2 perspectives on communicating climate science

by Judith Curry

This past week, two climate scientists have presented different perspectives on communicating climate science:  Richard Betts and Gavin Schmidt.

Richard Betts

At nature.com, Richard Betts has an article entitled “Widening the Climate Conversation.”   From the biosketch at the head of the article:

Richard Betts is Head of Climate Impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre and a visiting Professor at the Universityof Exeter.  He was a lead author on the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report with Working Group 1 (Physical Science Basis) responsible for the assessment of radiative forcing due to land cover change.  For the Fifth Assessment Report he is a lead author, assessing impacts on terrestrial ecosystems.  Richard was also a lead author on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 

Some excerpts:

But climate science is not a single-issue subject.  It is not carried out solely to see whether cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are needed or not.  A further and increasingly important issue is to understand the changes and variability we are seeing in order to help us live with the ever-changing weather and climate.  Also, of course, it is important simply to increase the sum total of human understanding simply as an end in itself.  Like art and music, gaining deeper insights into how the world around us actually works can enrich our lives and bring enjoyment.

Unfortunately, these other aspects of climate science are rarely seen outside of the scientific community, giving a skewed impression of the science.  Public discussion of the science mostly focuses on the implications for policy, and also increasingly on attacking or defending the integrity of the science rather than on its intellectual content.

The difficulty comes when those responsible for gathering the evidence feel under attack and respond in a defensive manner themselves.  If they perceive themselves as opponents of those challenging the evidence whilst being allies of those defending the evidence, and start behaving accordingly, this only reinforces the perception of bias from the opponents, and positive feedback sets in.  Climate scientists have consequently become perceived as being part of the debate on a single policy issue, rather than as just scientists seeking to advance knowledge.

This leads to the risk of loss of trust in scientists as objective advisors.  If climate science communication remains focussed on a single policy issue then of course the science can be perceived or presented as being part of the policy and not merely informing it.  Despite repeated protestations that the science is objective, the constant framing of it within a narrow policy discussion does nothing to back this up.

What to do about this?  I think the only solution is to talk about the science as science, in the context of all its implications and also for its own academic interest – and talk about it to everyone irrespective of their position in the policy debate.  This includes talking with sceptics, and not in defensive mode but as scientists willing to talk around the issue.  It used to be the received wisdom that climate scientists should not engage with “sceptics” beause, it was said, it only wasted time and gave credibility to arguments that had already been countered many times before.  In my view this is no longer a helpful strategy, if it ever was.

Importantly, such discussions need to move on from being anchored in the usual one-dimensional policy debate.  Scientists need to be willing to discuss uncertainties, controversies and technical challenges (ie: the interesting bits!) rather than just feeling they need to defend themselves against attack.  Only by scientists being clearly seen to operate as scientists will trust be maintained – and this means being seen to explore the issues, challenge each other and not worry about how this will be seen or presented in the mitigation policy debate.

Gavin Schmidt

Gavin Schmidt continues to rack up climate communication awards, most recently EarthSky’s Science Communicator of the Year.  EarthSky has an interview with Gavin [here].  Some excerpts:

He said he believes that telling people about how scientists work is a key to communicating the science of climate change.

Give us a sense of what’s really happening with climate change on our planet right now.

I think it’s far more important that people get a sense of the science as a work in progress, rather than one particular message or piece of content knowledge getting hammered home.

Most of the science news is concerned with stuff at the cutting edge, stuff at the uncertainty bounds, the edge of what we know. Very few of the stories are telling people what we know quite well. They’re always focused on what the uncertainties are. And that’s because that’s where scientists are focused. But it isn’t necessarily where the public sees the need for information.

So there’s a huge need for the context. What was the process that led to these climate change science stories coming out? 

What have you found that works in communicating science to non-scientists?

Telling people about scientists, not just about science. People respond very well to narratives, to stories involving people. Science is not just a dry, computational effort. It is, in fact, one of the greatest, most successful human endeavors that we’ve ever embarked upon.

We can spend a lot of time looking at graphs and talking about equations, but people don’t have a visceral response to equations, unless you actually are a scientist (sometimes.) But people do have a visceral response to images of how glaciers have retreated over the last hundred years. They have a visceral response to changes in landscape. They have a visceral response to seeing scientists at work, from the South Pole to the middle of the Pacific to the top of some mountain somewhere. People empathize with that.

I think that one of the roles for science communicators is really to showcase the depth and breadth of experiences and work that’s going on in all parts of the world, from all kinds of different people, but who are all contributing to the body of work that is climate science.

Do you think people today are more informed or less informed about climate change, compared to, say, five years ago?

It depends very much on where you are in the world and what is it you’re trying to convey. In the last few years in the U.S. the discussion about climate change has become more politicized. That’s made it harder to have serious conversations without people taking it to some whole other level very, very quickly in some quarters.

There has been an unfortunate tendency in a segment of the American political landscape to turn away from what the science is saying. But if you talk to the people who are making decisions and formulating policies, you find that people have a much more nuanced understanding of what’s going on than they did five or ten or fifteen years ago. And I think that’s a very positive sign.

JC comments:  I agree 100% with Richard Bett’s assessment of the communication problem.  I don’t disagree with anything he says regarding the solution to this problem.

I found Gavin’s interview to be rather surprising, I am seeing an evolution in his perspective on communication.  My prior view of what he was doing at RC was to set up the site (and themselves) as arbiters of the correct information (with people like me being purveyors of misinformation).

Trying to change the public image of climate scientists and what the do is definitely needed. The image of Machiavellian emailers is not a desirable one; Richard Alley in a parka on a glacier is a much better image.    So this is a welcome development.

I found these statements to be telling:

They’re always focused on what the uncertainties are. And that’s because that’s where scientists are focused. But it isn’t necessarily where the public sees the need for information. . . There has been an unfortunate tendency in a segment of the American political landscape to turn away from what the science is saying.

To me, these statements reflect the main problem in science communication, as outlined by Richard Betts.

The emphasis on eliciting a visceral response from the audience seems to reflect Randy Olson’s influence, who discusses the visceral response thing.  I am afraid that visceral response is the new buzzword for sounding an alarm.

But overall, I find Gavin’s apparently evolving view of climate communication to be moving in a positive direction, I hope we can look forward to some profiles of scientists in action over at RC.


324 responses to “2 perspectives on communicating climate science

  1. “But people do have a visceral response to images of how glaciers have retreated over the last hundred years.”

    The more ignorant people are, the more visceral their response will be. Ignorance of the earth’s gradual emergence from an ice age thousands of years ago, and its more recent recovery from the Little Ice Age, leads to public alarm over glacier retreat “over the last hundred years.” Those who profit from climate change alarm love to cite this factoid as if it somehow supports anthropogenic global warming. It doesn’t, but Dr. Schmidt can’t resist tossing it in, hoping to stir up someone’s viscera.

    • Web images of Earth’s “ever-changing weather and climate’ – like Jeff Id’s recent videos of continuous cycles of expansion and contraction of sea ice –

      http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2012/01/17/full-length-nsidc-sea-ice-data/

      Show how the public has been deceived by reporting only selected parts of the experimental facts and observations. World leaders and their armies of well-funded scientists know it is not necessary to lie to deceive the public. Just tell them a few carefully selected truths, like these:

      a.) The surface of the Sun is 91% H
      b.) H-fusion releases enormous energy
      c.) Solar neutrinos MAY oscillate away

      And hope nobody shows them evidence that neutron repulsion is:

      a.) The energy source in compact stellar cores
      b.) Far, far more powerful that H-fusion, and
      c.) Clearly recorded in rest mass data of every known atom, except H-1, H-2 and He-3

      This inescapable conclusion was shown in 2000 on 3-D plots of rest mass data from http://www.nndc.bnl.gov/chart/

    • I get a visceral response when I see the lying and cheating laid bare in the climategate emails.

      Or when I see Al Gore’s personal carbon footprint.

  2. Ward (2008) reported on a series of workshops dealing with communication of science results to the public, with particular emphasis on climate change in which it was claimed that “the nation’s top climate scientists and leading science and environmental journalists [met] together to discuss media coverage and communication of climate change science.” The principal funder of the workshops project and its report was the Paleoclimate Program, Division of Atmospheric Sciences, National Science Foundation. Some financial support was also provided by grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air Programs, and limited in-kind support was provided by the National Centers for Coastal and Ocean Science (NCCOS), the scientific research arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Ocean Service (NOAA/NOS) in the U.S. Department of Commerce; and by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). David Verardo, Ph.D., of the National Science Foundation, was the primary person who enabled this science/journalism project. While this report is portrayed as an effort to promote better communication on climate change, its real intent seems to be to promote the alarmist viewpoint. For example, it begins:
    “Climate scientists were frustrated by what they saw as a failure of the general public to understand and appreciate the seriousness of the climate change issue [i.e., the grave dangers according to the alarmist viewpoint]. Many scientists said they were frustrated that the accumulated advances in understanding of climate change over more than two decades of research had not led to a better-informed public [i.e., the use of climate models to predict large temperature increase in the 21st century] … The workshops focused in particular on what scientists call ‘anthropogenic climate change’—that caused by human activities and not part of a natural cycle.”
    Like (“Fair and Balanced”) Fox News on TV, this report suggests:
    “The preponderance of scientific evidence had since accumulated to a point where responsible reporters should give the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change much greater weight than dissenting claims challenging the mainstream scientific conclusions. The journalistic tenet of accuracy now demands that the established science be given total or near total prevalence in coverage of certain aspects of climate change science.”
    In other words, only the prevailing orthodoxy should be reported by the media. This attempt to muzzle the opposition is outrageously anti-scientific and anti-American. The report goes on to say:
    “Many participating reporters said they were having trouble convincing their editors of the virtues of reporting in an accurate and fair [i.e., alarmist], rather than quantitatively balanced fashion [i.e., roughly equal time to both sides]. Their reporting on new scientific findings often met with an editor’s insistence that they also report the perspectives of climate science contrarians who lack comparable scientific expertise and standing, as if covering a political campaign or a public policy dispute” [i.e., contrarians are thereby characterized as uneducated and occupying positions of less importance compared with alarmists.]
    This viewpoint was echoed by Curry et al. (2006) who said:
    “Boykoff and Boykoff (2004) demonstrated that superficial balance in coverage of global warming by the U.S. “prestige press” (e.g., New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal) can actually be a form of informational bias. Boykoff and Boykoff state that by giving equal time to opposing views, the major newspapers are significantly downplaying scientific understanding of the role humans play in global warming. Pitting what ‘some scientists have found’ against what ‘skeptics contend’ implies a roughly even division within the scientific community. In the media debate on global warming and hurricanes, greenhouse-warming deniers (which, in addition to scientists, includes lawyers and others with at best minimal scientific credentials) are set side by side with scientists who have actually done the work and published papers on the subject”.

    • I totally agree with Donald Rapp. These workshops are nothing but a continuous propaganda campaign to suppress any expression of opposing views. And they are generously supported with taxpayers money. As far as science goes they know it all and believe that it is settled. And since that is so there is no need to know about any heretical views or thoughts that may be expressed by people from the opposing camp. Let us ignore that whole body of work and tell journalists to suppress any knowledge of it. An example is my published work. The 2010 edition of my book “What Warming?” (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/177-3393141-9356410?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=arrak&x=0&y=0) contained a section on Arctic warming demonstrating that it is not greenhouse warming but is caused by warm Gulf Stream water carried north by currents. Kaufman et al. had just published a paper showing that the warming started suddenly at the turn of the twentieth century. Because of this the laws of physics rule out the greenhouse effect. I pointed this out to Kaufman but he chose to ignore it and stood by the greenhouse effect. The entire two thousand year temperature curve looks like a hockey stick and Joe Romm, who does not understand climate science, came out and claimed that it proved the Mann-made hockey stick was real. This motivated me to take that section of my book and expand it into a journal article (http://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/arno-arrak.pdf) which got published in Energy & Environment just this December. It should put an end to the myth that Arctic warming is part of global warming that IPCC models can predict. So far I don’t see any signs in the literature that anyone has noticed, just like they ignored what was in my book. This tells me that these climate “scientists” are simply not reading the scientific literature in their own field. As a teacher I would flunk them for not doing their homework. In the book I covered such things as the information contained in satellite temperature curves that is being ignored, the origin of the ENSO oscillation, fraudulent claims of warming in the eighties and nineties, volcanic cooling, and more. These are all important topics and contain new science that these guys apparently are not interested in. I don’t predict a scientific future for them.

    • My biggest bone to pick with these type of statements – { The workshops focused in particular on what scientists call ‘anthropogenic climate change’—that caused by human activities and not part of a natural cycle.”}

      When is one of these scientists going to pinpoint when humans started standing outside of nature?

  3. When we believe Consensus Climate Science has it wrong and they won’t listen to us and discuss it with us, you dang right we must attack.
    Talk to us, listen to us and discuss and attack will not be necessary.

    • “When we believe Consensus Climate Science has it wrong and they won’t listen to us and discuss it with us, you dang right we must attack.”

      There’s another option; you could gather data and try and make sense of it. That is, you could learn a bit about science and try and do some science yourselves.

      Scientists have been incredibly welcoming to “skeptics” who want to participate in climate science, from sharing data to extending invitations to be IPCC reviewers to helping “skeptics” get published.

      Of course, attacking scientists is easier than doing science. When you do science, you end up constrained by the facts, which is why BEST confirms the surface temp warming and Watt’s paper disproved his thesis on UHA. Your “attacks” are not constrained by the facts, and require a lot less work.

      • Robert, Excellent suggestion but the last time they tried it, the result was the Sky Dragon squad.

      • I don’t need to gather data. NOAA is really good at gathering data. I look at NOAA’s data and see that their Climate Theory does not agree with their data. I come up with Theory that does make sense, based on their data. I have been studying and building my knowledge of Climate for almost four years. Some of the Consensus Climate Scientists will talk and discuss and debate, but most will not. Any Attacks are for those who will not. If they are working with public money, they should be required to discuss with taxpayers. All of my Theory is based on facts. It is based mostly on Data that NOAA offers on their website.

  4. Interesting comparison. From the excerpts only, Betts is interested in an open discussion of ideas that leads to an as yet undetermined destination; Gavin still seems caught up in the need to evoke emotional response to achieve an end. Betts trusts broad participation; Gavin wants somewhat more enlightened paternalism to continue.

  5. Consensus Climate Science uses orbital parameters, CO2 and Solar Cycles to control the temperature of earth. Consensus Climate Theory lets these parameters cause the earth to cool and allow ice to advance. Consensus Climate Theory uses these parameters to warm the earth and cause ice to retreat. That is just plain wrong. There is nothing in the cycles of those parameters that explains the stable temperature cycles of the past ten thousand years.
    When the oceans are warm and the Arctic is open, fierce snow makes ice advance and earth cools. When the oceans are cool and the Arctic is closed, it don’t snow much and ice retreats and allows earth to warm. This does explain the stability of the temperature cycles of the past ten thousand years.
    Discuss this with me and I will not need to attack.

  6. Herman

    RE “There is nothing in the cycles of those parameters that explains the stable temperature cycles of the past ten thousand years.”

    You overstate your case destroying your credibility.
    See: Testing an astronomically based decadal-scale empirical harmonic climate model versus the IPCC (2007) general circulation climate models, Nicola Scafetta

    Try addressing all explanations and ways to find the relative weights of each.

    • Earth is my model and my model will prove my Theory is correct.

      http://popesclimatetheory.com/

    • Comparing two different Curve Fits of temperature data does not have anything to say about my Theory. No one should care if an astronomically based curve fit is better or worse than a general circulation curve fit. Actual Ice Core Data supports my Theory. Every time it gets warm and opens the Arctic, it then gets cool. Every time it gets cool and the Arctic closes, it then gets warm. The other forcings can push temperature around, but they cannot push temperature outside the limits around the Arctic Sea Ice Set Point.

  7. Gavin’s words might have more impact if they aligned with his actions.

    • you would expect some discussion of uncertainties in the last 10 posts at RC.

      you’d be disappointed.. meh, maybe the methane post kinda counts sorta.

      The key is this: Gavin focuses on uncertainties that generally DONT MATTER or where they matter there is a huge doomsday potential.

      There is no focus on uncertainties that center around the future being less dangerous.

      When we talk about uncertainties we mean both sides of the distribution.
      When he talks about uncertainty he means the doomsday side

      Generally, of course

      • Nice observation.

      • Steven said, “There is no focus on uncertainties that center around the future being less dangerous.” Very true. They protect their fat tails :)

      • Interesting tactic — steven has totally failed to find uncertainties that make the future less dangerous, so to distract from that, why not blame Gavin Schmidt for not finding them?

        He hasn’t found unicorns or dragons either.

        Where deconstructionist Steven Mosher has completely failed to find data validating his ideological denial of the need for action, why should we expect mere scientist Gavin Schmidt to have solved the problem of justifying the unjustifiable?

      • Steven Mosher

        on the cntrary robert. sensitivity lesss than 3. bogus emissions scenarios. bogus recons. bogus sea level projections. take ur pick

      • steven contrives to find himself disappointed at the lack of uncertainty discussion at RC by dismissing the discussion on unceratinty.

        Another triumph of opinion over fact.

        Three cheers for steven!

  8. http://www.royalroads.ca/continuing-studies/CYGLLE2618-Y11.htm Contains information as to why I think Gavin’s appraoch is somewhat biased. In showing the scientist in a viseral manner, yet thinking the public can not see the baggage that one is carrying is too short sighted to be effective. Also, I this link illustrates that Betts may well be misunderstanding just how large a problem is facing those who wish to communicate. Others are doing communication as well and both authors seem not to understand the dynamics though they allude to it.

    The article in the link is well writtten and informative. Yet, what information does it convey? It conveys that we change people and we frame communications. Using the methodology of the previuos post, “We Lie”, though this is not what Gavin and Betts had in mind. Because the market place of ideas, communication, and visceral reactions is a dynamic factor changing and almost literally available to everyone in the world through the net, a simplistic approach will not address the real problem.

    The real problem is that this article outlines the denial of freedom as seen by a large number of people in the Western world, and a denial of sovereignty to the major emitters in the developing world such as China and India. Though this is not the purpose of the proposed solution, one cannot separate an actual successful implementation of what is proposed without what that successful implementation actually comprises.

    This is why the communication starts bogging down the more alarmist the claim. It is seen as a pre-emptive bid to enforce a lifestyle that the many disagree with, and rid the public of real choice. Historically, one can see what happened. The NGO’s starting with the Rio Declaration and its predecessor have been trying to create a legally binding veiw as that of the Club of Rome and other new Malthusians. That is not about the “science” does not help the science. What it means is that when Nature, and others of the press, start yelling in print about some very low proable event of catastrophy, the public’s first reaction is typically alarm, followed by skecpticism and then finally cynicism. But veiwed historically, what one sees is not scientists, doing science, but control advocates, advocating control in a dictatorial manner.

    The most telling example of this was at Copenhagen, when all the jets and limos showed up to tell all of us how we only had 153 days to save the world. But the real information from the summit is when after being sidelined by the governments in order to get a treaty, the NGO’s came back that they had been excluded from “THEIR” summit.This confrontation underlines the IPCC’s failed strategy of on the one hand using alarmism, and the NGO’s and on the other expecting the public and the government not to notice this bias. Note, this is not aboput the science, though it couldbe. This is about perception.

    It is bandied about at RC, one among many places, that we just need the right communication to make it believable, and acceptable. This is a classic misidentification of the problem. As Pielke, Jr has pointed out, climate change activists have won, they just refuse to understand what it is that they won. That is why the public is “turning” against them. It isn’t it is turning against their misindentification of the what was won, and what the public has not agreed to, and apparently will not agree to.

    The linked article is just one of many that can be used to show this disjunction in identifying where and what the debate is, and what is acceptable.

  9. Richard Betts has proved himself over the past few years to be on of the ‘good guys’ – prepared to talk, argue sensibly and understand that there are still major issues with current climate science. He says “But climate science is not a single-issue subject. It is not carried out solely to see whether cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are needed or not.” This is how things should be, but it has been hijacked by the Team et al so that it *has* become single-issue. If the overwelming body of climate science was directed to more understanding of PDO, AMOs, AOs, ENSOs (grief, the alphabet soup!), clouds, albedos, hydrology, biological feedbacks, and the whole way the natural climate works, rather than the one-note tune of AGW then it would command more universal respect.

    Find out about the system first; look at the potential deltas afterwards. AGW did it the other way around.

    As for the emollient Gavin, he’s now talking the talk, but I bet anyone trying to post non-consensus views at RC will still get blatted. He is certainly right on one thing: “[People] have a visceral response to seeing scientists at work, from the South Pole to the middle of the Pacific to the top of some mountain somewhere. People empathize with that.” Yes, we do. What we don’t empathise with are scientists sitting in offices trying to figure out the best way of fiddling the past climate record of Iceland, or playing with dumb computer models which cannot possibly say anything meaningful about the real world.

    More parkas, less programming please!

    • John Costigane

      I agree with the need to expand the knowledge on all fronts. The aim of scientists should be set high, not on the least common denominator of co2. Surely the challenge is to prevent the next Ice Age, for example. Can we affect oscillations by artificial means to increase ocean temperatures?

      • It’s easier to add temporary warming aerosols than to remove a non-condensing nearly inert gas from the atmosphere. The thinking is that the former will halt a cooling trend, but you have to understand GHG theory to apply it. If that time comes, the scientists won’t come to you for advice, fortunately.

      • John Costigane

        Web, (not your real name obviously).

        Climate science is more than the co2. A full understanding of all factors is required. Are you not curious about oscillations, jetstreams and the broad historical record, including the MWP? My interest in jetstreams is based on the UK and the relation to recent colder winters (2009 and 2010) The Met Office (not all bad) predicted mild winters, based on GCMs. They were wrong.

      • You asked about how to avoid an ice age. I answered. If you don’t want free advice, go elsewhere.

      • John Costigane

        Web,

        My question was on oscillations, factors in the Natural Variability of the climate. Understanding how these work and interact should be part of climatology research.

      • So you want to know how to control oscillations? Well you will have to ask the Wizard of Oz about that, since the last time I checked, seasons are a big part of the problem.

        Which season would you prefer? I kind of like spring.

    • cui bono –

      Well said. I think there is a profound difference between Gavin Schmidt and Richard Betts here, and it stems from the use of the word communication. Schmidt still believes communication is of something ie some information, a truth, some facts or an ‘informed prohpecy’ of the future (including the qualitative aspects that science can say nothing about) Communication in this form is pedagogy and prescriptive. It is also patronising, off-putting and frequently ignorant. It is also akin to pre-enlightenment teaching – the passing on of ‘knowledge’. Communicators of this sort are often called ‘educators’ – a word that gives me the creeps.

      Richard Betts communicates in the sense of having a conversation. He talks, he listens. And most of all – the reason I think he’s the sanest climate scientist around – he has a sense that science isn’t the only perspective in town, and people who are not scientists have some or many of the other perspectives. He realises [as Feyerabend did] that there are important aspects of the debate about which science has nothing to say. Cf Wittgenstein – “whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must remain silent”.

      The most refreshing sentence I’ve read relating to the climate debate is this –

      “Most climate scientists do not subscribe to the 2 degrees “Dangerous Climate Change” meme (I know I don’t)”

      Obviously this is a personal opinion – plus an informed judgement about the opinions of other people – but he goes on to say that ‘danger’ is a value judgement. It is not something climate scientists have any special understanding of. It reminds me that the original use of the term ‘agnostic’ by Huxley was an effort to say on the subject of the existence of God “this is something about which science has nothing to add” which is not the same as the modern use of “undecided” or “I don’t know”.

      Certainly, climate scientists like Betts have information and understanding to share, but I for one am more inclined to listen to their communication knowing that the speaker has an understanding that many of the perspectives I use, are equally, and in some cases, even more, pertinent.

      P.S. The quote from Richard Betts above contrasts nicely with the words of an idiot I know who likes to say of two degrees that “climate scientists tell us it will lead to disaster”. The important point for me is not that this is (only) unsupportable fear-drenched rubbish, but that it is not something about which climate science is qualified to talk.

      • Schmidt still believes communication is of something ie some information, a truth, some facts or an ‘informed prohpecy’ of the future (including the qualitative aspects that science can say nothing about) Communication in this form is pedagogy and prescriptive. It is also patronising, off-putting and frequently ignorant. It is also akin to pre-enlightenment teaching – the passing on of ‘knowledge’. Communicators of this sort are often called ‘educators’ – a word that gives me the creeps.

        I’m sure educators do give you the creeps, but if you are not able to overcome that antipathy, you are unlikely to ever know much more than you do now.

        The reality is that Gavin Schmidt knows a lot more about climate science than you do. Your knowledge of the subject is incomparably less. Recently, it’s become apparent that that knowledge is important to human welfare, so some scientists are trying to communicate it more widely.

        Being taught something often makes us feel stupid. And so many people do avoid that, because it wounds their pride. Unfortunately this tends to exacerbate the ignorance that inspires the avoidance in the first place.

      • Thanks Anteros. Betts can at least see some of the points we are trying to make.

        The best way of agreeing is to reply to Robert, who says “The reality is that Gavin Schmidt knows a lot more about climate science than you do”.

        Again, to coin a phrase, it isn’t what Gavin Schmidt knows, it’s what he doesn’t know, and particularly what he doesn’t know he doesn’t know, that is scary.

      • Robert –

        I’ll break my new years resolution just for the pleasure of speaking to your renowned idiocy.

        It would have helped if you’d read my post before commenting, but we can’t have everything can we?

        You like the idea of being taught ‘facts’ because you are a fundamentalist (among a fearsomely large number of other things). As I prefer to think for myself, I find the likes of Richard Betts [and Steve Carson at Science of Doom – he’ll be tolerant of your dogmatism and closed-mindedness if you’re interested in beginning your climate education] more conducive to healthy and critical thinking.

        Of course, Betts is going to arouse your ire because his words quoted above unmask you as a fraud, misrepresenting people for your own nefarious ends.

        Hence your idiotic comment.

      • cui bono –

        I wish I had your civilised nature. Something in Robert brings out a temptation to sink to his level which is neither helpful nor edifying. It’s something I will work on [hence the new years resolution not to respond to his unpleasantness]. My excuse is that I made the resolution before Christmas, so I have some comments ‘unused’…….

        Back to the real world – I agree that one of the troubling things is the papering over of the unknowns and uncertainties. That was what disturbed me about the emails. However, although there is still a huge amount of tribalism (as I’ve just demonstrated) I think things are improving in many ways and bridge-builders [Betts, Judith etc] are having a good impact.

  10. Anybody knows how or what I can communicate with Michael “circle the wagons” Mann, one of just two people barring me on Twitter?

    Looking forward to see his profile on RC, perhaps explaining at least some of the paranoia and misanthropy …

    • While its still around you could always take advantage of the United States Postal Service. Few people will ignore a hand addressed personal letter. That mode worked pretty well for a few hundred years, and isn’t dead yet. You and Professor Mann could become “Penn” pals……:-)

  11. Gavin is a salesman, not a seriuos communicator. And frankly not a good salesman.
    He tacitly approves of, and uses, deception to make his points.
    He should give back his awards.

    • Yes, why does Gavin win all these awards? He’s done more snipping than a vasectomist at the eunuchs entrance to a harem.

    • hunter,

      How naive of you:) The awards are not really for communication. They are “for using and tacitly approving the use of deception, to further our noble cause”. It says that on the base of the statuettes. They just substitute the other stuff in the press releases, for public consumption.

      • Don,
        Schmidt & his pals are not communicating anything, in the sense of seeking to convey knowledge. They are indoctrinating, in the sense of guiding people to a politically desired point. Cliamte science per se is a small part of this.

      • There’s noble cause corruption, and there’s “Nobel cause” corruption (corruption in the pursuit of esteem) – Mann is guilty of both.

  12. I see the problem as a fairly basic one. Scientists are acting like politicians and not like scientists. When I see a scientist that thinks the sensitivity is 3C saying those that think it is 6C are ignorant lying alarmists along with saying those that think it is 1C are ignorant lying deniers, that is when I will think they might be rude but they are at least arguing science. When you divide the insults and degradations along what can only be considered a political division, should we take some particular sort of action, you are arguing politics not science. If you insist on living in a political world be prepared to be treated like a politician.

  13. Visceral responses, So let’s give images that communicate our gut instincts.. How scientific. Glaciers retreating for the past 100 years, we have images doncha know. Not bore the public with the patterns of glacier retreat and advance over the past 2000years, 10,00 years. Not bore the public with the fascinating complexity of the situation, let’s hit the message home with gut feelings.

    I know, let’s show them cartoons that have hard and fast numbers with no indication of uncertainty to promote a public visceral response that we have determined to 0.9Wm-2 the impact of the major cause of all climate injustice, CO2.

    Well my gut instinct, is someone is blowing smoke up my ass :) I say get a better handle on the situation before attempting to dictate energy and social policy. I am crazy that way I know.

    • Cap’n –

      I’d say that is a pretty distorted characterization. Schmidt didn’t present an either/or, but said that efforts at providing a fuller context would be beneficial.

      Disagree with that point if you wish – but I don’t think it makes sense to express your disagreement through a distorted characterization.

      • I guess distortion is in the eye of the beholder. Manhatten flooding, the polar bears, the Katrinas, the hockey stick, the K&T energy budget, the unprecedented events, to me are visceral images.

        Who provides those visceral images? The red color of the Antarctic with its 01C/decade warming that has been refuted. Who removes that image? Who’s job is it to return the “images” to something scientific like the new snows on Kilimanjaro, the advancing glaciers in the Himalayas, the new need for ice breakers in Nome, the fact that there is more significant natural variation than originally assumed?

        Climate science is a great puzzle, wasted on ideologists.

      • Cap’n –

        I guess distortion is in the eye of the beholder.

        You portrayed Gavin’s statement as advocating one approach to the exclusion of another – mutually exclusive:

        Not bore the public with the patterns of glacier retreat and advance over the past 2000years, 10,00 years. Not bore the public with the fascinating complexity of the situation, let’s hit the message home with gut feelings.
        no indication of uncertainty

        As I read it, that is a distortion of what Gavin said. The question of whether or not you think the images he advocates presenting are a distortion does not change whether or not you accurately characterized his statement.

      • Oh really? So Gavin was attempting to communicate the uncertainty which, “Most of the science news is concerned with stuff at the cutting edge, stuff at the uncertainty bounds, the edge of what we know. Very few of the stories are telling people what we know quite well. They’re always focused on what the uncertainties are. And that’s because that’s where scientists are focused. But it isn’t necessarily where the public sees the need for information.”

        I mistakenly assume that the public is not interested in the Uncertainties, because Gavin decides that is not the information the public sees a need for?

        So let’s paint a picture of the scientists hard at work on the things they know? “I think that one of the roles for science communicators is really to showcase the depth and breadth of experiences and work that’s going on in all parts of the world, from all kinds of different people, but who are all contributing to the body of work that is climate science.”

        Science is all about uncertainty. Science communication should be all about communicating the uncertainty. Not just the selected fat tail of the uncertainty, all of the uncertainty.

      • Cap’n –

        I mistakenly assume that the public is not interested in the Uncertainties, because Gavin decides that is not the information the public sees a need for?

        I’ll try once again.

        As I see it, you are applying a mutual exclusivity to Gavin’s statements in contrast to what he actually said.

        “not necessarily”

        “rather than one particular message ”

        “not just about science.”

        “Science is not just a dry, computational effort.”

        “one of the roles for science communicators ”

        All of that language implies something other than mutual exclusivity. He is advocating for an expansion of the context. Yet you indicated that he is advocating a mutual exclusivity, and then double down when I am saying that is a distortion of what he said. The fact that you don’t share his view of how the context should be enlarged does not alter what he did or didn’t say – or how you characterize what he said.

      • Actions speak much louder than words. Gavin says “most of the news centers around uncertainty.” Most of the news used to center around certainty, the consensus. How has he addressed the uncertainty? “Emails are taken out of context.” Would you like another link to the RealClimate Steig rant on how to take things out of context?

        He alludes to the simplistic minds of the public with the visceral image blurb. He did quite well with the double speak with his image of hundreds of worker bee scientists battling the uncertainties of science so someone can provide the visceral image of what the science means.

        The story in climate science now is the uncertainty, to allude that is not the story, that images of the happy worker bee scientists provides a better “public” image, is to bury ones head in the sand or my more preferred phrase, blow smoke up ones arse.

        He didn’t address the miscommunications that have lead to “uncertainty” being in the news or the use of “biased” visceral images leading to that uncertainty.

        When Gavin starts addressing some of the issues with straight talk, then we got something. The recent post of the Siberian methane may be a start in the right direction, a real post on the Antarctic would be another step in the right direction and a real look into land use changes would be remarkably unbiased, but don’t hold your breath.

      • Cap’n –

        Actions speak much louder than words.

        Ok – so now at least I’m clear. You weren’t speaking to what he actually said, but to how you interpret his actions.

        How has he addressed the uncertainty? “Emails are taken out of context.”

        I’d say that, again, is an inaccurate simplification. You may not agree with the science of how he quantifies certainty, but to suggest that the only way that he deals with uncertainty is in saying that the emails were taken out of context would be demonstrably inaccurate w/r/t any paper (or blog comment) that he has ever produced that includes discussion of quantification of certainty/uncertainty.

        I would hope that skeptics, as opposed to “skeptics,” would support an increased focus on what is certain without an exclusion of what is uncertain. Within such an aim – there is much room for reasoned debate. I understand why you think his intent is not for reasoned debate – but it nonetheless is important to clarify accurately what he does or doesn’t say, and not to reject a potentially beneficial focus because you don’t trust the messenger. Given that both sides of the debate are fully convinced that the messengers on the other side can’t be trusted, no progress is possible without prioritizing a focus on quantifying certainty (and by extension quantifying uncertainty). Judith is certainly correct in that regard (even if she doesn’t always prioritize moving away from personalizing the context).

      • Josh,

        I got pretty much the same impression as Capt. When I hear a scientist tell me I need to be reached viscerally, I immediately see red flags popping up all over the place. I expect scientists to provide me with information, facts with reason and logic interwoven in the narrative. I don’t expect an attempt to push emotional buttons.

        But I can understand Gavin Schmidt thinking along those lines. From my experience over at RC, it is pretty obvious that he doesn’t know how to communicate without talking down to people. Maybe he recognizes this and has opted to go with the Hollywood approach.

  14. Given the sorry state of mainstream climate change communication if I were Gavin I’d find all those awards embarrassing if not shameful.

    He’s the guy who would lose a debate about the need of water in the middle of the desert. Bah!

  15. randomengineer

    From Betts — “A further and increasingly important issue is to understand the changes and variability we are seeing in order to help us live with the ever-changing weather and climate.”

    When the baseline assumption is that climate study isn’t merely academic but a foundation for public policy, this is what sets the stage for all that is to follow. Whether said policy is regional or extends to global concerns isn’t the issue. Rather the issue is the notion that people who study ‘X’ for a living seem to have decided that ‘X’ is more important than a thousand other things that a government is required to solve.

    Compounding Bett’s assumption is his implied additional assumption of how government is supposed to work. In the world of parlimentary democracies and the wishes of the US far left, the government is run by the wise enlightened who then are charged with taking care of the benighted.

    Obviously then if the enlightened have identified an area they deem worthy of their attention (and *duty*) then of course they will see climate as the means to discharge that duty thus shaping policy on behalf of the benighted. The burden of the enlightened.

    If you read this and don’t get it, I’m saying the deck is stacked from the getgo with the assumption that climate study should inform policy.

    Obviously if you strip away the notion that climate has a damn thing to do with policy for *anything* the entire kerfluffle simply disappears. Most skeptics are a great deal less skeptical of the science itself than of the academics and politicians who seek to use it to gain power.

    • Randomengineer – Perhaps true, but even if the policy response had been more sensible (eg: 4G nuclear and a doubling of research into fusion) I would still say “They’re doing the right thing, but for the wrong reason”. AGW is still flawed, and the climate sensitivity estimates are way too high.

      Hansen, I think, is pro-nuclear; this doesn’t endear him to me one little bit given the thought-proof alarmist bubble he has helped to create.

      • randomengineer

        “Wrong reason right thing” is what has given us windfarm boondoggles. If “wrong reason right thing” translated to sanity (e.g. 4th gen nuke) then I’d probably be a bit less militant. However when the wrong reason is used to excuse and enforce green idiocy, the opposite occurs.

        The supposed policy geniuses astound me. For example there’s all this talk re hybrid cars, etc in the US where one of the key reasons is viscerally underscored with pictures of the cash piles we send overseas for oil, places that don’t like us. The answer (the future) is hybrid high mpg cars, you know.

        Oh? To make the electrical equipment in sufficient quantity to work for everyone requires a lot of stuff like neodynium and other rare earths, the majority of which are found in places that — drum roll — don’t much like us. In short, it’s the same damn problem, just a different substance.

        All of this throwing away of your money is brought to you by the enlightened, your betters.

      • Wind is ‘Wrong reason wrong thing”. Nukes would be “wrong reason right thing”.

        The politicos can’t even get it half-right!

      • No, windfarms exist to kill birds and pollute the visual landscape. They are advocated by environmentalists so they can prove Rachel Carson’s 1960’s thesis that pollution will eventually make birds extinct.

        This logic is similar to what comes out of a randomengineer’s mind.

        I will mark this as humor for the satire-impaired.

      • Does this mean we get cartoons on your ‘Currys cranks of the day’ document? :-)

      • If you do I’m going to feel very much left out. I’ll have to ‘up’ my crankometer :)

      • You guys don’t deserve placement since you got nothing.

        Witness that my name appears on the list.

    • The take home fact here is that no matter how innocuous and uncontroversial a statement made by a climate scientist, some “skeptics” will find a reason to take offence and will and read several layers of meaning into it that are not there.

      Betts was making a simple statement – it is useful to study what’s happening to our climate because it affects our lives. That is unquestionably true. Of course scientific investigation into any areas which affect our lives can potentially have implications for government policy. Unless, I suppose, one is a rabid right wing libertarian who objects to governments doing anything at all apart from protecting property rights. So a corollary to Betts’s above remark could be that science should inform government policy, although that wasn’t the specific point he was making, but so what? Are governments supposed to ignore policy implications of climate science, or any other branch of science for that matter?

      • andrew –

        The take home fact here is that no matter how innocuous and uncontroversial a statement made by a climate scientist, some “skeptics” will find a reason to take offence and will and read several layers of meaning into it that are not there.

        One of the more certain elements of the climate debate.

      • Joshua,

        Indeed, which makes a lot of the pontificating about what climate scientists should be doing to improve communication rather moot.

      • andrew

        “science should inform government policy”.

        Agreed, but some in the climate science heirachy are not *informing* anyone on anything. Government policy is not so much informed as bludgeoned into submission with alarmist hype.

      • cui bono

        I disagree – I think the warnings given to governments by the “climate science hierarchy” are in proportion to the seriousness of the problem and I see no reason to tone them down in order to make them more palatable. Given Governments’ preference for sweeping difficult problems under the carpet it is sometimes neccessary if not to “bludgeon them into submission” then to be extremely persistent in order to get action on serious issues.

        But that’s not the point here – RE seemed to object to “the assumption that climate study should inform policy” per se and I was merely objecting to his objection.

      • The warnings and language used by Schmidt, Hansen, Romm, Moon, Gleick etc. etc. etc. should not be toned down to make them more palatable. They should be toned down so that they are honest, accurate and less misleading.

      • andrew adams: The take home fact here is that no matter how innocuous and uncontroversial a statement made by a climate scientist, some “skeptics” will find a reason to take offence and will and read several layers of meaning into it that are not there.

        Is there even one example of an innocuous and uncontroversial statement made by a climate scientist that caused a skeptic (or “skeptic”) to find a reason to take offense and read several layers of meaning into it that are not there?

      • MattStat –

        I agree with aa here – although I don’t think it is any more than a trivially true statement (and a bit exaggerated)
        This particular bit of the thread started because RE took an exceptionally uncontroversial comment from Richard Betts [climate is ever changing – it is useful for us to study it] and went multi-ballistic on it.

        What I would also say – and is equally obvious – is that there isn’t any legitimate criticism from a sceptic that an some alarmist won’t take as a false, fossil-fuel-funded outrageous mendacious slur. It is part of the territory.

        Some people eventually admit this – like Joshua, say, if someone notices his asymmetrical comment above – but reluctantly, and only after being prodded with a red hot poker…

        It’s like someone once upon a time admitting that all the houses in a street suffer from the same defect and then when heard to be saying “look, how obvious it is (but unnoticed by the owners) that houses 1,3,5,7….. all have terrible facile defects” and asked if houses 2,4,6….. don’t exhibit exactly the same failings retorts “look, for Gods sake, I admitted two years ago that I see the same facile defects everywhere…”

        Joshua –
        I didn’t intend to hide a criticism here – it just ‘happened’. FWIW, as you know I see some symmetries. But seeing some differences around ‘a consensus belief’ and ‘a dispirate mass of non-believers’ I feel in a different position – and I concentrate on areas where I don’t have to say when pushed ‘of course, exactly the same trivial criticism can be made about my tribe too’. Not least because I rarely feel tribal.

        The other thing and one that strikes me when you criticise what you call Judith’s ‘bias’ is that you’re mistaking for bias, merely a belief about the world. Like Richard Betts (and perhaps Judith, I don’t know) I don’t see ‘2 degrees’ as ‘dangerous’ or ‘catastrophic’. If Judith thinks that and it informs her writing, she is not being biased, just expressing her belief about the world.

        It’s a personal blog which allows personal views.

      • Anteros: I agree with aa here – although I don’t think it is any more than a trivially true statement (and a bit exaggerated)

        Could you quote an example completely and accurately, and show how it supports aa’s exact claim?

      • MattStat –
        “Could you quote an example completely and accurately, and show how it supports aa’s exact claim?”

        Well, I’m not sure I’m inclined to for three reasons. 1) asking for complete, exact and accurate in a blog discussion doesn’t feel like making an effort to put the best interpretation on somebodies comment.2) I said it was only trivially true 3) I said it was an exaggeration..

        Do you not think that some partisans somewhere are liable to take any statement by the opposition, be offended and read meaning into it that was not there?. I believe that to be pretty obvious – on both sides. I think it is itself (when put like that) an uncontroversial statement.

        Richard Betts has his words extracted –

        A further and increasingly important issue is to understand the changes and variability we are seeing in order to help us live with the ever-changing weather and climate.

        R.E took this and got offended. He then read political implications into it that are not there. Simple – a very good example of aa’s point.

        But I’m amazed if you haven’t seen Cwon or Don do this to any number of comments – however innocuous. If a comment emanates from the likes of Robert I confess I’m prone to do it myself.

        I’m not sure why aa’s statement seems so controversial to you? Isn’t he just describing the way the climate debate goes on – and picks his opposite side to demonstrate it?

      • Thank you Anteros. I would also offer as the most well known example John Houghton’s remark that ” If we want good environmental policy in future, we’ll have to have a disaster. It’s like safety on public transport. The only way humans will act is if there’s been an accident.”

      • Andrew,

        I tend to think that Houghton was a little bit too much the pessimist. I mean even if there’s no stomach for an opportune, environmental “disaster” now and then (and I’m not saying there isn’t), there are still some lesser measures that can be employed to get the “good environmental policy” ball rolling–for example, one could, as a hypothetical example, aim cleverly-timed, false-flag death/rape threats anonymously at Australian climate scientists and then get the hive, especially those good-comrades in the media, to explode in agit-prop, hyped outrage as a means to promote such “good” policy.

        Houghton underestimates the team.

      • mike,

        Indeed he does – why would they bother with piddling things like manufacturing news stories in the Australian press when they can engineer a vast conspiracy involving thousands of scientists, world governments, the most prestigious scientific institutions and scores of well respected scientific journals.

      • anteros: Well, I’m not sure I’m inclined to for three reasons. 1) asking for complete, exact and accurate in a blog discussion doesn’t feel like making an effort to put the best interpretation on somebodies comment.2) I said it was only trivially true 3) I said it was an exaggeration..

        I think that the statement I challenged was false as written.

    • In suport of randomeng, the following link. http://www.environmentmagazine.org/Archives/Back%20Issues/March-April%202009/Nisbet-full.html The article is informative. However, it outlines the difficulties with a policy perception problem as a science problem.

      As indicated by the author, opinion intensity of climate chnage is lower than other policy directives or problems in the public opinion. This is what the win by climate change advocates must encompass: climate change is seen at the low end of the intensity or priority list, irrespective of “science” or “anti-science”, democrocrats or republicans. The win is for a small, unintrusive, cheap solution. The top 9 of 10 in the list are about income and money, or politically how much it will cost, a differnet but still a pocketbook issue. The only one that was a concern was not of a pocketbook variety off the bat was national security.

      If one looks at the list, these policy decisions have been on the top burner for a number of years, and considering the monster problems for policy makers they reflect, it is difficult, if not impossible to believe that they will go away in the decades, much less with in the time frame of the alarmist claims.

      One of the claims is that if we do nothing now, due to the energy capitalization lifespan, we will not be successful. That statement is true if one makes the assumption of the magnitude and direction that these advocates did. What I would like to point out is that what the public has shown it will pay for is off a couple of orders of magnitude to what it would cost to radically change our energy procurement and the underlying infrastructure with current technology. At present, the US public can stand only about a 7% increase in costs before a large number will be put in danger of bankrupcty, or 3% for requiring changing lifestyles. Approximately 15% of our resources are energy related, and at present the renewables are 3 times more expensive. Though not proposed to occur all at once, the potential is for a 9% increase in costs to disposable income by 2020, asssuming meeting the 20/20 criteria. With a static or reducing income as proposed by the wealth distribution clauses and present economic conditions, in as little as 3 years, one would expect a political backlash. One would expect that before 2020, the number of bankruptcies would cause political turmoil. The reason for it off an order of magnitude is that the 20/20 is just a start, it is not the ultimate goal. But already a large fraction of US citizens will be or in danger of banctruptcy. The problem with such large numbers of households going or threatened with bankruptcy is that it will tend to shrink the economy causing an almost certain depression. And we have not met the 50/50 goal, much less the ultimate carbon goal. This analysis does not include that energy use percapita is increasing, not static.

      Another problem this and others make is that framing can change the public concept of economics, and especially economic confidence. This has led many to mis-identify that the split is among democrats and republicans, rather than those who are fiscally conservative and pro free market, versus those who prefer solutions that require both tax or cost increases with government intervention in the free market.

      This continued mis-identification of groups, capabilities of framing, and what the public is actually concerned with should mean that climate change policy will continue to be a monster policy problem until a re-evaluation is done that does recognise where the real battle lines exist.

      • Missing the larger point. You say 15% of the economy is based on energy. This has a multiplying effect due to the way energy costs and a debt-based economy interact. Another crisis we face is in fossil fuel depletion. You now have to make a convincing argument that alternative energy schemes are meant to address climate change instead of the much more likely and critical fossil fuel reserve problem.

        I dismiss your entire long-winded argument for that reason.

      • randomengineer

        WHT — …the much more likely and critical fossil fuel reserve problem.

        Being a one trick peak oil pony does you no favours.

        http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/seabed-gas-find-blows-all-other-energy-sources-out-the-water/story-e6frg8y6-1226244881343

        Do try to keep up. It might make something you say relevant or even entertaining. One can hope anyway.

      • WBT, that is a srtawmwn. That was not my point. If anything, on any relevant timeline where we do deplete fossil fuels makes the anaylsis worse not better. It may make the comparison of costs better for renewables, but the specific cost was not my point. Rather the identification of problems with the articles on this thread and the previuos one.

      • Methane hydrates?
        You’re killing me.
        First it was spaceborne solar and now this?

        Curry has stated at least two times in top-level posts that the policies are changing from climate to energy at the administration level. I strongly agree with that observation, and if someone makes an ignorant comment regarding energy, I will chime in.

        RandomE, I don’t think I am a one-trick pony but I think you are a one-trick ass. How is that for entertaining?

      • WHT, you are stating an incorrect position. My position on energy is non-existant per se, on depletion. It was not partof my coment except how the alarmist advocates were using it. If thee is a problem with the energy assumptions that they made please take it up with them. However your first comment has nothing to do with my poits, and your second comment furthers your inaccurate statements with regard to my position. There was no larger point to miss. In fact, if you want to discuss misconceptions on fossil fuel depletion and the inability to use science or anti-science in order to frame a non-existant reality with respect to policy do so. I would understand you pointing out the similarities of an expected failure in framing if one were to try to frame that fossil fuel will never be curtailed, for whatever reason, but keep in mind it is not I that is missing this larger point. Perhaps you failed to notice I stated “”What I would like to point out is that what the public has shown it will pay for is off a couple of orders of magnitude to what it would cost to radically change our energy procurement and the underlying infrastructure with current technology.”” This point is true whether it is climate change concerns or depletion concerns. Your comment was a strawman and if you think it supports your other comment about those who make ignorant comments about energy, you show your inability to comprehend. It is/was their scenario. I only use it to illustrate that framing is not necessarily going to be succesful just because one wishes it to be. Another example is your framing your part of this thread as if it is about energy, or an ignorant comment about energy. It is about the failure of framing and your two comments are good examples of such a failure, judging by the comments.

  16. Our hostess writes “They’re always focused on what the uncertainties are.”

    Once again let me get on my hobby-horse, and take another ride. The only way the uncertainties will be resolved is with a sufficient amount of the right observed, measured data. One of these days someone will build a properly calibrated measuring device, that will measure a physical entity that is vital to the dispute between the two sides of the CAGW dispute. When this measuring device makes the appropiate measxurements, then we wil know which side is correct; c.f Michelson/Morley. Until then, the sort of discussions that our hostess continues to serve up, will be “All sound and fury, signifying nothing”. Just my opinion.

  17. “People respond very well to narratives, to stories involving people.”-Gavin Schmidt

    All this while claiming the “science” high ground which is a joke. “Communication = Propaganda” to Gavin Schmidt. He’s a used car salesman of the worst sort of sterotype. Science as “turf” is all the Schmidt is about. The usual whining about politics when he is a fully exposed commodity operating on the public dime, running a propaganda website of the worst order.

  18. –>”Widening the Climate Conversation….”

    The apocalyptic faith of Leftist academics, the gospel of the enviro-wackpot anti-humanism movement, the politically correct governmental bureaucratic dogma of the liberal fascists and the Democrat party — the country’s ‘official’ job-killing machine’ — are already pretty well represented.

  19. The incoming President of the American Chemical Society recently appointed a panel to consider communication of climate change issues:

    http://cen.acs.org/articles/89/i47/New-Task-Forces-Education-Climate.html

    This smacks of “If only the rubes would listen, they would understand! We must try another approach!”.

    Clearly there is much we still need to learn about weather and climate. That alone shows the folly of making CO2 the molecule in the pinata. But it is doubtful predictive abilities will be very helpful anytime soon, if ever for a chaotic system such as climate. Even in a time of long term drought for an area there may times when rains at near normal levels; and that’s what has to be dealt with that year, not some “average”.

    There is only so much we can plan for, the rest we have to adapt as things unfold.

    • Pete –

      Thanks for that link:

      So, for you:

      Before chemists can carry on that type of conversation, however, they may need some help with the fundamentals of climate science. “Those include an understanding of the value and limitations of climate models, for instance, and the natural and human-related factors that can impact Earth’s climate,” Shakhashiri says.

      equals:

      “If only the rubes would listen, they would understand! We must try another approach!”.

      Interesting.

      • Another idiotic strawman from the strawman specialist himself Joshua. PB didn’t say this at all.

      • Joshua,

        I know Professor Shakhashiri personally. He is a great proponent of chemical education, puts on chemistry demos all over and in Madison at Christmas. Decent, likeable guy. But I also know his position on Global Warming/Climate change. The ACS thru its public policy statement, and it’s flagship publication that goes to all 160,000 members, Chemical & Engineering News, takes an unrelenting alarmist view-which coincides with the good Professor’s position. So there is no shortage of info about global warming/climate change in ACS/C&EN. But folks aren’t buying the message much anymore. Chemists- and I am one- learn about radiation, energetics, kinetics, etc., etc., so most of us are able to come to an reasonably informed position about the science of climate- and the politics that has barnacled on to the science. I have been an ASC member for 35 years- my “Bromine” anniversary, and involved in the organization to know how things work. This group isn’t going to do any new science.

        C&EN was none too kind to the unique symposium I organized for our recent national meeting in Denver, of which our hostess was a panel member. I will leave looking up the comments from C&EN Editor Rudy Baum in early Sept. 2011 as an exercise for the interested reader. His earlier blog post, which became the basis of that editorial, compared the recent cosmic ray related/cloud formation observations out of CERN that Nev Shaviv reported at the same symposium as “tin foil hat chemistry”. The ACS leadership has little or no desire for honest scientific debate on global warming.

    • “If only the rubes would listen, they would understand! We must try another approach!”.

      A great summary of warmist thought on “communication”.

    • Pete –

      Thanks for the detailed context,

      You linked an article with his statements and discussed what it “smacks” of. I realize now that you were indicating that it is his appointment that “smacks” not his statements in the link.

      My apologies. I sit corrected.

  20. Do we really need more visceral images like a polar bear stranded on a melting ice floe?

  21. Maybe it isn’t ‘very likely’ but is there at least a chance America has not nearly destroyed the Earth and that perhaps Pres. Bush was right–i.e., we really ought to wait a bit–before giving over control over all factors of production and our individual liberties to UN and government bureaucrats and Western schoolteachers–just in in case global warming is nothing but a hoax and scare tactic?

  22. Skeptics taking offence the take-home message? Yeah, right. Who are these “scientists” who are upset whenever some stranger writes anything in a blog? And why do they respond with wholesale censorship? Have they ever graduated from kindergarten?

    The take-home message is that in comments about how scientists should communicate we already have the usual suspects trying to hijack the thread away.

    • The take-home message is that in comments about how scientists should communicate we already have the usual suspects trying to hijack the thread away.

      I’d honestly like some explanation for that.

      (Leaving aside the illogic of writing comments not on the subject of how scientists should communicate to complain about what you see as others writing posts not on the subject of how scientists should communicate), I’m assuming that I’m a “usual suspect” here – and so I’d like to know more about what you think I’m “trying” to do.

      Do you think that I’m under the impression that by writing comments on this blog I’m going to distract you from a goal that you or other “skeptics” might have? Do you think that I’m under the impression that I’m going to reduce the extent to which “skeptics” will speculate in blog posts about the intent or effectiveness or validity of the work of climate scientists?

      It stands to reason that you have interpreted some intent on my part, since you’ve commented on what I’m trying to do. What do you think I’m “trying to hijack?” What do you suppose is my intent in what I’m “trying” to do?

      • steven –

        Like all people ( these motives are not personal ) you intuitively know that as long as people are talking, discussing, arguing, bantering, joking, they are not taking action.

        Nothing that I do in a blog post will change in any remotely significant degree what action will or won’t be taken: That is plainly evident. One of the few things about the climate debate that I know with absolute certainty. Hence, my “thread-jacking” is in no way reflective of any such intent on my part.

        So, ask yourself. Why do you consistently refuse to engage topics?

        Your question does not comport with reality. I “engage topics” on a regular basis on this blog. I rarely engage in scientific debates because I lack the prerequisite intelligence and knowledge to do so.

        Generally I’ve found that if I choose to engage them on the topic they want to discuss that I do make some headway toward a meeting of the minds.

        I feel that has happened numerous times on this blog – with those who are interested in discussing the topics I wish to discuss. What I never see happening is any benefit occurring from the types of comments that you frequently write, and of the type that you typically address towards me – comments filled with juvenile insults and illogical statements.

        Im not even sure that you can answer it honestly, but you can try.

        Ah yes, more of your fantasized visions through your absurd “window into [my] soul,” eh?

        I engage frequently in discussions with “skeptics” who are interested in engaging in discussions with me. Sometimes I also engage with “skeptics” who have no such interest, but who, instead, post about my character or motivations (as you so frequently do). I’m not exactly sure why I do that – it serves no real benefit.

        Since you think that you have knowledge garnered through your “window into [my] soul,” why don’t you enlighten me?

    • omno,

      Yeah, it’s the typical daily soap opera involving the cast of usual suspects. They even answer when called.

      My favorite communication from the climate science team is their candid performance in the leaked emails. It’s like they were character witnesses against themselves. No wonder 69% of the US voting public believe that the team have faked some of the research:

      http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/environment_energy/69_say_it_s_likely_scientists_have_falsified_global_warming_research

      (the usual suspects love this one)

    • The operational effect of hijacking is pretty clear. The only times in my experience that readers of a blog have been able to come to some agreement and take action has been in those cases where thread jackers were snipped. Intuitively thread jackers know this.

      • The operational effect of hijacking is pretty clear.

        Presumably because of my limited intelligence, I fail to be able to grasp what the effect is.

        The only times in my experience that readers of a blog have been able to come to some agreement and take action has been in those cases where thread jackers were snipped.

        A fascinating statement given the recent hilarity at WUWT – where Willis “took action” and snipped “thread-jackers.” – with the effect of focusing successive threads to primarily a discussion of Willis’ character.

        Intuitively thread jackers know this.

        While recognizing that you give me credit for knowing something there – albeit only intuitively without requiring the intelligence to concertize what I understand – I’m wondering if you might clarify what it is that I know?

        And if you could be so kind, since you are speaking to my motives (yet again), could you clarify what my motives are?

      • You know, just gaze through your fantasized “window into [my] soul,” and describe what you see (in addition to the attributes/motives you’ve already assigned to me: anti-Semite, idiot, racist, bigot, blah, blah).

      • steven mosher

        Joshua,

        The operational effect of thread jacking is pretty clear.
        you might view skepticism as a thread jack of climate science.

        Like all people ( these motives are not personal ) you intuitively know that as long as people are talking, discussing, arguing, bantering, joking, they are not taking action. I’m not talking about “action” on a blog. I’m talking about action in the real world. You know, as we all do, that if people want to talk about X, that talking about Y, is a good tactic for preventing action about X. So Again, this is nothing about your personal motivations. Since you are a thinking human being, It stands to reason that you understand this. You understand that as long as people are talking, nothing can be done. Hence the calls for the debate is over.

        So, I’ll repeat. In my experience the only time readers have been able to take action ( in the meat world ) as a group is when thread jacking is eliminated. That’s just a simple fact about my experience which is incontrovertible. Now, you may have some deep personal reasons for refusing to engage topics directly. I wouldnt speculate about those. They dont interest me.

        WRT Willis. I dont think that comes remotely close to what Im discussing.
        What that shows you is that thread jackers can succeed even when they are snipped, if they stick together. Then the snipping becomes the issue.
        Same result. To repeat, in my experience the only times commenters on blogs have been able to come to agreement and take action ( in the meat world) is when snipping of thread jackers is used.
        This doesnt imply that snipping will always work. If the majority of commenters are jacking left and right, the focusing becomes the snipping. and of course, the jackers goal is achieved.

        So, ask yourself. Why do you consistently refuse to engage topics? clearly you derive some benefit from the behavior. What benefit is that?
        Be honest. You know there are many skeptics that I’ve had fights with over the years. Generally I’ve found that if I choose to engage them on the topic they want to discuss that I do make some headway toward a meeting of the minds. If I am not interested in a meeting of the minds, why then there are whole host of rhetorical strategies I can use to engage them without engaging them. Thread jacking, insulting, changing the topic, goofing on them, all manner of tricks. So ask yourself, why don’t you, Joshua, want to engage these people. Only you can answer that question. Im not even sure that you can answer it honestly, but you can try.

      • It’s all about little josh. Willis is getting more attention. What a travesty. Increase your meds.

      • Oh, and btw, steven –

        you might view skepticism as a thread jack of climate science.

        Nope. That’s not what I view. Time to get out the Windex and clean the dirt off your “window into [my] soul.”

        I view “skepticism” as one political battleground among many political battlegrounds.

        I view skepticism as an entirely appropriate component of the debate about climate.

      • I don’t recall mosher calling you an anti-Semite. You accused me of the same thing. You are always misrepresenting what your perceived antagonists say. Are you sure you weren’t called that by someone in your circle of family and friends, who (presumably) know you a lot better than we do? Are your virtual and real lives blurring together?

        Maybe you should take a break from this hostile board, josh. It’s rough when nobody likes you. Retreat to the safety of the RealClimate bunker, for a little R&R (repair and re-indoctrination).

        We don’t need no windex to see through you, josh.

      • steven mosher: The operational effect of hijacking is pretty clear. The only times in my experience that readers of a blog have been able to come to some agreement and take action has been in those cases where thread jackers were snipped.

        You have lost me. That is, I have no idea what you are writing about. Did you hijack this thread?

      • Steven Mosher

        you might view.

        do I have to explain that this is viee statement of fact. its a suggustion about how you might view things in order to get the point

        you do view would mean something different

      • Steven Mosher

        Damn phone posting

    • IGNORE THE TROLLS

      The topic is the discussion of two disintinct communications strategies:
      One is to honestly discuss the issue, and to let people consider the alternatives.
      The second is to deceptively mislead people into making visceral and emotional commitments without benefit of the facts.
      The second is the one Schmidt has chosen to pursue, and is sadly rewarded for carrying out.

    • Maurizio Morabito (omnologos) The take-home message is that in comments about how scientists should communicate we already have the usual suspects trying to hijack the thread away.

      Could you be specific? I see neither “suspects” nor “hijack”.

      • Matt,

        You must have lost your list of the usual suspects. For example, look for the little punching bag clown with a strawman fetish, and also a habit of making up stories about people calling him anti-Semitic. I think he has gone to RC for repair and recharging, but he will be back.

  23. Gavin is quoted as saying:

    “We can spend a lot of time looking at graphs and talking about equations, but people don’t have a visceral response to equations, unless you actually are a scientist (sometimes.) But people do have a visceral response to images of how glaciers have retreated over the last hundred years. They have a visceral response to changes in landscape. They have a visceral response to seeing scientists at work, from the South Pole to the middle of the Pacific to the top of some mountain somewhere. People empathize with that.

    I think that one of the roles for science communicators is really to showcase the depth and breadth of experiences and work that’s going on in all parts of the world, from all kinds of different people, but who are all contributing to the body of work that is climate science.”

    Could one imagine a better example of the condescending expert describing the appropriate way to communicate to the stupid and unteachable proletariat? Give them something they can respond to viscerally – give them bread and circuses. More pictures of polar bears standing on tiny pieces of ice.

    We don’t need scientists’ experiences and we cannot benefit from them. We need for scientists to speak candidly about their work. We need for scientists to stop lying. Gavin adamantly refuses to discuss scientific method because he knows that neither his computer models nor the reconstructions from paleoclimatology have a snowball’s chance of meeting the standards of scientific method.

    Gavin and his crew politicized science. In terms of fundamentals, he did so when he asserted (implicitly of course) that computer models can substitute for well confirmed physical hypotheses in climate science. Never once has he uttered a candid word in explanation of his position. He is locked into his computer models and will never break free of them.

    Who would give a “science communication” award to someone whose approach to communication is not different from Pravda’s approach in the old Soviet Union?

    • randomengineer

      Who would give a “science communication” award to someone whose approach to communication is not different from Pravda’s approach in the old Soviet Union?

      When your mindset is that you are among the enlightened and your sacred duty is to care for the benighted, why, the answer is clear.

      The recent Charles Murray book about elites (“real education”) spells this out. I’m not one for sociologists but Murray is a genuine scientist.

  24. Richard Betts is quoted as writing:

    “Also, of course, it is important simply to increase the sum total of human understanding simply as an end in itself. Like art and music, gaining deeper insights into how the world around us actually works can enrich our lives and bring enjoyment.”

    There are many good things that can be said about Richard Betts and his contributions to the debates over climate change. In the quotation above, he recognizes the main goal of science and its importance to our lives. Science exists to increase our human understanding and to satisfy our very powerful human curiosity. Physicists, pure scientists, are not like physicians who exist to relieve suffering and the debates over climate change should not assume that scientists are here to administer to our daily needs as physicians are.

    Richard Betts can be counted on to take the high road in these debates. He occasionally engages in discussions at A. W. Montford’s website: http://bishophill.squarespace.com/. Though Dr. Betts is willing to criticize computer models “on the margin,” so to speak, he too is not yet willing to discuss candidly the fact that computer models do not meet the standards of scientific method.

    • I’m in agreement Theo, but I’d even more lenient with R Betts. He takes a lot of abuse for sticking his neck out [being honest?] and I’ve never seen him politicise or take any science beyond its pay grade. I think you’re asking a lot to hope he’ll dismiss models in their entirety.

      Maybe I’m easily pleased but I’m just glad to hear his restraining voice ‘at the margins’.

      A couple more Bett’s’s at the expense of one or two Hansens and we’d take a big step towards sanity :)

      • Thanks for your comment. To clarify, I did not mean that Betts’ overall contribution is limited to the margins. His overall contribution is excellent. I just wish he could be more candid about the models. Not necessarily his own models but those of the hardliners that are from another universe.

    • computer models do not meet the standards of scientific method.

      That statement is nonsensical in my view. Computer models and scientific methods operate at different dimensions of the scientific work. Models can be used properly and less properly, they can be used in good scientific work and they can be used to produce crap. It may be difficult for the scientists to provide evidence that their use is good science, but it’s certainly possible as it has been possible in more or less all fields of science.

      • How? Specifically.

        I can tell you how corporate planning uses models. No corporate planner would ever pretend to be able to make predictions from a model. No predictions means no science.

      • You have a very narrow view of models.

        It’s clear that business planning and most of economics are really difficult fields for forecasting, while models give extremely accurate forecasts for many things (take planetary motion as an example). Climate science is somewhere between these examples.

        Why do you want to make such blunt claims about models, when they are obviously wrong for a lot of science?

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Whether a corporate planner can use a model prediction is not really a measure of whether they can be used in good science.

      • Theo, there are ground water models that will effective help one discover if the natural soil has been replaced by something with large differing conductivity, give a useable estimate of pumping rates, both start-up and fully developed. They are not science in one sense. They were programmed from the sience and validated that they perfromed and were useful such that engineeers can make credible estimates of costs, unit sizing criteria, and estimate clean-up time subject to another model and its assumptions.

      • Theo must believe the CAE model of his car and the EDA model of his computer resulted from magic.

      • Pekka Pirilä | January 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm |

        “It’s clear that business planning and most of economics are really difficult fields for forecasting, while models give extremely accurate forecasts for many things (take planetary motion as an example). Climate science is somewhere between these examples.”

        Models of our solar system are not the kind that climate scientists use. Models of our solar system are created from the rigorously formulated physical hypotheses that Newton created from Kepler’s work. Climate scientists have no such physical hypotheses.

        You need to develop an imagination for climate models. For example, assume you have a model that perfectly reproduces some climate graphs into the distant past (no such exist). Climate scientists attempt to account for the role of CO2 by taking such a model and changing some variable, such as the variable for clouds, as a way of expressing the “best guess” effect of CO2 on clouds. Then they create a simulation (run the model). Do you know what they call the simulation? They call it a prediction. Is that not totally nutty.

        The simulation is nothing but a pipe dream about the past. And it has neither scientific (synthetic) value nor analytic value. The past is gone. As for the future, the simulation assumes that nothing else changes. How reasonable is it to believe that nothing but cloud behavior changes? The assumption is based on no empirical research whatsoever. It is all “a priori” work.

        Climate scientists, as scientists, have an overriding moral duty to present to the public how they propose to get from their models to empirical research. But they do not have a clue how to do that.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Theo, your “imagination for climate models” is pure fantasy. You have picked up on corporate planners and paleo modellers so far. Even together they are nowhere near being a representative sample of users. And your example of how a paleo modeller would work is unrealistic.

    • Theo Goodwin: Though Dr. Betts is willing to criticize computer models “on the margin,” so to speak, he too is not yet willing to discuss candidly the fact that computer models do not meet the standards of scientific method.

      Computer models have been used successfully in planning space missions and in prospecting for oil. Like any tools that work, they can be used badly, but instances of bad use do not prove that they are useless. They are used in designing aircraft and computers. There is no reason for your blanket disparagement of them.

      • I did not disparage all use of models. When you are investigating your physical hypotheses for hidden assumptions models are wonderful analytic tools. But models cannot substitute for physical hypotheses. Models are incapable of prediction because all they can do is reproduce reality (a line on a graph).

      • Many complex systems are not controlled by one or a few principles, but by a very large number of details in an irreducible way. For them complex models are the only possible tool to make even reasonably accurate predictions. How far they succeed varies from case to case, but that means that all generic statements are essentially worthless for judging some particular class of models. The value of each approach and each resulting model must be judged by its own merits.

        What I protest is your condemnation of models using generic statements like the most recent:

        But models cannot substitute for physical hypotheses.

        Formally so, but models can be the best way of finding out what the physical hypotheses lead to.

        Models are incapable of prediction because all they can do is reproduce reality (a line on a graph)

        This is simply a false generalization contradicted by very many real world examples.

      • “Computer models have been used successfully in planning space missions and in prospecting for oil.”

        Sure, but have they been used successfully as substitutes for well confirmed physical hypotheses? I say that they have not and cannot. Computer models are wonderful analytic tools for investigating one’s theory (set of well confirmed physical hypotheses) but for lack of such hypotheses all one has are data (lines on a graph) and computer code. Tell me how you can get prediction out of that.

  25. Die Zauberflotist

    What is needed is a better method of getting scientific facts from the minds of those of us who see the peril of fossil fuel usage into the brains of those too dense to know what’s good for them. The technology for this transfer is a ways off. I envision a “Knowledge Capsule” say… in the shape of a railroad spike. It would be driven into the heads of skeptics, just behind the left ear. The scientific information in the KC would flow into the sparse existing cells in the deniers cranial cavity bringing them up to speed on the wisdom and urgency of tackling climate change. Although we don’t currently have a direct means of electronic information transfer from machine readable form to human cells, we could start practicing the spike physics on suitable subjects to insure that when the time comes, we can pierce their thick skulls.

    • “Z”

      Hmmm…I see there is some sort of major re-think going on in the hive. Some radical changes in the works, if I understand your latest. I mean, like, “a boot stamping on a human face–forever!” seems to be yielding to a softer, more subtle “spike in the back of the head” approach to mass education.

      But alarmed greenshirt traditionalists can be sure, there is preserved in our cull-masters’ communication agenda, however bold the re-tooling, the determination to “make” us think the right way, to root out the thought-criminal that lurks in us all, and to leave blood-and-brains on the deck, in the process.

      Thanks for the update “Z”.

      • “…to root out the thought-criminal that lurks in us all, and to leave blood-and-brains on the deck, in the process.”

        There is the option to convert. If you will swear on a supercomputer manual that you give your all to belief in computer models and that you will never ever criticize a computer model then you will be admitted among the faithful. Apostasy is punishable by career death.

    • Ah, the new improved method of climate communication with the go-faster stripes! AGWers could charm the hind legs off a donkey. :-)

    • DZ,
      For the sake of your mental health, I hope you were kidding.

    • mike,theo,cui,hunter –

      [name of a band?] All good responses.

      I’m not sure of the degree of kidding or parody so I don’t know what to say. mike’s Orwell comparison makes me think it’s great satire, but if not then it is still a fair bit more eloquent than we’re used to from the idiot :)

    • “Die Zauberflotist | January 18, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Reply

      What is needed is a better method of getting scientific facts from the minds of those of us who see the peril of fossil fuel usage into the brains of those too dense to know what’s good for them”.

      I do so very wish you knew the connotations within that statement about your own efficiency of thought.

    • Deutschland Uber Alles to you too, moron. These of fantasies seem to be very common amongst the true believers. This one is not as bad as the one about blowing up school children. It’s a good thing that you people are so inept and impotent.

    • I thought this was a parody of a warmist rant – now I’m not so sure – care to clarify?

      • I think, no matter how DZ meant it, treat it as a likely Daily Onion spoof piece.

      • Hello! This is the way these people think. They are saving the world and we are in their way. These are ‘ends justify the means’ types we are talking about:

    • Latimer Alder

      Gavin

      Please stop pretending that you are some sort of Magic Flautist and revealing our spikey master plan. I will tell you when I am content to give you permission to share it. Until then stay schtumm.

      Best, Mikey.

      • This was too subtle for the the first time I read it – it flew right past my ear-holes. Very nice! [especially since it was from Spitfire-Mike to Messr Schmidt :) ]

  26. “Most of the science news is concerned with stuff at the cutting edge, stuff at the uncertainty bounds, the edge of what we know. Very few of the stories are telling people what we know quite well. They’re always focused on what the uncertainties are. And that’s because that’s where scientists are focused. But it isn’t necessarily where the public sees the need for information.”

    Seriously, lets look at this.

    The key uncertainties in climate science that directly impact policy revolve around sensitivity. And, if we are to believe Gavin, paleo plays the primary role in constraining our estimates of uncertainty.

    In paleo, the biggest controversy and uncertainty revolves around reconstructions of the last two thousand years. Lets say it all together: The Hockey Stick.

    Now there are two issues with all reconstructions: Data issues and Method issues. Let’s put aside the method issues and ask ourselves what the data issues are. What are the uncertainties surrounding proxy data and are people focused on them?

    1. Divergence.
    2. Proxies that are out of date
    3. incomplete archives of data that was collected years ago.

    Let’s just take number 2. Is anybody focused on bringing the proxies up to date? Well, we have one example, of a researcher looking anew at Bristlecone pines.

    http://climateaudit.org/2007/11/14/the-sheep-mountain-update/

    http://climateaudit.org/2007/11/01/hughes-and-the-ababneh-thesis/

    opps, looks like we find issue 1 and 3 as well.

    “I’ve tried to obtain the Ababneh data without success.
    I emailed Linah Ababneh at what appears to be her present posting and got no response. I emailed David Meko of the University of Arizona, who has an excellent record of archiving chronologies and measurements, and inquired about a University of Arizona report by Stockton mentioned in the Ababneh thesis (that bender asked about) and about the Ababneh measurements. I reminded Meko that, in her thesis, she had undertaken to archive the measurements and presumably the university was responsible for ensuring that she completed the commitments in her thesis.
    Meko wrote back saying that he had checked around the department and had been unable to locate the Stockton report. He also said that they did not have any of Ababneh’s measurement data and that they had lost track of her. He gave me the name of someone who might know where she was. He agreed that she should archive the data and suggested that I write to the funding agency who might take that into consideration in their grant process – (these are the people who put up with Lonnie Thompson and they’re supposed to take it out on Linah Ababneh? C’mon). He didn’t seem to think that the university had any responsibilities in the matter. He was quite pleasant, and , as I mentioned above, Meko himself has an excellent archiving record.
    But what a typical climate science circus. Someone goes out and updates the critical Sheep Mountain data. It doesn’t show a Hockey Stick. Instead of using the updated version, Hughes uses the old version with a HS (doesn’t this sound like Jacoby and D’Arrigo at Gasp” where they withheld an update that didn’t have a HS and refused to give me the update when I learned that they were sitting on a non-HS update.) Now the person who got the data has moved and no one at Arizona has the data.”

    • Now Steven, that could sound like a conspiracy instead of sloppy science. We all know it is just sloppy science.

    • Wow! Climate circus indeed!

      O/T, but a few threads ago in discussing the Hadcrut v4 dataset increase in recent temps, you said “Most changes tend to cool the past and warm the present. That has to do with spatial bias in the existing data.”.

      Any chance you could you explain this a bit more, or point to a link? I don’t see why adding stations has this lopsided effect.

      • I think because it’s not a case of just adding stations. The stations added are in the allegedly fastest warming areas [Siberia, other Arctic locations]. My sense is that it is something sceptics can easily be overly paranoid about. But then again…..

      • Steven Mosher

        simple. trend varies with latitude. so look at the latitude distribution over time. also tobs adjustments will cool the past. the latter is more important than the former. coastal stations may also play a role.need to chk on that

    • steven moser, good post.

      Gavin’s claim that most news reports focus on the uncertainties is bizarre.

    • I think you left out #4)

      The reliability of using tree rings as a proxie.

      I’ve been asking forest scientists I come in contact with as a mentor in a science education organization which factor would they consider gave the most impact on tree growth, percipitation or temperature? Want to take bets on which response I’m getting?

    • The key uncertainties in climate science that directly impact policy revolve around sensitivity. And, if we are to believe Gavin, paleo plays the primary role in constraining our estimates of uncertainty.

      To the extent that this is true he’s not referring to the lask 2k years so bringing the HS into it is just a distraction.

      • I would say Andrew is correct here. Gavin’ reliance on paleo constraints are drawn from changes since the last glacial maximum. This doesn’t change my opinion that there is no reason to believe climate sensitivity is a constant and the average sensitivity since a glacial maximum is a useless number for projections.

      • steven,

        Yes, that is my understanding as well. It does seem reasonable to me that CS would vary according to differing starting conditions, but I think it’s going much too far to say that this means that estimates of CS based on past climate change can tell us nothing about how climate will change in future.

      • Andrew, the climate sensitivity since the last glacial maximum can tell us about the averge of the past so it can tell us something within the confines of the reliability of the data. The question is what can it tell us about the future. I would say very little and as evidence I would refer to the Younger-Dryas event which is commonly explained by a change in heat transport. Until such time as we can accurately predict what will change regarding heat transport we can’t predict what will happen to the climate. This also affects our ability to determine what long term natural variability has been. Until such time as we can determine what trend, if any, there is in heat transport and the cause of any such trend we have no ability to make a proper attribution of recent warming.

      • Yes, the Younger Dryas event is understood to be caused by a change in heat transport, specifically the AMOC. The effects of this were regional, so the NH was cooler and the SH was warmer, so it doesn’t really have much to do with climate sensitivity.
        Whether such changes are likely to occur in future is a separate question from future climate sensitivity. AFAIK it’s not known exactly what the underlying cause of the YD was, although I think progress is being made, but it must have been triggered by a pretty drastic event. I think it’s considered highly unlikely that the AGW will trigger a similar event, of course if scientists did predict such a thing they would be condemned for being alarmist.
        But given that we can detect changes in heat transport mechanisms and understand their effects sufficiently well to confidently attribute an event which happened 12k years ago it seems highly unlikely that if current warming had a similar cause we would not be aware if it.

      • Andrew, I haven’t looked very closely at the evidence that the SH warmed at the dsame time it cooled in the NH. The reason being that it has no effect on the argument. Should the heat transport mechanism to both the NH and the SH be disrupted at the same time you would end up with very cold poles and a much cooler world on average since the lack of heat being transported out of the tropics would cause it to reach equilibrium much quicker. We have only recently started measuring heat transport with any accuracy thanks to the ARGO system. Until only recently the argument was that the AMOC had been slowing based upon surface ship measurements. If we we wrong such a short period of time ago I suspect waiting for a good data base is prudent. The importance of the YD is not what it did in that particular case. The importance is how it illustrates the incredible impact of the change in the tranfer of energy towards the poles.

      • Steven,

        The fact that there was no great change to the overall global temperature during the YD is relevant IMO because this was originally discussion about climate sensitivity, not changes in heat transport.

        I’m certainly not claiming that such changes cannot have a substantial impact. But it’s all very well saying what if…, do you have any good reason to think this is likely to happen in the forseeable future? Well, apart from perhaps an increase in arctic temperatures causing a collapse of NH ice sheets of the kind which is thought to have caused the YD. But as I said before this kind of speculation by “warmists” would get us dismissed as “alarmists”. I’m certainly not claiming that’s going to happen, AIUI it’s considered incredibly unlikely in the forseeable future, so whilst we should by all means continue research into heat transport mechanisms that doesn’t mean we should not be concerned about the effects of global warming.

      • Andrew, changing how heat is distributed changes the sensitivity. As I stated earlier there is no golden rule that if heat transport is disrupted to one hemisphere that this automatically mean the other hemisphere will get an equal but opposite effect. The point of examining the YD event is not to say another such event will occur, the point is by examining the change in the climate you can quantify the effect of changing heat transport and it is considerable. Changes in heat transport do not have to be dramatic such as the YD event. They could also be gradual over extended periods of time.

  27. The competence, professionalism and ethics at RC are reflected in Gavin’s AGU Climate Communication Prize. Since the prize is member-nominated and the AGU is a not-for-profit, scientific organization with participation from over 60,000 professional members in many different countries, those who dismiss RC need to explain why they think a diverse and democratic AGU finds it meaingful to award it for scientific integrity.

    Anyone who regularly reads the site knows that while RC passes on beliefs that defy evidence, logic and objectivity, it has regularly and openy communicated uncertainties that are part of the science and science discussion on the site, as well as in the IPCC summaries themselves.

    Like RC, and apparently AGU, most people recognize that an engaged citizenry does not want to participate in b.s.

    But hey, to each her own blog and conception of a ‘Deweyan’ community. ;-)

    • “…those who dismiss RC need to explain why they think a diverse and democratic AGU finds it meaingful to award it for scientific integrity.”

      The real question is why does the AGU join RC in being adamantly unwilling to candidly discuss the failures of computer models to meet the very basic standards of scientific method. Are all of them simply ignorant of scientific method?

    • Martha,

      “those who dismiss RC need to explain why they think a diverse and democratic AGU finds it meaningful to award it for scientific integrity”.

      You make it sound like a popular vote and a standing ovation.

      According to the AGU press site
      ( http://www.agu.org/news/press/pr_archives/2011/2011-34.shtml)

      “In recognition of his exceptional work as a climate communicator, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) has selected Gavin Schmidt as the recipient of its inaugural Climate Communications Prize.”

      Congratulations Gavin, but the key word is selected. It wasn’t voted on by “60,000 professional members in many different countries”. I’m sure Gavin is deserving of some sort of award, but do wonder exactly who in the pro-AGW heirachy selected him. Why not go the whole way and pick the ever-censorious John Cook of SkS?

      • Mooney, the eugenicists, is still corrupting the AGU.
        He has clearly helped turn the previously honorable and science organization into a political sock puppet of the AGW movement that Mooney has made a lucrative career of lying about.

      • Joshua, of your revisions to my comment, I liked this one the best:

        I think that it would be fairer to say that they regularly dispute that there are any uncertainties large enough or important enough to contradict their basic conclusions w/r/t the effect of anthropogenic CO2

        I say that they “regularly dispute”, but they do not always dispute. Especially, let me praise: The comments by Raymond T. Pierrehumbert on the uncertainty of the estimate of the equilibrium climate sensitivity are thorough.

        And I repeat: I do believe that Gavin Schmidt earned his award and that a reader can learn much at RC. I would advise any reader of RC to read WUWT as well, or at least one other predominantly skeptical blog. And vice-versa: anyone who reads a predominantly skeptical blog should read RC at least as regularly.

      • Matt –

        Acknowledged – I didn’t really take in the use of “regularly” in your statement — and the logical implication that means not always.

      • Joshua: Acknowledged – I didn’t really take in the use of “regularly” in your statement — and the logical implication that means not always.

        No harm done. In retrospect, I thought what I wrote was ambiguous, hence my rephrasing.

      • MattStat –

        I agree with your point about Gavin deserving his award. Which in some stark contrast to some stuff I say about pedagogy further upthread. Well – I’ll just have to live with two contradictory views.

      • Fortunately, there is no need to leave you in wonderment. :-)

        Here:

        http://www.agu.org/about/governance/

        Now here:

        http://www.agu.org/about/governance/committees_boards/

        Then see here:

        http://www.agu.org/about/governance/committees_boards/ccprize.shtml

        By accurately referencing knowledge of the actual governance instead of making vague statements, you can show why you think the selection committee of volunteer scientists is not fairly representing those who choose to be members of AGU and specifically not fairly representing the membership in relation to the Climate Communications Award.

        You might also want to look up the AGU climate change statement and show why that does not fairly represent thousands of earth scientists by critically engaging with the actual organizational information.

        Tell me, why would you assume that AGU members have no recourse to either effectively support or effectively challenge decisions made on their behalf?

        And why do you think it’s problematic to have the right to belong to a professional organization and receive awards?

        Think about it. Read. Then think again. The AGU policies and activities in relation to committees and outreach seem adequate and it is up to the broader membership to shape the goals of the organization.

        An interesting question might be in relation to pleasing the donor, but again, you should show why those interests are inconsistent with the goals of the membership and the activities of the organization.

        cheers

    • Martha: Anyone who regularly reads the site knows that while RC passes on beliefs that defy evidence, logic and objectivity,

      RC regularly suppresses comments that are difficult or impossible for them to dispute scientifically. A regular reader can not know that, but those of us who have posted there know that.

      it has regularly and openy communicated uncertainties that are part of the science and science discussion on the site,

      I think that it would be fairer to say that they regularly dispute that there are any uncertainties large enough or important enough to take seriously.

      I think on the whole that Gavin Schmidt earned his award, and a regular reader can learn much at RC, but it is biased and incomplete.

      • Matt –

        I think that it would be fairer to say that they regularly dispute that there are any uncertainties large enough or important enough to take seriously.

        A fairly nice comment – although I think that it needs further modification:

        I think that it would be fairer to say that they regularly dispute that there are any uncertainties large enough or important enough to contradict their basic conclusions w/r/t the effect of anthropogenic CO2

        Although, even there, I don’t think that RC disputes the 10% uncertainty reflected in the IPCC statement.

        So maybe this would be better:

        I think that it would be fairer to say that they regularly dispute that there are any uncertainties large enough or important enough to definitively or even likely contradict their basic conclusions w/r/t the effect of anthropogenic CO2

      • I think Real Climate articles fall into two categories, pre-2007 and post-2007. When I first became interested in the online climate science debate, I started out by reading through much of the indexed articles at Real Climate. The ones posted pre-2007 seemed quite rational, revealed a great number of admissions of uncertainty, and were in fairly straight forward language, not polemics. The articles on the ending of ice ages comes readily to mind as a good example.

        Those posted on RC after 2007 seemed to show a sea change in both admissions of uncertainty, and the type of language used. Much less straight forward scientific language , and a great deal more argumentation and “framing” to support decarbonization.

      • GaryM –

        Those posted on RC after 2007 seemed to show a sea change in both admissions of uncertainty, and the type of language used.

        An interesting comment. Do you have anything more concrete than your anecdotal observations – ideally contrasting rhetoric on the same basic topic? Seriously, something like that would go a long way towards helping me understand your perspective (not that you seem to particularly care about what I do or don’t understand).

      • Joshua,

        Oh, I care (enough to respond) when you ask a genuine question, or make a comment on the substance of a thread.

        I will ignore your asking for “anything more concrete than your anecdotal observations – ideally contrasting rhetoric on the same basic topic” because it is self contradictory. If I discuss a particular example, that is by definition anecdotal. So, leaving the semantics aside, I will assume you were asking for an example of contrast, rather than a statistical analysis of stylistic variance (or whatever else would qualify as non-anecdotal in this context).

        So in answer to your question, yes, I can recall a particular difference in two articles on the same subject during the two time periods. On the issue of the ending of ice ages, I asked Gavin Schmidt a few questions on Collide-a-scape long ago, including one about their articles on ice ages. I pointed out that an article on Real Climate that indicated that climate scientists did not know what caused ice ages to end.

        His reply, typical of an advocate, not a scientist, was to say, we have learned how to write better. He then pointed me to a more recent article that suggested knowledge of the cause, without actually coming out and saying so.

        The article I first asked him about is here:

        http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/co2-in-ice-cores/

        “Some (currently unknown) process causes Antarctica and the surrounding ocean to warm.”

        The article he claimed was “better written” on the issue of ice ages ending was, I believe, this one (although the discussion of the issue is brief, and a bit oblique):

        http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/04/the-lag-between-temp-and-co2/

        “What is being talked about here is influence of the seasonal radiative forcing change from the earth’s wobble around the sun (the well established Milankovitch theory of ice ages), combined with the positive feedback of ice sheet albedo (less ice = less reflection of sunlight = warmer temperatures) and greenhouse gas concentrations (higher temperatures lead to more CO2 leads to warmer temperatures).”

        What was “currently unknown” in 2004, became “the well established Milankovic theory of ice ages” in 2007.

        The two statements do not contradict one another. One simply admits the cause of the ending of ice ages is unknown, the latter posits a “well known theory,” albeit one that was just as well known in 2004 as it was in 2007. The fact that there is a theory about an event is not inconsistent with the fact that the cause of that event is still unknown. Theories are not knowledge.

        But what Schmidt described as a matter of “better writing” was in fact just an example of polemics over mere exposition (hence not just a theory, but a “well known” theory).

      • “Although, even there, I don’t think that RC disputes the 10% uncertainty reflected in the IPCC statement.”

        You are beyond a worthless tool Joshua, a mindless AGW zombie. A bunch of people with the same extremist left-wing science agenda all agree they are the “consensus” and everyone else needs to be “educated”?
        Yes, all serious dissent is censored routinely at RC, you should be chucked off the board if you don’t know that. You stand corrected.

      • RC regularly suppresses comments that are difficult or impossible for them to dispute scientifically”

        Hmm. Would you be willing to give an example from your own experience that you feel illustrates this?

        “I think that it would be fairer to say that they regularly dispute that there are any uncertainties large enough or important enough to take seriously”

        I think the science index and archives say otherwise, especially in relation to the most current questions in the science.

        I am wondering if you are saying that ‘large enough’ uncertainties and taking these ‘seriously’ has a particular policy import, for you. Do you feel we have no choices before us, with the knowledge we have (as well as what we don’t have)?

      • GaryM –

        As an aside – I disagree with the semantics of what you described semantic. Not the first time between you and I.

        As for the more substantive issue – I also disagree with your analysis of a change in approach you saw evident in Gavin’s statements. No big surprise there either.

        I will say, however, that if you find other concrete examples of the difference you’re describing, I’d appreciate you pointing them out.

      • Martha: Would you be willing to give an example from your own experience that you feel illustrates this?

        I posted a link to an article published in the journal Science documenting the uncertainties in the response of clouds to warming. I would like to emphasize that it was a link to a peer-reviewed article in a highly ranked journal; it was not a personal opinion.

      • Martha: Do you feel we have no choices before us, with the knowledge we have (as well as what we don’t have)?

        We have many challenges. For each challenge, there are many possibilities and many alternatives to choose from.

      • MattStat –
        Your comment on RC (18th @ 1.30pm) summed up my own view remarkably well. I think Gavin works bloody hard, is sincere and deserves his award (s), but I have deep reservations about RC, and its whole ethos.

      • Martha:

        Mike Mann on RC:

        “Meanwhile, I suspect you’ve both seen the latest attack against his Yamal work by McIntyre. Gavin and I (having consulted also w/ Malcolm) are wondering what to make of this, and what sort of response—if any—is necessary and appropriate. So far, we’ve simply deleted all of the attempts by McIntyre and his minions to draw attention to this at RealClimate.”

      • OMG!! – moderation at RC!

    • Martha,
      Synchophants love giving each other nice awards.
      True believers mistake those awards for actual acocmplishments.

    • From WUWT today:


      Email 2743

      Meanwhile, I suspect you’ve both seen the latest attack against his Yamal work by McIntyre. Gavin and I (having consulted also w/ Malcolm) are wondering what to make of this, and what sort of response—if any—is necessary and appropriate. So far, we’ve simply deleted all of the attempts by McIntyre and his minions to draw attention to this at RealClimate.

  28. I don’t see any “revolution” in Gavin Schmidt’s perspective on communicating about climate science. What I see is Reframing version 8.0.

    “They’re always focused on what the uncertainties are. And that’s because that’s where scientists are focused. But it isn’t necessarily where the public sees the need for information.”

    This gets it exactly backwards. The public is ‘always focused on..uncertainties” because the climate scientists, through the IPCC, downplayed uncertainty in their rush to obtain their political objectives.

    “But people do have a visceral response to images of how glaciers have retreated over the last hundred years.”

    Someone above already made the comparison to “viscera” images like polar bears “stranded” on ice floes. What is new about this?

    “I think that one of the roles for science communicators is really to showcase the depth and breadth of experiences and work that’s going on in all parts of the world, from all kinds of different people….”

    Translation – we need improve our appeals to authority by personalizing the authorities.

    “In the last few years in the U.S. the discussion about climate change has become more politicized.”

    The discussion about climate change was intentionally politicized by the IPCC, from its inception. The entire purpose of the IPC has been to mobilize policy makers to implement, and to provide them with the arguments for, decarbonization policies. To say that discussion of climate science “has become more politicized” in “the last few years,” seems like it should earn a decisive “Mommy, mommy they do it too” from our resident asymmetry police. (But don’t hold your breath, because for some reason their complaints seem to be…well…asymmetrical.)

    “There has been an unfortunate tendency in a segment of the American political landscape to turn away from what the science is saying. But if you talk to the people who are making decisions and formulating policies, you find that people have a much more nuanced understanding of what’s going on than they did five or ten or fifteen years ago.”

    Translation – Skeptics are anti-science neaderthals. But those decent progressives (you know, the ones who actually run the governments and funds or research) are much more ‘nuanced,” by which I mean intelligent.

    As usual, there is nothing new in the climate debate.

    If man “evolved” like this we’d still be swimming in the primal ooze.

  29. Excellent post! Once again we see that mainstream climate scientists behave unprofessionally when presented with work that challenges the official stance and that invites candid discussion of that stance.

    Part of “science communication” in the arena of climate debates must fall to people who are outside the mainstream to report to the general public that the mainstream continues to stonewall on any scientific criticism of their official stance. Surely, a MacArthur award will be coming soon to one of these “science communicators outside the mainstream.”

  30. Public discussion of the science mostly focuses on the implications for policy, and also increasingly on attacking or defending the integrity of the science rather than on its intellectual content.

    The difficulty comes when those responsible for gathering the evidence feel under attack and respond in a defensive manner themselves.

    What Betts does not seem to address is the double bind that climate scientists are placed in when their integrity is attacked, and they are accused of all kind of absurd, and sometimes criminal acts.

    While reacting defensively may play into the hands of those alleging bias, not defending yourself when your integrity is attacked also harms your credibility with ordinary people — if you don’t react to outrageous lies with some degree of outrage, people are going to tend to give more credence to those slanders.

    I have the same issue with Dr. Curry’s suspicion of science communication designed to produce a “visceral response.” This is something all teachers of science should aspire to — something all teachers should aspire to. Knowledge without emotional resonance doesn’t stick well in the human brain. But, to acknowledge the point, focusing on how to communicate with greater emotional impact at the same time “skeptics” are attacking the science could be perceived as manipulative (though I don’t think it is). But then you have to look at the other side of the question: science deniers are certainly seeking the slanders and lies with the maximum emotional punch. They are running a propaganda campaign against scientists; is it really practical to ignore public relations whilst under a vicious, constant attack by people with zero interest in anything but?

    • Robert –

      …not defending yourself when your integrity is attacked also harms your credibility with ordinary people

      I think that is an over-simplification. There is a wide range of responses between the binary choices of response and non-response.

      if you don’t react to outrageous lies with some degree of outrage, people are going to tend to give more credence to those slanders.

      “Some degree” is not very specific. I think that no matter whether you think it accurate or not, to use a broad characterization of “skeptics” as “deniers” will be counterproductive.

      is it really practical to ignore public relations whilst under a vicious, constant attack by people with zero interest in anything but?

      Again, I think that’s a false choice.

      • Josh,

        Except to take on “crackpot” theories, intra-tribal critiques are rare on this blog, in my limited, primarily “lurker” experience. As a nobody, whose opinion has not been sought, I boldly recommend more of the same and not just from you, Josh. At any rate, thanks Josh.

        And to anticipate a likely re-joinder to my appeal–I utterly lack the aptitude to practice what I preach–I’m only here for the education, dazzling good company, and to bait the lefties, as they appear in any form.

        Incidentally, Josh, that earlier comment of yours where you invited someone or other to “gaze into the window of your soul”, or something like that. Yeah, that one! Just a guess, but I’d bet you “hijacked” one of your pick-up lines for that comment? So how’s it working for you?

      • mike –

        And to anticipate a likely re-joinder to my appeal–I utterly lack the aptitude to practice what I preach–I’m only here for the education, dazzling good company, and to bait the lefties, as they appear in any form.

        Actually, that rejoinder never occurred to me. I take criticism that I should do what you say more often seriously. A failure for me to do so is certainly suggestive of bias in my approach to the debate. Although a bias or lack thereof in my approach changes nothing (inherently) about the validity of my critiques of any bias that may or may not be evident in the comments of others, a more even-handed approach on my part could, potentially, increase my credibility for any who might be inclined to grant me that attribute (or perhaps prompt me to be more comprehensive in my thinking).

        Incidentally, Josh, that earlier comment of yours where you invited someone or other to “gaze into the window of your soul”, or something like that. Yeah, that one! Just a guess, but I’d bet you “hijacked” one of your pick-up lines for that comment?

        Nah. That was directly taken from mosher’s ridiculous claim that he has a “window into [my] soul.” It was among the most memorable of his comments to me where he showed incredibly poor critical thinking skills.

        So how’s it working for you?

        You’ll have to pose that question to mosher.

      • Betts presents a clear binary choice between “defensiveness” and “openness.” My argument is that things are not as simple as that. I did not say, and do not think, that the binary choice offered by Betts is valid. I’m arguing that it is not.

        “Some degree” is not very specific.

        Intentionally so. It’s a complex question, and I’m saying there’s not a simple answer, so why would you expect me to provide a simple answer?

        I think that no matter whether you think it accurate or not, to use a broad characterization of “skeptics” as “deniers” will be counterproductive.

        Some are, some aren’t. Nowhere do I say the two groups are identical; at a certain point I switch from talking about one group to talking about the other. Sorry if that was confusing. Really, though, I think you’re expecting a lot out of a single comment. It’s not as if I haven’t discussed these ideas at length elsewhere.

      • Josh what I said was that stylistic changes can be a window. that’s not unique to you. nor is it disputed by anyone who understands the process of writing. you want to personalize the issue. that is your choice. a choice. a mental style. a symptom.

    • Much of the attack on the integrity of scientists (not so many, by the way, on “the integrity of science”: a moral virtue cannot be attributed to an abstract entity) comes from the resistance of scientists to openly share their data and code for replication and potential criticism or refutation (“why would I share the information with [someone] whose only aim is to find fault in it?”), or from their attempts to prevent opposing views to get published “even if we have to redefine peer-review”, or to be allowed even in blogs like RC.

      Those behaviors were misguided indeed, and probably caused harm to the advance of science and also to the advance of the policy agenda of many climate scientists.

      Open everything to everybody, allow all scientifically-expressed views to be published without interference and not allowing political agendas to motivate exclusion; and then the science (and attending scientific debates) will be more able to develop in a healthier and more productive manner.

      • Much of the attack on the integrity of scientists (not so many, by the way, on “the integrity of science”: a moral virtue cannot be attributed to an abstract entity) comes from the resistance of scientists to openly share their data and code for replication and potential criticism or refutation

        Hector, that’s a lie.

        If you want to cling to this lie, I suggest you try and support it with some evidence, build some kind of argument around it.

        The attack on the science comes from people who don’t want to accept the reality that scientists have discovered and communicated. They use various lies to excuse their witch hunt, including the fallacy that climate scientists aren’t sharing data.

        Climate deniers are not, as a rule, scientists, and they tend to have unrealistic expectations of what working scientists can do for them in terms of spoon-feeding them data and research methods they don’t understand.

        Most of the whining about data and code, as well as being opportunistic, is just people (who have no thought of doing the work themselves) demanding they be given something no one can give them — a real working knowledge of this area of science.

        That’s something no one can give you; you have to earn it by your own labors.

      • Acually robert those of us who wrote foia for the data have used it and do understand the code and the science. so ur wrong again. and those of us who asked for the data are not skeptics

      • Mosher –
        You do know, don’t you that in a million years Robert will still have no comprehension why someone who accepts the science around AGW would criticise the priests [I mean, the scientists] at all?. Or ask for data. Or Code?

        It will not, ever, make sense.

      • “a moral virtue cannot be attributed to an abstract entity”

        The notion of ‘scientific integrity’ is relevant to both individual behaviour and the practices of social institutional across a range of legal and ethical concerns that include not only personal conduct but also the culture, structure, practices and governance of ‘abstract entities’ such as organizations.

        As it turns out, this is precisely why we ask questions about what kind of society/organizations/social environments promote certain values and interests. You seem to have an idea. What is it? I’m not sure what you mean by ‘open everything to everybody’. What would that organizational structure look like, exactly, when you envision it?

        For example, I think co-operation and collaboration is increasingly being valued in science institutions, and needs to be.

    • Robert,

      As someone involved with science education, I have to disagree with you – sort of.

      When working with students for a day out in the field, one of the things we stress to mentors, parents, teachers, etc is not to lose sight of making the experience fun. If they don’t pick up much of the science, but enjoy themselves, we still consider it a successful day. And my experience has been that even on those days where the students don’t seem that interested in the experiments or the goals for the day, but just want to splash around in the water or run through the woods, when the time comes for them to present their findings to their classmates at the end of the day, I find they picked up more than I would have given them credit for. To me that means we succeeded both at making science fun and advancing their understanding. That isn’t so much a visceral appeal, but one of making a connection and getting them to think. Hence the “sort of”. Yes, the having fun part touches on the emotions aspect, but it doesn’t enter into the science portion of the program. The science is real. The same activities real scientists perform in the field. We don’t doctor that up to get a visceral response.

  31. Hey Robert,

    Be honest–what is your relationship to the “Zauberflotist” newbie, up-thread there? You and “spike” pals? Or even closer than that?

  32. For once I agree with Martha. Run by a politically active guy with an English Major and having given the climate-related run of its yearly meeting to a cartoonist, the agu of course gave a comm prize to Gavin!

    Seriously the RC people think they’re talking to the unwashed. Trouble is the unwashed aren’t taking any notice of RC (apart from low-grade journalists) . The potential reader of RC is instead very washed and doesn’t care about visceral images. This results in the less-than-mature RC editors reacting as if the rest of the universe were wrong.

    I don’t think they’ll ever solve the conundrum and site hit statistics could be the best indicators they won’t.

    Expect more awards anyway. If the guy who messed up Iraq could get an award, anybody can. As long as it comes from sympathetic award givers.

  33. Adolf Hitler remembrances of his initial struggles (I think it was in his hideous Main Kampf, but could not place the citation right now) recalled his and his fellow nazis being embroiled in intellectual debates with “Jewry”, debates they could not easily win. “But, he added, when we could not prevail with the force of our arguments, we prevailed with the argument of our force”.

    Not intending to assimilate the behavior of climate scientists to Nazism (nothing further from my thought), indeed what Dr Schmidt says is similar: “When we cannot persuade people with our scientific arguments, we can do it by eliciting a visceral or emotional reaction”.

    Visceral reactions, on the part of the purported persuaders or elicited
    in their audiences, are In fact irrelevant.

    With or without the scientists posing in their parkas on top of a glacier, the scientific arguments should be debated and judged on their own scientific worth. The heroic exploits of scientists during their far flung expeditions are, indeed, able to elicit sympathy, as is the picture of a panda, but of little relevance to the issues being debated.

    • Hector –

      Not intending to assimilate the behavior of climate scientists to Nazism (nothing further from my thought), indeed what Dr Schmidt says is similar: “When we cannot persuade people with our scientific arguments, we can do it by eliciting a visceral or emotional reaction”.

      I’ve seen some astounding comments at Climate Etc. – but I nominate that for the all-time best comment ever.

    • Adolf Hitler remembrances of his initial struggles (I think it was in his hideous Main Kampf, but could not place the citation right now) recalled his and his fellow nazis being embroiled in intellectual debates with “Jewry”, debates they could not easily win. “But, he added, when we could not prevail with the force of our arguments, we prevailed with the argument of our force”.

      Not intending to assimilate the behavior of climate scientists to Nazism (nothing further from my thought), indeed what Dr Schmidt says is similar: “When we cannot persuade people with our scientific arguments, we can do it by eliciting a visceral or emotional reaction”.

      Besides an automatic Godwin’s fail, you also get a history fail. Force for Hitler meant force — the kind of force climate deniers use in threatening to rape children and lynch scientists. That’s using force in an argument.

      Communicating in a way that moves people emotionally is not at all comparable. If it were, every artist, writer, movie producers or high school teacher would be Nazi-like.

      You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

      • Robert did you read what you wrote? The modern event you quote was a threat. The historical event documented force was used. Your linking a godwin blast and deniers also puts you in the godwin fail, as denier is a linking of skeptics with the deniers of WW2 atrocities.

      • Robert:
        “the kind of force climate deniers use in threatening to rape children and lynch scientists. ”

        wtf?

      • Latimer Alder

        @robert

        ‘the kind of force climate deniers use in threatening to rape children and lynch scientists.’

        Do you have any evidence for these bizarre allegations? If so please outline it.

        Otherwise I fear that my long-suspected idea that you are truly away with the Bad Fairies has been confirmed.

      • Robert may be referring to the incident in Oz where one of the climate ‘skeptics’ was unhappy that a climate scientist gave a talk at a local library, resulting in the aforementioned threat.

    • Latimer Alder

      @michael

      1. Please provide documented evidence for this Australian threat.

      2. Robert uses the plural form ‘deniers’ to suggest that threats to lynch scientist and rape children are widespread. You/he need to provide evidence of several independent examples of both to have any credibility at all.

      Copies of e-mails from named persons would be a good start.

    • Latimer Alder

      @michael

      An opinion piece in a newspaper referring to anonymous people supposedly receiving unpleasant unpresented e-mails from other anonymous people doesn’t even get to much beyond:

      ‘I met a man in the pub who swore blind that he knew a guy who was close to the jockey and that the jockey had said that Mr Slowcoach is a cert to win the Melbourne Cup’

      Or perhaps this level of ‘evidence’ is good enough for you? Show the e-mails, identify the meeting, identify the unfortunate recipient, show the transcript of the court case.

      Because otherwise you are just blowing smoke.

      • Lati will only believe it if the woman involved lets him see her inbox………though no such qualms about believing wild claims of an AGW conspiracy from anonymous commentors on a blog.

      • Latimer Alder

        @michael

        I can read directly about the shenanigans of the ‘climate science community’ from their own words in Climategate 1 and 2. They have squealed about the means of their production but none gave suggested that they are fiction. They are there for all the world o see.

        I do not need ‘anonymous bloggers’ to show me the evidence of dodgy dealing when Phil and Mikey and Gavin and Keef and the Boys in The Band do so over 10 years from their own keyboards in thousands of mails.

        My earlier point stands. Unless you can provide some proof (e.g. copies of e-mails) that these unpleasant incidents ever actually occurred and can be interpreted in the way that you do, then you have no point to make. No evidence. Just innuendo and smear.

        Show the e-mails. Identify the meeting and the participants. Show the transcript of the court case where the sender was tried for harassment. Show pictures of the smeared car and the proof that it was not a put up job.

        Or would you rather just speak behind your hand about it? ‘I can’t show you these because you’d only try to find something wrong with them’. To give a famous quote from Phil Jones.

      • ‘Show me the proof’ says the guy who believes in grand internet conspiracies……..

      • Latimer Alder

        I conclude that you have no evidence at all that these events ever actually occurred.

        Because if you had you would be very anxious to bring them into the light of publicity.

        You are a charlatan.

      • Newspaper reports are too dodgy for Lati…….give him the swirling mess of anonymous internet blogging and he’s convinced.

      • Latimer, MIchael, Robert,

        I haven’t pursued this matter of the “threats” to Australian “death/rape” threats lately, but something like two weeks after these threats were widely reported (and seemingly timed to coincide with a “big push” for some controversial carbon legislation) the police had yet to launch an investigation. I took that as a sure sign that the “threats” were rather hyped, if there was anything to them at all.

        But Michael, Robert, anyone? Certainly, death/rape threats, if credible, warrant a law enforcement investigation and some sort of judicial action. So what is the status of the same with regard to these mysterious rape/death threats made against Australian climate scientists. I mean the university made a “big show” of moving the scientists to secret, more secure, locales when these opportune threats surfaced. So they were taken that seriously, But not by the police. Why?

      • yes mike, if no one can be prosecuted for anonymous threats, they almost cetainly didn’t happen……..proabably part of that vast conspiracy for which no one has been prosecuted (or even investigated!!!) but which almost certainly exists.

      • Michael, Robert

        You say, Michael, “…no one can be prosecuted for anonymous threats…”

        Which means then, Michael, that lefty, false-flag, agit-prop death/rape threats aimed at Australian climate scientists and timed to help along legislation on behalf of the greenshirt dream can’t be exposed and prosecuted. Exactly! And, Michael, could you please refer me to the police-report in this matter–if there even is one, I mean.

        Be honest, Robert, what’s your full play in this little “death threat” slick-goober deal? And, Michael, what’s your assigned-role in this lefty piece of zit-hole street theater–witting tool or useful fool?

        And, oh by the way, Robert, on two separate occasions, you’ve advised on this blog that you consider carbon-emissions of which you disapprove (presumably your own respiration by-products are in the approved category–right, Robert?) to be acts of “violence” committed on you to which you have a “right of self-defense.” You might remember, that in both those instances, I challenged you to clarify if your “right to self-defense” in the face of carbon-emission “violence” then entitles you, in your view, to a proportional, “violent” response, in turn. Remember?

        And then I chased you around this blog trying to get an answer from you. Remember? But you never did answer. Remember? So, Robert, since we’re on the subject of “threats”, let me try again–do you abjure and condemn any “violence” committed in the name of reducing carbon-emission? Or if you do approve of such “violence” and consider it a self-defense right, then please describe in what measure and under what circumstances such “violence” meets with your approval as a justified right of self-defense.

        Death/rape threat-hype–the last refuge of a doom-butt booger-eater.

      • mike,

        if you’d be so kind as to direct me to the police report (I’m sure there is one) of this “greenshirt” conspiracy…….

      • Latimer Alder

        @michael

        Still no further forward on who was the unfortunate victim of the supposed threats to ‘rape her children’? Or where and when it occurred? No public identification of the perp? No copy (even redacted) of the e-mail with the threat laid bare? No interview with the local TV or weekly newspaper with the tearful lady venting her spleen on The Deniers? No investigation of any previous history between the perp and the victim?

        You say above that

        ‘Newspaper reports are too dodgy for Lati….’

        In this particular case I think you have amply demonstrated – by your inability to produce any supporting evidence whatsoever – that my cautious and sceptical approach has great merit.

        I’m sure you would agree :-)

      • yep, reports in a newspaper by an identified journalist are so much less credible than random anonymous blog comments.

      • Michael,

        Did you ever notice that the only ones still pitching the “denier death/rape threats” meme-booger are you, Robert, and the vat-people over at Deltoid? That’s the company you keep, Michael. Fit right in, don’t you, Michael?
        Think about it.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘Reports in a newspaper by an identified journalist ‘ are supposedly too dodgy for me.

        When those reports contain absolutely no verifiable factual content, then yes..they are too dodgy for me. Because the writer was not doing journalism at the time.

        Those pesky little questions that people are supposed to learn to ask on Journalism 101..how? what? where? when? who? why? seem to have (temporarily??) escaped this faux journo’s mind.

        As they have yours.

      • no doubt mike will be equally dismissive of the threats that Kerry Emanuel recieved towards his family.

        And, no doubt, since Judith linked to this in a post, she is part of the vast “greenshirt” “vat people at deltoid” conspiracy.

        Shame on you Judith.

      • mhogan2@ec.rr.com

        Michael,

        This is hardly a fair exchange. I mean, like, Michael, you can manufacture hyped-up hysteria at the cyclic-rate, while I, a mere mortal, am blessed only with the resources available to those less prone to panic attacks.

        Not that I think it’ll matter to you in the least, but I condemn genuine death/rape threats whatever the source. Just like everyone else. On the other hand, I share Latimer’s suspicion of such threats when lacking in any specificity and hyped by lefties like you on behalf of your various greenshirt agenda items. And especially so when the whole “death/rape threat” deal opportunely erupts just before a critical vote on a piece of eco-hustle legislation that is facing some tough-sledding.

        In other words, Michael, I have a functioning BS detector, like most everyone else on this blog, and am, therefore, not so stupid a mark as your fatuous, little intrigue requires in order to work. Sorry, guy. On the other hand, your agit-prop smooth-moves are the sort of thing the “vatters” over at Deltoid buy in to all the time–so you might want to try your out your little act on the sexist-schweinhund vat-boys over there.

        And that “Shame on you Judith!” was a really good one. I mean I can just see you there in front of your computer gettin’ all steamed up an’ huffin’-n-puffin’ an’ all red-faced an’ all. Good stuff!

        P. S. Could you get your pal, Robert, to answer my question regarding his views on “violence” as a legitimate means of rightful self-defense against the “violence” of carbon-emissions? I mean Robert appears to have issued a veiled threat, and with your hyper-interest in such things, Michael, I know you’re as interested in Robert’s clarification as I am. Maybe even more so.

      • mhogan,

        Let me clarify for you.

        Shame on you Judith. /sarcasm off.

  34. I think that in general Betts and Schmidt are wrong on the main point.

    Climate scientists do not have any more difficulty communication science (or conveying scientific knowledge) than any other group of scientists communicating a vast quantity of intricate details about a large and complicated system. The difficulty that they misperceive as a problem in “communicating” scientific knowledge is a difficulty in persuading the public to fund a massive reinvestment in energy, and in persuading the public to fear the imminent end of civilization, when the scientific case is too full of omissions and inaccuracies to support them. What began as a study of absorption and emission spectra, and a hypothesis about possible climate effects, has become (in some minds as expressed in some speeches) a near religious belief that anthropogenic CO2 is the most important, and certain, and imminent, threat to human welfare.

    • Your near-religious denial of the threat of radically altering the climate is the foundation of your belief in the mythical “scientific case . . . full of omissions and inaccuracies” — something that exists entirely in your imagination, and is as real as cherubs and demonic possession.

      • Robert,
        Your lack of evidence to support your assertion that we are experiencing radically altered climate is much more religious in nature.
        Your choice in ignoring this lack of evidence is a demonstration of the difference between faith and reason.

      • Robert: mythical “scientific case . . . full of omissions and inaccuracies”

        Are you asserting that the scientific case is both complete and accurate?

      • Lets talk about Robert’s imagination…..Silence>>>>

  35. Mydogsgotnonose

    I’ve been tackling two issues with this pseudo-science. The first is ‘cloud albedo effect’ cooling, based on incorrect aerosol optical physics, confirmed here by G L Stephens, one of the unsung US heroes, a person who actually does experiments in climate science; http://www.gewex.org/images/feb2010.pdf

    ‘One of the remarkable findings of the study was that approximately 40 percent of all low clouds observed contain detectable amounts of either rain or drizzle and this in turn affects the radiative properties of
    clouds….

    the oceanic-mean optical depth of drizzling or raining
    low clouds is increased by approximately 25 percent over the
    cloud-only values…..

    The net consequence of these biases is that the optical
    depth of low clouds in GCMs is more than a factor of two
    greater than observed, resulting in albedos of clouds that
    are too high. This model low-cloud albedo bias is not a
    new finding and is not a feature of just these two models.’

    So, on this basis, the cloud albedo data are plain wrong. my view is that he has underestimated the problem because this clouds are even more badly affected.

    The second issue is so-called ‘back radiation’. Now, as a one time process engineer tasked with getting complex heat transfer calculations right, This concept [to treat DLR as an energy source instead of an indication of higher IR optical impedance] is also plain wrong. It’s because when claimed as an energy source it leads to the strong positive feedback which has to be hidden by the vastly exaggerated cooling by clouds.

    However, trying to convince climate science that Arrhenius and 115 successor years of study is wrong so no climate model can predict climate is, shall we say, problematic. However, I have just come up with this:

    Assume that you have a clear sky, emissivity and absorptivity 0.2 and are on the beach in summer, air temperature 25°C, sand temperature 30°C and it’s windy. You put up a wind break and to keep convected plus radiated heat transfer from the sand constant the sand temperature rises to 45°C. These a realistic figures. Assuming an emissivity for the sand of 0.85 and 20% of the extra IR is intercepted by GHGs and half that comes back, you’ve just increased DLR by 8.7 W/m^2 or 5.4 times AR4’s estimate of total net AGW.

    The temperature rise is the UHI writ small. Not even the IPCC claims the UHI causes global warming……..that would be to admit CO2 was far less important. This type of argument is called reductio ad absurdum.

    There are many highly experienced sceptics like me who are honing the opposing views. The Climate Science establishment had better come up with a good rapprochement otherwise the anger at this new Lysenkoism will lead to a very serious reaction when the .Public learns the truth.

  36. Trying to get the public to adopt a scientific viewpoint without their having any kind of facility with the subject is indeed a difficult problem. Schmidt seems to think that substituting entertainment for knowledge is the right approach. The problem is that he misunderstands his audience. The image of scientists in parkas standing on a retreating glacier has a very tiny, momentary “wow” factor on a public that is exposed to endless streams of video stimulation. What will endure as a “wow” factor is a price of gasoline or heating fuel that is kept at artificially high levels because climate scientists and politicians decided that everyone is a citizen of the world and it’s time the U.S. took one for the team. And the “wow” will increase when images of smoke-belching, coal-fueled power plants and factories in China, which won’t get with the program, are shown to the public. The public doesn’t understand science but it does understand when it’s being played, especially when its bottom line is affected.

  37. My direct experiences with Gavin Schmidt and RealClimate have led me not to trust him, and by extension, what he says about climate science. Arrogance and apparent conscious omissions/co-missions of the “real climate science”, inability to acknowledge science not in accordance with his agenda, make his declarations unbelievable. I don’t trust his judgement. I tune him out. I have to go elsewhere to obtain climate science information, always with a heightened sense of: what’s the agenda? I am comfortable with my own sense of “I don’t know”, as I feel I don’t have to know, I can enjoy the journey. I listen and assess as I incorporate climate science with what I know from other fields of science. As I process new information in a deliberate and drawn out manner, I am frequently behind the discussion at hand as others have already moved on.
    To communicate with me, I am very much in tune with my visceral sense and I am alert that I am being distracted by someone who is about to pick my pocket. At times I am amused, as recently with the Republican candidates and their circular firing squad, that demands for integrity in the science speak volumes about the participants. Political theater.
    As far as Richard Betts, I have never heard of him, his statements appear to be well-intentioned. Where was he when the hockey stick fiasco was rolled out? That I didn’t hear about him does not mean that he didn’t make statements addressing squirlsome behavior of Mann and the Hockey Team, or maybe this is his foray into the climate science conversation of a more public nature. I don’t know. Time will tell. I’ll be listening.

    • RiHo08 –

      Prof Betts I think is one of the good guys. One of the very few trusted by a number of partisans on both sides. Still takes a lot of abuse (from both sides) and remains tolerant.

      He often turns up at Bishop Hill and chats to all-comers. Tries to avoid politics, sticks to science – and is tops at sensing where science should keep quiet/has nothing to say.

      I personally like reading his stuff because he is refreshingly non-alarmist.

      • Thanks Anteros. Now I am motivated to go lurk and see what I can see, which, judging by: ” and is tops at sensing where science should keep quiet/has nothing to say…” listening for what is not said may be important also.

  38. Gavin:

    “Very few of the stories are telling people what we know quite well. They’re always focused on what the uncertainties are. And that’s because that’s where scientists are focused. But it isn’t necessarily where the public sees the need for information.”

    This is an extremely odd statement. The media barely touches on the uncertainties. And where is the evidence of “where the public see the need for information”? It’s an idea verging on the nuts. Does Gavin really think that the public are saying “we don’t want to know about any uncertainties”?

    “Telling people about scientists, not just about science. People respond very well to narratives, to stories involving people.”

    Yes, if you are five, or you are stupid, then a nice story is much better than the facts.

    “We can spend a lot of time looking at graphs and talking about equations, but people don’t have a visceral response to equations, unless you actually are a scientist (sometimes.)”

    Why on earth would you want a “visceral response”?? I can’t think of two words that better sum up the problems with climate science.

    Judith:

    “Richard Alley in a parka on a glacier is a much better image.”

    Yes, if you’re five.

  39. It is necessary to distinguish between the general public and the more learned skeptics.

    1. The public is quite ready to swallow the most strange things, so it is not likely to resist such an idea as global warming. Some quite difficult and indeed hard-to-believe pieces of science have been readily accepted by the public, even a century ago when the public was far less educated than today. Einstein was rapidly lionized for his theory of relativity, which few understood, and quantum physics did not elicit much resistance in spite of its apparently absurd claims.
    It is not the difficulty of the science that prevents acceptance, but the perception of a political or ideological agenda behind the science. Some members of the US public may resist the theory of evolution because of its religious implications, just as the Church and the general public resisted the Copernican worldview five hundred years ago. In a similar view, conservatives or libertarians may oppose proposals to deal with climate change that would imply heavier government intervention or higher taxes, and in their fight against these perceived threats they would gladly accept any criticism of the allegations of a scientific basis for such policies. But none of these cases impinges on the validity of the science itself.

    2. Educated skeptics, ranging from Nobel-winning physicists to “citizen scientists”, may sometimes be motivated by some ideological principle, but not always. Even many that are indeed motivated by their political beliefs as regards climate policy may at the same time adopt a truly scientific stance when discussing points of science, just as the advocates of CO2 mitigation policies may be motivated by their beliefs but also should (and often do, at least in private) address the fine scientific points and uncertainties of their models and theories, or one expect them to.
    The distance taken by Dr Curry from many of her colleagues that are more enthusiastic with prospects of dangerous climate change, or the courteous requests of data and codes, and careful auditing of scientific data and models by Steven McIntyre, can be cited as examples of the kind of “learned skeptics”. They are not to be easily dismissed as “ignorant”, or “puppets of oil interests” or “cranks”. Their findings and arguments are to be addressed seriously: you cannot argue with a fundamentalist evangelical but you can argue with Judy Curry or Steve McIntyre; and the argument of your force (e.g, alleging that your opinion is shared by many, or trying to keep dissenting views out of the public eye) is no substitute for the force of your arguments.
    Science is not based on preaching some truth you are convinced about: it is about always doubting and questioning existing theories and data, and indefatigably seeking “to find fault with them”, debating to the bitter end any remaining problem (the supply of which is abundant in all fields of science).

    • “It is necessary to distinguish between the general public and the more learned skeptics.”

      It’s necessary to distinguish between a handful of “learned” skeptics, and a larger (though still miniscule) number of massively ignorant “skeptics” too ignorant to perceive their own lack of scientific literacy.

      • History demonstrates rather well that the ignorance resides in true believers.
        Now it is not uncommon for true believers to work hard to re-define words and terms, so I am not going to be surprised when the believers in AGW here simply try to reframe the issue so as to continue to avoid the uncomfortable implications.

      • Then the question is, who is true believer. The on who thinks that CO2 warms significantly or the thinks that it doesn’t.

        I keep on wondering, how some people don’t see the symmetry and the total lack of value of such an empty argument.

      • “Pekka Pirilä | January 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
        Then the question is, who is true believer. The on who thinks that CO2 warms significantly or the thinks that it doesn’t”.

        But a differentiation is that one beliefs calls conclusion and the other does not. It’s a matter of the reasoning pathways employed in the discourse. It is intrinsic in argument.

        What effects scientific progress. The universal acceptance of theory or a continuing skepticism of it, in a quantum world?

      • That’s also symmetrical. Both sides make their points on policy.

      • “Pekka Pirilä | January 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm |

        That’s also symmetrical. Both sides make their points on policy.”

        Policy has positive or negative connotations which are diametrically opposed. More a matter of each of our perception of symmetry.

      • Where is this great science resume you seem to be claiming? I take it Dr. Lindzen for example would be so impressed?

        You’re line of reasoning is especially empty headed, clearly there are more qualified people on the board of all opinions. You’ve been reading too many NYTimes op-ed pieces and have bought a load of trash if you think your “side” has any kind of intellectual advantage. This is a very common trait in liberal cult behavior but it is a fallacy Robert. Accept it.

      • A lower echelon skeptic still squats head and shoulders above the average AGW believers who, despite knowing as much science as the little birds I see pecking at the ground outside of Starbucks, somehow feel qualified to proclaim that the science is settled and anyone who doesn’t see that is either senile, a boob, or a hack in the employ of Big Oil.

    • Pekka,
      the matters most often discussed by learned skeptics are not whether greenhouse gases cause warming. They all now they do. The matters discussed are much more subtle and technical: what and how is the use of tree rings to measure past temperatures, how you build a gridded average of station records, how do you measure the effect on station data of the surrounding materials such as concrete or metal, what is the specific statistical treatment you should apply when working with an ensemble of paleoproxies, what is the net feedback effect of clouds, what change in cloudiness would be entailed by warming, etc.
      The scientific issues at stake are not the warming effect of greenhouse gases, but other issues such as: by how much? on what timescale? what is the net import of feedbacks? is current or expected warming unprecedented? how do you know? did the same expected temperature caused disastrous consequences when that temperature was in place in the past? what is the margin of uncertainty? are the various estimates of a single parameter really independent from each other? and so on. Many scientists are (as they should be) preoccupied by such questions, indeed. Dismissing them as a conspiracy of dark interests, or as just expressing utter ignorance, is in my humble opinion not a very smart move. Not for the science, and also not, I suspect, for the advancement of the climate change policy agenda.

      • That’s not the message a responded to.

        Anyway, there’s a lot of symmetry here as well. Both sides tend to see the worst cases of the other side as typical and representative.

      • Pekka, I do not know which message you are responding to, but I doubt you are responding to my latest one. There might be some that choose to criticize the worst examples of “the other side” (they are the easiest to pick up), but that is not an issue either.

        Most skeptical discussions are not about mudslinging the other side. When McIntyre was discussing the use of R2 or a specific principal components technique for some paleo multiproxy reconstruction, or when he criticized the use of some particular kind of tree to estimate past temperatures (a very small number of bristlecones in Southwest USA, I seem to recall) or the use of some particularly suspect sedimentary data from Tiljander, he was not attacking “the other side”, and least so in a personal manner or in a combating animus. He was calmly trying to find out, first, how an existing reconstruction had actually being done, for which he needed data and code; and, second, whether the methodology used was correct. He has never expressed (to my knowledge) any belief at all regarding global warming, or its causes, or its impacts; I do not know if he holds any such belief, but even if he does have such beliefs it wouldn’t matter for the validity of his work, which carefully avoids mixing belief and science.
        The scientific issues in climate science are not indeed a matter of scoring points against “the other side”, but a scientific discussion of technical issues that can only be dealt with technically, leaving political (and policy) agendas outside.

  40. number of massively ignorant “skeptics”

    Are you just moronic or its is that your lack of perception is what distinguishes you?

    Skepticism is an oxymoron to ignorance. Your blithe acceptance of AGW is the ignorance here.

    • To conjoin I’ll put blithe acceptance and moronic together and come up with idiot.

      There ya go, that’s more literacy than you’ve come up with in ages.

  41. Judith Curry

    There are several difference in the approaches suggested by Betts and Schmidt regarding “communicating climate science”.

    But there is one common assumption, which is disturbing.

    They both believe that “the science is settled”.

    It isn’t.

    Max

    • Max –

      Whether he has said it or not, I think that in important ways Schmidt does indeed believe the science is settled. I don’t think that is true for Richard Betts – at least not to anywhere near the same degree, and not over as many issues.

      • Careful, Anteros …

        The last time someone dared to suggest that Schmidt had, in effect, declared that the science is settled, Schmidt jumped on his high horse and demanded a retraction (when, in fact, anyone with a reasonable command of the English language would agree that, in context, this was a logical paraphrase of the circumlocutions behind which he hid his decline … to an invitation). This was almost a year ago. For all the gory details, pls see:

        The ineffable meaning of “conflicts” in climate science

        Betts, not unlike most of us, is far from perfect! But he is definitely more approachable than Schmidt; he promotes a far more palatable (albeit not always potable) position and is far more deserving of respect, IMHO.

      • Thanks for the warning Hilary! I’ll make sure I stick to “I think” or “I believe” – assuming my extreme mental instability means I can be forgiven for doing such things :)

    • Max,

      Good point. Another presumptive article without that qualification. “No regrets”, “local action” are all similar cards Dr. Curry supports as well.

    • Richard Betts

      Max

      Ummm, where have I said “the science is settled”?

      Have you read any of my papers, or my posts on either this blog or others?

      • Richard
        You have a great archive at Exeter which I spent two days at to research my article “the long slow thaw.’ I also corresponded with John Kennedy over sst’s. (first rate guy)

        There is a great deal of uncertainty in climate history especially in such fields as sst’s and the land temperature record. The great problem is that these records have been promoted with far more certainty than they merit.

        I am also reviewing ar5 which is rife with speculation and assumptions.

        It is good therefore to read your comments and hopefully you can persuade your fellow scientists to rein back on their levels of certainty as the politicians are picking up the message that the science is settled whether you said it or not.
        Tony brown

      • Richard Betts

        You have not used precisely these words, but in your September 2009 lecture on “what a 4C temperature rise means” you start with the premise that “the science is settled” on what happens to climate if CO2 rises (the 2xCO2 climate sensitivity as estimated by IPCC), but that, in order to arrive at a “likely range of warming”, the uncertainty is with regard to different “emission scenarios and storylines”, i.e. several alternate model-based assumptions on the magnitude of future CO2 increase.

        I would submit to you that, in actual fact, “the science is NOT settled” that the climate sensitivity range as postulated by IPCC is correct, as you have assumed.

        Max

      • PS to Richard Betts

        If I have misunderstood, and you do NOT believe the science is settled on the 2xCO2 climate sensitivity range as estimated by IPCC, then please state so (and I’ll take back my comment above).

        Max

      • Richard Betts

        Max

        I don’t think it’s settled, but I do think climate sensitivity is sufficiently likely to be within that range to warrant further investigation of the implications of that.

        I also think it is possible that climate sensitivity may fall outside that range and welcome research into exploring this and trying to narrow the uncertainty. I don’t really expect to see the uncertainties being narrowed any time soon though, so we’ll have to live with that.

      • max –

        Whaaaa?

        Richard Betts

        You have not used precisely these words, but in your September 2009 lecture on “what a 4C temperature rise means” you start with the premise that “the science is settled”

        He hasn’t used those words, but you put them in quotes?

        I’m confused. Did he use those words or did he not use those words? Did he say that the “science is settled” or did he not?

        What I have seen throughout the “skeptical” blogosphere is that “skeptics” say that “realists” have uttered that phrase far out of proportion to the amount that “realists” have actually said it.

        Is this yet another example of that phenomenon?

        At any rate, I hope you noted that Richard clarified as to what he thinks.

      • Richard Betts writes “I don’t think it’s settled, but I do think climate sensitivity is sufficiently likely to be within that range to warrant further investigation of the implications of that.”

        Excuse my butting into the conversation, but I always cringe when I see this sort of statement with respect the climate sensitivity, No feedback climate sensitivity has never be measured, and cannot be measured. It is impossible to carry out a controlled experiment on the atmosphere whereby everything is held constant, and then we increase the CO2 content and measure the change in temperature. So it is impossible to be certain that an observed increase in CO2 has caused an observed rise in temperature.

        But here we have mature scientists discussing numeric values as if they HAD been measured. Until climate sensitivity has been actually measured, IMHO, no-one has the slightest idea what it’s numeric value is.

      • Richard Betts

        Looks like we have reached what is called in some circles a “Mexican standoff”.

        I agree that you have NOT stated that “the science is settled” on the climate sensitivity range as estimated by IPCC, but rather that the “climate sensitivity is sufficiently likely to be within that range to warrant further investigation of the implications of that”.

        I would interpret that to be equivalent to (my wording of your statement): “the science is sufficiently close to settled on the climate sensitivity range as estimated by IPCC to warrant further investigation of the implications of that”

        I presume, therefore, that you are still open to whether or not “the science is settled” on climate sensitivity and hence to the possibility that studies such as those of Spencer or Lindzen + Choi might shed new light on this uncertainty, and that therefore the climate sensitivity as estimated by IPCC could conceivably be too high by a factor of 3 to 4.

        In which case, I take back my remark that you believe “the science is settled”.

        OK?

        Max

    • Max,

      For once I’m going to have to disagree with you. I’ve never even had a hint of a suspicion of a trace of a feeling that Richard Betts has any belief that climate science is settled. None at all.

      Not every climate scientist is a partisan biased activist!

      • Anteros, I think you are probably right, in strict terms. But Betts has been a prominent scientist in a field which has been overtaken by the “science is settled” meme. He, and others like him, have had plenty of opportunity to speak against this meme (as opposed to merely quietly disavowing it), and as far as I can see he hasn’t. Our saloneuse, faced with the same situation, and believing it to have a corrosive effect on her field, chose to do something about it – not by shouting the odds (although there’s nothing in essence wrong with that), but by starting a blog whose very existence refutes the “science is settled”. What has Betts done, beyond a few anodyne, sotto voce remarks which allow him to escape personal censure for the counterscientific views of his peers?

        And the problem is, however unsettled he may whisper the science to be, he still insists, loud and clear that there is a “problem”, which he and his cohort ought to be paid, implicitly in perpetuity, to wrangle with. I don’t – I think the whole field needs massive defunding, and restoring to the status it enjoyed before we had climate “science” – when we just had climatologists, meteorologists, geologists and so forth – and when, because there wasn’t a lot of money around, you had to be really good at it to get anywhere. It’s difficult to avoid the inference that Betts knows all this, and is hoping to run with the hare, and hunt with the hounds. Speaking the truth softly, while enjoying the fruits of the clamorous mendacity of others is not something to be commended.

      • TomFP –

        I take your point, but I don’t think I can muster the requisite cynicism to agree with you completely. I’d happily see climate science defunded by 75% or more but even at 99% there would still be the Met Office and the stalwarts – like Betts – who at heart are just climatologists.

        I agree that Judith’s choices make a stark comparison – not something I’d thought about before. Different personalities perhaps – Betts does quite a lot of the ‘anti-alarmist’ stuff though, and I think if he’s going to be given a hard time, then almost all of the other 30,000 climate-related scientist should be shot. That’s OK of course but maybe there’s something more useful to do with them? !

        And I suppose I have to mention that although it isn’t something I believe personally, I don’t think it is unreasonable to think – as Betts does – that there is, or may be, a bit of a problemo. You don’t have to be a deluded money grabbing enviro partisan to actually have that belief. There.s a correlation there, but it’s not perfectly positive :)

        P.S. I like ‘saloneuse’…

      • TomFP and Anteros

        I like “saloneuse”, too. Much better than “salonarde” (social climber) or “salonnière” (art critic or fashion salon organizer)

        I would agree with you, Anteros, that it is clear from the writings of Richard Betts that he does not believe that all aspects of the science regarding our planet’s climate are settled.

        But I also have to agree with TomFP.

        Yet, unlike our “saloneuse” (who has explicitly stated that the science is NOT settled on the magnitude of AGW), he has stated that the science is sufficiently close to settled on the IPCC’s model-based estimate of the single most important controversial indicator in the entire ongoing debate, namely the 2xCO2 climate sensitivity.

        Let’s face it: this one key indicator is the scientific basis for the entire AGW hysteria, leading to fantasies of what a “4°C warmer world over the next several decades” would look like, etc.

        (If Richard Betts corrects me by telling me he is still open on whether or not the climate sensitivity could be one-third or one-fourth of the estimated IPCC range as some recent studies have shown, then I would agree that he truly does NOT believe that “the science is settled”.)

        Max

      • Max –
        You surprise me slightly by your vehemence, but I understand what you mean.
        I think you’re slightly miss-representing Richard Betts by saying his word ‘likely’ actually means something different i.e. ‘settled’. I don’t think it does.

        I was interested to read him saying that it is possible that sensitivity lies outside the IPCC range. Not because it isn’t obvious or a surprise that he said it, but because it made me want to ask him his personal belief – if he had to put some money on whether sensitivity was likely to be higher than 4.5C or lower than 2C, what would he say? I’m quite intrigued..

        I’d be interested in many peoples answer – and keen to hear if some say ‘I have no idea – I’d toss a coin’.

        One of the reasons it’s worth asking is that the IPCC only gives a 66% liklihood for the 2-4.5C spread and I doubt if many scientists feel they’re exactly in agreement with the range. Therefore you would have the thought that most would plump for one or the other?

        I wonder how our saloneuse would respond..

      • Anteros ta for the reply, and I suppose I ought to find room to celebrate a returning prodigal – I just don’t think he has quite, er, returned yet.

        Seriously, though, cast your mind back (if you are not old enough, I apologise) to when there WAS no “climate science”, and we had climatolgists, physicists, meteorologists, etc. If we do a Boolean subtraction of all those pre-existing fields, from what we today know as “climate science”, what are we left with? A: the perverse extension of uncontroversial (not “settled”, if you see what I mean) science, to produce the CAGW narrative. IOW, the grant-sucking b-s. This is why in an earlier exchange with you I defended the notion that climate science should be “dismissed outright”, or words to that effect. Take away everything we already had, and I don’t think what’s left is worth a cracker. Throw out Eugenics – as we ought to – and we don’t throw out the uncontroversial genetics of which Eugenics is a perverse extension.

        Furthermore, to paraphrase Gresham’s Law, “Bad Science tends to drive out Good Science”. A recent glaring example was the management of the Wivenhoe Dam leading up to last year’s Queensland floods. Pre-“climate science” hydrology and climatology held that a major hydrological event was on the cards, and that the dam ought to be relieved to allow for the anticipated inundation. Post-climate “science” opinion scoffed at this advice, and cleaved to the party line that “settled science” decreed that Queensland’s chief peril was rising temperatures and water scarcity. They kept the dam full, with tragic consequences. Yet in a recent documentary, the presenter, having failed, perhaps, to catch RB’s whispered admonitions, prattled “…but nobody could have predicted……”. Pre-“climate science” hydrology and climatology did, but were ignored.

        Of course, since the floods, the process of theory-saving, started by the leveling of temperatures and the severe NH winters, has intensified, so we now have a veritable salesman’s swatch of theories underpinning the segue from “global warming” to “extreme events” – anything to keep the grotesque bandwagon rolling.

        And if you “don’t think (you) can muster the requisite cynicism to agree …..completely.” – regretfully, I see this as only a matter of time. :-)

      • TomFP –
        You make a very strong case.
        Especially because the vision of returning to the days of just meteorologists, physists etc is powerfully refreshing. Yes – I do see the vast majority of those employed in ‘climate science’ as (possibly worse than) superfluous..
        A very relevant comment made by one professor Richard Betts was to distinguish between met office climate scientists (like himself, I suppose, with no career or advocacy axe to grind) and the 90% who are climate-related scientists. Effectively those that do not have a job if there is no problem. Here I think you, me and Richard are in agreement although as a softly spoken soul, Dr Betts is unlikely to recommend defunding (or shooting) all the hangers-on.

        However, if there wasn’t as much cash sloshing around for spurious research, perhaps Gresham’s law would weed out the useful and leave merely the alarmist. I don’t know.

      • Anteros,
        As “Head of the Climate Impacts” at the Met Office, don’t you think RB has a greater obligation than just any old climate “scientist” to overcome his preference for being “softly-spoken” (I have a preference for staying in bed in the morning, but it doesn’t earn me a living), and call out his peers on their counter-scientific behaviour? Surely that’s why the State employs people like him – to be HEARD on such matters, not bury their admonitions in circumlocutory prose? Ah, but this is climate “science”, isn’t it? The only reason you HAVE a “Head of the Climate Impacts” (and we our counterparts in Australia) at all is that the proxymorons managed, a decade or so ago, to instil a belief in their absurd predictions sufficiently widely. If pre-climate “science” had been treated all along with the scepticism to which Betts is laying his prodigal claim, his job would never have existed! So no, I don’t expect Betts to recommend defunding of climate “science”. whether this is because he’s just a nice chap who doesn’t like upsetting people, or for less creditable reasons, is an open question, but one the good Dr has it in his power to settle. He’ll have to suck it up and get over his preference for soft speech, though.

  42. I wonder if Gavin Schmidt realises the visceral reaction many of us have to WWF and Greenpeace and other NGOs. I personally loathe them. It’s visceral for me. And many climate scientists involved with IPCC AR4 affiliated themselves with WFF (see top work by Donna Laframboise
    http://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2011/11/02/wwf-affiliated-personnel-in-working-group-1/ )

    Richard Betts has never made such a partisan error as to align himself with WWF. That’s why, of the two communication strategies noted in Prof Curry’s post I support Betts’s approach.

    • Spot on

    • Of course Schmidt knows, they bend over backwards to hide and minimize these associations. If you bring them up they start whining about being victims of “McCarthyism” and still haven’t figured out the Hollywood Ten really were guilty regardless of others excess.

      It can be just as bad or worse when they operate in stealth, Dr. Curry is a totally closed book. Who is potentially more dangerous? Partisan hacks like Hansen and Schmidt of the invisable partisan players pretending not to be biased when they clearly are.under closer inspection or worse unseen for what they are? All of Dr. Curry’s middling gives her credibility but do we know her associations and political culture? Why is that?

      • The fact we do not know Dr Curry’s political culture and associations is, in my opinion, a credit to her. One can hold policitical and religious beliefs without compromising themselves. Does the fact Tim Tebow is open about his love of and faith in God make him a better or worse football player? If you are going to judge someone – and personally, I try to refrain from doing so, as to date, God hasn’t contacted me to say he’s taking a break and wants me to stand in for him – judge them on their actions, not their belief’s and opinions.

      • timg56,

        The “objective scientist” card is out of credit. It isn’t even her personal views as much as failing to identify that AGW is an activist left wing culture. both poltically and in her field specifically. How do you expect to get near the truth with a backdrop disclosure premise like that?

        Can you explain why she maintains such a false premise?

      • timg56 –

        Well said. I’ve never really stopped to think about it, and it hasn’t jumped off the page at me – I don’t have the faintest idea as to Judith’s political orientation. I don’t have a clue what she thinks about nuclear power or environmentalism either.

        That might be a lack of observation on my part (as well as a lack of interest) but I do think it is also to her credit. If she has strong views but they don’t impinge on her ability to discuss topics openly, then so much the better. Less tribalism is good! :)

      • It think Judith is centrist with libertarian tendencies. At least that is what the survey she took said :)

      • The scientists that show the most facility with the theory, the data, or understanding how theory matches data, are also the ones that can see through the faulty analysis of people that don’t quite have the skill they do. Because they are the first to understand the process, they tend to be more vocal and release their opinions as a byproduct. Critics think of this as showing a superiority complex.

        As a historical example, consider the scientists of the Manhattan Project era that were the first to warn about the potential outcomes of building nuclear bombs. This included scientists such as Rotblat, Einstein, Russell, Joliot-Curie and Pauling speaking out in the 1950’s. Was that politically motivated and partisan, or were these scientists just showing their deep understanding of the implications?

        Sometimes a passive stance means a lack of deep understanding or an uncertainty in the outcome. And a vocal stance means that they just might know what they are talking about. YMMV.

      • WHT,

        Nah, it was just naughty scientists going off-piste into policy WHERE THEY HAVE NO BUSINESS……….according to some.

      • Michael –
        I think you’re close. They have no business talking as if their day jobs give them some kind of privileged access to the steering wheels of policy. That’s the tyranny of science and the way it is seen. Feyerabend had more pertinent things to say on this than you might think.

      • Yes,

        they must bow and scape and politely ask if anyone would terribly mind if they spoke about a topic on which they had some familiarity.

      • No…

        Just accepting that being a scientist doesn’t equal being privvy to the secrets and meanings of future events. Have a look at the FAR predictions to see what I mean – tea leaves would have been a better source of knowledge. Sure they have some familiarity, but omnipotence and omniscience don’t come with the bar charts and projections!

  43. Gavin Schmidt says “I think it’s far more important that people get a sense of the science as a work in progress, rather than one particular message or piece of content knowledge getting hammered home.”.

    Hypocrisy.

    • Off the scale hypocrisy.

      RC is a wholly totalitarian, one-note propaganda website. They defame and besmirch all dissent and pound the table with their self-appointed status that they gained after decades of political academic purging.

  44. “The image of Machiavellian emailers is not a desirable one”
    It’s not the image alone that’s undesirable. It’s the practice itself that is revealed in the emails – the collusion to “hide the decline”, to block rivals’ access to journals, to deny the data and code, the refusal to correct errors.
    What would best serve the cause of climate science would be cleaning the house, purging the Machiavellians, admitting errors, being truthful.

    It’s not a question of communication – it’s a question of substance. You can’t paper it over with better “communication” – i.e. more lies.

  45. The question is how long is Dr. Curry going to blather on about communicating Climate Science before she actually does any and then communicates about that?

    Andrew

    • Andrew,

      It’s the shameless middling and false equivalence of arguments while withholding her actual opinions that is pathetic. Has she ever admitted the AGW is a creature of leftist political agendas? How basic to truth is that? Why can’t she?

      • Yeah Judith, ‘fess up – tell us how you are really just a vile socialist plotting world domination through climate ‘science’.

      • Missing the point Michael, completely. Is the climate community an enclave of rightists, benign centerist or REALLY THE A WING OF THE EARTH DAY, ECO-GREEN ACTIVIST ACADEMIC COMMUNITY. What’s your guess Michael? Try to be objective and try with a straight face and say it isn’t important to the last 35 years of climate debate or the “TEAM” itself.

      • cwon,

        Yes, I’m sure Kerry Emanuel is a card carrying member of the “EARTH DAY, ECO-GREEN ACTIVIST ACADEMIC COMMUNITY”.

    • Latimer Alder

      Seems to me that Judith is entitled to run her blog any which way she wants. And those who sit on the sidelines and criticise her for not running it in the way they would like have the big opportunity to go elsewhere. Or to set up their own blog and see if they can attract any readers.

      The tedious obssesive and unpleasant Joshua is the worst offender, but he is not alone. Perhaps he will remember Marx’s wise words and tender his resignation…not wishing to belong to any club that would ‘accept’ him as a member.

  46. Judith C:

    “I am afraid that visceral response is the new buzzword for sounding an alarm.”

    Thank you for that, although it is more a statement of the bleeding obvious than an “I am afraid” euphimism

  47. Judith – please can you ask Gavin to do a guest post on what is solid and beyond dispute wrt climate science? I would certainly appreciate this information.

    “Very few of the stories are telling people what we know quite well. They’re always focused on what the uncertainties are. And that’s because that’s where scientists are focused. But it isn’t necessarily where the public sees the need for information.”

    • Maybe Gavin could explain the 2nd, 3rd etc Laws of Climate ?

      (The 1st is “It’s worse than we thought”)

  48. It’s always interesting when the topics skim onto core AGW drivers; ugly green zealot politics and ambitions, ethics (lying and propaganda), ideologues like Gavin Schmidt our own “Team” of board jackers (Robert, Joshua, Martha, WHT to name a few) fly into action. All the pompous claims about “science” fall by the wayside, it’s about climbing mucho mountain about how their side knows more, is the self-appointed “establishment” to judge these matters and of course are victims of skeptic smears while everyone who disagrees with them are unqualified and stupid in true NYTimes editorial fashion. Yawn.

    Dr. Curry makes some middling remarks like Gavin Schmidt “seeing evolution” that make no sense and then avoids the fray. Again, Dr. Curry is enabling the sort of low end warming trolls in the process. We need a better grade of AGW trolls, even if they need gene implants to be created from scratch. There are some very good posts on this thread for example but drowned out in noise of circus clowns I’ve mentioned above.

    • The AGW faithful are now trying to do the Orwellian job of making climate catastrophe skepticism the equivalent of creationism.
      Losers and liars frequently seek to reframe and redefine the terms of a dispute.
      How many times have AGW promoters redefined themselves? How many conferences symposia and lectures have AGW promoters given to teach people how to ‘communicate better’ about the science and its implications?
      AGW is eating science alive.

      • The last several topics, all of which touch on the important political culture issues, bring on the full stupid crowd. You know the ones that shout “science” all the time like they are the only ones who get to decide what the word means to be fitted into their political Utopian vision (hmm…like the Soviet education system in 1937).

        Again, the moderator deserves blame by not meeting a minimum standard of disclosure about her views. If she were honest the idiot factor would decline or most skeptics would simply give up if they knew with clarity she is really a brick wall of another sort for the AGW orthodox. She still has to use the term “activist” instead of “leftist AGW agenda” so the conversations are always starting from dishonesty. Encouraging the troll culture of those who should not be named as a rule.

      • Latimer Alder

        @cwon

        Y’know I really don’t actually care what Judith’s views are. She provides a forum for others to discuss (mostly) interesting topics.

        If you – and others – feel uncomfortable, you are very welcome to butt out. Attendance is not compulsory, but constant slagging off of our hostess is discourteous as a minimum and completely overwhelms any good points you might make.

        Same applies to the others who seem to have so little of interest to say that they spend all their time trying to psychoanalyse JC.

        Get a life you people!

    • @cwon, Please try to step back and see the big picture that a lurker might get from reading this blog. I appreciate (but don’t agree with) your ‘with us or against us’ (aka black and white) perspective. But, IMHO, you insult the intelligence of all who read/post here by suggesting that it is incumbent upon our hostess to rein in the clowns, clones and clueless choirs.

      That you so frequently choose to mount your own blinkered (if not blinded) hobby-horse strongly suggests to me that your vision of how one might more effectively combat the clueless clowns (and their choirs) would be far more appreciated if you were to create your own blog – and let all who are interested in your particular perspective get the full benefit thereof..

      And I would give the same suggestion to the thread-jackers who choose to pollute the discussions here with their respective hobby-horses. Not that I expect you – or the thread-jackers – to adopt my suggestions. You and they share a vested (albeit divergent) interest.

      The “interest” you share is, IMHO, far from respectful – and far from enlightening and/or informative.

      • Thank you for attempting to police your own. You mention clowns, I can’t even put cwon on the clown list because his is empty rhetoric and doesn’t have what it takes to present an alternative model. Just another person from the peanut gallery who only adds FUD to the important goal of evaluating an objective uncertainty.

  49. Hmmm … Gavin says:

    They have a visceral response to changes in landscape.

    I agree. I certainly do tend to have a visceral response when I see a once green and pleasant landscape now obliterated by the blight of a proliferation of unsightly, impractical, expensive, wind turbines.

    I also tend to have a visceral response when I read of a noble climate scientist whose sage (April 2007) advice includes:

    Frankly, I would simply put the whole CRU database (in an as-impenetrable-as-possible form) up on the web site along with a brief history of it’s provenance (and the role of the NMSs) and be done with it. […] (emphasis added -hro)

    Source and context

    One can hardly wait to hear Gavin’s redefinition of “impenetrable”.

    Incidentally, this same E-mail demonstrates that as a propagandist Gavin does quite well, but as a mind-reader (and/or motive detector), apart from a glaringly obvious intro**, he gets a failing grade.

    **

    As we saw with the whole HS affair, very few things have traction like the idea that data is being withheld (possibly only suppression of free speech is as powerful).

  50. The newly Revised Earth Energy Budget.

    Wm/2 INWARDS 1,000,000,000, 000

    Less amt used in conduction; surface = x, 1klm = y, 10klm = z

    Wm/2 OUTWARDS 1,000,000,000,000 – xyz .

    EG. Income – Expenses = Profit. (God always wins)

    Why do we ignore what is truly available to us.

  51. “Richard Betts | January 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm |

    I don’t think it’s settled, but I do think climate sensitivity is sufficiently likely to be within that range to warrant further investigation of the implications of that.
    I also think it is possible that climate sensitivity may fall outside that range and welcome research into exploring this and trying to narrow the uncertainty. I don’t really expect to see the uncertainties being narrowed any time soon though, so we’ll have to live with that.”

    Richard, I can clear up all of the uncertainties of Co2 sensitivity in 3 letters –
    ATE.

    Your premise is of no concern. For, whatever inference you draw from it, will be wrong.

  52. I cant help feeling that the communication of science has never been the two way process that it should be. There seems very little listening on the part of senders and receivers and any feedback being given is simply not getting through. It mirrors what is usually occurring on this blog.

  53. re Joshua at January 18 2012 at 1:04 p.m.

    Re Dr. Schmidt, Joshua said “so now at least I’m clear. You weren’t speaking to what he actually said, but to how you interpret his actions. ”

    Yes, his actions. It would be wonderful were Dr. Schmidt to change his spots, and perhaps he has modified his thinking and approach, and perhaps his words can be believed.

    However, as for his actions, consider the photo he chose for the cover of his book “Climate Change: Picturing the Science”. I won’t post a link, but anyone interested can find it easily enough on Amazon. That is an action, a choice on his part. That is “visceral”.

    • How does that picture show that he considers communicating about uncertainty as mutually exclusive with talking about what he considers to be certain? Seems to me like he does both.

    • Bruce –

      You make an interesting choice. The picture (and the whole book) actually has almost nothing to do with science. I would suggest that it is barely informed by science. It is a product of imagination, picture-thinking, wandering extrapolation and (particularly) worry. It’s purpose is not to inform (as it doesn’t deal in ‘information’) but to alarm. That’s what it is communicating – a visceral emotion, which is why visions of destruction are preferred to reasoning.

      ‘Dire Predictions’ is similar but even more thinly disguised. I think anybody that reads it [or endures it] will be able to ascertain the attempt at emotional manipulation and say “Yep, – fear-mongering propaganda”

      • Anteros –

        It’s purpose is not to inform (as it doesn’t deal in ‘information’) but to alarm.

        I don’t know. Haven’t read the book, but I wonder if your description might be a tad categorical. One might even say “alarmist?”

      • Joshua –
        I don’t know about ‘alarmist’ – certainly extreme, categorical…. single-interpretationed..?
        I don’t think there’s much to be alarmed about – more to be surprised, taken aback, and wishing to point out to others how I see such a thing coming into existence.

        Funny thing is, ‘alarmism’ isn’t solely perjorative [is it?] If you feel alarmed and make an effort to awake that feeling in others – which Gavin, I think, is trying to do – it is only unreasonable if there isn’t sufficient cause for alarm in the first place, which is a matter for dispute. I use ‘alarmist’ a lot because I think there is mostly insufficient cause for it…..

        OK, it is used pejoratively, mostly.

      • Josh,
        You could have stopped writing after admitting, “I haven’t read the book.”

  54. Re Dr. Schmidt’s book and its relevance to this thread:

    Joshua, you state “communicating about uncertainty as mutually exclusive with talking about what he considers to be certain? Seems to me like he does both.” Well, I provided an example of his choices with respect to communication. Perhaps there are other examples? You could provide other examples if you wish. Please don’t expect Real Climate to fly as an example of effective communication about uncertainty.

    Anteros, thank you for picking up on and expanding the examination of “an interesting choice”. Yes, I chose and example – an example of Dr. Schmidt’s communication choices.

  55. They have been very good at communicating their climate stance, the mainstream view that is.
    The problem with the path they have chosen lies with the culture of persecution, the unjustified? backlash against their research from very early on (PhD days), when they challenged one of the core foundations of 20th century energy use, atmospheric CO2 emissions.
    It was and still is a threat to ideology, the American dream, the economy, national security, and even democracy. Democracy works just fine with plenty of fossil fuels burning away….
    So the budding students found their purpose in life, to arrange the climate cogs in such a position to challenge our everyday lifestyles. Government threw lots of money their way, but never really listen to them. The position of the climate cogs is defended, and any dissenting view of how the climate cogs are arranged is quickly dismissed as tools of the “establishment” which is under threat from their “CO2 is bad” culture, past down from people like Hanson and Schneider. This is in spite of the fact that the climate cogs can be arranged in so many ways.
    However, the position of the climate cogs will not be determined by twisted history, but by science, something RealClimate and co have yet to learn, since they were preoccupied with defending a theory on its ethical and moral merits (if they are right we should do what they say), rather than its scientific merit (-if they are right that is). They have always been preoccupied with the fact that their research has major policy implications, rather than whether their research is actually any good (Many of the cogs can’t do what they want them to do, with the CO2 cogs role in the ice ages being so small that they invented an elaborate gear box to scale up its effect. The new gear box is terrible at everything else though, so they make up hockey sticks to help it along, always preserving and defending their position of defence.

  56. I like this post, tho a bit long. It is key to engage the skeptics and deniers on several levels. To not engage is to forfeit, but there I go again with the language of “fight” and “win”.

    Maybe these will help? 9 Tips to Communicating Climate Science: http://deepblueblogx.blogspot.com/

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