental historians have been always able to hold these two opposing fallacies in adequate and creative tension7.

Now, a hundred years later, and at the beginning of a new century, heightening anxieties about future anthropogenic climate change are fuelling – and in turn being fuelled by – a new variety of the determinist fallacy. In seeking to predict a climate-shaped future, the complexity of interactions between climates, environments and societies is reduced and a new variant of climate determinism emerges. I call this ‘climate reductionism’, a form of analysis and prediction in which climate is first extracted from the matrix of interdependencies which shape human life within the physical world. Once isolated, climate is then elevated to the role of dominant predictor variable. I argue in this paper that climate reductionism is a methodology that has become dominant in analyses of present and future environmental change – and that as a methodology it has deficiencies.

Such reductionism is also contributing to the new discourse about climate change and conflict.

My argument in this paper is that these sentiments, and many others which invade contemporary public and political discourses of climate change, are enabled by the methodology of climate reductionism (i.e., a form of neo-environmental determinism). Simulations of future climate from climate models are inappropriately elevated as universal predictors of future social performance and human destiny. 

I suggest that the hegemony exerted by the predictive natural sciences over human attempts to understand the unfolding future, opens up the spaces for climate reductionism to emerge. It is a hegemony manifest in the pivotal role held by climate (and related) modelling in shaping climate change discourses. Because of the epistemological authority over the future claimed, either implicitly or explicitly, by such modelling activities, climate becomes the one ‘known’ variable in an otherwise unknowable future. The openness, contingency and multiple possibilities of the future are closed off as these predicted virtual climates assert their influence over everything from future ecology, economic activity and social mobility, to human behaviour, cultural evolution and geosecurity. It is climate reductionism exercised through what I call ‘epistemological slippage’ – a transfer of predictive authority from one domain of knowledge to another without appropriate theoretical or analytical justification.

The paper provides some historical perspectives in the sections The demise of climate determinism, The rise of climate reductionism.

The hegemony of model predictions of the future

In summary, my argument concerns the hegemony held by the predictive natural and biological sciences over visions of the future. In the case of climate change, this hegemony is rooted in the knowledge claims of climate, or Earth system, models. In the absence of comparable epistemological reach emerging from the social sciences or humanities, these claims lend disproportionate discursive power to model-based descriptions of putative future climates. It thus becomes tempting to adopt a reductionist methodology when examining possible social futures. ‘Lots of things will change in the future, but since we have credible and quantitative knowledge about future climate let us examine, also quantitatively, what the consequences of these climates for society might be’. The subsequent and derived climate impact modelling then boldly calculates, for example, the billions of people who because of climate change will become starving or thirsty, or the millions who because of climate change will be made destitute or homeless. Climate reductionism is the means by which the knowledge claims of the climate modellers are transferred, by proximity as it were, to the putative knowledge claims of the social, economic and political analysts.

This transfer of predictive authority, an almost accidental transfer one might suggest rather than one necessarily driven by any theoretical or ideological stance, is what I earlier defined as “epistemological slippage”. If not quite the inexorable geometric calculus of Malthus, it nevertheless offers a future written in the unyielding language of mathematics and computer code. These models and calculations allow for little human agency, little recognition of evolving, adapting and innovating societies, and little attempt to consider the changing values, cultures and practices of humanity. The contingencies of the future are whitewashed out of the future. Humans are depicted as “dumb farmers”, passively awaiting their climate fate. The possibilities of human agency are relegated to footnotes, the changing cultural norms and practices made invisible, the creative potential of the human imagination ignored.

To give some substance to this argument I need to explore some of the historical contexts which have allowed climate models to claim such hegemony over the future and which have allowed climate reductionism to thrive. This requires an examination of the emergence of anthropogenic climate change as a matter of scientific concern in the 1970s and 1980s and as a matter of public policy debate in the 1980s and 1990s. There are three developments that are important for my argument: the retreat of the social sciences, and geography in particular, from working at the nature-culture interface; the emergence of a new epistemic community of global climate modellers; and the asymmetrical incorporation of climate change and social change into envisaged futures. Each of these three developments will be examined in turn.

By emasculating the future of much of its social, cultural or political dynamism, climate reductionism renders the future free of visions, ideologies and values. The future thus becomes over-determined. Yet the future is of course very far from being an ideology-free zone. It is precisely the most important territory over which battles of beliefs, ideologies and social values have to be fought. And it is these imagined and fought-over visions of the future which – in many indeterminate ways – will shape the impacts of anthropogenic climate change as much as will changes in physical climate alone.

And so the future is reduced to climate.

Putting society back into the future

If reductionism is a limited form of reasoning for interpreting the past, then climate reductionism is even more emasculated with regard to telling the future. The epistemological pathways offered by climate models and their derived analyses are only one way of believing what the future may hold. They have validity; and they have relevance. But to compensate for the epistemological slippage I have described in this article it is necessary to balance these reductionist pathways to knowing the future with other ways of envisioning the future.

The “contrast, connections and context” to which Stephen Pyne refers must be created by putting society back into the future. Since it is at least possible – if not indeed likely – that human creativity, imagination and ingenuity will create radically different social, cultural and political worlds in the future than exist today, greater effort should be made to represent these possibilities in any analysis about the significance of future climate change. Some of these futures may be better; some may be worse. But they will not be determined by climate, certainly not by climate alone, and these worlds will condition – perhaps remarkably, certainly unexpectedly – the consequences of climate change.

JC comment:  Von Storch refers to Hulme’s analysis as “remarkable.”  I agree.  In fact I give this paper a “wow.”  For those of you wondering when/why I give something a “wow,” it implies that the paper or whatever significantly changes the way I think about something.  This does not necessarily imply a belief change, but it changes the way I think about a subject.  What is a “wow” for me may not be  relevant for someone else.  This particular paper provides some important insights, and I really like the phrase and concept of “epistemic slippage.”  This paper deserves to be widely discussed, and I look forward to interesting discussion here.

271 responses to “Reducing the future to climate

  1. Climate modelers are simulacrums of ‘predictive natural scientists’ and not the real thing.
    ==============

  2. This is nicely put: “Because of the epistemological authority over the future claimed, either implicitly or explicitly, by such modelling activities, climate becomes the one ‘known’ variable in an otherwise unknowable future.”

    There is a parallel within climate modeling, where sensitivity becomes the one ‘known’ variable in an otherwise unknowable future climate. Combining these twin fallacies gives us sensitivity as the determinate of the human future, with emissions the control knob.

  3. I agree – it is a very interesting article, and I’m glad I’ve had three bites at it (superficially at Klimazwiebel, in a very polarised way at Bishop Hill, and with a healthy open mind here :) )

    I go along with it wholeheartedly until this –

    Since it is at least possible – if not indeed likely – that human creativity, imagination and ingenuity will create radically different social, cultural and political worlds in the future than exist today, greater effort should be made to represent these possibilities in any analysis about the significance of future climate change

    As was cogently pointed out by Mike Jackson at Bishop Hill, it is important to remember that we can know nothing about the radically different social cultural and political [among other] worlds of the future. Therefore it is absurd to represent these possibilities in any analysis about the significance of future climate change.

    I think Mike Hulme derives completely the wrong conclusion from a very perceptive analysis, because he still wants to be able to say something about the future, plan for it, make forecasts, and contingencies etc. But his analysis shows that is exactly what doesn’t make sense and that we can only bring our appropriate horizons nearer, not move them further away. This is the opposite of our instincts and desires, but makes sense. A hundred years ago, some prescient model might have predicted the ten-fold increase in the size of cities. The response of many would have been to immediately begin the rapid breeding of horses, and the digging of vast holes in the ground for all the sh*t. I think people of the future require us to live our lives well today, not second guess how they’d like us to behave ‘for their benefit’.

    This all ties in with the truism that people tend not to be vulnerable to climate change as to climate. Increasing adaptability to climate seems likely to have the knock-on effect of increasing the adaptability to climate change. This last point is certainly one that is consistent with Mike Hulmes analysis, and one which suggests we stop ‘climate change’ from taking up the whole of our view.

    • Spot on, Anteros.

    • Real world example — the fear of the coming whale oil crisis in the mid-1800s. There simply were not enough whales to meet the growing demand. The catastrophe was coming. Anyone with any intelligence at all could see it in the future.

      For a fun take thereon —

      http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2006/04/where_to_put_al.html

      I think it’s nice that someone like Hulme finally got around to trying to grasp the simple arguments made by so many sceptics for so many years. Perhaps by 2020, the level of understanding might even be significant.

    • “Since it is at least possible – if not indeed likely – that human creativity, imagination and ingenuity will create radically different social, cultural and political worlds in the future than exist today, greater effort should be made to represent these possibilities in any analysis about the significance of future climate change

      As was cogently pointed out by Mike Jackson at Bishop Hill, it is important to remember that we can know nothing about the radically different social cultural and political [among other] worlds of the future. Therefore it is absurd to represent these possibilities in any analysis about the significance of future climate change. ”

      But people are interested in the future. If you throw up your hands and say the seeing or making the future is impossible, you give space for elements which will predict and/or drive the future.
      Which is what happened- climate models became a means of predicting the future, and people “took the easy path” and believed such fortune telling.
      I believe we have a serious lack vision of a future, without attempting to fill it something rational, the default will be simplistic, irrational and/or one dimensional.

      • gbaikie –
        I think you’re right – people are interested in the future, and will create simplistic one-dimensional visions. I don’t agree that we are ‘throwing up our hands’ when we cast doubt on these simplistic visions – it is merely a constant necessity.

        I don’t believe we should stop trying to understand where paths will lead and what consequences follow from particular actions. However, as Hulme points out, it is easy to ignore the capacity for human agency when we take a single variable model of the future and characterise people as ‘dumb farmers’ waiting for climate or climate change to ‘happen’.

        I think the response should be cautionary. Much as my response is to any prediction of doom. Part of the reason a completely normal state of affairs is a significant portion of humanity believing ‘we’re heading for disaster’ [all the time] is this extrapolation of one single variable and leaving everything else static and impotent – the hitting of future generations with the big idiot stick. It’s like imagining everybody of 2100 being 8 years old, vulnerable and incapable.

        As far as I know the only antidote is studying history and realising that being certain that the future looks catastrophic is wholly consistent with the future being in its essence, just like the present. This includes yet more people convinced (and convinced of their evidence) that the future is yet again going to be terrible.

        There are good psychological reasons for the human imagination to extrapolate problems. However, when shared among many, they take on the characteristic of hysteria. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take current processes seriously, just that ‘experts predicting a catastrophe’ in the past meant ‘experts being wrong’. We need to remember that a scientific attitude is one that sees experts as ignorant, particularly when they start making projections about the future.

      • Anteros, and others whose attention I may not already have drawn to the work of Kesten Green, may be interested in his structured analysis of Great Big Scares for which Massive State Intervention was urged by the cultural elites of the day. Predecessors to CAGW include of course Eugenics, but also a charming little mid-19th palaver about running out of spar timber.

        http://kestencgreen.com/green%26armstrong-agw-analogies.pdf

        Here’s Dr Green’s website, which has some interesting stuff on forecasting:

        http://www.forecastingprinciples.com/

      • TomFP –
        Thanks for the link to Dr Green’s website.
        I also found Dan Gardner’s ‘Future Babble’ very illuminating.
        Maurice and Smithson’s ‘Doomsday Myths’ elucidates nicely the pitfalls of overarching top-down solutions to alleged problems, and how these can even appear sensible at the time. I’m not sure if feeding corn ethanol to cars fits that category – did that ever appear like a really wise thing to be encouraging and subsidising?

      • Anteros, I agree the biofuel folly is a standout, but every folly begotten by CAGW – wind farms, solar, you name it – had its realistic detractors, who were ignored because they weren’t “on message”.

        One big “take-home” from Kesten Green’s paper was that there is a proportion of any well-fed population that believes that it’s only a matter of time before that abundance of resources will be lost unless everybody else listens up and does what they say. The CAGW scare will blow over, one way or another (although for the reasons given below I’d prefer a humiliating demarche), but another will follow it. Increasing secularisation of the prosperous societies will increase the demand for non-religious forms of expiation and the appetite for messianic scientism,

        Another message was that when one of these absurd scares becomes “settled science”, and obtains bipartisan political support, the legislation it begets tends to fester on the statute books, too embarrassing to too many for anyone to dare to take steps to repeal it. I believe (although I defer to hunter in matters of Eugenics) it was not until the late 60s that Eugenics-based sterilisation laws in Alabama were repealed. This is why holding climate “scientists” to account for their mendacity is an important social obligation, not merely an amusing blood-sport.

        Essential though it is to confound the dodgy science behind CAGW, in the long run the key to this nonsense lies in the sorts of things that Swift observed – and it will take a Swift de nos jours to straighten it out. Preferably a few of them, And they can be hard to spot – remember, George Bernard Shaw was an avid eugenicist.

      • Anteros, I think there is a chaos theory of scientific advancement. Science has to gravitate towards stupidity in order for renewed enlightenment in the reality of stupidity to spark realistic scientific endeavor (I like that word, endeavor to persevere.)

        Climate science is on the path of the “theory of everything”. Where there is “one” truth that is key to understanding our universe. Like there is only one perfect diet, one perfect race, one perfect lifestyle, one perfect subatomic particle, one perfect field theory when there is only one truth, that perfection does not exist. So we as individuals and a society can only endeavor to persevere. Who would have thought that chief Dan George was a philosopher :)

        So Hulme overly complicates his analysis in an attempt to perfectly communicate, F$ck if I know. Which by the way is the correct answer for complex non-linear dynamic systems, F$ck if I know, but this seems likely.

        Let the perfectionist pursue disappointment, realists endeavor to persevere.

      • What I went on to say (thankyou for your kind words, Anteros! — “cogently” is good!) was that our grandchildren will not thank us for trying to apply our idea of what solutions will be needed by them to the situations we guess (for it can only be a guess) they will be facing. If we do that not only will we almost certainly get it wrong but there is every chance that we will also have closed down at least some of the options that would have been available to them to solve the problems that actually arise.
        We may well be “interested” in the future and almost all of us plan for it in some form or other — parents for their children’s or grandchildren’s education, workers for their retirement, and so on — but that is not the same is thinking (a) that you can control the future, and (b) that you ought to control the future.
        I added a further comment later on the apparent despair which seems to have afflicted the environmentalists when the London Daily Telegraph published an article claiming research showing that it “might” become too hot for cocoa plants in West Africa and included a mention (again) of how French wine production might also be under threat as a result of global warming.
        So why, I wondered, can we not plant cocoa trees in south-west France and vines in Hertfordshire (or upstate New York)? There appears to be a sort of built-in assumption with enviromental groups that climate change will necessarily be bad and that humanity, for the first time in its existence, will have lost the ability to adapt and adjust to a new situation.
        Hulme at least seems to recognise that some of his colleagues and their activist hangers-on are guilty of this.

      • Mike Jackson –
        Cogent again!

        Isn’t the weird thing that environmentalists seem to think that the adults of the future will actually all be children? And not very bright or creative ones at that?
        Perhaps also, that they won’t see issues coming – like Al Gore trying to frighten everybody with 20 feet of sea level rise – as if it’s going to occur in the middle of the night while nobody is looking – and he is the only one who can see ‘the signs’. It’s all right Al’, we’re keeping an eye on it, and it’s currently growing an order of magnitude slower than your thumbnails!

        You’re right – change doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing – it can be a spur to innovation, and ingenuity.

    • Anteros,
      If you would like to become familiar with one of the very best critiques of the apocalyptic thinking that has been done, I would nominate “The Doomsday Syndrome” by editor emeritus of Nature magazine, John Maddox.

      • Thanks hunter – I’ll certainly get on and read it before the seas rise up and wash us all away :)

      • Amazon order placed.
        Looking forward to some optimistic New Year reading.

      • Anteros,
        I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did. Maddox offers a glimpse of the best kind of optimism: reasoned, historically relevant, balanced. His view is no ‘polly anna’ view, ignoring real problems. He points out how wrong doom-and-glom promoters have been, based on specific cases, and demonstrates equally well how effective people can be in solving serious problems.

      • Lurker –
        I’m glad to hear that.
        One of the misunderstandings of the doomers is that if you’re optimistic it means you somehow want to ignore problems. For me at least that couldn’t be further from the truth! the only way to be sure we’re concentrating on the issues that face us today, is to avoid getting fixated on the illusory problems of a hundred years hence.

      • Anteros,
        For some reason I have ‘lurker’ stuck in as default if I do not over ride it on the computer I am now using.
        You are correct about the doomers (great name). The apocalyptic belief syndrome goes back at least to the time the Noah myth was compiled. We can ponder as to what it is about human nature that attracts so many of the brightest of each age to buy into believing this sort of stuff, and why the beliefs are so resistant to critical review by its adherants..

  4. Dr. Curry,
    Great article. “Wow”, indeed.
    It sort of torpedoes the climate/security angle, or am I missing something?
    The response from the true believer community will be entertaining.
    Early wishes for a great Happy New Year.

    • Happy holidays everyone–hunter I picked you to respond to just to say hi. Hi.

      The paper is a ‘wow’, but more because of the author than the contents, which frankly are just a summation of much of what has been discussed here and in other venues for several years.

      (Short version): Climate modellers built a hammer. They reduced the rest of the observable universe to nails. Now if I had a hammer…

      But it’s a great way to close the year.

      • Tom,
        Thank you. It is great to hear from you. I believe you are spot on: AGW reduces everything to CO2.
        Hulme has made a big step in his personal journey, and I hope many more academics besides our hostess will say, “wow” as they read his essay.
        No wonder the committed believers want to pretend it is not there.

    • hunter, I’m sticking to my earlier analysis that this is a disillusioned warmist’s public holding position – a lot of academistic blather to distract all sides and allow him to get on with having his Damascene conversion in private. Damascene conversions, as our host is finding out, can be tricky things to have in public. The public position of Hulme, and others like him, may undergo further elaboration, but there is little doubt of the direction it is headed. The one thing all later versions will have in common, though, is that Climate Science is still a vital field of study, worth spending squillions on.

  5. This paper reminds me of the wonderful documentaries by adam curtis, the trap etc., and how this kind of reductionism is so pervasive throughout history…

  6. incandecentbulb

    Reductionism– The Medium is the Message.

  7. Toot,toot.

  8. Wow?
    Why people are interested in post modern waffle. Could be said in a tenth of the words expended.

  9. Has anybody found an English language version of Mike Hulme’s article?

    • This article is a good example of the kind of thing you will never find written in plain English, not because the ideas are technical but because deprived of their pseudo-intellectual luster, they are transparently dumb.

    • “Wow?
      Why people are interested in post modern waffle. Could be said in a tenth of the words expended.”
      And
      “Has anybody found an English language version of Mike Hulme’s article?”

      Eastern philosophy can be critical of the West of being overly obsessed with the future.
      I found the topic interesting or “wow” but yes it is “post modern waffle”.
      Plain english, it questions assumptions belief/philosophy that has evolved
      related with CAGW.
      As I said the posted topic I found interesting as it reminds me of things- btw, I find post modern waffle as good if provokes thought [most it doesn’t and therefore I find it generally irritating].
      It reminds of my fear of what new madness will follow CAGW and strangely provides some hope. The future has many forks in the road, and as general preference, I think we should take all directions offered and make some more. The one direction and one future is tedious and unrealistic- as is the general idea of End of Science or the “science is settled”.

    • Reminds me of Thurber’s comment to a woman who said she preferred a French translation of one of his works; “Yes, it does lose something in the original!”

  10. This sort of deconstructionist silliness is unfortunately endemic in English departments around the country — and while the superficial intellectual gloss may indeed elicit an initial “wow,” on repeated exposure to such half-baked reasoning, you are likely to move from “wow” to “ugh.”

    • There is nothing half baked about the idea that the research community (among others) is taking the modeling results far too seriously, by erecting projections on it of everything from mass extinctions to mass human migrations. This is a large research genre built on nothing real. In plain language they are running away with the models.

      • David, you lack the basic science background to usefully judge the models.

        Your career crusading against “the great green menace” has not adequately prepared you to assess the utility of the various kinds of scientific research into climate change. Nor are you objective. Instead, you are letting your fear and mistrust of the results of the science shape your attitude.

        The author of the article does nothing to help you make your case. There is no factual case against climate science in general or climate modelling in particular in any part of the article excerpted here. It’s a lot of postmodernist flim-flam. Where’s the beef?

      • Judging a model consists of two things, judging the computer code and judging the simulations that model runs produce. What we need to focus on are the simulations. Robert and others apparently believe that one can make predictions from a simulation of Earth’s climate, a simulation that is admittedly incomplete. Would someone like to explain how that is done?

        Here is the intellectual challenge. I might have a really good simulation of the military assets that China deploys. Can I use that simulation to predict how those assets will change as the years pass? Is it not obvious that the answer is no. Then why is the case of climate simulations different?

      • Actually, Robert, Hulme’s argument is aimed directly at you. You commonly argue, as you have done here, that you understand the science better than those who disagree with you (probably true). But that does not give you any particular expertise in the possible social, political and economic responses; indeed, you seem to have no interest in them. This is exactly what Hulme means by “the hegemony held by the predictive natural and biological sciences over visions of the future”: the implicit or explicit claim that once the science is settled then the policies must be settled also.
        Your scientific knowledge entitles you to the same respect for your political views as any other citizen, and no more. Come back when you understand the difference between the physical constraints under which we live (including the constraint that adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere tends to warm the climate) and the range of ways which we might invent as a society to respond to those constraints and to live successfully within them.

      • Paul,
        The last thing Robert has is science expertise. Other than that, you are spot on.

      • Robert, your argument shows that you know even less about me than you know about climate science. But while I have in fact studied the models, mostly their problems, that is not necessary here. The models can be no better than the science. The science has yet to determine whether increased CO2 levels have any discernible effect on climate. It follows that the models cannot possibly predict that effect. QED Robert.

      • “Actually, Robert, Hulme’s argument is aimed directly at you.”

        In that case he should have used more facts and less larding if his sentences with meaningless jargon. If he was aiming at me, he missed.

        “But that does not give you any particular expertise in the possible social, political and economic responses; indeed, you seem to have no interest in them.”

        Based on what? You seem to have caught Hulme’s habit of making stuff up. You, Hulme, anybody can make a string of assertions you wish were true, but where is your evidence?

        “the implicit or explicit claim that once the science is settled then the policies must be settled also.”

        Who makes that claim? Not me, certainly. I could link you, if you are interested, to any number of pieces I have written arguing that we should strive to move to a discussion about policies, in which liberals and conservatives and libertarians and anybody else can propose policies consonant with their values, and we can argue about them.

        What the climate deniers do — and this is exactly where I oppose them — is see the facts pointing in a direction they don’t like (international treaties, government action to reduce carbon emissions, “green” policies) and RATHER THAN come up with a way of dealing with the facts that would be MORE AGREEABLE TO THEM AND THEIR OUTLOOK, they chose to attack those facts, using rhetorical methods that have not changed much in a hundred years:

        [1]”Deny it!’ cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city.[2] ‘Slander those who tell it ye! [3] Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse! And abide the end!’

        http://theidiottracker.blogspot.com/2011/12/christmas-carol-guide-to-denial.html

      • “The science has yet to determine whether increased CO2 levels have any discernible effect on climate.”

        That’s nonsense, David. I suggest you educate yourself regarding the scientific fact that increased CO2 levels alter the earth’s climate.

        Remember, your not knowing the science does not make the science disappear. Ignorance is not a superpower.

      • And your expertise on models is ? You must be very upset that yet another study has shown that the Medieval Warm Period occurred in the Southern Hemisphere as well as the Northern Hemisphere but I’m sure you’ll explain why the study was wrong and how the MWP was a localized Northern Hemisphere phenomenon.

      • Robert
        The language is a mouthful, no doubt, but the core arguments hold.

        You have got to be joking when you suggest that there is “no factual case against climate science in general or climate modelling in particular”. At the 2009 WMO meeting Mojib Latif -the doyen of climate modellers- acknowledged what a lot of others also knew or were thinking but weren’t saying out loud: climate models are a failure across the board, and have the predictive value of astrology or fish gut reading [your pick]. And nothing has changed for the better since then.

        Why are climate model fatally flawed? Because it is not possible to model one of the most complex, non linear, chaotic systems known to man, in which -crucially- there is not one single independent variable. The moment you treat even one variable as independent, you thereby introduce a fatal flaw into your model. How do we know? Because we have tried something very close to climate modelling in another system with very similar fundamental characteristics: proteomics. 10 years and a few billion dollars worth of R&D funds later, the entire effort was abandonned. For precisely the same reasons.

        And no case against climate science in general? With all the respect due to our host, are you still – with a straight face- telling us that? After all we have learnt over the years about Hansen cooking the GISS numbers, the “follow the pea” selective statistical methods -including upside down splicing- that are the handywork of e.g. Mann, Steig, Trenberth or Dessler. Or after what we learnt from CG1 and CG2 or the inner workings of the IPCC?
        That is not science as I was taught to understand it on my way to a PhD. That is “science” for a “cause” [dixit Mann. That is: not science at all.

        To base -as we continue to do- far reaching economic and social policies on “science” that has been fatally hijacked by individual and institutional fraudsters and on models that have no scientific or predictive value whatsoever, is not only dangerously stupid but -because of the negative consequences- ethically and morally reprehensible.

      • Robert, what you don’t seem to understand is that you and I disagree. It is not a matter of ignorance on my part, so your claim that I am ignorant of the science is factually false. Or is there some hidden study somewhere that confirms CAGW? I would love to see it.

        The fact is that the science is not settled.

      • John Carpenter

        David, Robert says he likes to argue ideas and is one reason why he remains anonymous. But his idea of arguing an idea is telling you ‘you don’t have the background to usefully judge’ …. the models in this case, but he substitutes ‘science’ as well. As you know, this is not a argument of an ‘idea’, it is just a personal attack aimed at dismissing your point of which he was not able to produce a counter idea.

      • Indeed John, it is a personal variant of the argument that skeptics are either ignorant, stupid or dishonest. The majority of Robert’s comments merely reiterate this silly “science is settled” argument is various ways.

      • Regarding anonymity, if this is the same Robert who was active in my Climatechangedebate.org Yahoo! group a few years back then he is a biologist who worked for Greenpeace Germany (which has a budget of $40 million a year or so). He did the German translation of the Skepticalscience.com website, which is the paradigm of the “science is settled” argument. Of course this may be a different Robert but they sound the same.

      • John Carpenter

        “Regarding anonymity, if this is the same Robert who was active in my Climatechangedebate.org Yahoo! group a few years back then he is a biologist who worked for Greenpeace Germany”

        David, very interesting observation on your part. Though it’s speculation, it would explains one reason why Robert gets his back up so quickly when anyone mentions the term ‘green shirt’ in a less than flattering context, or in your case ‘the great green menace’.

      • It is not a matter of ignorance on my part

        Yes, sadly, it is.

        If you don’t know that CO2 in the atmosphere affects the climate, you are ignorant. Period.

    • An interesting take on the article, Robert. Desperate but bold–probably your best shot under the circumstances. But sorry, Robert, you greenshirts have just been like totally punked by Hulme. No gettin’ around that, Robert. I mean he’s like big-time chucked you lefty parasites into the porta-pottie of history and all.

      Wow!

      • And with a Godwin’s Law FAIL, mike gets spanked by me in just one post.

        Of course it helps that he has no idea what the article says — like most righty parasites, he’s totally ignorant of not only science, but the humanities as well.

      • Robert, you know, it’s a little disappointing, what with me going to the trouble of working up first-class zingers and all and then getting nothing from you in reply but your typical, re-run, brain-dead, subfusc booger-flicks. I mean like, Robert, your only real talent is for disturbed weirdness. In that regard, the “spanked” imagery of your last comment joins your memorable “mathturbate” neologism as the sole evidence of a higher cognitive function on your part–albeit a variety of brain-activity that is strictly confined to privately-handled, creep-out fantasies, it appears.

        You might want to “clean-up” your act, Robert. You know what I mean, Robert?

      • Roberta,

        Claiming victory in imaginary battles where you lose is not even normal behavior in AGW Fantasyland.

        Andrew

      • “Robert, you know, it’s a little disappointing, what with me going to the trouble of working up first-class zingers . . .”

        Nothing about your disorganized fascist ranting is “first-class,” and there is nothing by way of “zingers,” just hysterical whining. You are a pathetic writer, mike. Just pathetic. Calling Godwin’s on you is really a mercy rule.

        Fortunately for you, it’s all over. You’ve been whipped, and you can now retreat and think about how to do better next time.

      • O. K. Robert. Since you’ve been so kind as to make an “Idiot” of yourself with your last comment, I’ll let you have the last word.

      • On the subject of doing better next time, I might suggest you seek out an opponent more in your weight class. When, as in this case, you pick a fight with somebody who outclasses you, you’re going to end up with a bloody nose every time.

        Or just hit the books and get a little smarter!

        Happy New Year!

      • Robert,

        Such ferocious, in-your-face trash-talk! Robert–the alpha-dork badass with an “attitude!” I like it, Robert. I mean, this gets better all the time, Robert. Keep it comin’, guy! You’re on a roll!

      • “I’ll let you have the last word.”

        I’m always interested to see if deniers have the self-control to walk away when they say they’re going to.

        Typically they just aren’t strong enough to keep their word — even if you presume that that means something to them.

        It’s very common — just simple weakness of character.

        Now you can have the last word — because when I say I’m done with you, I’m really done.

      • Robert,

        My little “last word” to grant, my little “last word” to un-grant. Besides, I was having too good a time jerking your chain.

      • mike,
        the troll is flailing around and hoping no one will notice that Godwin’s law does not prohibit one from making any references to 1930’s era German dressing habits. But pretending to invoke Godwin’s observation as an excuse to run away is a fairly popular tactic for the more challenged, as the troll demonstrates fairly regularly.

      • Mike, it is interesting how the trolls will pretend it is all a big nothing.

      • hunter,

        Good comment. Yeah, I too have noted the unconvincing brave-front our lefty friends have adopted in response to Hulme. Mere speculation on my part, of course, but it might just be dawning on some of the brighter eco-parasites that a goodly number of them, at least, are about to be thrown under that very same gravy-train that used to be sure-fire comin’ down the track for them. Hence the denial and all. I mean, hard for us working stiffs to appreciate, but most of these greenshirts have never held a real job.

      • incandecentbulb

        We have with Robert the type of maladroit mating that leads to a society of non-contributors who ride the backs of the productive like ticks.

    • Robert,
      As someone who has actually studied Derrida, met Derrida, worked with the first practiioners of deconstruction in the US, written on deconstruction, performed deconstructions, I will tell you that this bears no resemblance whatsoever to any form of deconstruction.

      Deconstruction is a collection a strategies for playing with a text, for carrying on a dialogue with a text, of collection of strategies which take a text apart and illustrate how the rhetoric of a text works against itself to unravel the authoritative structures that govern it.

      Hulme is not practicing deconstruction. Please dont pretend that you know anything whatsoever about it other than what you have read in the newspaper.

      • John Carpenter

        Yes Steve, for Robert the word ‘deconstruction’ sounds very cerebral and he likes to use the big words. Never mind proper usage… he seeks illusion of knowledge to get by.

      • Thanks, Steven, that . . . interesting . . . brag on yourself really helps me understand you better. I took the liberty of sharing it more widely: http://theidiottracker.blogspot.com/2011/12/steven-mosher-explained.html

      • Heh, ‘widely’ he says.
        ===========

      • Not really Robert.

        Mosher more aptly reveals this background in a recent comment where he said something wonderfully deconstructionalist silly like – ‘the science is in the data’. I now assume it was meant to be a riff off Derrida’s ‘it’s all in the text’.

        But, yes much of it makes more sense now.

        And keep in mind that much of post-modernism’s sallies into science have been unmitigated train-wrecks.

      • robert the truth is hardly bragging. I studied continental philosophy at northwestern specialized in nietzsche. google erich heller who taught me well. graduate work in the early 80s at ucla in english
        joseph riddell was one of my directors so he would arrange to have derrida come. and chat with us. pretty lucky and informative.

      • and if you want to understand how close derrida and joe were google derrida riddel funeral. the point is. you don’t understand hulme or deconstruction or climate models
        when u have readd anything by derrida when u have read any gcm code then u might have something cogent to say

      • steve,

        I don’t mind the academics sitting around in their ivory towers dicussing the deconstruction of this or that with their good griend Jacques, just keep it out of science.

      • Unfortunately, it was certain misbehaving scientists who invited the philosophers in.

      • Sorry PE, but the post-modernists have been sniffing around science for ages.

        Just look at the crazy stuff Feyerabend was saying decades ago.

      • But who left the door open?

      • It’s never been shut.

      • Steven,
        Why do you choose to wrestle with a pig?

      • If a tree falls at the idiot’s site, does it make a sound?

      • Words like “please” and “don’t” have no meaning in real life to people born with FAS. D’ya think there might be a few of those in the astro (taking up space) group here?

      • Yeah, uh, deconstruction as a fad may have began in the 60’s, but critical analysis of literature, law, philosophy, etc., by looking at the presumptions and prejudices of the author (what deconstructors sometimes call “privileging”) has been going on much longer than that. The label is new, the process is not. In fact, “deconstuction” is itself being deconstructed as a false means of analysis, whereby the deconstructor imposes his own biases on the work he is deconstructing. It is, not surprisingly, one of the main propagandistic weapons of the left.

      • Deconstruction and the other methods of — to take them at their own valuation — radical analysis can produce insightful stuff. Sometimes. It is strongly associated with the radical left, which is why it is humorous to see it taken up, in desperation, by rightists.

      • If by “insightful” you mean vapid, contentless, politically propagandistic and reflexively anti-western…then I agree.

      • Robert | December 26, 2011 at 8:44 pm |

        Deconstruction and the other methods of — to take them at their own valuation — radical analysis can produce insightful stuff. Sometimes. It is strongly associated with the radical left, which is why it is humorous to see it taken up, in desperation, by rightists.

        This from the man who only a few hours ago said of me:

        So foreign to them is rational thought that they assume everyone is fighting a gang war, as they are. That some of us care about the truth and not who someone is “aligned” with is incomprehensible to the TBs of the world.

        Robert is a parody of himself. Comparing these two texts in decontructional analysis Derrida would laugh his socks off.

        :)

    • Robert | December 26, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Reply

      This sort of deconstructionist silliness is unfortunately endemic in English departments around the country — and while the superficial intellectual gloss may indeed elicit an initial “wow,” on repeated exposure to such half-baked reasoning, you are likely to move from “wow” to “ugh.”

      English departments and formerly at the head of the Tyndall Centre – central to the ‘message’ of the UEA/CRU. Robert clearly has less understanding of the history of science than Mike Hulme does. Mike Hulme’s erudite recapitulation of the follies of past excesses in science-society determinations is lost on Robert, who uses the entirely inappropriate buzzword ‘deconstructionist’ without understanding either its meaning or inapplicability to Mike Hulme’s thoughtful piece.

      Now that Hulme is no longer yoking his intellect to the services of the ‘Team’ propaganda machine, and instead has opened his eyes to the wider implications of the ‘Team’s’ agenda Robert wants to revile and dismiss him.

      A lesson for Mike Hulme to learn about the un-wisdom of aligning himself with people like Robert in the first place.

      • It’s always a treat when people like TB let their masks slip and admit that they don’t evaluate ideas in terms of logic or evidence, but really just react for or against something based on who they are “aligned” with.

        So foreign to them is rational thought that they assume everyone is fighting a gang war, as they are. That some of us care about the truth and not who someone is “aligned” with is incomprehensible to the TBs of the world.

      • “That some of us care about the truth…”

        Andrew

      • (giggle)

        Andrew

      • Such a pity Robert was only capable of understanding the final sentence of my comment. I won’t go into his shortcomings as a reasonable interlocutor.

        Next! :)

      • B. A.
        Yes, lol, indeed. The troll should track not only his idiocracy but his self-hoisting as well.

      • Robert used the word logic? That made my day :)

  11. I would reduce his argument to: We can’t predict future climate, but even if it changes the way the models say it will, man will adapt anyway. On further reduction this becomes: don’t know, don’t worry.

    • Sounds like a brilliant business plan. Boss asks a Hulme-like proposal writer to put together some risk mitigation strategies. The answer comes back as “the company will adapt to change”. The boss tells him to take a hike.
      I can say though that it is interesting how these top-level posts create an arc. The current theme of the arc is one of adaptation. All mitigation is reduced to adaptation, and that becomes a dog-whistle for the skeptics to rally around. Don’t worry about climate, natural resources, and the environment, as man will somehow adapt. That is the true reductionism.

      • Web
        business plans are specific and that is where most climate mitigation activities fail the test of reasonableness. Offer something specific to evaluate.

      • Do you know what adaptable systems are?
        The adaptability is engineered in ahead of time. This is opposite to the adaptability that is espoused here, which requires no planning.

      • rob,
        Web ain’t gonna get your point no matter the effort.

      • Hi WHT-

        I like your notion of using the marketplace of ideas to brainstorm mitigation plans. However, government bureaucracies generally accept only those solutions which also contribute to the stasis of the status quo (by expanding the bureaucracy, enriching cronies and destroying enemies). Maybe that should be avoided.

        Psychometrics teaches that adaptability is a definition of intelligence. It means rapid appropriate responses to rapidly changing circumstances. And what of mitigation designed to promote both social stasis and climate stasis? That might be the definition of stupid. Not helpful in plotting a wise path to an uncertain future.

        I don’t know that the IPCC could provide mitigation schemes in which they have minimized the damage and maximized the benefits. IMO, hopeless without severely restricting corruption.

        bi2hs

      • Corruption will always be a factor. National competiveness is also a factor. We only have to see the moon race as the most obvious case of proactive mitigation (what if the Russians get there before us). This is also playing out in renewable energy policies where several European countries have a huge head start and see this as vital to there national interests.

        Is it good to have sovereign nations, or are large transnational corporations the way to go forward? Which are more conducive to the marketplace of ideas?

      • Is it good to have sovereign nations or are large transnational corporations the way to go forward?

        Can’t have transnationals without nations. Regardless, the thrust of your question implies that eliminating one sector or the other ought to increase competitiveness (because we will be left with the one more conducive to the marketplace of ideas). Actually, that might reduce competitiveness.

        What are your answers to your questions?

        bi2hs

      • A rhetorical question on my part. Large corporations only exist to make money for shareholders, and the way things work with declining resources, a corporation dealing with finite stock can keep jacking up prices with scarcity. They are still happy. However, nations get annoyed with that turn of events.

      • Silly Web. Business plans are for businesses.

      • IOW, problem solving is for losers. Great attitude, that one.

        There is a vast network of ideas ranging from resiliency to adaptable systems out there to explore.

        Look into the ideas behind the Toyota paradox and real options and you will understand that business strategies may have something to offer.

        Can’t have that though, can we. The free-market can’t apparently include the marketplace of ideas.

    • Having now read more than the excerpts, I think his case is that just because climate change may be predictable, it doesn’t mean its impacts are. This is basically not arguing with IPCC WG1, but more with whether WG2 can say anything useful based on climate change alone. From the excerpts, it looked like he was against the science, but that doesn’t come across from the text so much as saying that climate determinism should not imply determinism in how society will evolve. It is not clear what his solution is, but I think his view is that societal impacts are hopeless to predict because climate may not be the biggest factor. To his credit, he gives a review that includes opposite viewpoints to this.

      • “climate determinism should not imply determinism in how society will evolve.”

        That is absolutely true. There are any number of ways to deal with this problem. Its presence doesn’t imply the superiority of one way of life to another.

        Of course, if some ideologies are so threatened by the facts that they deny them, and refuse to engage with them, then their marginalization may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      • randomengineer

        There are any number of ways to deal with this problem.

        Such as? Enumerate, please.

      • Carbon taxes (higher or lower), cap and trade (fixed allowances versus falling quotas vs buy-back), regulation (industries must cut emissions by 5% per year, figuring out how themselves), direct intervention (by, for example, mass producing the new AP1000 reactor like Liberty ships, by the thousands.) There is carbon sequestration, via tree planting or no-till agriculture or subterranean injection or transferring the carbon to the deep sea.

        There are various methods of geoengineering: aerosol injection, painting roofs white, shooting a saltwater spray upwards to generate reflective clouds.

        We can subsidize research and development into low-carbon energy sources; we can undertake a variety of methods to improve energy efficiency (upgrading to a national HVDC grid, for example, or changing building regulations, or reducing traffic congestion with smart highways, or improving our rail networks.)

        In terms of reaching an international accord, we can proceed with multilateral negotiations, like the ones that produced the Kyoto accords, or we could pursue a more muscular approach, like the recent EU ruling on commercial airline emissions; identify large countries ready to move forward and pressure others to cooperate with trade carrots and sticks.

        I could go on. Some of these methods are better than the others; most would not work singly, meaning we need some combination of approaches. Geoengineering, for example, is not (in my opinion) practical by itself, chiefly because you would have to continue it for hundreds or thousands of years, and any interruption, such as an international conflict, could lead to extremely rapid warming. We might, however, decide to gradually reduce our emissions over the next century, using geoengineering for a couple of centuries to avoid tipping points, and ramping up carbon sequestration to have CO2 back at a reasonable level by then.

      • Also, to quote from elsewhere on the thread, we could:

        “. . . focus on reducing or modifying regulations which force excess fuel consumption. For example, zoning, anti-homeschooling, on-site desk-workers, ethanol in gasoline, 5-day work week, emission inspections, cap and trade, etc, etc. Targeted rule changes can reduce fuel consumption even while remaining consistent with the putative goals of the rules.”

      • Good question, by the way.

        I took my answer and elaborated on it (links, graphs) here: http://bit.ly/vXIyDf.

      • Happily none of these extreme measures are necessary, thanks to the facts. Nor are they what Hulme is talking about.

      • By the way Robert, regarding this gibberish: “if some ideologies are so threatened by the facts that they deny them, and refuse to engage with them, then their marginalization may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

        I don’t know what the prophecy is, but it sounds like you are talking about the Greens, who are becoming marginalized because they refuse to engage with the facts. That is just what the Love Your monsters post is all about, isn’t it?.

      • David, your doubling up replies without saying anything substantial has a distinct ring of protesting too much.

        Your advocacy for radically altering the earth’s climate is noted, but you have yet to prove this is safe.

        Your irrational hatred of “the great green menace” is something you’re known for, but it’s really irrelevant to this discussion. The reality is that if anti-environmentalists, like you, can only relate to global warming by sticking your head in the sand and denying the facts, then of course environmentalists are going to be more influential than you in determining how we address global warming. Childish denial is keeping you from the influence you could have in shaping society’s response to this challenge.

      • randomengineer

        Reaonable enumeration, thanks.

        Assume for a moment that Bussard’s polywell project proves to work or that Rossi’s “e-Cat” isn’t a scam; would stuff like this be incorporated on your list or are you ideologically opposed to them?

        I would be all for a percentage of the science funding budgets to be directed at the unlikley, potentially high risk stuff where the payoff if they proive out could be huge.

        eg. if the e-Cat works at all then you could power automobiles with this.

      • Assume for a moment that Bussard’s polywell project proves to work or that Rossi’s “e-Cat” isn’t a scam; would stuff like this be incorporated on your list or are you ideologically opposed to them?

        Absolutely. Fusion energy has been slow to come to fruition, but I don’t have any ideological problem with it. And even if I did, it would still be on the list; the point of the list is to get to a point where we can continue our ideological battles, but more about what to do, rather than whether or not the problem is real.

        Unlike someone like George Monibot, I explicitly don’t care if the process of acting on climate change advances my own ideological agenda as to what kind of society we should be. Even if the program reinforces things that I don’t like about the current state of affairs (making inequality worse, for example) my personal view is that the importance of this issue is such that I would put those concerns aside and support any reasonable program.

      • John Carpenter

        “we could pursue a more muscular approach, like the recent EU ruling on commercial airline emissions; identify large countries ready to move forward and pressure others to cooperate with trade carrots and sticks.”

        Robert, this approach is doomed to failure, like the EU airline emission rule. The US, China and other non-EU countries affected by this rule are protesting loudly. Airbus is likely (quietly) hoping the rule goes away b/c China and other non-EU origin airlines will pull orders in retaliation. This is a very poor way of getting others to do what you want… sticks simply don’t work. The EU is suffering mightily from the regulations it has imposed on itself and thinks the rest of the world will simply fall in line if it tries to level the playing field. The reality is the EU has a very hard time competing on the world market and this is one of several schemes it has developed to tax outside competition under the cloak of environmental stewardship.

        http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/22/eu-airlines-china-idUSL3E7NM3PU20111222

        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-22/europe-s-overreach-on-airplane-carbon-emissions-won-t-clean-the-sky-view.

        htmlhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16282692

        Another one of the ideas you presented: “(industries must cut emissions by 5% per year, figuring out how themselves)” is a bit draconian. I can’t imagine any industry being able to achieve such a goal….on there own no less. The carbon emission mitigation efforts made to date by anyone has been a fail. Kyoto has been a failure.

        The idea of geoengineering has been roundly dismissed by the world and relegated as a distant ‘plan B’ option.

        Agreements on how to move forward in an effort to reduce CO2 emissions by industrialized countries will come from technological innovation. If the goal is to eliminate CO2 as the by-product of generating energy, then I agree with your idea of funding more research into areas of carbon free alternatives. Development of better, cleaner use of fossil fuel will also have to be in the mix because too many natural resources will not go untapped around the world. Already industry is working in all these areas as many do understand that BAU is not a good option. You don’t have to be a CAGW believer to understand that there is a market out there for people to make money on new technologies that benefit societies and are ‘good’ for the environment. The progression toward doing so does not require punitive, authoritative heavy handedness to get it going.

      • John Carpenter

        Robert, unfortunately two links don’t work, but they were basically redundant backup to what I was saying about the EU airline policy.

      • “This is a very poor way of getting others to do what you want… sticks simply don’t work.”

        That’s a good discussion to have. As I said above, this is not a list of programs I favor; it is a list of possible approaches.

        “The US, China and other non-EU countries affected by this rule are protesting loudly.”

        Of course they are, but it remains to be seen whether this will escalate into a trade war, or whether EU will back down, or whether the affected parties, after grumbling for a little bit, accept the change.

        What if the actors were slightly more broad-based? Suppose the US, the EU, Japan, China, and India could agree on a common policy. Not an easy thing, of course, but one would think easier than getting 175 countries to agree on a common policy. Once those countries form a bloc, they might say “If you do not agree to similar measures, we will not buy from you or sell to you.”

        Loud protests would follow. But how many countries could afford to be cut off from the bulk of the world’s economy? I think sticks could work.

        “Another one of the ideas you presented: “(industries must cut emissions by 5% per year, figuring out how themselves)” is a bit draconian.”

        Two things: again, these aren’t what I think are the most effective ideas, just a list of some possibilities. And the list is not complete. Maybe 5% per year applies to some industries and not others. Maybe the overall cut is just 1% per year. Maybe we can only agree on 0.5% per year; that would be an example of a scenario in which geoengineering and carbon sequestration might be used to hold the line during a prolonged transition to a low-carbon economy.

      • Robert, I am dong pretty well at “shaping society’s response to this challenge”. Specifically I am stopping people like you. Your political movement is as great a threat today as Communism was 100 years ago. Stopping you Greens is the only challenge here.

      • Robert, I am dong pretty well at “shaping society’s response to this challenge”. Specifically I am stopping people like you.

        That’s nonsense, David. If you believe that, you are deluding yourself. You didn’t stop the Clean Air Act, didn’t stop the Endangered Species Act, haven’t dismantled the EPA, couldn’t stop the new mercury rules.

        Climate change is a long-term problem requiring a certain level of scientific literacy to understand, and requiring investments of time and money. Americans are never particularly quick off the mark with that sort of thing. You climate deniers are helping push people towards action on climate change by alienating independents and moderate Republicans with your radical anti-science crusade (check out the recent Pew poll on the subject: http://bit.ly/vV3ISM.)

        I would say you’re irrelevant, were it not for the fact that you are helping make the case for action. ;)

      • John Carpenter

        “What if the actors were slightly more broad-based? Suppose the US, the EU, Japan, China, and India could agree on a common policy. Not an easy thing, of course, but one would think easier than getting 175 countries to agree on a common policy.”

        Robert, this is the crux of the problem and exactly what the EU chose not to do. The EU took a unilateral approach where there were other avenues, such as the ‘free skies’ agreement. They didn’t choose that approach and now it will be a confrontational problem for everyone. I could understand the EU taking a unilateral approach if they tried to work out such an agreement with all the affected parties and got snubbed, but instead they cut to the finish line. As you pointed out, making such an agreement would not have been easy… and now it will be even harder. This leads me to believe they are not interested on working toward a broad based solution, rather they are looking to level the playing field. The use of mitigating emissions is merely a vehicle for them to get there.

  12. If not quite the inexorable geometric calculus of Malthus, it nevertheless offers a future written in the unyielding language of mathematics and computer code. These models and calculations allow for little human agency, little recognition of evolving, adapting and innovating societies, and little attempt to consider the changing values, cultures and practices of humanity.

    In short: Darwin beats Malthus.

  13. This brings back the “science wars” of the 80’s, in which the humanities folks attempted to deligitimize science as possessing objective truth. Ironic, how things have played out. Post-modernists failed to convince at that time that scientific objectivity is an illusion. Now, science has deligitimized itself with far-fetched, unprovable theories (hey, I’m talking about physicis- what did you think I was talking about?). And people in the humanities departmentsnow refer to consensus science that they don’t understand to deligitimize political foes. Anyway, the above author does a pretty fair job of cutting through some of the crap, and criticising his use of language is really conceding that there is a really solid point that is made.

    • You started off so well, Rick. The article does indeed fall in the tradition of efforts from within the humanities to delegitimize science (which in itself is a subset of a larger group of efforts to devalue various moral principles and institutions based on similar attacks).

      Where you are wrong is thinking there is anything new or persuasive here. Science has not “deligitimized” [sic] itself, rather, climate deniers have failed to develop any critique that stands up to rational analysis or the test of experiment — so they can’t fight the science from within the scientific community. So here you have one denier abandoning the pretense of scientific criticism and embracing those postmodernist attacks on anything and everything the writer dislikes.

      I look forward to the entertainment of more fanatical right-wingers adopting the language and logic of Women’s Studies major and Critical Theory Marxism to attack science.

    • Well said. However, the Postmodernists have been around for a long time but under different names. They could have better named themselves the Post-Enlightenment Movement.

  14. Even Scientific American now seems to be questioning its usual climate narrative with last weeks blog posting “Kiling Environmentalism to Save it”:
    “John: In the introduction to Monsters, you say that environmentalism “has become an obstacle” to addressing global warming and other problems. What do you mean by that?”
    “Ted: Environmentalists still imagine that solving those kinds of problems involves limiting the human footprint on the planet…. Environmentalism has long imagined that development, modernization and technology are the source of our problems, but they are now the only solutions.”

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/2011/12/26/killing-environmentalism-to-save-it-two-greens-call-for-postenvironmentalism/

    Ted, they have always been our solutions.

  15. Joachim Seifert

    Interesting blog: The relation of climate and climate prediction on one hand and mankind, societies, Zeitgeist (moral values of the time) and history on the other hand….. how does the one effect the other…..
    Mike Hulme is complete off the track, he is missing a few semesters of human history: He sees, there is a relation, coins the word deterministic, sees that present AGW gurus exercize power (taxation,
    law making,,,,,) calls it reductionism….but his conclusions are completely off, why:
    (1) the Zeitgeist IS deterministic: You can see Aristotle (Nicomachian ethics) over and over again in warm times of the climate wave (No historical HOCKEY STICK!) in a.) classic Greek times…b.) East Rome heyday (6. Cty) …see the famous philosophers of the 6. Cty….again c.)
    in the warm MWP …(13 Cty), see Thomas von Aquin (The Principe, moral values of Aristotle again) and now d.) in the 21 Cty clearly Nicomachian Aristotle again with human rights and everybody should be friend to everybody…..
    Whereas in cold times, during 790-waves in-between, the Zeitgeist reigns with Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, written at the very depth of the LIA, especially with the 4.book (On the realm of Darkness), (generally left out of the Leviathan): Human nature is the wulf, lupos lupolis, robbing, stealing, killing, torturing is the normal human behaviour……
    ….which was the Zeitgeist of the 30-year-war in Europe throughout the LIA, until the temperatures got warmer from 1690 on…..

    to (2) Zeitgeist IS also reductionistic: According to the great Adam Smith (Theory on Moral Sentiments) all men on the world have one thing in common: “They always want to better themselves in their conditions” and therefore need to know what the climate will be (especially drought, winter etc) and therefore climate Gurus exercise power…..The Maya priests, the rainmakers, the human rain making sacrifications….
    AGW only copied from the Mayans: You people are guilty, repent and
    sacrifice…..money, also human life through climate extremists…..

    (3) but here at a third point, Hulme is wrong again: He does not detect
    the CWP temp plateau in effect since 2001: Temps will not increase any more, we reached the end of the flagpool already, therefore AGW Gurus will, with each passing year more and more, loose credibility and influence…will go into oblivion….
    These are the signs of the 21 Cty and I will discuss the Hulme confusion with additional insight in another 10 years, where AGW will have lost the socalled “foot, finger and what else” print…. in glibal warming….
    JS

  16. I shall ignore the politics of climate change until I understand:
    What drives ‘global’ temperatures (Land and Land & Oceans) ?

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/TS.htm

    It appears that there are two major drivers:
    1. The AMO with principal the ‘9 year’ oscillation, which is not related to the sunspot cycle (but not totally immune to it) , for more details see:

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/theAMO-NAO.htm

    see also:

    http://berkeleyearth.org/pdf/berkeley-earth-decadal-variations.pdf

    for the ‘9 year’ and importance of the AMO to the global temps.
    2. the Solar magnetic (Hale) cycle, not the sunspot one.
    On this one I am writing more (on lines of the above linked as ‘theAMO-NAO’)

    Hope everyone had a good Xmas

  17. Since it is at least possible – if not indeed likely – that human creativity, imagination and ingenuity will create radically different social, cultural and political worlds in the future than exist today, greater effort should be made to represent these possibilities in any analysis about the significance of future climate change

    1. What efforts have been made in existing analyses to represent these possibilities?
    2. How did the author determine that they were inadequate?
    3. How should analyses change to take account of those possibilities?

    All articles in this tradition are like this — and to tell the truth, I’ve seen the resemblance to deniers’ screeds emerging before now — they make various assertions, but they never support them with evidence. On the basis of those assertions, they diagnose a problem, but they never provide solid evidence that the problem is real or quantify its scope or severity. They then demand or sometimes propose a solution, without any examination of how the solution would work, whether it is practical, how it would be administered, whether it would solve the problem or what other problems the proposed solution might create.

    If you feel oppressed by society as a whole and eager to fill in the blanks yourself, read such a screed can indeed leave you with a “wow” feeling. Such a feeling propels many Women’s Studies classes, inspires many impressionable young people to major in Native American Studies or Critical Theory.

    Once in a while, while attacking the conventional wisdom, an article like this makes an interesting point or provides an original way of looking at a problem. Sad to say, this is not one of those times.

    • You are right, bobbie. The fascist deniers need to cobble together some computer models, to gen up some evidence, to support their screeds. Surely Big Oil, or Big Tobacco, or Big Creationism will provide the funding.

      And stop letting Mosher push you around, bobbie. It is really not fair that he was born with superior intelligence. You can’t fight Mosh with facts and logic. Go with what you know, bobbie. Try to frustrate him by making more energetic use of your innate, crass stupidity. Maybe he will get really disgusted and leave you alone. It’s really working out for you on your blog, bobbie. Nobody goes there.

    • Robert,
      I went to what I assume is your blog, and found the following article:

      “Semiletov v Dmitrenko: The tale of the tape”

      If this is indeed your work, I am very disappointed. Basically, the writer used the number of citations of each author to determine which is more believable. How is that in any way related to the content of the work itself? The short answer is, there is no correlation. All it demonstrates is the number of people who agree with the views of the author.

      BTW, I see you going on at length about how may of the posters here do not have the scientific background to credibly argue their case. Okay, where is your body of published work? All I see on the blog is links to the work of others. How about providing a link to an example of your expertise? If you are worried about anonymity, feel free to send the link to my email address:

      rjemery@cox.net

      I will be more than happy to keep anything you send me private.

  18. incandecentbulb

    America was in the days of the founders a distant ‘island’ away from the institutionalized lies of the past. But, Europe finally caught up and hamstringed truth. There is a reason that is explained by reductionist reasoning as to Europeans hate Bush and love Obama.

  19. incandecentbulb

    Based on reductionist reasoning the explanation is simple: Leftists hate truth.

  20. I guess the only defense the believers can rely on OS to pretend the problem being pointed out is not real, and that it is the fault of the denialist scum anyway. Things were much more simple forhe believers when they could just make videoes blowing up nonbelievers.

  21. incandecentbulb

    Example of reductionist reasoning: all of those who oppose more energy for more Americans hate Americans.

  22. Dr. Curry,
    I’m a bit disappointed that so many folks have not had the ideas expressed in this paper in mind. I suppose that is one of the differences between Engineers and Climate Scientists. Engineers deal with real people and real world problems. Technology and accepted designs are continuously changing. That future generations will not adapt to whatever they are presented with, good or bad, is a totally foreign concept. We engineers will be implementing much of that adaptation.

    Apparently, is easy for academics and scientists to fool themselves into believing they can accurately imagine the structure and capabilities of future societies. That is sad.

    • The issue is more general. Con artists have been attempting to, and failing at, predicting the future since before the beginning of civilization. They’ve never had a shortage of audience, because suckers have also wanted to know the future since before the beginning of civilization.

      I’ll point out that it wasn’t engineers telling the gullible press and public 50 years ago that we’d all have George Jetson flying cars by now. It was futurists. Futurists are just the latest incarnation of soothsayers. And modern futurists have no more predictive skill than Gypsy fortune readers or Nostradamus. But nobody will remember the predictions experts now are making when 2100 rolls around, save a few historians laughing at the foolishness of those backward people in 2011.

      • Joachim Seifert

        Prediction is indeed difficult, especially when it deals with the future, as the saying goes.
        The Con-artists are those whose writings includes “assumptions”, not calculated, not proven, as all present day climate simulations, including the IPCC and the 2007 AR4. They “assume” (wg1 chapter2) that the Earth’s orbit is “invariant” i.e. has no effect within a millenium scale and
        this is the crucial mistake…..
        But, on the other side, if you take the real Earth’s orbit into account, then you will arrive at real forecast figures for the climate, which clearly shows the present flat temp plateau since 2001 and that temps cannot increase any further, under no circumstances, since we reached the very top already….

      • Joachim,
        Predictions are difficult, especially about the future.

  23. I came away with a different conclusion from this paper, but it is still a WOW-

    1. Climate Science predictions with any degree of specificity, and within a reasonable length of time (decade or two or five), have been an unmitigated disaster.
    2. There is a need to widen the goal posts used to measure any new predictions to make sure all possible eventual realities are encompassed, thereby allowing one to claim validation of the models. The IPCC has already hinted at the need to widen the uncertainty bars for AR5.
    3. What better way to not just widen, but completely eliminate the goalposts, than to fold future predicted social and political constructs into the future impact models? Think of the intercalated layers of might’s, maybe’s, if’s – literally ten’s of thousands of new PhD theses waiting to be written, many of them in the funding-starved dismal sciences.

    On the plus side, there may be opportunities to sucker Hollywood into funding Climate Research Centers :-)

  24. incandescentbulb

    Picking up against others from fears of global warming based on reductionism is to kill a mockingbird.

  25. What is the main point to be taken from Hulme’s essay? It is that taking the models as correct and taking the dire predictions that come from some of them, such as Hansen’s, as correct, it does not follow we should make decisions about the future based on predicted changes in climate alone. If we do so, we sell humanity short. We sell short human imagination, creativity, and ingenuity.

    Translating the point into something close to the terminology of the IPCC, the point would be that our response to climate change, dire change as predicted by the modelers, cannot be mitigation alone but must include adaptation and, in addition, there is no basis for predicting the nature of adaptation. It is possible that adaptation alone is the best policy.

    That is an interesting thesis. It seems to me that there is no obvious reply to the thesis. We will have to do some work to reply to Hulme.

    • Adaptation is a form of risk mitigation. So Hulme is projecting his own inability to plan onto those who actually think about practical risk mitigation. Massive fail on his part, as those of us skilled in parsing framing arguments can see that he is reducing the acceptable solution of any problem to :”mankind will adapt”.

      • “Adaptation is a form of risk mitigation.”

        Preposterous. But maybe you want to try to explain your point.

        When an American believes that he was passed over for a promotion, he will pick up his family and move across the continent for the position that he wants. How does that adaptation have anything to do with with risk mitigation?

      • Theo,
        The AGW habit of attributing everything to CO2 seems to be spreading beyond climate. Now everything is going to be called mitigation.
        Many in the community are realizing a sudden deep need to once again redefine terms and conditions so they can find a way out of a certain hole. Others, of course, are digging more vigorously.

      • hunter | December 26, 2011 at 7:44 pm |

        You nailed it, hunter. WebHubTelescope offers a cheap definitional trick that would have pleased Stalin.

      • Adaptation is actual problem mitigation. No Pascal’s Wager required.

      • The risk mitigation in that case is that the worker keeps his options open with professional contacts, job feelers, and keeping his CV or resume up to date … ahead of time!

        This stuff is obvious but the Malthusians hate any proactive ideas to get us out of our oil conundrum, preferring to hide their heads in the sand.

    • randomengineer

      What is the main point to be taken from Hulme’s essay?

      Seems he’s saying that tarot card readers are a great deal more forthcoming about their limits.

    • Given the responses to my post, it is clear that I need to make a clear distinction between adaptation and mitigation. The distinction that I make is not intended to explain all differences but just the main difference between adaptation and mitigation as approaches to harm from global warming. Mitigation requires, necessitates, the action of governments and the cooperative actions of all governments. Adaptation does not require government action. In fact, I am confident that cool, intelligent heads will see that adaptation is best undertaken by individuals.

      • What you and others have to do is get the terminology correct. Risk mitigation is the broad topic. Natural adaptation is the default level of mitigation — we let nature take over and adopt a reactive approach. All other forms of mitigation are proactive and require planning. The planning could include research and system engineering, for example.

        As humans, natural adaptation can also include engineering but the detrimental effects of say resource depletion have to be on top of us before we do anything about it. That’s why it is considered reactive.

        Really, it makes the skeptics look like spoiled children with devil-may-care attitudes on this topic when only natural adaptation is considered. Of course nature can only adapt, but humans have brainpower, and ecologists understand this basic principle.

        Crude oil is a precious commodity and now is the time to apply it for developing alternative versions of energy. That is what I would consider a resiliency plan.

      • “Crude oil is a precious commodity and now is the time to apply it for developing alternative versions of energy.”
        Well, maybe.
        But wasting 250 billion dollars (in 2010) for things that don’t work (wind and sun and ethanol) is a gigantic idiocy. It’s not enough to have good intentions, and strive in the right direction, it’s important to act correctly. Being driven by hysteria doesn’t get you where you want to go.

      • randomengineer

        Natural adaptation is the default level of mitigation — we let nature take over and adopt a reactive approach. All other forms of mitigation are proactive and require planning. The planning could include research and system engineering, for example.

        I can’t agree. You cannot plan for the unknown. Where it concerns some “knowns,” humans are busy at work on technology, most of which is driven by its own ends, not due to planning. e.g. fuel cells were invented due to pressing space needs rather than from a plan to replace automobile engines. Where research meets with planning (driven to see a desired result) we have fusion, which is no more viable today than when plan was hatched 50+ years back. We have amazing computer capabilities today largely because the military needed super fast ballistics calculation, not from utopian planning whereby humanity would benefit from a worldwide shopping network. And so on. I don’t know that the history of technological development has many examples of what you seem to be claiming as reality.

      • “What you and others have to do is get the terminology correct. Risk mitigation is the broad topic. Natural adaptation is the default level of mitigation — we let nature take over and adopt a reactive approach.”

        Nonsense! Your terms are defined to reach a predetermined conclusion. Your entire position is one big definition.

        Sorry, but we do not permit you to define the terms. And that is final.

        Who is talking about natural adaptation? Hulme is talking about human imagination, creativity, and ingenuity. None of those items has anything approaching a definition in naturalistic terms. In your terminology, they must amount to supernatural adaptation. You need to expand your definitions if you want to address reality.

      • The pressing need is to come up with alternative energy approaches. This was known from the first moment that science confirmed that fossil fuels were a finite resource. So we haven’t come up with anything better; that doesn’t mean we give up trying.

        It’s really funny how it is almost up to me to justify the concept of R&D to a bunch of Malthusians.

      • When the value of the intact hydrocarbon bond as structure exceeds the value of the hydrocarbon bond broken for its energy, then alternative energy sources will apparently magically appear. All your handwaving before that time will not bring the rabbit out of the hat.
        ====================

      • Web

        A bunch of these Malthusians know a lot about R&D and not jumping on bandwagons. Progress mainly takes steps not gigantic leaps and always requires risks. Idiots that believed they have predicted the black swan and can social engineer around it are just idiots. R&D works better with money well spent not throw at technology of the future recommended by ideology .

        Now back to the Antarctic. What regulates the deep ocean heat content? CO2 increases both radiant impact and conductive impact. Radiant forcing is limited by input energy. Conductive forcing is limited by time. Millennial scale time and impact on the 4C thermodynamic boundary layer in the southern ocean that drives climate. The one that is cooling the southern oceans erasing the “in the pipeline energy” predicted by the same genius that predicted that the US would be 4 to 5 degrees warmer by now.

        Now is Vostok indicative of global conditions? What temperature did Arrhenius’ equation predict was required for 280ppm and 390ppm CO2 and how about 190 ppm? How about that CO2 lagging temperature thing?

        Or would you prefer CO2 radiant forcing drives everything with a touch of magic when it doesn’t match theory?

      • You are not only Malthusians but also believe in magic as a substitute for dedicated R&D.

        Developing alternatives to fossil fuel has been an objective for a long while and now the risk mitigation is to provide cheap energy to keep the world’s economies growing at the rate we are accustomed to. AGW is a sideshow in this challenge we face, a supporting criteria, but still a sideshow because even if the issue disappeared, we still have to deal with fossil fuel depletion.

      • Web, LOL, you can certainly be clueless. There has already been lots of R&D that has resulted in waiting on some semblance of predictable regulation. If MACT is not a moving target, it can break loss plenty of high efficiency co-generation using just about any combination of feed stock available. Responsible long term regulatory stability is the key. Then you can go back to complaining about what kind of dumbasses engineers are while we build the friggin’ future with what is available.

      • Who’s this “we” you speak of, telescope man?

      • It makes sense to work at risk mitigation, because national economy and national security are vulnerable to price/supply shock. Petroleum is a strategic resource for which nations go to war.

        Those concerned with minimizing government intervention could focus on reducing or modifying regulations which force excess fuel consumption. For example, zoning, anti-homeschooling, on-site desk-workers, ethanol in gasoline, 5-day work week, emission inspections, cap and trade, etc, etc. Targeted rule changes can reduce fuel consumption even while remaining consistent with the putative goals of the rules. Win-win.

        bi2hs

      • R&D is an engineering concept. You are grasping at straws bringing up the MACT concept, as that is definitely USA terminology.

        Why are you reactionary Malthusians so afraid of researching energy alternatives? The prediction that fossil fuels constituted a finite resource was one prediction that science got right. And the scientists didn’t even require fancy computers to get the correct answer.
        Who is clueless now?

      • Sorry, but I have to side with WebHubTelescope on this one. Mitigation does NOT require governmental intervention. It could be something as simple as individuals acting to reduce their energy footprint.
        Conversely, adaptation can be carried out by the State as well as individuals. Case in point – Pentagon spending on the electronics used to relay strategic information to tactical commanders (platoon leaders, for example) so that they can better coordinate when dealing with non-state hostiles.

        It’s scary when I find myself agreeing with WHT, but facts is facts…

      • I was not addressing the broad meanings of the terms but the political forces that exist at this time. Mitigation is a war cry of the Left and government control. Adaptation belongs to free enterprise and the sovereign individual.

      • Easy, mitigate is to address monsters under the bed, adapt is to face reality.
        ==========

      • Adaptation is a form of mitigation. Mitigation means to reduce the effects of something. By adapting you are reducing the effects. The issue that you Malthusians can’t seem to grasp is that societies can be proactive in providing risk mitigating alternatives. For some reason you want to revert back to some primitive seat-of-your-pants approach to dealing with issues like resource constraints.

  26. Dear Saint Judith,

    I believe that Hulme’s article merits a “Wow!” I cannot wait to hear more from you about it.

  27. Now what is the best way to reduce reductionism?

    • incandecentbulb

      Acceptance of reality… Understanding that global warming is real and so is global cooling and that climate changes and there is a reason; nominally, it is the Sun, stupid. Everything else is dogma.

    • Embrace the complexity.

    • I have embraced the complexity. How do you convince the pessimistic doomsayers to retire gracefully or otherwise so that real progress can be made on the real, more pressing issues, like reduction of pessimistic doomsayers?

      Just think, Ralph Nadar wants Ajax cleaner classified as a carcinogen because it contains silca. People still listen to him.

      • incandecentbulb

        40 years of wandering in the desert does wonders for concentrating the mind on reality–which is where Western civilization is heading.

  28. Mike Hulme:
    The epistemological pathways offered by climate models and their derived analyses are only one way of believing what the future may hold. They have validity; and they have relevance. But to compensate for the epistemological slippage I have described in this article it is necessary to balance these reductionist pathways to knowing the future with other ways of envisioning the future.

    I wonder by what kind of assessment Mike Hulme is claiming that climate models and their derived analyses have validity.

    These models don’t include a host of variables we have identified but so far have been unable to develop algorithms – even good heuristics for. Any model run is soon going to head off into wide error bands wrt the future.

    Temperature might go up, or it might go down, or it might remain about the same.

    Of this I’m certain. :)

    • incandecentbulb

      When Mike Hume says that it is ‘sentiments’ that ‘invade contemporary public and political discourses of climate change,’ and that such sentiments, ‘are enabled by the methodology of climate reductionism.’ is simply another waying of agreeing with Mark Twain about how statistics is used to lie to the people. Hume has got to be one of the last of these statisticians who have headed to the UN exits before the curtain comes down.

    • Well said. But the problem is way worse than that. Computer model runs produce simulations. That is their only product. In mainstream climate science, a simulation is a reproduction of Earth’s climate at this time (actually, a “best effort” at such a reproduction, given our vastly limited knowledge).

      Where did someone get the idea that you can predict something from a simulation? Given a perfect reproduction of Earth’s climate at this time, one could not predict any more from that than one could from Earth’s climate. So, simulations are worthless for prediction.

      Simulations can be used to reproduce the past. But all that means is that computer models can be rejiggered until they produce a simulation that reproduces all of the graphs that supposedly hold the facts about the past of Earth’s climate. But if one tries to make predictions from that simulation all one is doing is extrapolating lines on a graph into the future. You can do that without a computer.

      Computer modelers can “jigger around” with the inputs to their models and produce a simulation for some future state of Earth’s climate. However, any prediction done in that exercise is done when the new numbers or new code is chosen for the rejiggering. In other words, anything that could count as a prediction happens external to a model run.

      Sorry, but simulations generated from computer models cannot be used for prediction.

  29. Is this the same mike hulme who was doing great things for the cause, I paraphrase, don’t worry if they got PhDs get those names . It doesn’t matter if it’s only 600 we’ll say its 1500 or 2000 no one will check.
    So 100 years ago climate was a big socio psycho babble point . So that would be 1911, sorry Hulme has no sense of history and even less sense of the events that were addressing the minds of the scientists of that period.
    Climate science is an oxymoron.

    • Stacey, in fairness to Hulme, the emails suggest that it was his fellow climate consensus coordinator, Joe Alcamo, who voiced those sentiments; although if Hulme disagreed with Alacamo’s “strategy”, I have yet to come across an E-mail from him which would indicate this.

      OTOH, I did come across a more recent narrative from Hulme which does shed a fair amount of light on what one might call “A Portrait of the Geographer as a Climate Scientist.”

      Excerpts from Hulme’s view of his own “evolution” can be found at BH in my post of Dec 27, 2011 at 12:38 AM, in the thread Hulme on climate modellers

    • Hulme does not come off well in the emails. Maybe why some are suggesting that the article under discussion is a stealth attempt to pull the cookies out of the fire for mainstream climate science – what’s left of the cookies.

      • incandecentbulb

        And by that you mean, instead of heaping more crap on the fire. That aint ‘gonna work to rehabilitate our image of those ‘experts’ who have been so eager to suck the life out of Western society while contributing nothing but self-defeating nihilism.

  30. Human is designed to believe / to be a Believer. The more secular countries – the more they believe in GLOBAL warming. Another thing was discovered long time ago was: human is not capable to believe in many things = followed; you must believe in one god. Christianity followed Judaism. Mohamed to prevent his people of being controlled by Rome – made; Allah is one. Karl Marx wouldn’t succeeded with his communist religion – if he didn’t suppressed all the other religions. Warmist religion is the same – they can’t prove by facts that is global warming, but by suppressing the opponents.

    Now I came with clean table of all the hypothesis harvested from thin air by Warmist AND Skeptics; presented the real proofs; the more people realize that I have all the proofs; that doesn’t need to wait 100years to see that they are all wrong…. People from both camps are using tricks to silence me. The truth will win; anybody genuinely believing that the truth should win, join me. Others shouldn’t be against 3 cornered contest; to brake the monotony and the boring mud slinging between the Warmist in 100years and the ”past GLOBAL warmings, pretend Skeptics”

    The truth: all the past phony GLOBAL warmings were localized, not global. Ice ages cannot happen on the whole planet also; because THE LAWS OF PHYSICS SAY SO. ANYBODY BELIEVING IN THE LAWS OF PHYSICS SHOULD JOIN ME. Mitich formula will win: EH>AE>ECI (Extra Heat > Atmosphere Expands > Extra Coldness Intercepts ) Merry Christmas to all internet Nerds

    • incandecentbulb

      Not quite: the geophysical history of the Earth shows that it generally has been locked in ice with these long periods only briefly interrupted by global warming and the kind of material plenty that gives wings to those who contribute nothing to society but a lot of hot air.

  31. Lenin I think said that the intelligenstia were not the brains of the nation but the s**t of the nation. Wrong of course but if applied today then of course it would be totally true if applied to the Fiddlestick Teams climate junkett scientists and their fellow travellers.

  32. incandecentbulb

    As America heads in a similar direction many have noticed that Russia is a lot like Western Europe only colder.

  33. Well, he godwinned on determinism. So already I can tell Hulme is very impressed with his own research. Secondly, his examples of climate reductionism are filled with strawmen. Climate being an exacerbation to water shortages, or whatever impact, is where the debate centers. Most other examples surround general issues of sustainability (Diamond) and climate is only one issue. Others are about predictions into the future beyond where models usually tread.

    I suppose the point gets lost on people like myself who see larger forces at work that are threats to the future.

    • incandecentbulb

      If you are saying lifetime tenure makes people stupid, we agree.

      • No, just that using Nazi’s, Lovelock, Diamond, etc, he downgrades what could be discussed as serious and important issues. He wants to expand our limitations and consider “other” futures, which is fine. To me, it is the uncertainty of the other futures that should give us pause on our current trajectory. In fact, I doubt highly that our current economic model will survive the century. This, of course, should not make us rethink our obligation to what we are most confident will be harm to future generations.

      • incandecentbulb

        “Let’s think back to people in 1900 in, say, New York. If they worried about people in 2000, what would they worry about? Probably: Where would people get enough horses? And what would they do about all the horse manure? Horse pollution was bad in 1900; think how much worse it would be a century later, with so many more people riding horses?” ~Michael Crichton

      • But they didn’t worry about the people in 2000, did they? And if they did, would it have helped?

      • Not Chrichton again.
        Predictions were made that coal-burning would foul urban atmospheres early on. Once the problem occurred in places like London, only then did the reactive mitigation steps take place. Raising smokestack height was one of these. Does Chrichton mention this? No, because he is a contrarian who wanted to sell books. So he sets up strawman arguments about horses. The equivalent for this was the risk mitigation strategy of our interstate freeway system, and perimeter freeways. Was that proactive in hindsight?
        Some decisions can be made proactively.

  34. He does make a few good points about hegemony and using present conditions to predict to future ones, using only climate as a variable. Of course, we are restricted like that, being unable to know if a future world will distribute resources to deal the mess handed to them, or allow for the current neoliberal fantasy we live in now to magically screw up the mess even more by allowing the hoarders to hoard. But he misses the point most make, that by not cleaning the mess, the past will in part determine the future range of choices.

  35. incandecentbulb

    Exercising power through fear of global warming is an example of cultural hegemony not predictive hegemony based on natural science.

  36. Climate science has lost credibility not because it is so difficult to know what things mean but because of the low quality of its output. It’s models are simplistic and lack skill, it’s data is corrupted, and some of its practitioners dishonest yet here we are again, concerned with “epistemic” something or other (the last time it was “closed epistemic loops”). This is risible.

    Climate science is not quantum mechanics for god’s sake, it’s almost entirely phenomenological. Clean up the data, build better models and fire the guys that don’t play by the rules. Who knows, if you do that maybe someday climate science can become as productive as quantum mechanics, maybe you can even invent the climatological equivalent of the transistor and change everything. When you do that nobody will worry about closed epistemic loops or epistemic slippage except cranks. Which is what climate scientists sound like when they try to excuse the mess they’ve created with these appeals to philosophy.

    • incandecentbulb

      Nice sentiment but all the while you’re electing those who make a living helping climatologists piss on your pant leg.

    • The Man,
      Are you the Great Lebowski of this great disputation?
      You actually frame the problem extremely well.

    • Photovoltaics are quantum mechanics in action. Extracting energy from entropic sources is applied statistical mechanics, aka stochastic mechanics.

      That’s a start for mitigating a reliance on fossil fuels.

  37. For those who find this a wow, would you care to share why?

    Skepticism towards model results is something that comes up in every discussion thread here. And the idea that a computer model cannot predict 100 years of social and technological future is rather trivial.

    Perhaps it was Hulme’s concise and clear language that was needed to finally impress these points onto the un-converted.

    • I suspect the ‘wow’ is from the passing of the spectre of Malthus from the soul of Hulme. The exorcism is only partial, though. Wait’ll the demons tell him that a warmer world would support greater species diversity.
      ==============

  38. Maybe Hulme was visited by the ghost of Michael Crichton

    • Heh, I’m finally getting around to reading ‘State of Fear’. What a terrible writer, but what a great seer.
      ===============

  39. This looks to me like a smart warmist seeing the writing on the wall, and finding a long, pompous and circumlocutory way of saying “We were wrong”.

    Hulme knows perfectly well that science lives or dies by its predictive skill, and that CAGW climate “science” has next to none. That there are other fields which offer “visions of the future” is beside the point – they are just that, other fields, and not science. Hulme has created a sort of holding position, a sort of Third Way, which he can safely occupy while the rest of the CAGW branch is sawn through, and he can emerge as a full-blown sceptic with honour intact. Since Climategate, the smart warmists have been aware that the branch they have chosen to sit on is steadily being sawn off at the trunk, and have been looking for ways to jump the cut discreetly, so as to avoid acknowledging their earlier gullibility, or appearing to rat on their less percipient comrades-in-arms.

    This is just a prime example. Expect more.

    • Tom FP writes “Since Climategate, the smart warmists have been aware that the branch they have chosen to sit on is steadily being sawn off at the trunk, and have been looking for ways to jump the cut discreetly, so as to avoid acknowledging their earlier gullibility, or appearing to rat on their less percipient comrades-in-arms.

      This is just a prime example. Expect more.”

      I think you are correct. I certainly hope you are correct. I wonder if

      a Our hostess has read your remarks.

      b. This relates to her expressing this paper as a “wow” moment.

  40. There is very little in this paper. The base idea is a very simple one: you cannot predict how societies will react to particular changes, even if you are able to predict the changes themselves.

    Yes, this is true. There is a long record of such failures, particularly of failures to predict the social consequences of technological innovation. It is quite true that the social consequences of a warming or cooling of 2-3C are not very predictable. They will not necessarily include wars famine and mass migration.

    This simple idea is wrapped in a large quantity of post-modern wet flannel, stuffed with some historical background, and covered with a lot of references to make it publishable.

    One says to the author, glad you finally woke up. Now go back to bed again. The rest of us have been up for quite a while.

    • Michel, you say “Yes, this is true” but then say there is very little here. The point is that there is a large, expensive ongoing research program dedicated to predicting the non-climate impacts (social, political, technological, biological, etc.) of CAGW. Pointing out that this program is misguided is hardly little.

      • I meant to say that the very simple and rather obvious point being made is that it is next to impossible to predict the social effects of various changes, whether technical, environmental, even when one can get the changes themselves right.

        I think that is true, but it really is not helped by wrapping the simple point in that wet flannel of post modernism and historical excursions.

        In fact, doing it like that detracts from the generality of the point. Take as an example the progression of Moore’s Law. The workings out of the law have been reasonably predictable, processing power and memory has increased pretty much as expected. You then look at consequences for programming, which was not predicted nearly as clearly – the increasing use of high level languages as storage and processing got cheap or free.

        But there are lots of really totally unpredictable and unpredicted consequences of the IT revolution. The rise of social media, for instance. Mobility. Open Source. Viruses and malware. The problem is even if you know what is going to happen, in this case technically, the social effects are unpredictable.

        It is indeed perfectly clear about climate change. Even if we could predict climate change to a T, we would still most likely get the social effects all wrong. But its not just climate change that this is true of, its a whole lot of other phenomena with social consequences. We are trying to predict something essentially unpredictable, the use humans will make of the changed environment. Its going to be a combination of the wildest sort of ingenuity coupled with all our virtues and vices, our laziness, our seflishness, our bigoted stupidity and our far sightedness and generosity and aspirations to do good. Who can predict how all that will interact with a change to the structure of the world we live in?

        The thing to criticise Hulme for is that he cannot state this point simply and clearly, instead he has to wrap it in what I think of as wet flannel which does not help us see the origin of the problem, and which makes us think there is something specific to climate about the problem. There is not. Its a general problem, and its a truism.

        I guess I am reproaching him with stating the obvious at inordinate length and obscurely, and also reproaching the world of climate science, to which this statement of the obvious at enormous length and with considerable obscurity seems to come as a revelation.

      • I am glad that you took the time to write that Michel. It needed to be said that we can’t always evaluate impacts of change, much like we can never be sure of the spin-off discoveries made possible with investments in research. Many times the discoveries have nothing to do with the original intent.

        I will smile with growing pride when some AGW climate researcher finds some patterns in wind, accidentally, of course, that can then be used in renewable energy R&D. We take advantage of research in our environment because that’s what nature gives us.

  41. One of my first computer science projects was to model the population of caribou and wolves, based on the observed behavior and probabilities of prey and predator. Sometimes when a wolf chases a caribou it catches the caribou, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes caribou find sufficient food to reproduce, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they die young, other times they die old.

    What was notable about the model is that it did not average out like a coin toss. Each time the model ran it gave a different answer. Sometimes the populations exploded, sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes they went extinct, sometimes the didn’t. Nowhere in the model did we change the climate, or any of the probabilities. Yet it gave different answers each time we ran the model, and there was no tendency for the model to converge on a single answer for the “future”.

    • It is notable that climate models start to behave in a similar fashion (unstable) as they try and increase the resolution. The assumption is that they need more computer power and better models to overcome this.

      An alternative explanation is that the unstable, high resolution climate models are a more accurate representation of the future than the stable, low resolution models. The future is not stable, it is inherently unpredictable.

    • Sounds like you found chaotic sensitivity to initial conditions Fred. And indeed it is conjectured that the reason that natural populations endlessly oscillate is that the dynamics are chaotic. The same may well be true for climate, such that no variable forcing is required.

      The oscillations are simply due to the internal feedbacks. In that case the instability is the reality, but I prefer to think of it as a variable stability, because it oscillates within limits.

      • What was interesting was that we never varied the initial conditions. The chaotic behavior arose because we modeled individuals, not groups. Let me give an example:

        Say there is a 1/3 chance a wolf will catch a caribou and you have 100 wolves. One way to model this is to say the wolves will catch 100 * 1/3 = 33 caribou each cycle. This is what happens in climate models with low resolution – and it gives the illusion of stability, because each time you run you will get the answer of 33.

        However, when you model individuals, then each individual wolf has only a 1/3 chance of making a kill. Over 100 wolves the first time you run there might be 33 kills, but there might also be 34 or 32, or 35 or 31, etc.

        In the second example, as you increase the resolution, the number of possible combinations and permutations is increasing allowing for a wider range of possibilities. The stability you initially perceived in the low resolution model, where the answer is always “33”, disappears.

        My take is that stability in predicting the future is a statistical illusion. We assume that the central limit theorem and law of large numbers will average everything out, so that the future is the average of all possibilities.

        The reality is that the future is nothing like this. An average future may be more probably, but that doesn’t exclude the possibility that we will arrive at a future that is nothing like the average, regardless of initial conditions.

      • Ferd, in your case sampling the probability distribution for each wolf amounts to changing the initial conditions. Something has to change or the computer should give exactly the same result. It does not matter what you change. “Initial conditions” is a metaphor.

  42. Stacey | December 26, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Reply
    Climate science is an oxymoron.

    The word “science” in the name in a dead giveaway that it is NOT science, any more than the People’s Democratic Republic is a democracy.

  43. “greater effort should be made to represent these possibilities in any analysis about the significance of future climate change”

    To allow for this, you must first provide a mathematical boundary on the size of the unknowns going forward. However, as it is generally accepted that the universes is for all practical purposes infinite, then the size of the unknown is also infinite – in other words you cannot place a boundary on what you don’t know.

    In other words, no matter how many possibilities you account for, it will be the ones you didn’t account for that are most likely to occur. Here is a simple demonstration:

    let:
    n = size of what you know or can imagine
    infinity = size of what you have not imagined

    then:
    n / infinity = 0 = probability of your choices representing the future
    (infinity – n) / infinity = 1 = probability something you haven’t imagined representing the future

  44. Judith,

    I find the majority of climate scientists suffer from PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY SYNDROME.
    This means that anything not of temperature data related is of no consequence. This leaves out a vast area of mechanical mechanisms NOT considered.
    Most significantly is the planets shape.

  45. Judith Curry

    Thanks for this post.

    Mike Hulme’s analysis is spot on, and anyone who is fretting about the model-projected catastrophic impacts of future anthropogenic climate change should read it.

    Hulme points out that the model projections all assume that “all other things are equal”, but this is a basically erroneous assumption.

    Because of the epistemological authority over the future claimed, either implicitly or explicitly, by such modelling activities, climate becomes the one ‘known’ variable in an otherwise unknowable future.

    and

    By emasculating the future of much of its social, cultural or political dynamism, climate reductionism renders the future free of visions, ideologies and values.

    These observations are undoubtedly true.

    But it goes further than simply ignoring ”social, cultural or political dynamism” in the human response to projected climate changes.

    As a result of the myopic fixation of the climate models on anthropogenic climate change caused principally by human CO2 emissions, the climate modelers, themselves, have basically assumed that “all other things are equal” as far as the future development of our climate is concerned.

    The lack of warming we have witnessed over most recent decade has been a stark reminder that “all other things are NOT equal” as far as non-anthropogenic climatic influences are concerned.

    This is all the more impressive in that it occurred despite the fact that CO2 levels reached record heights and the climate models had all forecasted a continuation of the warming rates of the 1980s and 1990s into the 2000s.

    By simply looking at the past record before there were any significant human greenhouse gas emissions, the modelers could have known that there were significant factors other than anthropogenic climate forcings.

    But they chose, instead, to concentrate essentially all of their analyses on the recent cycle of warming, starting in the 1970s, coincidentally about the same time as satellite observations and measurements started.

    Hulme’s hypothesis is certainly correct.

    The current model-based disaster predictions ignore the ”social, cultural or political dynamism” of humanity.

    But, in the rather arrogant assumption that beside anthropogenic influences “all other things are equal” they have also ignored the great scientific uncertainties of what has made our climate behave the way it has over the past.

    So their disaster predictions are doubly flawed.

    Max

  46. While I do appreciate combined skills in both science and the humanities, my response is not ‘wow’ since some depth and breadth of understanding is to be expected.

    I like Mike Hulme’s ability to offer an interpretative framework for discussing climate. He demonstrates historical insight into the interplay between “human imagining, cultural life, and the physical environment”; and he rightly criticizes those scientists, such as you, Judith, who have become stuck on questions of greater predictive accuracy.

    Mike’s perspective is strongly shaped by European (and to some extent also e.g. Australian and North American) concerns, experience, moral ideas, intellectual history and economic development. He knows this. So I wonder why he doesn’t communicate more fully regarding the cultural influence on his own perspective when it is logically implied by his own methodology; and I look forward to seeing him reflect more fully on this.

    We all know that climate is very important and we all know that weather is very important. However, people who continue to live closest to the land and are most affected and least able to cope with climate change and/or with the consequences of the actions of the most powerful and developed economies are curiously erased from these discussions, as is the poor public, the indigenous public, the island public, the delta public, etc. This, in itself, is the kind of power issue that is illuminated by Mike’s methodology, especially when you stand it on its head.

    Contrary to his highly intellectual conceptualizations, climate does not “intrude” on the most vulnerable: it determines the daily life and death struggles and suffering, of the most vulnerable.

    One’s focus is “determined”, if we want to talk about cause and effect/determinism in a meaningful way, by who and what those in power value. While so many who discuss and challenge the science are engaged in this sort of questioning, and wish to challenge elitism, they fail to consider their own positioning and power relative to others — and that is required of a “reflexive” methodology like Mike’s.

    Of course his observations that climate is complex, and changes in climate can be more or less complex, and current climate change is quite complex, is shared by many. Nothing new there. And the policy issues are also complex. Nothing new there. What might be new is the call to examine the fullest possible understanding of power relations and one’s own cultural influences on who is engaged, what is discussed, and how this does or does not influence anything in ones’ own or other societies.

    Unfortunately, Mike’s analyses occasionally come up short when it comes to examining the history and influence of his own culture’s colonialism (never mind ‘green’ colonialism’) on the dominant “discourse” of climate change.

    • Oh my, Hulme did not discuss your intersts in British colonialism so his paper is worthless?
      How trollish of you.
      lol.

    • Martha, you make some important points. The framing of any debate is driven by what matters to those debating, and tends to reflect the interests of the powerful in society (one reason why there is so much sniping in the climate debate on the real or imagined roles of the Koch brothers, the US funding agencies, and the IPCC). Only “tends to” – in a liberal society there is always room for dissenting views and alternative framings. It is hard to imagine how a stable (non-anarchist) society could behave otherwise than in the interests of its powerful members, so this is not really a serious criticism. But although each of us should have an “understanding of power relations and one’s own cultural influences”, that does not help to develop practical solutions to the problems.

      Clearly climate “determines the daily life and death struggles and suffering of the most vulnerable”, but this is not necessarily the same as being “closest to the land”. US wheat farmers have access to futures markets, subsidy programs, and other protections to insulate them somewhat from the vagaries of weather and changes in climate, and the well-off farmers in my country (New Zealand) change their methods and even the products they produce over very short time-frames as conditions change. Vulnerability to climate comes from being a desperately poor farmer whose products can only be produced in small volumes because of limited access to technology and finance, and who is limited to subsistence farming because his products are shut out of rich markets by trade barriers and poor transport. Being aware of one’s cultural influences does not alter those facts, and addressing the vulnerability of such farmers requires practical solutions, which will be scientific, engineering, economic, and political. Will any solutions reflect the cultural biases of those who develop them? Yes, but we can’t help it, and the only real alternative is not to develop solutions at all. Have poor/indigenous/island/etc farmers been shut out from these debates? Largely, yes, but what have they to contribute? What scientific, engineering, economic expertise have they acquired? They can tell us only about their lives and experiences. When they are prosperous enough that many of them have gone to university and developed a relevant expertise they will be able to make a meaningful contribution, but by that time they will no longer be poor/indigenous/island/etc farmers. (Have I framed this statement in terms of my own cultural influences? Of course, but what choice do I have?)

      People like Bjorn Lomborg have been thinking systematically about these issues for quite a while, and agencies such as the Gates Foundation have been trying to support useful initiatives in practice. If we can make poor farmers richer, and give them access to the sort of technology, infrastructure and finance that rich-country farmers enjoy, they will be better off in the current climate and more able to respond to any future climate changes. In that case, it would not matter much whether the climate models are right or wrong. The significance of Hulme’s paper, I think, is not that he has propounded a brand new idea but that he has recognized as a (former?) insider that the findings of climate science cannot determine what social responses will be effective, and has realized that “climate reductionism” leads to a prejudice in favor of bad responses. That is, if climate change determines everything about society, the only way to prevent things getting worse is to prevent climate change from happening. A less reductionist approach, such as that of Lomborg, shows that this is likely to be particularly wasteful and ineffective, and it is also dependent on accurate predictions of climate change with and without interventions. One of Dr Curry’s consistent themes is that sufficiently accurate predictions are not in prospect.

      • OK, I see value in Martha if she can bring a response this good from Paul, particularly his last paragraph. He explains Hulme better to me even than Hilary.
        ============

      • I think Paul’s response covers up Martha’s obfuscation. Martha still wants to misdirect from climate to climate change, because it can involve guilt and blame. Anybody allegedly vulnerable to climate change is a hundred times more vulnerable to climate – but if you misdirect you can bring up hints of cultural imperialism and bias. It’s an irrelevance – any concerns about vulnerability should focus on the needs of today and tomorrow, not the ‘sins’ of the past or fears about the distant future.

        Cultural biases evaporate in the face of the practical and pragmatic. Irrigation doesn’t care about dialectics, and a ‘western perspective’ won’t prevent a meal from filling a stomach.

        Cut out the bullshit, the blame and the fiction that change in climate is what threatens anybody more than poverty in the face of climate itself, and practical solutions have a chance of being found to practical problems.

  47. Anteros said:

    I think people of the future require us to live our lives well today, not second guess how they’d like us to behave ‘for their benefit’.

    To which I say I’m very glad as a person of the present that people of the past did not dwell overlong on, nor waste the assets of the day on what they perceived I may require during my time here. To regulate behavior or to attempt social engineering into the future mandates abiding unborn generations spring forth. What basis have we that such generations have ever existed or will ever exist?

    Regarding Hulme’s paper – analysis can show a model-based hegemony has evolved. Any leading persuasive thinking can suffer the same fate and has the predictability of cream rising to the top. We see this in many common life experiences, in fact. A hegemony does not equate to evil any more than it equates to a global utopia. It does mean we need to examine carefully and thoroughly any competing views, all consequences and costs to quality of life before creating law, and we need always to have a back-out plan that puts our generation’s hand on the brake rather than leaving it to future generations to unravel for us.

  48. Hi Judy – This is a very thoughful post. I will be commenting on this topic, and Mike Hulme’s conclusions, on Monday with respect to the new NSF solicitation ‘Decadal and Regional Climate Prediction using Earth System Models” [http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=503399&org=GEO&from=home]

    Best Wishes to you and Peter for the remainder of the Holidays!

    • Hi Roger, I look forward to your post, I am also dismayed by the narrow framing of the climate problem by the U.S. funding agencies (which is why I am working to get off the grid in terms of relying on federal funding agencies)

  49. If the government paid people $1 million to have only one arm and one leg, how long would it take before we had a large population of people with only one arm and one leg?

    Why do we assume that government funding will not have a similar effect on research?

    How many government funded research programs in the US are searching for the dangers of climate change? How many are searching for the benefits of climate change?

    Have any learned papers been published on the numbers, to determine if there is a statistical connection between funding and the conclusions reached in climate science?

    • That is easy Ferd. All of the programs are searching for the dangers, none are searching for the benefits. Taken together these many federal programs constitute the $2 billion/year USGCRP. See their website: http://www.globalchange.gov/. They published a bunch of summary assessment studies a while back, the US equivalent of the IPCC reports. No benefits were noted, just dangers. A perfect score.

      • 2 billion is small change compared to 250 billion (and growing) that are wasted each year (in the world) on green technologies that produce no benefits at all, zero reduction in emissions.

  50. Mike Hulme has figured out the profound truth that CO2 does not, alone, determine our future, that here are other factors.
    Most climate scientists haven’t yet attained this level of understanding.

  51. Hulme sees “Epistemic slippage” ….

    I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it.

    And Happy New Year to all Denizens!

  52. Other Factors in the past, present and future – Arctic Report Card

    I don’t know how long it is going to take Climate Scientists to figure this out, but Warm Oceans and open Arctic is part of the natural cycle. This Warm Ocean and open Arctic is when it snows to rebuild the ice. Pay attention to Greenland Ice Core Data. The warm oceans and open Arctic during the Medieval Warm Period provided the snow that caused the Little Ice Age. This is a necessary and desirable part of a stable cycle.
    It clearly snows more in the warm times and snows less in the cold times. Here is your plot with Greenland Ice Core Data. Look at this and read the rest of “Pope’s Climate Theory” and think about what is really happening. We are warm and the snows have started. That is why we stopped getting warmer.

    http://popesclimatetheory.com/page11.html

  53. Cool paper!

    I didn’t get through the whole thing but it inspired me to write this:

    For the first time in our history we have the ability to see how the future climate will look on this planet. What we see is a hell-scape of famine, war, drought, disease and emotional and spiritual collapse. Our very future depends on the reduction of our total social, scientific, cultural, productive and etc. capital to climate-based efforts (Climate Reductionism).

    The facts are clear – we are changing the climate substantially for the worse. Every disastrous weather event is partially, if not mostly, caused by our effects. Areas where climate is favourable simply haven’t been burdened by us yet.

    As climate is such a large determining factor in all aspects in our lives – and those of plants and animals, we can also say that any detrimental effect caused by climate was caused partially, if not mostly, by our effects.

    Now, simply by our energy-use, we are causing the worst human atrocities – bloody wars, widespread famine, economic collapse and so on. We are also causing huge damage to the natural ecosystems – mass extinctions, droughts, etc. The sea will soon swallow our coastal cities driving huge numbers of climate-refugees inland.

    The humans that are left in 20 years will have no doubts about the need for Climate Reductionism but if we, as individuals, wish to survive that long we need to adopt in now. In doing so we must dissolve our individuality entirely and reduce ourselves to only climate based efforts. Our (moral/ethical/karmic/etc.) worth becomes inversely proportional to our effect on the climate (with bonus points and exceptions for missionary work).

    Those who deny Climate Reductionism will soon be dead – literally killed by the climate they took for granted. But while that future can’t come fast enough for us (the true believers), the denialists must be confronted and exposed immediately. The future has no place for them.

    Embracing Climate Reductionism means climate is in your every thought and action. Luckily we now have the intellectuals in place who are ready and willing to guide us, to ensure our zeal and enthusiasm is properly focused on the most efficient actions. There is no more need to fear – our future may be bleak but we can now act without consternation. We have but one reason to live, the complete transformation of our existence into carbon-neutral, climate-neutral beings.

    /satirical attempt

  54. Hi Judy – For interested readers, here is the link to my post on the NSF solicitation

    NSF’s New Research Funding Solicitation – “Decadal and Regional Climate Prediction Using Earth System Models” – A Mix Of Scientifically Robust And Flawed Goals.

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/nsfs-new-research-funding-solicitation-decadal-and-regional-climate-prediction-using-earth-system-models-a-mixed-set-of-goals/

  55. rpielke

    Thanks for posting link to your post on NSF solicitation.

    Am going through it a second time, including cited references.

    Max