Confidence levels inside and outside an argument

by Judith Curry

[G]iving a very high level of confidence requires a check that you’re not confusing the probability inside one argument with the probability of the question as a whole. – NotWrong

I spotted this on my twitter feed, on a blog called LessWrong (I love it), a post entitled Confidence levels inside and outside an argument.  Excerpts:

Suppose the people at FiveThirtyEight have created a model to predict the results of an important election. After crunching poll data, area demographics, and all the usual things one crunches in such a situation, their model returns a greater than 999,999,999 in a billion chance that the incumbent wins the election. Suppose further that the results of this model are your only data and you know nothing else about the election. What is your confidence level that the incumbent wins the election?

Mine would be significantly less than 999,999,999 in a billion.

When an argument gives a probability of 999,999,999 in a billion for an event, then probably the majority of the probability of the event is no longer in “But that still leaves a one in a billion chance, right?”. The majority of the probability is in “That argument is flawed”. Even if you have no particular reason to believe the argument is flawed, the background chance of an argument being flawed is still greater than one in a billion.

More than one in a billion times a political scientist writes a model, ey will get completely confused and write something with no relation to reality. More than one in a billion times a programmer writes a program to crunch political statistics, there will be a bug that completely invalidates the results. More than one in a billion times a staffer at a website publishes the results of a political calculation online, they will accidentally switch which candidate goes with which chance of winning.

So one must distinguish between levels of confidence internal and external to a specific model or argument. Here the model’s internal level of confidence is 999,999,999/billion. But my external level of confidence should be lower, even if the model is my only evidence, by an amount proportional to my trust in the model.

Absolute authority

Another relevant post at LessWrong, entitled Absolute Authority.  Excerpts:

The one comes to you and loftily says:  “Science doesn’t really know anything.  All you have are theories—you can’t know for certain that you’re right.  You scientists changed your minds about how gravity works—who’s to say that tomorrow you won’t change your minds about evolution?”

Behold the abyssal cultural gap.  If you think you can cross it in a few sentences, you are bound to be sorely disappointed.

In the world of the unenlightened ones, there is authority and un-authority.  What can be trusted, can be trusted; what cannot be trusted, you may as well throw away.  There are good sources of information and bad sources of information.  If scientists have changed their stories ever in their history, then science cannot be a true Authority, and can never again be trusted—like a witness caught in a contradiction, or like an employee found stealing from the till.

Plus, the one takes for granted that a proponent of an idea is expected to defend it against every possible counterargument and confess nothing.  All claims are discounted accordingly.  If even the proponent of science admits that science is less than perfect, why, it must be pretty much worthless.

When someone has lived their life accustomed to certainty, you can’t just say to them, “Science is probabilistic, just like all other knowledge.”  They will accept the first half of the statement as a confession of guilt; and dismiss the second half as a flailing attempt to accuse everyone else to avoid judgment.

You have admitted you are not trustworthy—so begone, Science, and trouble us no more!

This experience, I fear, maps the domain of belief onto the social domains of authority, of command, of law.  In the social domain, there is a qualitative difference between absolute laws and nonabsolute laws, between commands and suggestions, between authorities and unauthorities.  There seems to be strict knowledge and unstrict knowledge, like a strict regulation and an unstrict regulation.  Strict authorities must be yielded to, while unstrict suggestions can be obeyed or discarded as a matter of personal preference.  And Science, since it confesses itself to have a possibility of error, must belong in the second class.

The abyssal cultural gap between the Authoritative Way and the Quantitative Way is rather annoying to those of us staring across it from the rationalist side.  Here is someone who believes they have knowledge more reliable than science’s mere probabilistic guesses—such as the guess that the moon will rise in its appointed place and phase tomorrow, just like it has every observed night since the invention of astronomical record-keeping, and just as predicted by physical theories whose previous predictions have been successfully confirmed to fourteen decimal places.  And what is this knowledge that the unenlightened ones set above ours, and why?  It’s probably some musty old scroll that has been contradicted eleventeen ways from Sunday, and from Monday, and from every day of the week.  Yet this is more reliable than Science (they say) because it never admits to error, never changes its mind, no matter how often it is contradicted.  They toss around the word “certainty” like a tennis ball, using it as lightly as a feather—while scientists are weighed down by dutiful doubt, struggling to achieve even a modicum of probability.  “I’m perfect,” they say without a care in the world, “I must be so far above you, who must still struggle to improve yourselves.”

There is nothing simple you can say to them—no fast crushing rebuttal.  By thinking carefully, you may be able to win over the audience, if this is a public debate.  Unfortunately you cannot just blurt out, “Foolish mortal, the Quantitative Way is beyond your comprehension, and the beliefs you lightly name ‘certain’ are less assured than the least of our mighty hypotheses.”  It’s a difference of life-gestalt that isn’t easy to describe in words at all, let alone quickly.

What might you try, rhetorically, in front of an audience?  Hard to say… maybe:

  • “The power of science comes from having the ability to change our minds and admit we’re wrong.  If you’ve never admitted you’re wrong, it doesn’t mean you’ve made fewer mistakes.”
  • “Anyone can say they’re absolutely certain.  It’s a bit harder to never, ever make any mistakes.  Scientists understand the difference, so they don’t say they’re absolutely certain.  That’s all.  It doesn’t mean that they have any specific reason to doubt a theory—absolutely every scrap of evidence can be going the same way, all the stars and planets lined up like dominos in support of a single hypothesis, and the scientists still won’t say they’re absolutely sure, because they’ve just got higher standards.  It doesn’t mean scientists are less entitled to certainty than, say, the politicians who always seem so sure of everything.”
  • “Scientists don’t use the phrase ‘not absolutely certain’ the way you’re used to from regular conversation.  I mean, suppose you went to the doctor, and got a blood test, and the doctor came back and said, ‘We ran some tests, and it’s not absolutely certain that you’re not made out of cheese, and there’s a non-zero chance that twenty fairies made out of sentient chocolate are singing the ‘I love you’ song from Barney inside your lower intestine.’  Run for the hills, your doctor needs a doctor.  When a scientist says the same thing, it means that he thinks the probability is so tiny that you couldn’t see it with an electron microscope, but he’s willing to see the evidence in the extremely unlikely event that you have it.”
  • “Would you be willing to change your mind about the things you call ‘certain’ if you saw enough evidence?

But, in a way, the more interesting question is what you say to someone not in front of an audience.  How do you begin the long process of teaching someone to live in a universe without certainty?

I think the first, beginning step should be understanding that you can live without certainty—that if, hypothetically speaking, you couldn’t be certain of anything, it would not deprive you of the ability to make moral or factual distinctions.

It would concede far too much (indeed, concede the whole argument) to agree with the premise that you need absolute knowledge of absolutely good options and absolutely evil options in order to be moral.  You can have uncertain knowledge of relatively better and relatively worse options, and still choose.  It should be routine, in fact, not something to get all dramatic about.

I mean, yes, if you have to choose between two alternatives A and B, and you somehow succeed in establishing knowably certain well-calibrated 100% confidence that A is absolutely and entirely desirable and that B is the sum of everything evil and disgusting, then this is a sufficient condition for choosing A over B.  It is not a necessary condition.

Oh, and:  Logical fallacy:  Appeal to consequences of belief.

Let’s see, what else do they need to know?  Well, there’s the entire rationalist culture which says that doubt, questioning, and confession of error are not terrible shameful things.

There’s the whole notion of gaining information by looking at things, rather than being proselytized.  When you look at things harder, sometimes you find out that they’re different from what you thought they were at first glance; but it doesn’t mean that Nature lied to you, or that you should give up on seeing.

Then there’s the concept of a calibrated confidence—that “probability” isn’t the same concept as the little progress bar in your head that measures your emotional commitment to an idea.  It’s more like a measure of how often, pragmatically, in real life, people in a certain state of belief say things that are actually true.  If you take one hundred people and ask them to list one hundred statements of which they are “absolutely certain”, how many will be correct?  Not one hundred.

If anything, the statements that people are really fanatic about are far less likely to be correct than statements like “the Sun is larger than the Moon” that seem too obvious to get excited about.  For every statement you can find of which someone is “absolutely certain”, you can probably find someone “absolutely certain” of its opposite, because such fanatic professions of belief do not arise in the absence of opposition.  So the little progress bar in people’s heads that measures their emotional commitment to a belief does not translate well into a calibrated confidence—it doesn’t even behave monotonically.

JC comments:  I found both of these essays to provide substantial insights into reasoning about climate uncertainty, confidence levels, communicating uncertainty to the public, and playing politics with uncertainty and confidence levels.

The IPCC has a very bad case of confusing the probability inside their argument with the probability of the question as a whole (e.g. 20th century attribution, 21st century projections, climate sensitivity).  Dangerous anthropogenic global warming is one possible scenario of the future; there are many other possible scenarios that  the IPCC completely ignores (heck, we cant predict solar variations, volcanic eruptions, and natural internal variability so we might as well ignore them).

The appeal to the consequences of belief pretty much sums up the public debate on climate change.

363 responses to “Confidence levels inside and outside an argument

  1. I fail to see part of the relevance to the points of controversy about climate science.

    The first essay is relevant when great certainty is claimed. That kind of considerations are essential, e.g., in risk analysis of nuclear power plants, and all professionals in that field are well aware of that. Considering climate science the only question of that nature that comes to my mind is

    Can we be really certain that CO2 does not lead to really catastrophic outcome?

    This is a question where a very high certainty may be considered essential. When we discuss the other edge of the uncertainty it doesn’t make any difference whether the likelihood of no real risk is 5%, 1% or 0.00001%. Even a likelihood of 30% would change the policy conclusions only little.

    Now to the question whether IPCC ignores solar variations. The size of solar variations is not an issue IPCC has been asked to answer, and that’s totally logical and correct. IPCC has been asked whether adding CO2 is dangerous. In answering that question the existing uncertainties in variability due to solar effects might change the estimated probabilities a little, but as I noted above that’s not significant.

    IPCC should tell, what’s most likely. It should also tell, what’s the risk of worse income than the most likely one. It’s not important that IPCC tells much about more benign outcomes than the most likely one, because those outcomes should not influence decision making anyway.

    • Well, i refer explicitly to their 95% confidence level regarding the attribution of late 20th century warming, and their predictions of what will happen in the 21st century. they define the problem in a very constrained way (leaving out perhaps most of the story), then use their models within this constrained framework to come to a conclusion with high confidence.

      • Judith,

        I’m specifically looking at this issue from the point of view of relevance for decision making. That point of view affects the weighting.

        If the questions are asked from the point of view of pure atmospheric science the conclusions may be different.

        IPCC does not have the task of advancing atmospheric sciences, it has a much more limited task.

      • Pekka, the three questions are
        “Why was he temperature, before we added CO2 to the atmosphere, wobbly”
        “Is the wobbliness now, normal woddliness or wobbliness and a CO2 induced rise”
        “How high can it go, with natural wobbles”

      • Doc,

        I don’t see how your questions are relevant to this post or to my above comment.

      • Don’t bring up Co2 and natural variability, Doc. Pekka is talking about decision making. Whole different kettle of snakes. Or is it fish? Well, what do a bunch of words matter when we are talking about decision making.

    • Hmmm … so if you conduct a drug trail, Pekka, and one person dies during the trial, but 99 survive a deadly cancer, you only report the single death? Interesting.

    • Pekka Pirilä – you say “Now to the question whether IPCC ignores solar variations. The size of solar variations is not an issue IPCC has been asked to answer, and that’s totally logical and correct. IPCC has been asked whether adding CO2 is dangerous. In answering that question the existing uncertainties in variability due to solar effects might change the estimated probabilities a little, but as I noted above that’s not significant.“.

      That’s so wrong it’s not funny. The models used by the IPCC make minimal allowance for solar effects. They then estimate climate sensitivity by assigning to CO2 all of the difference between observed temperature and their estimated other effects including solar. So the size of solar variation is a central issue. If they have got it wrong, then their climate sensitivity – on which all model predictions are based – is wrong too.

    • Pekka,
      You totally missed the concept. I suggest you reread the post.
      Brian

      • Or perhaps I was the one who understood.

        My comment is related to the first part of the post that discussed problems in estimating very small probabilities. Very small probabilities matter only for extreme concequences.

        The second part discusses totally different issues. We have seen on this site that many people have, indeed, difficulties in understanding what scientists try to tell – or scientists have difficulties in making themselves understood properly.

      • Pekka,
        The IPCC has no license to ignore any issue. It is a choice and your defense is misplaced. But carry on…

    • Pekka, that fact you can’t see the relevance is why you should never be allowed to brief anybody.
      It appears that you have never attempted to explain your work to people with a non-scientific background.

      With respect to cAGW and CO2, people are going to ask things like how could the Romans grow grapes, the Viking settle Greenland, that frost fairs were held on the Themes and about other historical climate periods.
      You will tell them to STFU and trust the models; even though you personally are losing faith in them; but you are just going through the motions.

      One cannot but note the evolution of your views over the past few years. The bombast is still there, but there is the creeping awareness that reality isn’t following the script.
      Pretty soon, you will start to build yourself a fall back position, eyeing the lifeboats and calculating when to make your move to avoid the rush.

    • Pekka, you pose the question: “Can we be really certain that CO2 does not lead to really catastrophic outcome?” I assume that you mean “increasing levels of CO2.” You then assert that “This is a question where a very high certainty may be considered essential,” and that the “likelihood of no real risk” is irrelevant. (You omit any consideration of the timing of a possible catastrophe – whether it might be 20 or 200 years away surely has implications for policy.) You further assert that the possibility of “more benign outcomes should not influence decision making anyway.”

      I find this bizarre. Every policy choice is constrained – we can not devote all resources to one particular goal, nor to dealing with one particular possible risk. Given information about a possible risk – and we are talking about a possible risk here, not a certainty of serious harm if GHG emissions continue to rise – we must respond to that in a world where there are many other priorities. The likelihood and timing of potential risks are critical in how we respond to them, and the possible alternative outcomes must surely be weighed in our decision-making.

      This is my immediate response to your initial post – I might expand later

      • The consequences of an asteroid strike are of course quite consequential and can’t be ruled out with 100% confidence.

        If we did identify an asteroid that only had a .001% chance of hitting Earth, it might be worth the price of $50 triliion (CC pricetag) to send a mission to stop it. That is because there’s an “Oh $#!^!!” moment – right when it’s too late to act further, and the total loss is delivered almost instantaneously.

        But anyone who knows climate change knows this is quite the opposite of the situation. In an “Oh $#!^” moment for climate we might get +.4C trend in the next decade, disruptively surely, but probably not enough to even change the direction of economic growth.

        Is it too late to do anything? Was 350.org right all along? No, there’s enormous opportunities of mitigation through SRM, carbon capture (soft and hard) which are certainly still very economically viable, even beneficial if you’re a Keynsian. If CO2 is a lever up, its a lever down too.

        There is only a climate catastrophe of IPCC proportions if humanity would ignore multiple *whole degree* rises in temperature, decade,after decade. I agree, that would be quite scary. We’re nowhere near that time yet thoguh- we haven’t even seen *one tenth of a degree* rise, no acceleration in sea level rise. Fortunately we don’t need a final verdict on 2x CO2 ECS today.

    • David L. Hagen

      Pekka
      We can define very precisely how long a flea’s legs are and how high it will rise if it stretches/bends its legs. However, that says nothing as to how high the flea can jump, nor how high the elephant it is riding on rises/falls when it stands/sits – nor how high / low the hills and valleys are that the elephant traverses.
      1) Re: “IPCC has been asked whether adding CO2 is dangerous.”
      For the back of the envelope extreme, add ALL fossil fuel to the atmosphere. A major portion of atmospheric CO2 is already sequestered over millennia as carbonates. Consequently the atmosphere and biosphere approach partway to the prehistoric conditions. Life was abundant back then. Biomass will increase. Agriculture will increase, Mankind has learned to adapt from ice ages to the holocene optimum and back to the Little Ice Age. What is the big problem?
      To preserve their salaries, bureaucrats seek to preserve the program!

      2) To quantify CO2 impact, IPCC seeks to model with parameters tuned to fit 20th century. But a catastrophic global warming paradigm tunes CO2 sensitivity high and solar etc low. They give very high 95% probability to anthroprognic warming – when cloud uncertainties are so large we do not even know the sign, let alone magnitude.

      From lab experiments we can accurately quantify the radiative absorption/emission of CO2 by wavelength. However, we do NOT know the feedbacks accurately, nor the relative impact of CO2 to the rest of climatic variations.

      Lacking accurate knowledge of natural variations, the IPCC’s 95% probability rests on the fallacy of confidence in narrow areas with very low confidence outside that – combined with the logical fallacy of the argument from ignorance.

    • I think this is a very important point. It’s not an accident that so much of alarmist PR is focused on disastrous outcomes. It is, correctly, the most important part of the climate issue.
      First answer this: what are the chances of a really disastrous outcome? If they are high, we probably have to drop everything and do whatever it takes.
      If they are minimal: what are the costs of the rise in temperature? Can we adapt? Are there reasonable mitigation procedures? – that’s the second question, far far less urgent.

      Happily, the IPCC has seemingly gotten a better handle on the first question, and their answer seems to be that most disaster outcomes are quite unlikely.
      Unhappily, as this post points out, Black Swans are almost impossible to predict correctly. Running an open-ended massive CO2 experiment on the whole planet has always been a risky idea.
      I don’t think we’re going to do anything about it but hope for the best, though, as mitigation is never going to happen. And for the second question’s scenarios, probably many of us feel that making the world as rich as possible is the best adaptation there is.

    • The IPCC really don’t know that much. Why do you want someone who really don’t know the answers to tell us the answers?

    • it has a manmade fraction of a trace of a chance to have a significant influence. it is like spitting into the wind.

    • “Can we be really certain that CO2 does not lead to really catastrophic outcome?”

      Of course. Just look at the temperature profile of the atmosphere of Venus.

  2. Dr. Elliott Althouse

    If I were to put together a crack team to rob Tiffany’s on 5th Avenue, complete with C4, weapons, etc. this reasoning would consider us a serious threat., Not taking other things into account, such as the place is built like a bank vault and has trained armed guards and ridiculous video and electronic surveillance would make their insurance company go into crisis mode because they were about to be bankrupted. Yet because of the protections (analogs to the climate systems feedbacks along with the other variables mentioned above) they would most likely want to break out the popcorn and laugh at the video.
    A lot of explanation and proof should go into confidence that changing the composition of the atmosphere by one ten thousandth over decades in favor of a low level greenhouse gas will threaten our civilization. It is pretty clear that has not yet happened.

    • “If your experiment depends on statistics, you should have thought of a better experiment” – Ernest Rutherford

      I have observed before that ‘climate science’ seems to consist of little more than a bunch of amateur statisticians erecting a statistical wall to conceal the null hypothesis of an experiment which has essentially not changed for 30 years. Instead of chuntering about uncertainty, proper scientists should be declaring that their CO2 experiment has returned a null result. If they still believe that their theories give cause for alarm, they should sit down and think of a ‘better experiment’ to confirm their fears, not simply mess about with the old one to see if they can get a better result. The quality of that ‘better experiment’ is likely to be inversely correlated to the amount of funding known to be available for performing it.

  3. Lubos Motl gives a physicist’s perspective on confidence levels.
    http://motls.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/95-percent-confidence-in-hep-vs-ipcc.html

    “In particle physics, statements or findings that are “95% certain” are usually referred to as “2-sigma deviations” from the null hypothesis. The numbers 95% and 2 may be translated to each other using the precise maths of the normal distribution (or a more accurate distribution, whenever it is relevant).

    The number of standard deviations, 2, is calculated from the experimental data in a straightforward fashion. There’s a clearly defined calculation that may be done by a computer. You insert the theoretical predictions from the null hypothesis, the measured data, and the program may calculated how much the observed values deviates from the predicted value and how likely it is for such a large or larger deviation to occur by chance.”

    Does a random number generator in a GCM increase the likelihood that the spread of model projections covers the real earth temperature data?

    If random number generators were removed from GCM, would they be more likely to have been falsified?

    • In economics, you wouldn’t accept anything at less than a 95% confidence level, and would prefer 99%. This is for relationships with much smaller implications than whether the world is doomed by GHG emissions.

      When the IPCC depends on statements such as “very likely,” meaning a two in three chance, to make its case, you know to ingore it.

      • Not being an SA here, Faustino, but what in economics is known with 95% certainty? I assume you are referring to data and not theories about how economies work?

      • jim2:

        “Confidence Level
        A sampling risk of 5% (which equates to a 95% confidence level) accepts the risk that 5 in 100 samples will not reflect the values that would be seen if the entire population was examined.

        Statistical tools can calculate sample sizes for different populations, occurrence rates, and confidence levels. For example, for a population of 1000, and a 90% confidence level that no more than 5% of the items are nonconforming, you would sample 45 items.
        …If we increase the confidence level to 95%, and changing the nonconformity rate to 1% or less, it would expand the sample for a population of 1000 to 259, far more than 45.”
        - http://www.whittingtonassociates.com/2012/12/audit-sampling/

        The above is covers only part of the question. There are other factors to consider. The problem is, there may be 10,000 documents, all involving real money. How to deal with that efficiently?

      • This is surely the crux of the inside/outside issue. Presumably, Faustino, your profession requires such a high INTERNAL confidence level of its models precisely because their EXTERNAL confidence level are known, at least intuitively, to be significantly lower?

      • jim2, I’m talking of economic/econometric modelling in which, for example, you seek to determine relationships between various variables, or the prospective outcomes of alternative policy options. The first such studies I worked on, in 1966, were to investigate the relationship between inflation and employment. If you established that a certain relationship was statistically significant at the 95% level, you’ld give it some credence, at 99% you’ld think it was reasonably well established. Under 95%, you would say that no relationship had been established. And of course, in reporting you’ld supply all your assumptions, data and techniques so that others could properly assess and critique your work. And I can’t recall non-conforming work being decried because you weren’t in the right club.

        (I’m pretty rusty in this area now.)

      • Tom F-P, don’t know, don’t think so. It is a hurdle which was generally accepted. For the record, I’m not a mathematician, statistician or econometric modeller, but as an economist have been involved in quite as lot of econometric modelling for research and, more often, policy purposes, besides following the modelling-heavy economic literature up to 2002.

  4. Consequences of belief, indeed. I guess there is a slippery slope from the white lie (say it even if it’s not true, since the consequences will be good) to actually believing because of the consequences.

  5. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Judith Curry asserts “Dangerous anthropogenic global warming is one possible scenario of the future; there are many other possible scenarios that have a greater likelihood ([including] solar variations, volcanic eruptions, and natural internal variability).”

    Judith Curry, your assertion is stronger than anything in the IPCC conclusions! To ask a definite question:

    • If CO2 doubles, what is the likelihood that in the next two thousand years the Pantheon of Rome will be destroyed by a rising sea?

    • If CO2 does *not* double, what is the likelihood that in the next two thousand years the Pantheon of Rome will be destroyed by a rising sea (due to natural climate variability and/or solar variations)?

    • If the Pantheon of Rome is not drowned by a rising sea, what is the probability that it will endure for another two thousand years?

    Judith Curry, surely you cannot be seriously asserting that the second probability is larger than the first? If so, do you have any scientific basis for asserting that conclusion?

    More seriously, what concrete advice can the best available climate-change science give to the custodians of the Pantheon?

    And how can the strong support that climate-science affords to Jeffersonian human values be balanced against the devastating threat that climate-change science poses to hundred-trillion-dollar in-the-ground carbon assets of Big Carbon oligarchies?

    Admittedly these are tough questions, Judith Curry! And yet, scientists cannot responsibly evade participating in finding answers, choosing strategies, and taking action … for the common-sense reason that every scientist appreciates:

    “Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.
       —  Wendell Berry

    Note to denialist quibblers: the Pantheon’s base stands 13 meters (43 feet) above present-day sea level.

    \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • Fan, my copy doesn’t have the words “that have a greater likelihood” in it. Was this there in an older version or are you misquoting?

      • I changed the wording slightly to minimize confusion (although I make no claims to be able to minimize Fan’s confusion)

      • That helps, then I can see what he would have been complaining about.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        JimD, my quote was a verbatim cut-and-paste of Judith’s original post. It appears that the post has now been edited to redact its original (unsupported) claim that non-AGW climate-change mechanisms “have a greater likelihood.”

        That is a good edit (as it seems to me) Judith Curry!

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • If only Dr. Curry could administer Thorizine.

      • > I changed the wording slightly to minimize confusion (although I make no claims to be able to minimize Fan’s confusion)

        An explanation that have a greater likelihood is that the previous wording would be unjustified, more so considering the appeal to ignorance that follows, starting with “heck”.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Read literally, Judith Curry’s original post asserted a core axiom of climate-change denialism, namely, that AGW is *not* the most likely scientific explanation of the Earth’s sustained energy imbalance.

        Whether Judith intended her original assertion to be read literally, it is plausible (even inevitable) that the denialist community would have *quoted* her literally.

        That’s the common-sense scientific reason why Judith’s reconsideration/redaction was well-advised. Well done, Judith Curry!

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • I changed the wording slightly to minimize confusion

        Interesting.

      • Well I’m still a bit confused as to what these “alternative scenarios” are which the IPCC is supposedly ignoring. Yes it’s true that we can’t predict solar variations, volcanic eruptions, and natural internal variability but it’s still expected that they will happen and their existence is entirely compatible with expectations that over the longer (multi-decadal) term anthropogenic influences will most likely lead to “dangerous” warming. Now I’m prepared to accept that our understanding is incomplete and that scenario may turn out to be less (or indeed more) severe than anticipated but I think claims of “alternative” scenarios need to consist of a bit more than handwaving. I mean if the IPCC is “ignoring” them then there is presumably some actual evidence which they are ignoring. So where is it?

      • Read literally, Judith Curry’s original post asserted a core axiom of climate-change denialism, namely, that AGW is *not* the most likely scientific explanation of the Earth’s sustained energy imbalance.

        Look at the rapid response of temperature to day and night and to summer and winter and the rapid cooling after a warm year like 1998.
        There is NO sustained energy imbalance except in the minds and models of Consensus Climate stuff. I use stuff instead of science because you must be skeptic to be a scientist.

      • There will be a sustained energy balance if you carry on doing the thing which is causing the energy imbalance (ie putting more CO2 into the atmosphere).

      • Good point about about the cooling one would expect after an el Nino year such as 1998 though – skeptics should remember that.

    • Curious George

      The Aztec Empire had to execute a human a day as a sacrifice to the Sun to make it rise again the next day. Do you deny it was THE thing to do to avert the horrible consequences of not doing it?

    • When I last went to the Pantheon It had grass growing out of the spouting on the roof in the middle of modern day Rome. I doubt its ability to survive 500 let alone 2000 years waiting for the sea to come in.

    • ‘Jeffersonian human values’

      Jeffersonian human values include repeatedly raping ones female slaves and keeping your own children, born as a result of rape, in slavery.

      What an authority on human values Jefferson was.

      What next Fan, Lysenko for dogged defense of progressive scientific values, Maoist ecology and Salin as organizational hero?

      • Yeah, Jefferson was a flawed human being. But his influence on encoding greater values than he practiced in his own life (than any of us practice frankly) cannot be measured.

        Not to mention that the Sally Hemmings et al.story may or may not be true, but the rapist meme has no support other than radical progressive revisionists that I nkjow of. It is also wholly relevant to the worth of the principles he.

      • should be “irrelevant”

        My kingdom for an edit function.

      • …but the rapist meme has no support other than radical progressive revisionists …

        Well,other than that he was having sex with a woman who was his slave, that is.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      It’s hilariously fun toting up Climate Etc’s burgeoning denialist smear-list:

      • James “corrupt” Hansen
      • Michael “fraud” Mann
      • Barack “commie” Obama
      • Popes Francis & Benedict (uhhh … socialists?)
      • Teddy “the Green” Roosevelt
      • Johnny von “incompetent” Neumann
      • Wendell “murdering tobacco farmer” Berry
      • The Pantheon (duh?)
      • Thomas “rapist” Jefferson
      • Martin Luther “betrayer” King
      • Abraham “racist” Lincoln
      • Ronald “Montreal Accord” Reagan

      Dozens more names could be listed. It’s gotta be hard for denialists, living in a world with so litter virtue.

      “You kids get offa my lawn!”

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • Matthew R Marler

      A fann of *MORE* discourse: More seriously, what concrete advice can the best available climate-change science give to the custodians of the Pantheon?

      With reference to your 2,000 scenarios,

      (a) they have a lot of serious problems to deal with in the upcoming few decades;

      (b) this potential problem of CO2 increase is likely to be much better understood before the ocean rises 1 meter.

      Since you put it that way, the custodians of the Pantheon have nothing to worry about regarding CO2-induced climate change.

      • > [Fan's 2000 scenarios] have a lot of serious problems to deal with in the upcoming few decades;

        Is that a prediction or a statement of fact?

      • Matthew R Marler

        Willard: > [Fan's 2000 scenarios] have a lot of serious problems to deal with in the upcoming few decades;

        I meant 2,000 – year scenarios, the rising of the water. After reminding the custodians of the Pantheon that they have a lot of other things to worry about in the upcoming decades, I would likely engage them in a discussion of what those problems are.

        What would you tell the custodians? That a 13 meter rise in the Mediterranean would occur before 2200? In the upcoming decades? That it was their most important problem?

      • > What would you tell the custodians?

        I would tell them the story of the skeptic who went to the supermarket and never came back.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Willard(@nevaudit): I would tell them the story of the skeptic who went to the supermarket and never came back.

        CO2 zealots always end the discussions with insults.

      • You’re in no position to tone troll anyone, Matt “it’s stupid” Stat.

        The story of the skeptic in a supermarket shows the limit of skepticism: as a decisions theoretic tool, doubting sucks. Cf, Buridan’s ass or the problem of the two generals, if you please.

        I’m still waiting for you specification of solidity, by the way. I hope this specification won’t be ad hoc nor dispositional.

        Raising concerns and arm waiving possibilia won’t get you very far, but hey, please continue with the dignified indignation. You’re the boss.

      • CO2 zealots always end the discussions with insults….

        In contrast to what some might believe, that statement is obviously proven by a quick look around Climate Etc.

        Indeed, find an insult and you will inevitably find a “CO2 zealot” (notice the lack of insulting language) ending a discussion. And here’s how that works, 100%.

        The argument is absolutely true via the true Scottsman form of reasoning.

        Any non-”skeptic” who doesn’t end a discussion with insults must, by definition, not be a “CO2 zealot.”

        The argument is rendered relevant via a selective selection process. Any “skeptics” who end a discussion with an insult is deemed irrelevant.

        I’d be inclined to forgive Matt for that sub-optimal (and somewhat uncharacteristic) brand of logic if he were angry. I have it from a good source that mistakes attributable to someone being “angry” are more forgivable. But I doubt Matt’s angry. Of course, if he is he could just admit it and we could all just move on.

      • Steven Mosher

        you guys owe me a royalty if you want to keep using my sub optimal idea.

      • Check’s in the mail*

        *(as soon as Judith pays me for Uncertain T. Monster)

      • Actually, “suboptimal” is RyanO’s.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Willard(@nevaudit) Matt “it’s stupid” Stat.

        As in the play, “I am justly rebuked”. I regretted writing that. In hope for a reduced sentence, let me say it was the comment that was stupid, not the writer. Steven Mosher posts lots of good comments.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Steven Mosher: you guys owe me a royalty if you want to keep using my sub optimal idea.

        I apologize. I am embarrassed. Willard’s rebuke, as I wrote, was just.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Willard(@nevaudit): I’m still waiting for you specification of solidity, by the way.

        Somewhere I posted a criterion. That without further adjustment, model mean fit the 2032 mean global temp as well as the adjusted model mean fits the 1985 mean global temp. That would be a start.

        As I noted, no one outlined any criteria for accuracy when the alarmist CO2-based global warming bandwagon got started.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Matthew R Marler asserts a non sequitur:  “the potential problem of CO2 increase is likely to be much better understood before the ocean rises 1 meter.”

      Is the opposite eventuality not all-too-likely Matthew R Marler?

      In the event that the sea-level rise-rate accelerates in coming decades, affirming that James Hansen’s climate-change worldview is correct, then the main teaching will be that of Gen. Malin Craig (The US War Department History of WWII: The US Chief of Staff, Prewar Plans and Preparations, page 30):

      “Time is the only thing that may be irrevocably lost, and it is the thing first lost sight of in the seductive false security of peaceful times.”
         — Annual Report of the Chief of Staff, 1933

      In our century, the thermal inertia of the oceans ensures that we lives in “the seductive false security of peaceful climate-change times.”

      Conclusion  Denialism’s willful ignorance of science is disastrously matched by its willful ignorance of history. The worldview of climate-change denialism is the worldview of Neville Chamberlain: “Big Carbon brings you cheap energy for our time … cheap energy, I hope, with honour.”

      Study history *and* science, Matthew R Marler!  … and then face-up to responsibilities.

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • Matthew R Marler

        a fan of *MORE* discourse: Is the opposite eventuality not all-too-likely Matthew R Marler?

        Are you asserting that the Mediterranean will rise 1 meter before we understand the CO2 effects on climate better than we do now? To that, my answer is There is no evidence for that.

        Study history *and* science, Matthew R Marler!

        Sea level rise began before most of human CO2 was put into the atmosphere. You should review the history of all of James Hansen’s writings on the subject. Nearly everything he predicted to be bad in his grandchildren’s lifetimes won’t be.

      • Matthew R Marler

        A fan of *MORE* discourse: “Time is the only thing that may be irrevocably lost, and it is the thing first lost sight of in the seductive false security of peaceful times.”
        — Annual Report of the Chief of Staff, 1933

        Hence my repeated attention to improving flood control and irrigation systems. While people are worried about a several meter rise in sea level over the next few thousand years (possibly independent of CO2), and flying to conferences all over the place, they are (at least in California) neglecting their flood control systems, and exposing themselves to disastrous floods which will recur, as they always have in the past (history, remember?)

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Matthew R Marler wonders:  “Are you asserting that the Mediterranean will rise 1 meter before we understand the CO2 effects on climate better than we do now?”

        When we read your question literally, the evident answer is “no”. Parse it carefully for yourself, Matthew R Marler!

        Q  “After the Mediterranean rises 1 meter, will we understand the CO2 effects on climate better than we do now?”

        A  Again the answer is “no”. Because the scientific community *already* appreciates that James Hansen’s climate-change worldview is broadly correct.

        Conclusion  Further scientific progress is unlikely to alter the broad climate-change understanding that we *already* possess.

        Suggestion  If you endeavor to phrase your climate-change questions more scrupulously and logically, Matthew R Marler, then the clarity of your climate-change cognition may improve.

        It is a continuing pleasure to assist you in this regard, Matthew R Marler!

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • Matthew R Marler

        a fan of *MORE* discourse: Conclusion Further scientific progress is unlikely to alter the broad climate-change understanding that we *already* possess.

        “Broad”, huh? Well, that’s you. Always the undefined modifiers.

        My expectation is that 20 years from now we’ll have a much better understanding of three things: (a) whether and how the current changes in solar activity affect climate and (b) whether water vapor “feedbacks”, including clouds, exaggerate or dampen the hypothesized warming effects of increased CO2; and (c) where in the atmosphere/Earth climate system the changes, if any, occur.

        As to (c), you doubtless know that over the past century the sea level has risen in some places, fallen in some places, and fluctuated without trend in most places.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Matthew R Marler, we all appreciate — from global-scale thermometric, altimetric, and gravimetric observations — that global sea-levels are rising monotonically, without significant decadal fluctuations, in consequence of Earth’s persistent energy imbalance.

        That fundamental climate-change understanding ain’t likely to change much, is it? Because “Nature can’t be fooled” … and she balances her energy books with radiative energy emission, ain’t that right?

        Prediction  Today’s climate-change understanding has remained fundamentally unchanged since 1955, and likely the main foundations of that understanding will remain scientifically unchanged for the rest of the 21st century (albeit detailed dynamical models will improve).

        Meanwhile, the global *effects* of climate-change of course will accelerate … as the oceans warm and the polar-ice melts.

        That’s plain scientific common sense, eh Matthew R Marler?

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • > and flying to conferences all over the place

        Look! A flying squirrel!

        I bet this one’s fat too.

  6. I’m 100% confident that this “fan of more discourse” fellow is living a greener life by not switching on all the lights upstairs.

  7. I certainly agree with the second part. Give an inch and they take a mile, as they say. On the first part, if you look at the IPCC attribution histogram in Chapter 10 (Figure 10.5), the lower limit of their anthropogenic total and GHG 95% confidence bars are both well above the 50% point of the observed change, implying from this graph alone it would be much higher than 95%, so for their summary to state just 95%, they have clearly taken more into account than this attribution.

  8. ‘it doesn’t mean that Nature lied to you’
    The famous, ‘the operation was a success, but the patient died’ routine.

  9. ” ..there are many other possible scenarios that the IPCC completely ignores.”

    I have yet to hear a convincing defense of the precautionary principle when it comes so AGW…given the depth of uncertainty weighed against the cost of mitigation.

    I had a conversation with an editor at a well known progressive literary journal a while back.. It turned out he simply had no idea how tremendously expensive…in economic, hence human terms…such radical changes in how we provide energy for ourselves would be. The notion that we just might create more problems than we solve was something he didn’t seem willing to consider. It’s as if, when these people get a brief glimpse of the complexities involved…on every level…they just shut down and don’t want to hear anymore. Pretty discouraging. That there might be valid arguments for doing nothing until we know more, is so cognitively dissonant that in the end it’s much easier for them to think of us as stupid….or venal…deniers.

    • You could also point him to what the climate looked like 35 million years ago, the last time CO2 was 700 ppm (as is expected by around 2100). 5 C warmer, no ice sheets, high sea levels. It’s a real dilemma, continue carbon burning, get that, reduce it, get something more sustainable.

      • Why did the mass extinction precede the rise in CO2?
        The impact craters that is Chesapeake Bay and the Popigai crater in central Siberia suggest to me that big rocks, which kill terrestrial and marine primary producers are a big downer for pretty much everything except CO2.

        Have a look a the plot of impact timing and size of impact

        http://www.tulane.edu/~sanelson/Natural_Disasters/impacts.htm

        Only one species can save the biosphere from large impacts, and we can only do that if we are rich

      • Jim D

        The Ordovician Iceball Earth period occurred when atmospheric CO2 level was 10 times as high as today.

        (So much for the “CO2 control knob”)

        Max

      • DocMartyn

        Thanks for posting a very interesting link to mass extinctions on Earth.

        Max

      • DocM and manacker, neither of these disproves the connection between long warm periods and CO2. Mass extinctions could be due to volcanic events that increased CO2, but also dust and a temporary cooling (like the Cretaceous-Tertiary meteor, for example) could have led to extinction first. The Ordovician sun was much weaker than today and would have required much more CO2 to maintain today’s temperatures.

    • “It turned out he simply had no idea how tremendously expensive…in economic, hence human terms…such radical changes in how we provide energy for ourselves would be”

      I first came across that over twenty years ago with a conference involving (Aus) EPA personnel. Naively, I had then thought that all that was needed was some hard information showing the underpinnings of our current civilization

      It became frighteningly clear very quickly that such information was most definitely verboten – and anyone supplying said information was an enemy

      Nothing substantive has changed since then, only the degree of denial

      • Uber-warmist Ian Lowe publicly vilified me in 1989-90 for suggesting that there might be a role for economists in addressing potential CAGW (it was still officially “potential” then according to my briefing by the IPCC Chief Scientist. I think it’s still “potential).

    • “It turned out he simply had no idea how tremendously expensive…in economic, hence human terms…such radical changes in how we provide energy for ourselves would be.”

      How expensive was WWII?

      Some things just have to be done. And if we don’t choose to do it, nature will make us do it.

      • I was going to say expensive or dead, but you did it much better.

        But it is really only a couple percent of GDP if we get on it soon enough.

        Decarbonizing the economy is really rather cheap compared to the alternatives.

      • “How expensive was WW II?” Let’s see – wikipedia puts it at 60 million.

        People.

        But hey, to make a decarbonization omelet, who cares if you have to break tens of millions of human “eggs”.

      • Some things just have to be done. And if we don’t choose to do it, nature will make us do it.

        Chances are, decarbonizing our civilization’s energy sources within 3-5 decades isn’t one of them.

      • Wait for the crunch. If we continue on business as usual it’s coming. It won’t be gradual, it’ll come as a sudden realization like the banking crisis did, then everything will start unraveling.

    • pokerguy,

      If the editor knew you no longer consider yourself a skeptic, there is probably nothing you could have said to him that would change his mind. It has to come from a fellow progressive, or it is discounted automatically. You can see confirmation of this in the comments here every day.

      The “absolute authority” principle in the above post is alive and well in the CAGW camp.

    • “It turned out he simply had no idea how tremendously expensive…in economic, hence human terms…such radical changes in how we provide energy for ourselves would be. ”

      It’s worse than we thought.

      It’s not “tremendously expensive” it’s impossible.
      If, by some magic green wish, all fossil fuel sources were to disappear in say – 30-50 years, a very great part of humanity would perish. (most of humanity, more than 50%, 95% confidence).

  10. So, we can’t be certain of anything. Is that a certainty?

  11. Here is a premise:
    If you had a signal that appeared to be a ramp with some fluctuating noise riding on top of it, and you had the responsibility of removing that noise, would you be happy if someone told you the exact profile of that noise?

    I certainly would welcome it.

    So here we have a global temperature signal that features a major contribution from a bounded, reverting-to-the-mean source of red noise, with a bias of zero. The noise goes back 130+ years and is a straightforward measure called the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI).

    So why are not skeptics and deniers subtracting this source of noise from the raw temperature signal and thus potentially improving the confidence level of their own estimates? (See Nic Lewis, and others for examples.)

    Because they would rather rhetorically argue about the nature of uncertainty, thus increasing the FUD factor.

    Reducing uncertainty is what we want to accomplish. The theory of AGW is well-enough established for this to be a worthwhile endeavor.

  12. Steven Mosher

    here is a hand.

    Funnily don easterbrook did a post the other day at WUWT with the goal of pointing out all the mistakes that report made. Here is what I know before staring to read his report. I know the probablity of him making a mistake is much higher than the IPCC making a mistake.

    took me 2 seconds to find his.

    In short the “background probability” of a skeptic making a mistake is greater than the probability of the IPCC making a mistake.

    Consequently I can reject skeptical arguments on their face. I dont even have to find the error. I already know here is a hand.

    ###############

    Fight amongst yourselves.

    • At least he’s stopped claiming that most of the last 10,000 years was warmer than today.

    • Mosh,
      HA Ha you are so damn funny it hurts. :)
      Brian

    • I noticed a similar thing when WUWT thought Keenan had found an error in AR5. I think that just faded when people saw what Keenan was saying.

    • Matthew R Marler

      Steven Mosher: In short the “background probability” of a skeptic making a mistake is greater than the probability of the IPCC making a mistake.

      Nevertheless the errors of the IPCC should be tallied and noted.

      Consequently I can reject skeptical arguments on their face. I dont even have to find the error. I already know here is a hand.

      That’s stupid.

      • > That’s stupid.

        Actually, “there’s a hand” comes from G. E. Moore:

      • Calling a thumb a finger doesn’t make it a dog.
        ===============

      • Whatever you call it,
        Pointing to it proves
        It exists.

        You can ask for more solid requirements if you please.
        You can even pretend they’re minimal.

      • Steven Mosher

        Matthew.

        All you need to learn is how to re arrange the logic of an argument.

        Suppose I told you that I had a proof that 1=2.

        I’m sure you’ve seen that little proof.

        I would show that students and many times they could not find the error.

        But they knew the error was there. they just couldnt find it.

        their judgement that the proof was wrong, was warranted.

        They looked and thought.

        Either the proof is right and 1=2, or 1=1 and the proof is wrong.

        The same rational capacity that allows them to judge the correctness of the proof, the same rational capacity that allows them to find the error,
        allows them to judge the matter on its face.

        here is a hand. you can make a sceptical argument that I might not be able to counter, but I can merely repose the argument as

        Here is a hand is true OR your argument is valid.
        But, it is clear, that here is a hand, therefore, your argument must be flawed.

        i just take this rearrangement and apply it to other situations.

        i’m quite sure that willard is the only one who will enjoy it

    • In short the “background probability” of a skeptic making a mistake is greater than the probability of the IPCC making a mistake.

      Yep, the IPCC does junk science on purpose, not a mistake.
      It is for sure wrong, but it was not a mistake.

    • A little thought will reveal that your claim is not justified. Everyone in the IPCC believes that computer models of climate can substitute for scientific theories of climate. At least if they disagree they keep silent. That belief is an error of the most fundamental sort and it undermines any other claim to scientific respectability that the IPCC might make. I am not finished.

      You cannot find a shared belief among skeptics that is as fundamental as the belief that computer models can substitute for scientific theory and that undermines all other claims to scientific respectability by skeptics.

      The only candidate that you have is the belief that there is no greenhouse effect. But the vast majority of skeptics reject that belief.

      • Steven Mosher

        “Everyone in the IPCC believes that computer models of climate can substitute for scientific theories of climate. ”

        I dont. in fact I cannot think of a single person who does.

      • Theo Goodwin

        Steven Mosher | October 7, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
        ‘“Everyone in the IPCC believes that computer models of climate can substitute for scientific theories of climate. ”

        I dont. in fact I cannot think of a single person who does.’

        You will contradict this statement before the week is out.

      • Theo Goodwin

        Steven Mosher | October 7, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
        ‘“Everyone in the IPCC believes that computer models of climate can substitute for scientific theories of climate. ”

        I dont. in fact I cannot think of a single person who does.’

        You have had a major Revelation! You now realize that citing the output of a computer model as scientific evidence is stupid as mud! The fact that you have had this revelation will not be forgotten.

      • Steven Mosher

        Theo,

        computer models are tools. they are all wrong some are useful. some are more useful than others. Use and fitness of purpose is decided by users.
        not you. sorry, you dont get a vote.

      • Nullius in Verba

        “Use and fitness of purpose is decided by users.”

        Use and fitness of purpose are decided by whether it passes validation.

      • “computer models are tools”

        Yeah, they are just like hammers.

        Andrew

    • Matthew R Marler

      Steven Mosher: In short the “background probability” of a skeptic making a mistake is greater than the probability of the IPCC making a mistake.

      Maybe. What matters in the end is which statements are correct, or at least best in accordance with the evidence, not whether they came from the IPCC or a skeptic. Given some skeptical criticism of an IPCC claim, which is best in accordance with the best science?

      • Steven Mosher

        I’m not so sure.

        I’ve read a great deal of the IPCC report. I’ve yet to find a demonstrable error. That doesnt mean they dont exist, but ive yet t o find one.

        On the other hand, I read a post by Easterbrook. he claims to have found many errors. I check one of his claims. He quotes the IPCC claim about spring snow extent. he then “disproves” that by showing a chart of winter snow extent. Now, if I can find an error in an 800 word blog post after 2 seconds of reading, what should be my expectation? with one document I’ve read hundreds of pages. no mistakes. the other document 800 words.
        the first thing I checked was wrong.

        If I gave you a limited amount of time and the goal of finding a mistake
        would you look at the rest of easterbrook or 800 words from the IPCC?

      • “I’ve read a great deal of the IPCC report. I’ve yet to find a demonstrable error.”

        Binary thinking. Error or not error. Appreciate the poetry for what it is.
        The IPCC declares it doesn’t do science, therefore there aren’t going to be any errors to find.

        Andrew

      • Theo Goodwin

        Steven Mosher | October 7, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        I’m not so sure.

        “I’ve read a great deal of the IPCC report. I’ve yet to find a demonstrable error.”

        In the last few days, some people from that vague group that speak for the IPCC have held both that increased aerosols in the atmosphere explain the hiatus in warming and that increased transfer of heat to the deep oceans explains the hiatus in warming. I hope it is obvious to you that those two explanations conflict; that is, only one of them can be true.

        In addition, there is literally no evidence to support the claim that there has been increased transfer of heat to the deep oceans. At this point, the claim is sheer speculation backed by nothing.

        Exactly the same applies to the claim about aerosols.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Steven Mosher: I’ve read a great deal of the IPCC report. I’ve yet to find a demonstrable error. That doesnt mean they dont exist, but ive yet t o find one.

        I expect I’ll have to read the whole thing myself. Ugh. The example you cite is “complementary” cherry-picking: IPCC cherry-picked the data they like; Easterbrook (in your telling) cherry-picked data with a contrary implication.

        You have identified, in your telling, a clear case of cherry-picking by the IPCC and have decided that it is not an error, though it was demonstrated. It’s confirmation bias, and it is an error.

    • Assuming that Mosher’s stupid comment was actually true, it would only mean that Skeptic arguments to regulate the lives of billions of people should be looked at skeptically.

      But the alarmist argument of IPCC has been embraced by alarmists and endorsed by the science establishment. Unlike skeptics who have never endorsed the work or ideas of other skeptics, alarmists actually did put their own credibility and the trustworthiness of their own scientific judgment in support of the assessments. And the studies they rely on have been shown to be badly flawed, the databases they rely on to be manipulated, the statements about the quality process of their work to be bald misrepresentations, and the value of their projections to be worthless.

      Can we thus reject alarmist arguments using the Mosher standard? We should and we must. As Mosher’s line of reasoning tells us.

      • Steven Mosher

        “Unlike skeptics who have never endorsed the work or ideas of other skeptics, alarmists actually did put their own credibility and the trustworthiness of their own scientific judgment in support of the assessments.”

        skeptics never endorsed steve mcintyre? Willis? Anthony? Salby? Carter? never?

        Given your statements about skeptics never endorsing other skeptics and my given my reading of skeptics supporting other skeptics, Im on solid ground believing that the rest of your comment is rubbish.

  13. Recent observational studies confirm the IPCC statement that most of the warming since 1951 is very likely caused by man.

    I think the IPCC attribution statement is therefore valid. Perhaps even a bit too conservative. I am sure they could have pointed out that over 75% of the warming since 1951 is likely caused by man.

  14. Murry Salby provided an hour lecture of a pretty conclusive argument that manmade CO2 has not much to do with causing warming. The paleo data (as presented in AR5 fig 5.3) can be explained by CO2 responding to warming and the dominant CO2 signal is natural. The predictions based on physics and mathematics seem a very good fit with observations.

    So knowing that the ice under AGW caused by CO2 is looking thin, the IPCC shifts its position to say that humans are causing it anyway but by what theory??????

    • It’s not saying much that paleo CO2 is natural, providing evidence that the modern CO2 rise is natural is a whole nother story.

      A couple of theories apply

      C(s) + O2 –> CO2

      and

      C(n)H(2n+2) + O2 –> nCO2 + (n+1)H2O

      One is coal burns and the other is gas burns, got any empirical evidence to the contrary???????

      Other theories apply as well, perhaps you can think of one.

      • Doug Badgero

        What would be the impulse response to adding all of the anthro CO2 to the atmosphere at once? What is the final atmospheric CO2 concentration? Hint: There is 50 times as much dissolved CO2 in the ocean.

      • The impulse response would look like the Green’s function solution to the diffusion equation.

        There is no “final” concentration unless you want to wait hundreds or thousands of years.

        Next question?

      • Strawman. There is anthropogenic CO2 input and NOBODY disputes that. The change in atmospheric CO2 is positive and less than the anthropogenic input – therefore natural flux is negative, removing about half of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions. NOBODY disputes this either.

        However, the change in atmospheric CO2 correlates very well with the global temperature levels. If this behaviour continues, the change in atmospheric CO2 will decline with temperature in the next few decades.
        http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/webdata/ccgg/trends/co2_data_mlo_anngr.pdf

      • @BobDroege “It’s not saying much that paleo CO2 is natural, providing evidence that the modern CO2 rise is natural is a whole nother story.”

        Murry Salby explains all of that in the video lecture, rather conclusively.

      • eDimwit,
        100% certainty that the vast bulk of the excess atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic.

        No one doubts this other than brain-dead contrarians such as yourself.

      • Whut, I predict less than 2 ppm/year in average for 2010 – 2019. Surely, if you believe that the vast bulk of the excess atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic, you should also be certain that it will be significantly more than that, considering how anthropogenic emissions are increasing.
        http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n1/images_article/nclimate1332-f1.jpg

      • ” Edim | October 7, 2013 at 7:51 am |

        Whut, I predict less than 2 ppm/year in average for 2010 – 2019. ”

        Hey eDimwit,

        The decarbonization of the world’s economy is in progress, no thanks to rapidly dwindling crude oil supplies and a greater reliance on lower-carbon natural gas. This is balanced by countries that will lean on coal to take up the slack.

        http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/
        August 2013: 395.15 ppm
        August 2012: 392.41 ppm

      • Whut, the decarbonisation, just like AGW, happens only in your dreams.
        http://www.climateblog.ch/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/em.jpg

      • Whut, the average for the 2010s will be less than 2 ppm/year. What’s your prediction? The emissions are increasing at the 2 – 3% growth rate.

      • Growth rate 2011-2012

        Germany +2.2%
        UK +4.5%

        Decarbonisation is just a bureaucratic verbiage.

      • I wanna know what the apparently small but accelerating negative feedback there is.
        ================

      • “UK +4.5%

        Decarbonisation is just a bureaucratic verbiage.”

        eDimwit has evidently not seen the news on UK’s oil and natural gas production nosedive over the last several years.
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-23771338

        Stuff buried in the ground does not last forever you know.

      • Whut, you must be stupid – I can’t think of any other explanation at this time.

        “Europa gebe Anlass zu verstärkter Sorge, sagte Birol. Deutschland hat dem Bericht zufolge seinen Kohlendioxid-Ausstoß 2012 um 2,2 Prozent erhöht, Großbritannien sogar um 4,5 Prozent.”
        http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/natur/internationale-energieagentur-co2-ausstoss-auf-rekordhoch-a-904834.html

      • The problem with the CO2 is natural theory is that if it is occurring now assumedly due to chance, and if by chance, by what chance and how likely would have been to occur by the same chance at any time prior to the dawn of the industrial age?

        Or is the rise in CO2 and the industrial age just a coincidence?

        That CO2 changes in response to temperature is not in dispute and Salby doesn’t provide evidence that CO2 is from a natural source.

        What about the drop in the O2 concentration in the atmosphere, what is causing that other than the burning of fossil fuels.

      • Bob Droege

        As you know, from the 1820′s to the 1940′s competent scientists using well established methods were regularly recording co2 concentrations at 400ppm . These days they are thought to be impossible and therfore inaccurate.

        It would be interesting to properly audit the more credible of the old records if only to finally discount them for good..

        tonyb

      • tonyb,

        Current mean global atmospheric CO2 concentrations
        varied between 360 and 370 parts per million
        (ppm) (Kasting 1993; Berner 1997). Daily ambient concentrations
        of CO2 in the WCW during the growing
        season were found to be strongly diurnal with pre dawn
        values of over 500 ppm to midday values of around 300
        ppm or less. Results for 1 day (16 July 2002) over a corn
        and soybean field showed a typical diurnal trend for a
        clear warm day in Iowa of CO2 fluxes (Figure 3a). …

        If the United Kingdom wants to be the proxy for global CO2, they’ll have to fight Iowa.

      • Tony,
        I don’t think even Beck’s work was impossible or inaccurate, I think the problem with that work is that there can be local variations in the concentrations of CO2, and those local variations are not what we want to measure, we want a global average, that’s why they measure above the vents of an active volcano.

        JCH, that Iowa study is garbage, I’ll only accept readings taken from Illinois, where corn and beans are king.

      • Bob Droege

        Our scientific ancestors who took readings became well aware of local variations and the effects of vegetation. Britain had its first co2 act back in 1880 when a maximum concentration was set for cotton factories.

        Inspectors were aware that when enforcing the law they had to take into account even the flames from the gas lights.

        If the Victorian scientists (and those up to and beyond the birth of the Atomic bomb) were wrong, it demonstrates that science always evolves and we should not be too certain that we now know everything about the carbon cycle.

        tonyb

      • Tony,
        If you could read, you would see that I was saying the 19th century measurements of CO2 were not wrong, but that doesn’t mean we know nothing about the carbon cycle.

        I am not 100% sure that the current rise in CO2 is due to man, but there is a number in this blog that comes pretty close.

        There is too much evidence from too many different places that the rise is due to burning fossil fuels. Anything else is wing-nut territory.

        NOAA measures at more places than Hawaii, Barrow, the south pole, Samoa, Ascension Island to name a few, maybe the modern methods are all wrong, but I doubt it.

  15. heck, we cant predict solar variations

    If you mean we by the consensus vote,then the statement would be correct (It has always failed) The diversifiers have been doing very well.

    Chistyakov 1983 correctly predicted that the Gnevyshev-Ohl rule would breakdown for SC 23 and SC 24 would be lower still, which seems to be the case

  16. Walter Carlson

    Judith…I find your statement sbout a number crunching resulting in 999,999,999 etc to be a ‘strawman argument’. Making up such baloney, then discussing it….a waste of time and brain power.

  17. All this is par for the course in the ongoing climate change “debate”.

    Rather than face the issue of global climate change head on, and work to clearly identify and understand the causes and consequences, as well as the certainties and uncertainties, the basic approach of these “climate debaters” is to generate extraneous diversions that seek instead to address metaphysical questions to see how many morons can be stacked on a pinhead.

    Would it not be better to start with the basic physics of global warming.
    Start first by acknowledging and understanding that it is the terrestrial greenhouse effect that keeps the global mean surface temperature about 33 K warmer than it would be there were no greenhouse effect.

    Next, it is important to understand what contributes to the terrestrial greenhouse effect. Radiative modeling analysis shows that: about 50% of the greenhouse effect is due to atmospheric water vapor, about 25% is due to cloud LW opacity, and that 25% of the greenhouse effect is due to the non-condensing atmospheric gases. By itself, atmospheric CO2 accounts for about 20% of the terrestrial greenhouse effect.

    Once we have gotten this far, we need to stop and take note of the significance of the non-condensing greenhouse gases versus the feedback contributors, water vapor and clouds. The point is that once the non-condensing greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, O3, CFCs) are injected into the atmosphere they stay there for decades, and much longer. The reason for that is that these gases are chemically slow reacting, and do not condense and precipitate from the atmosphere at current climate temperatures.

    The feedback contributors, water vapor and clouds, are strongly dependent on the local atmospheric temperature structure. If the relative humidity exceeds 100%, water vapor condenses, forms clouds, and/or precipitates from the atmosphere. Because of this circumstance, atmospheric CO2 becomes the principal controlling factor of the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect. Hence, it is the continuing increase in atmospheric CO2 that drives global warming.

    To cap the scientific argument, precise measurements show that atmospheric CO2 stands now at 400 ppm, and is increasing by about 2 ppm/yr. Isotope analysis, as well as information supplied by the fossil fuel industries (that humans extract and burn the equivalent of about 10 cubic kilometers of coal each year) leave no doubt that it is humans that are the cause of the CO2 increase, and hence, global warming.

    It is time to stop wasting time contemplating the sublime meaning of ‘95%’, and wondering what in the world the remaining ‘5%’ might refer to.

    • Gosh Andy – it’s all so darn simple once you explain it that way! Now why haven’t I heard it before now? It’s really a shame, though, that the models don’t work, eh?

    • ‘The point is that once the non-condensing greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, O3, CFCs) are injected into the atmosphere they stay there for decades’

      Not for methane, nitrogen oxides or ozone. The modeling of CO2 atmospheric residence and its return back to pre-industrial levels is worse than your GCM’s; difficult to design something worse than GCM’s I know but the Bern model is wrong.

      CFC’s probably decadal. So you got one right.

      • Doc, CO2 is truly non-condensing and that is 80% of the group of non-condensing.

        CO2 just wanders around looking for a sequestering site. It can cycle back and forth between the atmosphere, the ocean, and biota while looking for that site (i.e. the carbon cycle). The solution to this random walk has a Fickian diffusional response and that has a well known fat-tail in its temporal behavior. The Bern model approximates the diffusional response by a set of exponentials. A fat-tail with a 1/sqrt(time) shape can and does extend for hundreds of years at these diffusional rates.

        It really is an awesome physics-based theory that is self-consistent any way you cut it.

    • Dr. Elliott Althouse

      You miss another key feedback component, the life on earth which considers CO2 food. Absent the human induced local climate effects of over clearing tropical areas, which are 100% man caused, but not salient to your argument, the CO2 allows for more carbon storage in flora, expansion of forest, and also storage of H2O in all the plants. This increases humidity and cloud/water droplet formation which reduces warming. Lastly, humans only are responsible for about 3% of planetary CO2 emission to the atmosphere with 55% from the biosphere and 42 from the oceans. It will be a long time before this small amount overwhelms anything.

    • Jim Cripwell

      Andy, You still have not answered my question. Has the value of climate sensitivity been measured? Yes or no.

      • Pulling out my climate-sensitivity-ometer….interesting, the scale starts at 3 degrees C. Who designed this thing???

    • “Start first by acknowledging and understanding that it is the terrestrial greenhouse effect that keeps the global mean surface temperature about 33 K warmer than it would be there were no greenhouse effect”

      Hold your horses there for a moment. One of the ‘feedbacks’ hat worry you so much is the loss of polar ice, as loss of ice causes an albedo change, that leads to an increase in absorbed radiation.
      No call me Dr. Suspicious, but did not the Earth have a quite different atmospheric mixture, different land distribution and quite different albedo during its long 4 billion years of being a biotic planet?
      This 33 K that you pluck from the air is at present dependent on the levels of ice at the pole, the blue oceans and the levels of clouds.
      If I had the Magratheians build me an identical sized plant, with no CO2 in the air, but had them cover the surface with Bucky-Balls then the sister, Ebony-Earth would be warmer than this one.
      You also ignore rotation speed. A fast rotation gibe a higher steady state temperature and a gravity locked, one day per year planet, would have the coolest (Max+Min)/2.

      If you want to pluck numbers out of you bottom, pluck the caveats too.

      • Doc, “This 33 K that you pluck from the air is at present dependent on the levels of ice at the pole, the blue oceans and the levels of clouds.”

        It is actually kind of ironic how little that 33C depends on the poles. The area from 75 to 90 degrees is only 1.7% of the total surface area and the low solar angle pretty much forces lots of reflection whether the surface is snow or open water for the few months of the year they do have significant solar irradiation. Clouds appear to provide more energy at the poles than solar somewhat explaining that stubborn Antarctic region the models are hopeless lost on.

        33C is totally at the mercy of those silly clouds.

      • They’re only now and then so loud
        The Gods who laugh us from the clouds.
        ================

    • stevepostrel

      This “top-down” approach to the problem is intellectually attractive in many ways, but it doesn’t get us to the conclusion that ACO2 is causing or going to cause human-significant warming of the planet. There are reasons why advocates of Urgent Mitigation have deployed so many other lines of argument (e.g. paleoclimate or time-series analyses of the measured data).

      1) The radiative forcing gives us an energy balance argument for the whole earth system, but not for the surface temperature or for the overall weather systems we care about. Hence the recent auxiliary hypotheses about deep ocean “sequestration” of heat. If most of the energy is going into a vast, chilly heat sink far out of our purview, so what?

      2) It’s not clear whether the equilibrium or the transient response is what we should pay attention to on the scale of human civilization.

      3) Negative feedbacks seem not to be studied at all (certainly not publicized) in mainstream climate science. But obviously, warming–> evaporation–>reflective clouds–>increased albedo–>reduced forcing must be at least a gross, if not net, factor in the energy balance. It seems as though this topic is avoided in all public discussions of the issue. Likewise the problems that the GCMs have with the tropics and with resolving critical thunderstorm phenomena at scales below model resolution.

      4) The non-amplified CO2 effect is not enough to justify Urgent Mitigation as a policy, according to the simple equations cited by mainstream climate science–the temperature increase, even if it were all at the surface, is not that big. You need to tell some complicated stories about positive water vapor amplification to get to the point that action is warranted. Those stories don’t involve simple anything, much less simple radiative physics.

      5) At the summit of Mount Agnostica, the relevance or application (NOT the correctness) of the radiative processes might be questioned. Do we really know accurately the insulating R-value of the atmospheric blanket? Are there “holes” in it, caused by dynamic forces, especially at scales smaller than the grid sizes of climate models? Perhaps the existence of such holes could account for the non-climate-like properties of the time series generated by the models compared to the actual record.

      In a recent New York Times magazine article,

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/magazine/into-the-wildfire.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

      the subject of forest fires and their propagation is discussed. It seems that there have long been “standard” computer models of fire propagation based on the idea that fire spreads by radiative heating of nearby fuel. These models were long known to be poor predictors of fire behavior, but they were the best we had and were justified on top-down grounds similar to the ones proposed here. But now some fire scientists have performed experiments with radiating heat sources and fuel samples showing that forest fires do not generally propagate by radiative heating of fuel. Instead, they propagate by horizontal expulsion of burning embers and flame, said horizontal movement occurring even in the absence of wind because of endogenous convection processes–self-generated “weather.”

      Obviously, drawing an analogy between the forest fire models and the GCMs is mere hand waving. But it might be like the hand waving of a hula dancer, suggesting an important story that could stand further investigation before we go to battle stations and outlaw combustion.

      • Brilliant, brilliant post. Your analysis of the deficiencies of the top-down approach is superb.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Steve Postrel: That is a very good post. As analogies in this field go, the analogy of forest fire prediction is among the best. We frequently hear that the IPCC-cited climate models have to be used as the basis for planning because no one has demonstrably better models based on science; it is good to have reminders that false/inaccurate models may be too bad for their purposes even when there are no reliable alternatives.

        Our fallible human tendency to believe the ideas that we have studied or invented ourselves is an obstacle to understanding and learning. It is necessary to subject everything to intense skeptical examination and see what ideas (theories, models, etc) survive with a record of reliability and accuracy.

        The IPCC-cited models are not doing very well in this respect lately, yet the writers have increased confidence instead of decreased confidence. Belief strengthening like that has been studied in the context of religious believers and group decision making (e.g. “groupthink”).

    • Matthew R Marler

      A Lacis: Would it not be better to start with the basic physics of global warming.

      I always start with basic physics. In my other responses to you I referred to the fact that the effect of CO2 increase on non-radiative heat transport from surface to upper troposphere is unknown. I also mentioned that the hypothetical “equilibrium” has never been shown to be possible for a high dimensional non-linear dissipative system..

      If the relative humidity exceeds 100%, water vapor condenses, forms clouds, and/or precipitates from the atmosphere. Because of this circumstance, atmospheric CO2 becomes the principal controlling factor of the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect. Hence, it is the continuing increase in atmospheric CO2 that drives global warming.

      that is not sufficient to show that future CO2 increase will produce future temperature increases. If the rate of vaporization should increase then the areal coverage of the clouds that you refer to may increase as well; as might the rate of non-radiative transfer of heat from the surface to the upper troposphere. The clouds, at this state of climate, might damp the warming that CO2 might produce at the surface. Or do you assert that the hydrological cycle that you cite in the first sentence will be totally unaffected by the increase in CO2? Does “the basic physics” unequivocally establish that the cloud cover can not increase and damp the warming? Not according to reviews published in the journal “Science”.

      The amount of warming attributable to CO2 is so slow that extreme actions should be postponed until the science is a lot more complete and accurate. Even the case that warming is more detrimental than beneficial is full of holes.

      • > [T]hat is not sufficient to show that future CO2 increase will produce future temperature increases.

        What would, how should we proceed to get it, and why exactly do we need such sufficiency proof?

      • Marler,
        Physical processes are typically continuous and don’t show the kind of kinks or knees in the curves that you are imagining. Phase transitions do show this behavior, but these are smeared over a wide temperature range stretching across the latitudes and seasons.

        So why would you expect an Arrhenius-style thermally-activated rate law to do a u-turn and start going in the other direction?

        Certainly there can be some damping yet you said “that is not sufficient to show that future CO2 increase will produce future temperature increases” which is basically a flat-out lie when compared to the fact that you state that you “always start with basic physics”.

      • Matthew R Marler

        WebHubTelescope:Physical processes are typically continuous and don’t show the kind of kinks or knees in the curves that you are imagining.

        “kinks” and “knees” came from you. I refer to studies of non-linear dissipative systems of high dimension such as those presented in Kondepudi and Prigogine: “Modern Thermodynamics”: non-stationary traveling waves, gyres and such, analogous to those in the climate system. Can you direct us to even 1 high dimensional non-linear dissipative system that has been shown to have an equilibrium?

      • Matthew R Marler

        Willard(@nevaudit) What would,

        at minimum, a solid record accurately predicting the next 20 years of global climate change or stationarity.

        how should we proceed to get it,

        Continued research and stringent testing of all models at all levels of detail, pretty much as is happening now.

        and why exactly do we need such sufficiency proof?

        To have a solid basis for acting effectively throughout the future; making decisions about how much to invest in building PV factories and solar farms vs improving flood control.

      • Market, you really drank the kool-aid if you think fluctuations will overtake energy-balance arguments in the long run.

      • Your posts are very impressive. I regret that I do not have the time to comment on the particulars of your posts.

      • > At a minimum, a “solid” [...]

        Define “solid”, or better provide a formal specification.

        A justification why this would be a “minimum” might be nice too.

        ***

        Asking for minimal requirements is as old as Parmenides.

      • Matthew R Marler

        WebHubTelescope: Market,

        Address an actual name, bubba!

      • The small and brief aliquot of anthroCO2 is a fluctuation in the big energy balance picture, subject as it is to so many factors, so many mediums and shades to whirl on the canvas.
        ===================

      • Matthew R Marler

        Willard(@nevaudit): Define “solid”, or better provide a formal specification.

        It’s a shame no one addressed points like that when global warming alarmism erupted. Then we might have a common standard. Instead we have things like the CO2 zealots claiming that the GCMs fit the historical record remarkably well. If in 2032 the GCM mean, without further adjustment, is as close to the 2032 mean temperature as the adjusted mean is to the 1985 temperature, that would be a good start.

    • Lacis,

      All this is par for the course in the ongoing climate change “debate”.

      By “all this”, one presumes that you are referring the the balance of your own post, wherein you pull out the condescension typical of warmist arguments, coupeled with the standard hand waving and gross oversimplification of the problem. Definitely “par for the course.”

      Would it not be better to start with the basic physics of global warming.

      Spare us the “simple physics” bull$#!^. There is nothing simple about the physics necessary to arrive at catastrophic conclusions regarding atmospheric CO2. We understand that. You likely do as well, calling your honor into question.

      Once we have gotten this far, we need to stop and take note of the significance of the non-condensing greenhouse gases versus the feedback contributors, water vapor and clouds.

      One cannot take note of what one does not know. You don’t know the feedbacks. No one does. Stop bluffing.

      The point is that once the non-condensing greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, O3, CFCs) are injected into the atmosphere they stay there for decades, and much longer.

      Funny, because when the people who study such things tally up all of the CO2 we are supposed to be pumping into the atmosphere, and then measure the CO2 actually in the atmosphere, 50% vanishes immediately. We can’t even close the carbon budget, let alone support your scary stories.

      The feedback contributors, water vapor and clouds, are …

      … unknown in the direction of their effect, let alone their magnitude. Increasing the vigor of your handwaving does not fix that.

      To cap the scientific argument, ….

      Cap? LOL. Base full of holes and no sides, but you’re claiming a cap. What was the phrase you used? “Par for the course”? Indeed.

      It is time to stop wasting time contemplating the sublime meaning of ‘95%’, and wondering what in the world the remaining ‘5%’ might refer to.

      The meaning of the 95% is known. It is political bull$#!^^ing. Irrespective of the truth of the CAGW horror story, the statements of certainty attributed to it are absolute bull$#!^.

      • Jim Cripwell

        + 1000

      • JJ, if you have no means to understand basic physics, there is no real point for you to waste energy worrying about climate change.

      • You are never going to get anywhere, A. Lacis, with the idea that your critics don’t understand basic physics. It’s the rest of the story that gets all tangled up, and worse by the models than by Mother Nature, the Observed.
        =========

      • Come on JJ, at least they can do some simple physics, logic, there is another situation. They assume that the “Greenhouse” effect amplifies solar by about 50% then neglect solar after they assume that the amplification has been increased. They assume atmospheric forcing is “global” and uniform and then force solar to be “global” and uniform to simplify that wicked math. By making it a “boundary” problem they think they can ignore the thermodynamic boundaries and initial condition trivia like absolute temperature. Finally, since everything seems to impact everything they increase the viscosity to reduce those pesky negative energies and thermal leakage that tend to drive the models batchit. At least they do have the simple physics down.

      • One flew over the models’ nest, where’s Nurse Batchit?
        ===================

      • Lacis

        JJ, if you have no means to understand basic physics, there is no real point for you to waste energy worrying about climate change.

        Lacis, if you have no means to understand that the physics of climate isn’t basic, there is no real point for you to waste energy worrying about climate change.

    • Salby says the isotope analysis (as well as all other available data) supports that the CO2 increase is natural.

    • “Would it not be better to start with the basic physics of global warming.
      Start first by acknowledging and understanding that it is the terrestrial greenhouse effect that keeps the global mean surface temperature about 33 K warmer than it would be there were no greenhouse effect.”

      Why should one start with something that has no basis in Physics? The sun warms the planet on the day side to a temperature higher than the average that the 33K is based on. The planet cools on the night side, leaving surface an average of 33K higher than the temperature based on the average flux.

    • A. Lacis, It is remarkable how the devote revert to the 33 C illustration and never include its margins of error. Stephens et al. produced a revised Earth Energy Budget to show the actual complexity involved at the actual surface where the surface temperatures are used to determine the “Greenhouse Effect”.

      http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2013/10/fun-with-forcing-iii-33-c.html

      I believe Manabe has considered the total atmospheric effect could be as much as 90C.

  18. Suppose the people at FiveThirtyEight have created a model to predict the results of an important election.

    Suppose the people at IPCC had a model… could they use it to calculate confidence levels? If so they would not have to use their guess-work ones.

    The take-home message of the second essay is “We’re doomed”. Not only is it impossible to enlighten the “unenlightened ones”, some of those “unenlightened ones” are educated enough to supposedly be enlightened to the scientific way of thinking and there is still no way to bridge that gap.

  19. From the beginning there chances were far better than 1 in a million that aliens were as likely to have caused global warming as SUV-driving soccer moms.

  20. …it never admits to error, never changes its mind, no matter how often it is contradicted.

    e.g., Mann, Trenberth, Al Gore, Nadolf Nitler…

  21. michael hart

    Interesting. Thanks Judith.

    One of the issues regarding “confidence outside the question” boils down to “Today, what is the likelihood that you can take a bunch of models from disparate disciplines (hydrology, geology, radiative physics, fluid mechanics, biochemistry, whatever, etc, etc, etc. It is a very long list)…. and weld them all together into a grand unifying super-model of, well, pretty much everything it seems…..and expect it to work?

    It ain’t gonna happen. Of course, that’s no real basis for arguing scientifically about the technical merits of all the individual component models (which might need decades, centuries, or longer to be individually validated). But it still ain’t gonna happen.

  22. 1. All Gore deserved a Nobel because if people did not accept that as being true then we would have to wonder if anyone ever awarded a Nobel was truly worthy.

    2. Al Gore was not awarded a Nobel for political reasons because if people believed that were true, then winning a Nobel could become more the sign of the devil than to recognize worthy accomplishments.

    3. Al Gore deserved a Nobel because that means even a hypocritical, lifetime liberal Leftist politician is able to see AGW is reality.

    4. Ulterior motives have never been sufficient grounds to award a Nobel and that is why the award to Al Gore is proof of AGW.

    5.I know Al Gore is right about global warming and that is why he was awarded a Nobel.

    6.I wish Obama also would be awarded a Nobel because that would be proof that the Nobel has real meaning in the modern world.

  23.  

     

    Just curious: how many GCMs have taken into account that the sun’s magnetic field is about to flip?

  24. Scientific theories are neither true nor false in the same way that a hammer is neither true nor false. A scientific theory is a tool for making predictions just as a hammer is a tool. As with all tools, a scientific theory is either useful or not useful.

    • Steven Mosher

      +1 bazillion

      • ““we dont know” is NOT A PREDICTION.”
        Sure. The equivalent prediction is “0-10C”

        Now, which prediction is better, or more useful? 2-4C or 0-10C ?
        You say: “best tool says 2-4″
        I say: “false, best tool isn’t best, the claim that it is the best tool is false. The best prediction is 0-10C, because that is the best we can do based on what we know. The 2-4 predicition was done based on false claims to knowledge, or based on erroneous knowledge, or based on guesses and is not justifiable.

    • The issue is – what are the claims for which the tool is argued to be useful.?

      GCMs and climate “science” as a whole are argued by the CAGW acolytes to be a tool useful for predicting future global average temperatures with a precision that justifies implementing the progressive wet dream of decarbonization of the global economy.

      They’re not. Not even close.

      • Steven Mosher

        “GCMs and climate “science” as a whole are argued by the CAGW acolytes to be a tool useful for predicting future global average temperatures with a precision that justifies implementing the progressive wet dream of decarbonization of the global economy.”

        Hardly. nobody argues that. The position is rather this.

        1. We have no way of measuring the future temperature.
        2. There are two ways to estimate it.
        A) using statistical models
        B) using physics models.

        neither A nor B is perfect. A has serious issues since you cannot build a statistical model for the vast number of climate outputs you want to look at. B also has limitations. GCMs suck at clouds, and a whole host of others things. But they are the best we have.

        The best tools we have predict the following

        1. if you double c02 from 280 to 560, the planet will warm between
        2 and 4 C.

        Whether or not this justifies policies is a different question. Of course some activist Use model results to drive the political agenda. But the modellers I know would just as soon just publish their numbers and let others fight over what they mean

      • “Whether or not this justifies policies is a different question.”

        No, it’s the only question that anyone but a very few give a damn about. When your fellow true believers give up their drive for decarbonization, or other excuse for centrally planning the energy economy, you will likely have the debate to yourselves.

        When the best tool you have is insufficient to the task, only a fool uses it. You don’t do open heart surgery if all you have is a can opener. And GCMs, when it comes to predicting future global temps, are about on a level with the Army’s M1A1 can opener.

      • Mosher:
        The best tools we have predict the following
        1. if you double c02 from 280 to 560, the planet will warm between
        2 and 4 C.

        This prediction might well be false.
        That the best tool has predicted it doesn’t make it true.
        We must try to asses the quality of our “best tool”. Maybe it’s not good.
        In this case a truer prediction would be: we don’t know.
        Dr Curry’s prediction, 0-10C, falls squarely in this last category (we don’t know), and is, probably, the best we can do now.
        To pretend otherwise, based on a “best tool” is misleading.

      • Best available evidence seems to be between 1 and 2 deg C, best observational evidence seems to be 0 deg C.
        =============

      • Jim Cripwell

        The first computer program that I wrote was in machine language for an IBM650. When we started writing computer models, our bosses insisted that it was a sine qua non of any report that we justify WHY our model could solve the problem. Without that justification, no report was ever produced. Sadly, this ethic seems to have disappeared.

      • Jim Cripwell

        Kim. +1000

      • Steven Mosher

        Jacobtress

        ‘This prediction might well be false.”

        Of course. It might be false that you exist. There are many things you think are true that might be false. Saying that the sentence might be false TELLS US NOTHING UNIQUE ABOUT THAT SENTENCE.

        #########################################
        “That the best tool has predicted it doesn’t make it true.”

        Again, the issue is not the truth of the sentence. Suppose I tell you the sun will come up tommorrow. And I explain this on the basis of known true physics. Still that sentence might be false, for example, if the sun goes super nova tonight. predictions are valued because they can be useful.
        even when they are FALSE they can be useful. If I look at a life expectancy for myself and the prediction says I will die at 65 if I keep smoking, I know this prediction is likely wrong. Its highly unlikely for the prediction to be exactly right. But this wrong prediction gets me to change my smoking behavior. Or I look at predictions for hurrican landings. They are all wrong. The hurricane hits slightly over there rather than here. It hits with 125mph winds, not 150. the best tools were wrong. Even the ‘average’ of all these bad tools is wrong. Yet, it is the best we have for the task at hand and it can be useful.
        #########################

        “We must try to asses the quality of our “best tool”. Maybe it’s not good.
        In this case a truer prediction would be: we don’t know.”

        “we dont know” is NOT A PREDICTION. It is a statement about your state of knowledge. I dont know if you are 5 foot 2, but I predict that you are between 3 feet tall and 7 feet tall. In short a prediction takes account
        of your ignorance, expresses your ignorance and its bounds.

        “Dr Curry’s prediction, 0-10C, falls squarely in this last category (we don’t know), and is, probably, the best we can do now.
        To pretend otherwise, based on a “best tool” is misleading.”

        You need to read judith more clearly. Further, judith hasnt established that her bounds are any better than the bounds given by others. It may be possible for her to do this, but she has not

    • And would you say a climate model is the same as a theory?

    • Tom, if you had cancer would you have the resection, radiation and chemo?

      • Doc,

        If you had a hangnail, would you have the leg amputation?

      • I would get a PET scan first, but then I’m highly biased that way.

      • Why a PET scan?
        What marker would you use?

        Me, I would go for a CAT scan.

      • Not to be a GE shill, but they make a machine that does both at the same time.

        Depending on which type of cancer, a PET scan may be the best scan to tell if the cancer has spread. But really that’s for the doctors, I just make the markers for the PET scans, FDG being the most common. Glucose labeled with F-18.

        Having a PET scan often changes the treatment for a cancer patient, about a third of the time.

    • Perhaps a word from Betrand Russell might be relevant.
      “Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:

      1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

      2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

      3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.

      4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

      5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.

      6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.

      7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

      8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.

      9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

      10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.”

    • “Scientific theories are neither true nor false in the same way that a hammer is neither true nor false.”

      I’ve never heard anything dumber.

      Comparing ideas to hammers?

      Really?

      Andrew

  25. Pekka P. said

    “Considering climate science the only question of that nature that comes to my mind is

    Can we be really certain that CO2 does not lead to really catastrophic outcome?

    This is a question where a very high certainty may be considered essential.”
    ——————————————————————
    Pekka, from someone who claims to be a scientist, this is nonsense. You cannot prove a negative. It is like demanding very high certainty for the proposition that the Sun will not explode next week and destroy the solar system. It can’t, by definition, be done.

    I agree, you have completely missed the point, in fact you have turned it upside down.

    Thanks for posting these, Dr Curry – good stuff, and well written as a bonus!

    • My favourite “prove a negative”:

      Michael Jackson was the Second Coming.

      Now you prove he wasn’t. [He was certainly weird enough]

      Andy Lacis did this in a previous thread – “we present our conclusions” (sub-text “Now you prove we’re wrong”). Naturally, he skipped the “make a prediction and test it empirically” step

    • Johanna,

      When is something that’s very unlikely potentially important for decision making?

      Certainly not when it’s benign, nor when it’s an inconvenience. It might be when it has huge consequences, if it happens in spite of the small odds.

      I’m not arguing more about the latter. my point was about the former:

      Something that’s very unlikely and has small consequences is not important for decision making.

      That was my whole point. The only connection between the first part of the post and solar influence as mentioned in the post combines low probability with benign conclusions. If major solar influence is not very unlikely, it may have a proper role in decision making but the post does not discuss that at all.

      • The only time that something which is very unlikely is potentially important in decision making is when the cost and effort required to counteract it is miniscule. That does not apply to your example re CO2. It does not matter whether the consequences may be catastrophic, if the probability is very low and the cost of ameliorating the risk is very high.

        That is why we all drive around in cars instead of armoured tanks. And, our chances of being injured or killed in a car accident are much greater than “very unlikely.”

        Why is the concept of cost/benefit analysis and tradeoffs in decision making so foreign to many climate scientists?

      • Wilde nailed that one. They know the value of everything and the price of nothing.
        =========

      • johanna -

        The only time that something which is very unlikely is potentially important in decision making is when the cost and effort required to counteract it is miniscule. That does not apply to your example re CO2. It does not matter whether the consequences may be catastrophic, if the probability is very low and the cost of ameliorating the risk is very high.

        It is interesting that you state here with 100/% certainty that the cost of ameliorating the risk is very high.

        Assuming it wasn’t an error of wording, which economic models are you using that run with 100% certainty – and in particular, return 100% certain conclusions that the benefits that would come from amelioration wouldn’t be greater than the costs?

        Please don’t forget to include the benefits of ameliorating the non-climate change related negative extenalities of fossil fuel usage.

        I’ve been looking for an analysis of the economics that comes anywhere near close to supporting your level of certainty, but haven’t seen any yet.

      • > which economics models

        Our emphasis.

      • Our Emphas (S).
        Our Price’ll (S)
        Nought is Valuel (S)
        Your price is ($)
        ============

      • > Why is the concept of cost/benefit analysis and tradeoffs in decision making so foreign to many climate scientists?

        Here’s Nordhaus on CBA:

        The first problem is an elementary mistake in economic analysis. The authors cite the “benefit-to-cost ratio” to support their argument. Elementary cost-benefit and business economics teach that this is an incorrect criterion for selecting investments or policies. The appropriate criterion for decisions in this context is net benefits (that is, the difference between, and not the ratio of, benefits and costs).

        This point can be seen in a simple example, which would apply in the case of investments to slow climate change. Suppose we were thinking about two policies. Policy A has a small investment in abatement of CO2 emissions. It costs relatively little (say $1 billion) but has substantial benefits (say $10 billion), for a net benefit of $9 billion. Now compare this with a very effective and larger investment, Policy B. This second investment costs more (say $10 billion) but has substantial benefits (say $50 billion), for a net benefit of $40 billion. B is preferable because it has higher net benefits ($40 billion for B as compared with $9 for A), but A has a higher benefit-cost ratio (a ratio of 10 for A as compared with 5 for B). This example shows why we should, in designing the most effective policies, look at benefits minus costs, not benefits divided by costs.

        http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/mar/22/why-global-warming-skeptics-are-wrong

        I’m sure johanna can find in Max Weber something that will trump this.

      • Assumes something not in evidence, that abatement of anthro CO2 will slow climate change.
        ==========

      • Would everyone be safer
        by driving tanks?
        Think.

      • Nordhaus’ argument is fallacious, because he ignores the concept of opportunity cost. He assumes that the resources available for a particular purpose are limitless, and that there is no detriment in taking resources from one area to put them into another. It is the same economic illiteracy that pervades so much of environmental policy prescription.

        And, it is a variant of Pekka’s error – a refusal to acknowledge that all decisions have costs, and that these costs mean that other objectives must be downgraded. As I have said here before, several times, there is no such thing as a win-win-win in policy decisions, but lose-lose-lose is very possible. The environment movement has a particular penchant for lose-lose-lose policies, windmills being the obvious example.

      • Johanna,

        I’m not so far from you when we start to discuss policies. We are not likely to agree, but we are not at the opposite ends of the spectrum, when near term policy decisions are discussed. I’ll not go further into that in this thread, because that doesn’t belong here.

        I reacted to this post, because I perceived a serious logical error in it. It’s putting together issues that do not belong together. The arguments on LessWrong are about the Black Swans. They discuss very unlikely events, and the difficulty of determining the likelihood of such events. That’s totally unrelated to the additional uncertainty badly known natural phenomena have on estimates of the warming from added CO2.

        The post of LessWrong is related to the question of unlikely catastrophic events. It tells that it’s difficult to estimate, how unlikely they are. (Miker613 presented the only response to my original comment that shows full understanding of the point.)

        This thread is built on the posts of LessWrong, and it’s better to keep the discussion on issues for which those posts are relevant. My view is that a final comment of Judith was the first step to a direction unrelated to the posts of LessWrong. That’s the reason for my first comment.

      • Nordhaus’ argument is fallacious, because he ignores the concept of opportunity cost.

        Assuming that that argument is true in the categorical sense as you described (something that my skepticism leads me to think unlikely), you still haven’t described which models you use to reach your 100% certainty.

        An oversight?

      • > Nordhaus’ argument is fallacious, because he ignores the concept of opportunity cost.

        While I’m sure Peter Lang will appreciate this criticism, how does the fallacy is established exactly?

        Considering what has been said so far, I don’t see why opportunity costs would not reinforce Nordhaus’ analysis.

        And nevermind that we could be talking about opportunity costs all the way down, in which case johanna’s argument is just another fancy way to appeal to our ignorance of everything that could be.

        Is Max Weber an authority on counterfactual thinking?

        John Galt, perhaps?

      • The opportunity cost is included in the cost of capital. It’s not ignored. Another issue is that there’s no general agreement about the cost of capital. The lowest discount rates like those used in Stern Review are perhaps contradictory with all reasonable estimates of cost of capital where the opportunity cost is included (I tend to have that opinion), but Nordhaus has also been critical of such low discount rates – and probably largely for the reason that they do not include the opportunity costs.

      • Assumes something not in evidence, that abatement of anthro CO2 will slow climate change.

        In the first clause, I see a predicate, but no subject. Now I’m no prescriptivist, but sometimes a lack of subject can lead to ambiguity – and we certainly know that couldn’t possibly be kim’s intent.

        So, then, what subject assumes something not in evidence? Who and/or what assumes that abatement of CO2 will slow climate change, as opposed to weighs the probabilities of that happening? And would that be any degree of abatement about which it or they or he or she is making assumptions?

      • Pekka said:

        “The opportunity cost is included in the cost of capital. It’s not ignored. Another issue is that there’s no general agreement about the cost of capital.”
        ———————————————————————-
        Pekka, this is simply wrong. Opportunity cost in its broad meaning is what you have to give up to acquire something else. If you spend a billion dollars of your national budget on attempting to reduce CO2 emissions, that is a billion dollars you don’t have available to spend on health or education or defence. And Nordhaus’ silly comment about cost/benefit analysis just ignores it.

        As I said, basic economics is a foreign language to many of those who would like to tell us how we should spend our money.

      • Johanna,

        Capital cost is mostly based on the opportunity cost, i.e. on the value of the alternative use of capital. That fact manifests itself in the real world investment decisions and it’s also standard knowledge as presented in the academic text books.

        I have taught that in my lectures, and I didn’t invent that myself.

      • Pekka, you are missing the point. The climate policy discussions are about either the use of public money, or use of government power to dictate how private individuals and firms spend their money. It is not about a business in a free market situation deciding what the best return on their investment might be.

        The cost of capital is a bit player in government expenditure and private individuals’ expenditure. It has some relevance to firms in the sense that being forced to pay more for electricity for no economically rational reason, for example, reduces the amount of capital available for more productive purposes and might therefore affect its cost.

        For policy purposes, what matters is that governments, firms and individuals only have a fixed amount of resources to allocate, and if you allocate them to subsidising windmills they are not available for more productive or socially desirable purposes.

      • Johanna,

        The question here was, whether Nordhaus included the opportunity cost in his analysis. What I’m saying is that he did, not explicitly but as the major part of capital cost, which is described by the discount rate in the calculation.

        As I also wrote, there’s no agreement on the correct level of the discount rate. Thus you may argue that the value used by Nordhaus is too low, but the claim that he didn’t include the opportunity cost is false. That becomes fully clear from what he has written on this subject for example in his book A Question of Balance.

      • Opportunity cost: I’ll quote something I wrote earlier today re Australia’s NBN:

        The first thing is to understand opportunity costs. Resources put to one use are not available for another use. Therefore the best outcomes for society are obtained by putting resources to their highest-valued use. The opportunity cost is the (risk-adjusted) rate of return of the best-valued alternative use of funds (which in the case of government would often be cutting taxes). So whether your goals re telecoms are economic or social, they are worthwhile only if they meet the opportunity cost. (An aside: if you favour redistribution as a social goal, maximising the return to resources and then engaging in redistribution is better than redistributing first in ways which slow growth. The Rudd-Gillard governments never understood this.)

        It is almost unknown for politically-driven projects to meet their opportunity costs. More often they are wealth-destroying rather than wealth-creating.

      • So, if you claim that the discount rate can be used as the opportunity cost, then the discount rate must be the best (risk-adjusted) rate of return available on alternative uses of resources. The discount rates used in assessing the costs and benefits of anti-CO2 policies have all been well below the typical opportunity cost.

        Given the uncertainties of CBA projected for outcomes 100 years and more hence, one could argue that the risk involved in the calculation is extremely high, and therefore the risk-adjusted rate of return would also be very high. If the costs are shorter term and any benefits are longer time, this would tip the balance against those potential but very distant costs mooted for CAGW.

      • Faustino,

        One more time: I have claimed only that Nordhaus includes the opportunity cost, not that his estimate of it’s value is correct. Technically there’s not much basis for any other approach than adjusting the discount rate to the appropriate value. Therefore this is the approach used by more or less everyone as far as I know.

        I have also argued earlier that all uncertainty-related factors are not always (or even often) taken properly into account. The correct risk adjusted discount rate takes into account also the possibility that the investment fails to reach its goals or turns out to be worthless due to changes in circumstances or due to faults in the information used in making the investment decision. Of course the same issues affect also the value of alternative uses of the capitall. Thus a major contribution to the discount rate is present only when the investment considered has a different risk profile than the alternatives.

        One further factor that I have been pondering is the real option value of the investment decisions, which may be either positive or negative. That should also affect the correct discount rate. The effect may be large, but I suspect that it’s not included often even in cases where a large effect could be justified by careful analysis.

      • Pekka,

        The best solution would be to contact Nordhaus and tell him about his fallacy:

        http://www.econ.yale.edu/~nordhaus/homepage/

        It may be worth mentioning Faustino’s “yes, but uncertainty”.

        Do you think that subsidizing fossil fuels has opportunity costs?

      • The warming since 1750 has patently demonstrated net benefit. So would the next such aliquot of warming.
        ==============================

      • Eating is good for you.
        Supersize yourself.

      • Thanks, Faustino. Give ‘em enough rope, and so on.

        Nordhaus’ absurd explication of cost/benefit analysis is something to behold. Talk about throwing good money after bad …

      • Pekka Pirila,

        When is something that’s very unlikely potentially important for decision making?

        Certainly not when it’s benign, nor when it’s an inconvenience. It might be when it has huge consequences, if it happens in spite of the small odds.

        Your assumptions is that AGW may have huger consequences. But what are they? I’ve asked repeatedly what are the potential consequences of AGW. So far the warmist and doomsayer denizens have avoided answering the question in anything other than arm waving and unsubstantiated scaremongering nonsense. We’ve have James Hansen tell us the oceans may boil off and we get a Venus type atmosphere. We’ve had others tell us sea levels will rise up to 6 m over a period that would make it catastrophic. There are other doomsayers scenarios. But they are all just scaremongering. Until you can come up with impacts and probabilities and times until they may occur and probabilities, your comments seems like like baseless scaremongering to me.

      • He’s afraid, like most of the alarmists. Why do you think they squeal so like stuck hogs?
        ==========

      • Willard @ October 7, 2013 at 9:14 am said:

        The appropriate criterion for decisions in this context is net benefits (that is, the difference between, and not the ratio of, benefits and costs).

        Johanna @ October 7, 2013 at 10:19 am said:

        Nordhaus’ argument is fallacious, because he ignores the concept of opportunity cost.

        Willard @ October 7, 2013 at 2:50 pm said

        While I’m sure Peter Lang will appreciate this criticism, how does the fallacy is established exactly?

        I’ve told Willard previously that he misunderstood the context of Nordhaus’ quote. Nordhaus statement is correct if read in the full context. Nordhaus was responding to a misuse of cost-benefit analysis by scientists and explaining when to use cost-benefit analysis and when to use net benefit. Nordhaus uses both (correctly) in Table 5-1 (pp82-83) and Table 5-3 (p89) here: http://www.econ.yale.edu/~nordhaus/homepage/Balance_2nd_proofs.pdf

        Willard has quoted a part of the debate between Nordhaus and the scientists but apparently does not understood the meaning or, perhaps, he is being disingenuous. I suspect the latter since he continues to repost the similar comment over and over again despite having had his misunderstanding pointed out to him before.

      • Pekka Pirila @ October 7, 2013 at 10:48 am

        You said to Joanna:

        I’m not so far from you when we start to discuss policies.

        I doubt that is true. You have shown in many previous comments in previous threads you believe the following:

        1. wind power and solar power are economically viable now for grid connected electricity generation in some to many situations.

        2. You believe wind and solar power, in the foreseeable future, be able to make a major contribution to cutting global GHG emissions

        3. Your believe nuclear power is dangerous and are concerned about its expansion

        4. you believe AGW is potentially dangerous or catastrophic (but cannot provide persuasive evidence to support your belief)

        5. You believe pricing GHG emissions is the best way to reduce global GHG emissions

        6. You believe that pricing carbon in fuel (e.g. British Columbia) is a viable alternative to pricing GHG emissions.

        I suspect you and Johanna would not agree on much of this if you drilled down much.

      • Faustino said:

        So, if you claim that the discount rate can be used as the opportunity cost, then the discount rate must be the best (risk-adjusted) rate of return available on alternative uses of resources. The discount rates used in assessing the costs and benefits of anti-CO2 policies have all been well below the typical opportunity cost.

        Given the uncertainties of CBA projected for outcomes 100 years and more hence, one could argue that the risk involved in the calculation is extremely high, and therefore the risk-adjusted rate of return would also be very high. If the costs are shorter term and any benefits are longer time, this would tip the balance against those potential but very distant costs mooted for CAGW.

        Very well explained, Faustino. This is the nub of the issue that doomsayers and advocates amongst climate scientists just don’t get. So it needs to be continually restated, repeated reiterated reinforced … until it gets through.

        It would be great to see Pekka state that he now understands instead of trying to imply he understood all along when clearly he did not.

      • - Peter Lang |

        “1. wind power and solar power are economically viable now for grid connected electricity generation in some to many situations.”-

        Making solar panels can be profitable and stock prices soar and crash depending on what politicians decide. So no doubt political insiders have made vast amounts of money.
        Of course solar power is not viable without government subsidies.
        So in the best areas to harvest solar energy without subsidies no solar power is viable. And there are great differences in amount of sunlight available depending on regions. So where you 1/4 of available sunlight as compared better areas, it’s extremely non-viable.
        And what is costs of these subsidies?
        It’s difficult to get electrical prices in China- poorer regions and industry might get around 3 cents kW/h [$30 per MW/h]. And more than 10 cents
        kW/h in urban areas.
        This gives an idea of what is paid various countries
        including China where say average is 8 cents per kW/h:
        http://theenergycollective.com/lindsay-wilson/279126/average-electricity-prices-around-world-kwh
        This shows Germany at 35 cent per kW/h. Denmark the world leader at
        41 cents. And France [which has fairly high use usage of nuclear power] at 19 cents. And US is 12 cents. It probably quite fair to say that with Germany more than 1/2 the cost is due to government forcing it’s customers to pay for solar and wind energy.
        Here table of yearly electrical use per country:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_electricity_consumption
        In 2011 Germany used 607,000,000 MW/h.
        So at 10 cents per Kw or $100 per WW/h that is 60 billion dollars worth
        of power. And at $350 per WW/h that’s 212 billion dollars per year.
        And considering they been doing this for decades, and will probably do it more decades, it’s costing trillions of dollars per decade.

        With US it uses: 3,886,400,000 WW/h. So at $100 MW/h, it’s
        388.6 billion per year. So if US did something like what Germany did,
        it could cost Americans over 1/2 trillion per year.
        And this like Germany, would not lower US emission, nor would we get much electrical power from it.

        Of course other factor is that since China has cheaper electrical, and industry which uses a lot electrical power, may move to China. {or company goes bankrupt, and companies in China become the producers. And China gets 80% of their energy from Coal. So more industry which uses a lot of electrical [most do] will get the power from Coal, and thereby increase global CO2 emission.
        Net effect is trillions of dollars spent, and significant increase in global CO2 caused by these type of government policies.

      • > Nordhaus was responding to a misuse of cost-benefit analysis by scientists and explaining when to use cost-benefit analysis and when to use net benefit.

        Exactly, and this response shows that johanna’s rhetorical question, underlined in the comment where Nordhaus has been recalled rests on a misunderstanding.

        Then Johanna doubled down by claiming that Nordhaus forgot about opportunity costs, a point which becomes absurd by its trivial appeal to our ignorance of everything else that could be.

        Even Tar Baby should get that this might not be the best of times to reopen that discussion. He should do as johanna did and feign anasthesia.

      • I’m not feigning anything, nor am I backing down from what I said.

      • Faustino -

        It is almost unknown for politically-driven projects to meet their opportunity costs. More often they are wealth-destroying rather than wealth-creating.

        Our current use of fossil fuels is inextricably tied to politically-driven policies which, btw, incur enormous opportunity costs.

        And “wealth-destroying rather than wealth-creating” is simplistic. The world is not so binary, even more so when we are speaking out decades (in the least) into the future.

        Speaking of which…do you share johanna’s 100% certainty about the costs of ameliorating the risks of increasing CO2 emissions? If so, would you mind telling me which economic models support that complete certainty (which, of course, means precise quantification of negative externalities as well as opportunity costs of continued use of fossil fuels as well as of devoting resources towards alternatives).

      • So, Peter, willard should be able to survey the vast terrain of Nordhaus error. Pekka, now, he’s consulting his Magic 8-Ball for a clear answer.
        ===============================

      • johanna -

        ….nor am I backing down from what I said.

        About those models that give you your 100% certainty (and don’t forget about opportunity costs and negative externalities)….

      • Tar Baby does not believe Nordhaus made an error, Koldie. He believes I misinterpret him. Nevermind what this would entail about johanna’s claims anyway.

    • Steven Mosher

      Joahnna

      “Can we be really certain that CO2 does not lead to really catastrophic outcome?

      This is a question where a very high certainty may be considered essential.”
      ——————————————————————
      Pekka, from someone who claims to be a scientist, this is nonsense. You cannot prove a negative. ”

      ######################

      you are not being asked to prove a negative.

      For example, our best tools for predicting the future indicate that a doubling of C02 to 560 ppm will raise the earths temperature between 2 and 4 C.

      Your job is to show that there is a better prediction of the future that leads
      to less warming. Say 1-2C.

      Or you can show that 2-4C of warming is not catastrophic.

      you are not being asked to prove that something doesnt exist ( like unicorns) You are being asked to show that adding C02 will not lead to catatrophic consequences.

      2 logical paths:

      A) accept the project of 2-4C and show no catastrophe
      B) develop a better tool that shows less warming

      Can I suggest that you take time to read arguments and understand their structure before commenting.

      • Some dumb arguments just will never die.

        ” For example, our best tools for predicting the future indicate that a doubling of C02 to 560 ppm will raise the earths temperature between 2 and 4 C.

        Your job is to show that there is a better prediction of the future that leads to less warming. Say 1-2C.”

        No, when the “best tool” has been shown not to work for the purpose it is supposedly designed, no one has to create a better tool in order to “prove” that using the one you propose would be idiotic.

        Let’s say GE comes up with a new, super duper diagnostic tool. It purports to be able to locate a precursor to the formation of cancer cells for brain cancer. The models GE creates show a 95% likelihood of cancer if the precursor is found. GE claims this is the best, and only, tool for diagnosing this pre-cancer condition, and if the precursor is not surgically removed, death or severe disability is also likely, to a 95% certainty.

        Now unfortunately, GE has used its nifty new tool on thousands of patients, and not one of its predictions of the cancer has come true. GE maintains that its scanner may not be perfect, but it is the best tool around for diagnosing the pre-cancer condition that, if not detected, might well kill the patient. Its models continue to verify this, even though not a single patient has ever developed cancer despite being identified by the best tool as having the precursor. GE claims that the models are correct, but they are just off on the time of the cancer growth, because of unforeseen natural occurring conditions in the body that for some unknown reason have retarded the growth of the cancer (which some of us might call the immune system).

        GE argues that not only should you buy their new best tool, but you should perform brain surgery on all those diagnosed with the condition because of the risk of devastating consequences to the patient if you do not. GE has done no real analysis of the likelihood or extent of the negative consequences to healthy patients of the proposed highly invasive, never before tried brain surgery.

        So GE’s new scanner is the best tool around at diagnosing a condition, but it diagnoses a condition that has never been seen before; it has failed in properly diagnosing the impacts of the condition in every instance it has been used to date; the cost of this new tool is extravagant; and performing the surgery prescribed by the use of this best tool has enormous, undisclosed risks to the patient.

        When you suggest you will not buy and use this new best tool, the salesman asks you – “Do you have a better tool to accurately diagnose this condition?”

        Question – How long do you laugh in his face before you throw him out of your office?

        “Best tool” is the new “useful”. An obscurantist reframing of the precautionary principle that seeks to hide what it really is.

      • Steven Mosher

        well gary if they claimed it was the only tool, then you would know they were lying.

        There are always three tools, at least three tools, for doing any prediction.

        I predict you wont be able to list them

      • The Ladies’ Library and Hark Society informs me that ‘sweated grease’ is one of them.
        ==================

      • That is what we in the legal profession would call a non-responsive response.

      • observing, thinking, experimenting, and validating

        http://www.project2061.org/publications/sfaa/online/chap1.htm

        That’s four. I can’t seem to throw out any one of them.

      • That is what we in the legal profession would call a non-responsive response.

        That is what we in blogosphere would call an amusing duck.

      • “Your job is to show that there is a better prediction of the future that leads to less warming. Say 1-2C”

        The scene: Judge Mosher’s courtroom. A is being tried for the murder of B, who died of a gunshot wound in Sydney between 6 and 10 pm on the 18th April. Much evidence has been adduced as to A’s motives for, and opportunity to commit the murder, but all is circumstantial. At length, C is called, and attests that he saw A, whom he has never seen before, in Melbourne at the time of the murder. Cross-examination establishes beyond reasonable doubt that C identified A correctly.

        Judge Mosher – Mr C, you have said that you saw A on St Kilda pier at the time of the murder. That means he could not have murdered B as the prosecution allege, and that I should direct the jury accordingly. Before I do, though, can you give the court your own account of how B met his death?

        C: No, your Honour, all I did was sell him a cappuccino.

        Mosher, J – In that case I have no alternative but to strike your evidence from the record and direct the jury to disregard it.

        Mosher – like James I/VI, ‘the wisest fool in Christendom’, you are an enigma.

      • “Can we be really certain that CO2 does not lead to really catastrophic outcome?” No, we can’t. But we can be certain that the likelihood of catastrophe has not been demonstrated, and can require that a convincing case be made before we even consider any policy action. It is up to the catastrophists to make their case, and then for the rest of us to determine whether or not it is sufficiently likely for us to worry about. Even if we deem it likely but distant, we can determine that no action is needed now because, e.g., the catastrophe is distant and our assessment of its likelihood and our capacity to deal with or prevent it will develop further over time; we take the wait and see option, deferring action, and developing our capacity in the meantime by putting resources into wealth creation rather than wealth-destroying GHG emissions reduction.

      • > we can be certain that the likelihood of catastrophe has not been demonstrated

        How such likelihood could be demonstrated?

        Why would establishing such likelihood could ever be demonstrated?

        Who can predict that even if it was established nobody would ask that we also account for noumenal opportunity costs?

      • Oh, and regarding GaryM’s claptraps:

        http://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/tennant9/harman_PR1965.pdf

        The best explanation wins, notwithstanding his implicit model of science as a trial.

      • Oh, and oh.
        ========

      • Mosher:

        you are not being asked to prove a negative.

        For example, our best tools for predicting the future indicate that a doubling of C02 to 560 ppm will raise the earths temperature between 2 and 4 C.

        Your job is to show that there is a better prediction of the future that leads
        to less warming. Say 1-2C.

        Or you can show that 2-4C of warming is not catastrophic.

        Your thinking is ass-backwards, IMO. First, the scientists need to provide credible evidence that 2c-4C IS catastrophic. They have not done that. If you believe they have done it, please point to the links.

        [p.s. I asked you this same questions (different wording) a year or more ago, and you flew into an apparent egotistical rage that I would have the temerity to ask the Great Mosher a question ... especially one you couldn't answer!! You subsequently said in a comment to someone else that impacts is not an area you know anything about or talk about - note for other readers: that is a sometimes Mosher stays away from subjects he knows nothing about.]

  26. From: Many Moons

    The moon is only as big as the princess’s thumbnail and made of gold. The next night, checking in on the princess, the princess thinks that whenever something is taken, it is replaced, like her tooth, or a flower and the moon is no exception. There is a harmony and continuity to the world in general.

    “And Science, since it confesses itself to have a possibility of error, must belong in the second class”… can be obeyed or discarded as a matter of personal preference.

    And here in lies the rub, radiative physics as adhered to by Andy Lacy, is but a matter of personal preference, ignoring other relevant science according to personal preference.

    We know that Andy Lacy is not “correct”, that is his belief that radiative physics, especially from the CO2 perspective, is not applicable across the heavens and earth and the control knob he professes, but rather it is his personal preference as one might prefer a shiny black car vs a red one.

    So “Science” as it is chopped into bits and pieces, is acquired piecemeal, as one moves along a buffet table, picking and choosing this piece and not that piece according to what might be good to try at this time.

    Hence, “the statements that people are really fanatic about are far less likely to be correct than statements like “the Sun is larger than the Moon” that seem too obvious to get excited about.”

    It just seems, that the people whom I have personally met from the warmist side are far more certain, and from their arguments, less justified so, than is comfortable from me. It is almost like listening to a Creationist, but instead of talking about Biblical issues, instead, speak of Catastrophic Global Anthropogenic Warming.

    I discount what I hear at face value even at the start of a conversation. I can’t help it.

    • And… that’s the difference between you and Al Gore. It’s called, having a conscience. The inconvenient truth is the Left doesn’t have one.

    • I only ‘know’ that I ‘know’ nothing.
      H/t Socrates.

      This is not ter say that one opinion is as good as another.
      In the evolution of scientific understanding one theory with
      better explanatory power of events replaces one with less
      explanatory power. Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler …

      • True, true, The correct answer is not always the opposite of the wrong answer.–e.g., there could be ‘global warming’ and it could be that it is not caused by mankind.

      • Steven Mosher

        are you sure socrates said that?

      • are you sure socrates said that?

        Don’t see how she can be, we only have tiny fragments attributed to Socrates, and two discussions from tendentious and self-serving sources.

      • Plato’s minimal requirements for knowledge were solid.

        No, not his solids.

      • Steven Mosher

        AK,

        Count the number of times folks express certainty over their belief that we lack knowledge.

        Other funny examples.

        I dont understand climate science. I dont understand philosophy of science, but I’m sure Feynman is the expert on philosophy of science and what he said about that makes me doubt a science I dont understand.

        Very few people can practice skepticism consistent and thoroughly. hmm well it seems that way to me. It’s always fascinating to see what foundation they build their world view on.. and then to watch them violate the very principles they claim to follow.

      • Don’t call me sure.
        ==============

      • “Count the number of times folks express certainty over their belief that we lack knowledge”

        Because you are certain we have it, right?

        Andrew

      • Jest saw the comment from Steve Mosher.

        Well attribution is a brute ) and secondary sources can be
        contradictory. Do I, a serf, dare ter say I ‘know,’ when Socrates
        himself may have said he that he knew nothing?

        When I waded through Plato’s Republic as a young serf I was
        repelled by the authoritarian Socrates within its pages, his
        rhetorical twists and turns arguing that staying in yer place,
        yer right to yr caste status, however lowly, constitutes ‘justice.’
        it didn’t jell with what I’d heard about Socrates debating with
        young men in the Agora and his criticism, not of democracy
        but of political cant… Oh well, fergit it, other things ter do. )

        Years later I read Karl Popper’s ‘Open Society and It’s Enemies,’
        and in Vol 1, Popper’s detailed textual analysis of the
        contradictions in interpretation of Plato’s alleged portraits of
        Socrates in his Crito, Apology, Gorgias and The Republic.
        The Socrates of the Apology and Crito is loyal to the Athenian democracy and against tyranny. He is prepared to die for it. He refuses to take the opportunity to escape because this would
        put him in opposition to the the state and its democratic laws.

        In context, this interpretation by Plato concerns a public event
        that was well known to a number of people and less likely to be
        Plato’s own projection than the conflicting portait of Socrates
        in The Republic. It also agrees ‘in tone with the description of Xenephon in the Memorabilia.’ (Benjamin Jowett.)

        The Socrates of the Apology is intellectually modest and
        relates his surprise at the Delphic Oracle’s words that no
        man was wiser than Socrates, reflecting that the Delphic
        saying ‘know thyself’ could be interpreted as ‘know your
        limitations,’ and accordingly it is this that constitutes
        Socrates’ wisdom.

        http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/apology.html

        Big difference between the Socrates that, in the Gorgias,
        (489 a-b) says that ‘to do injustice is more disgraceful than
        to suffer it,’ and the later Socrates of The Republic who has
        become an advocate for Plato’s ‘Utopia’ and caste system,
        upholding Plato’s “noble lie” of the metals in men, and class
        rule. In the Meno Socrates argued that a slave can be taught
        pure mathematics. in the Gorgias he defends the equalitarian
        theory of of justice. In The Republic justice is your right to
        maintain your place (Caste status) in an hierarchical society
        designed to resist change. Socrates, who never put his words
        into writing and no longer able to set the record straight, has
        become the mouthpiece for Plato’s vision of totalitarian society.
        bts.

    • You are more than welcome to contemplate the “harmony and continuity to the world in general”, just leave the stuff about nasty physics impacting the rest of the world for others to worry about.

      • Nature is just fine, we’re used to it; it’s the nasty narratives that have the rabid bite.
        ==========

  27. You know the only real confidence we can have is if we nuke from orbit.

    The only thing that has clearly and undeniably lowered CO2 emission is nuclear energy.

    Germany in it’s very costly effort over the decades with it’s “green” alternative energy [said by politicians to be done to lower CO2 emission] has not actually done anything to lower Gewrmany’s yearly emission. And due to German’s more recent plans to shutdown their nuclear energy it seems if anything government policy has resulted in having an increase emission yearly .
    So result of all German government policy has been to cause it’s citizen to pay one of the highest rate for electrical power, driven away business and jobs, and spent governmental budgetary money in the order of hundreds of billions of dollars.
    If the Iraq war cost the US a trillion dollars, then Germany’s government green energy has cost trillions of dollars, and their war on CO2 emission has been an utter defeat.

    And Germany was never a main source of global CO2 and never been a good place to put any kind of solar panels.
    With China which is the world’s major source of CO2, China simply could never have even attempted to do anything as futile as Germany’s foolish effort.
    China’s only hope to significant reduce CO2 emission, can only be done with nuclear energy.
    And both China and India are moving towards more future nuclear energy usage- and therefore they are the few nations which actually doing anything significant in the direction of reducing CO2 emission.
    But such direction from India and China is more about necessity due to inability to continue in the future to be so dependent of coal energy generation.

    Since the IPCC has never exerted much effort encouraging any real way to lower CO2 emission, the IPCC can never claim any credit for have done anything that has already been useful to reduce CO2 emission.

    So real reduction CO2 [improved energy efficiency, fracking, and long term government planning of maintaining and increasing nuclear energy production] which is and will be done, has actually eliminated billions of tonnes of CO2 being emitted and which would have been emitted, but has been mostly ignored or dismissed as solution by IPCC. What IPCC has promoted is global carbon taxes and a scams related to carbon credits- which has not been effective and as non-effective as wind mills and solar panels they the Germans have built [will continue to build].

    One could say that China is responsible for much of recent and in the near future global CO2 emission, due to their apparent enormous appetite for coal [of which China has very long history of using in much smaller quantities], but China didn’t really have a choice. If they wanted to anything to relieve the suffering of hundreds of millions of it’s people living in poverty.
    Nuclear power simply can’t be developed in such a quick fashion.
    [A big dam is much easier].

    Preceding in slower pace with benefit of mature nuclear industry/technology is cheaper and safer.
    Designing, building, and, running nuclear reactors require a very competent workforce, the idea getting as much energy production as they got from coal as quickly as they did, by solely using nuclear power would have been something close madness- if even vaguely possible.

    The both entire US and European workforce [or entire world workforce] could not have done it at such breakneck speed. And the moderately fast pace which Russia developed it’s nuclear energy, had it’s various problems.
    Though with Bill Gate type “portable nuclear power” with an assemble line type production, one could build up it’s capability within a decade or two, and achieve the safety with high production which could generate enough to meet “global energy needs” within a relatively short period of time.

  28. “The consequences of an asteroid strike are of course quite consequential and can’t be ruled out with 100% confidence.”

    They are very certain to happen- it’s just a matter of time.
    Within say 1000 years, easily 1%.
    Unless you want a bigger one, but a rock about 100 meter or larger in diameter will not go unnoticed.
    500 meter or larger will require much more time to have 1% chance.

    But if only satisfied with world ending type stuff, and so only 1 km or larger will do, that has be mostly ruled out as tiny possibility because we found most of them, though determining if they hit earth in 1 million years in future has yet been defined in terms of possibilities of impact. [the orbits alter significantly over thousands of years of time].
    But we will know within centuries, assuming we don’t forget to monitor them. Though we know very little about location of long term comets- a very low chance, but no size has been ruled out.

    “If we did identify an asteroid that only had a .001% chance of hitting Earth, it might be worth the price of $50 trillion (CC pricetag) to send a mission to stop it. That is because there’s an “Oh $#!^!!” moment – right when it’s too late to act further, and the total loss is delivered almost instantaneously.”

    I would assume it would cost less than 50 billion dollars.
    One or four big rockets, which carry big enough nukes.

    Actually, we would not have enough time to spend much money.
    It’s either you do it and it’s relatively cheap, or no amount of money can make any difference.

    Various countries have a large enough rockets, and powerful nuke
    can be quite small compared to other types of payload such rocket normally lift.
    The cost/effort needed would depend on how long time before it impacts earth, and there are not large rocks which can hits us within say 1 decade or less [unless it's a rock of a thousand we missed, or a comet].
    A big enough comet [say same size, of comet Ison] would be difficult.

    ISON is famous because it’s “new” comet- apparently it’s never come in to the sun in last 4-5 billion years. And it is thought to be new because we actually saw it at quite distance out- well beyond the frost line [where water melts], so CO2 and other gases which become volatile at lower temperature is what was seen.

    So ISON is coming somewhat close to Mars- “a distance of 10.5 million km (6.5 million miles)”
    http://phys.org/news/2013-10-comet-ison-mars-imaged-approach.html
    Notice they don’t give an exact number. Another:
    ISON will be ~ 0.0725 AU, 6.7 million miles (10.8 million km) from Mars.
    http://cometison.wordpress.com/tag/distance/
    Still, not really precise. AU is: 149,597,871 kilometers.
    So .0001 AU is 14,951 km. Need another decimal place to indicate hit or miss of a planet, and they saying somewhere around 0.0725 AU.

    So if a comet like ISON was coming at Earth instead, and coming toward the Sun somewhat near Mars. When first seen probably know with 1/2 million miles of where it’s going relative to Earth, we might even do better this, but probably couldn’t know within +/- 10,000 km until maybe it was a month or couple from hitting. So due to needing multiple precise slighting, when we first see it and if there was 100% of hitting earth [unknown to us] , the chance of hitting earth could expressed as lower chance, than .001% chance. Due inaccuracy of measurement, and within days weeks of watching it perhaps get it so it .001% chance, due more confidence in precise of measurement.
    So probably should start the ball going before it’s .001% chance, it’s possible it takes as much as about month before right nuke gets on the right rocket. [this isn't a an ICBM {a suborbital rocket}, in silo waiting launch codes- less than 15 mins to launch].
    This is something like, take off a satellite which prepping for some launch and get a warhead and it’s propulsion to it and mated to rocket. Or get new rocket ready to go- a normal cycle for satellite that takes month or so to do. Booked year or so ahead of time.

    So in this case it’s coming at earth much faster than any rocket. So after a launch, any rocket which is month out from Earth, means the comet will be at distance less than month before it impacts Earth.

    And one really should hit these things months or years before scheduled to hit earth. It’s bit problematic particularly since we never actually tried something like this.

  29. Rob Johnson-Taylor

    I am reminded of a quote by the late Douglas Adams “The problem will million to one chances are that they occur every day”

    Though for some strange reason the following quote, also from Douglas Adams, reminds me of at least some members of the IPCC.
    “He attacked everything in life with a mix of extraordinary genius and naïve incompetence, and it was often difficult to tell which was which.”

  30. Berényi Péter

    There is a deep flaw in any attempt to formulate confidence in terms of probability theory. Trouble is in most cases not even the sample space is known, therefore no probability measure can be defined.

    Once upon a time I have discussed the apparently controversial results of an experiment with a guy trading in decision theory.

    The experiment itself went like this. There was a black velvet sack, filled with 11 yellow marbles and a blue one. The experimenter has drawn marbles from it one by one and the subject was asked to bet on the next one being blue. Now, one can build a perfect probabilistic model of this experiment and can calculate optimal strategy from first principles. Turned out what people actually did departed from this strategy by a wide margin. His sequitur was people are irrational in their decision making whenever the complexity of the situation exceeds a certain level.

    However, in fact the experiment went with a slight quirk, not mentioned so far. There was a small internal pocket in the sack and the experimenter, when filling it, with some skill managed to insert the blue marble there while the rest went to the sack unchecked. This setup enabled him to draw the blue marble invariably as the last one. That is, there was no chance involved in the experiment whatsoever, although subjects were told otherwise. The reasoning behind this was it made individual experimental runs directly comparable, while subjects could not possibly realize what was going on, as they were not allowed to communicate with each other.

    At this point I have asked the guy to recalculate the optimal strategy, provided subjects suspected anyway this particular way of cheating has occurred with probability ‘p’. Well, he was somewhat reluctant to do that, because that was not what subjects were told, so their mental model of the situation was not supposed to be like that. Anyway, when he did recalculate the strategy, with a particular value of ‘p’ experimental results matched theory almost perfectly.

    One can say we have quantified the level of suspicion people have if thrown into a psychological experiment. Not quite so. Reality can depart from what people are told in a gazillion ways and subjects in fact could not guess the particular way of cheating they were exposed to in the experiment. However, they do have a general knowledge about the way psychological experiments are designed, that it often involves some kind of ‘cheating’. Moreover, psychologists are not alone in this game, a large part of human interaction is about manipulating mental models of others in order to gain advantage. Anyone who wants to be successful in such an environment or just wants to survive, has to have some protection against such strategies. Therefore people seldom believe everything they were told and their behavior is indeed shaped by this primary suspicion all the time. This is not ‘irrationality’, quite the contrary.

    Just imagine the life of a guy who has perfect faith in ads.

    Indeterminacy of sample space is not a rare exception, it is the rule. We meet absolutely unexpected events all the time and we are equipped to deal with them, somehow. It is so even in highly formalized industrial environments, like passenger flights or nuclear power plants. For these systems people make sophisticated probabilistic models of failure to improve safety. There is also a thorough investigation after each accident, so we have some feedback on the quality of these models. And, lo and behold, in most cases they find something in the chain of events leading to disaster which was utterly missing from models.

    What was the probability in Chernobyl that those in charge of the night shift of 26 April 1986 were utterly fearless and/or ignorant?

    “The developers of the reactor plant considered this combination of events to be impossible and therefore did not allow for the creation of emergency protection systems capable of preventing the combination of events that led to the crisis, namely the intentional disabling of emergency protection equipment plus the violation of operating procedures. Thus the primary cause of the accident was the extremely improbable combination of rule infringement plus the operational routine allowed by the power station staff.”

    • “Just imagine the life of a guy who has perfect faith in ads.”

      The BBC made a four part comedy based on this idea in 1993. Starring Richard Briers: “If you see God, tell him”. It was distressingly sad in places.

    • “There is a deep flaw in any attempt to formulate confidence in terms of probability theory.”

      That is precisely why we need to be looking at global climate change as a cause-and-effect problem in physics. Doing so makes the problem of global warming much more understandable.

      • The alternative, of course, would be to arwave a flag.

        ***

        You have to admit, Andy, that there’s some elegance to asking for solid, minimal requirements while acknowledging that confidence can’t be spelled out in probabilistic terms.

  31. This is OT.

    Judith I’d like to point you to this fascinating new paper about compensatory processes that may exist within the earth’s climate system. It’s really, really fascinating, do you ave any opinions?

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00205.1

    • HR thanks a ton for pointing this out. this is extremely interesting and I am aware of another similar paper under review. Will definitely do a post on these two papers once the 2nd is published.

      • The unknown unknowns are most surely negative feedbacks. How do I know? Even I don’t know.
        ===============

      • Judith Curry,

        Hasn’t Capt’nDallas been saying something similar or have I confused two subjects?

      • He’s been tugging on the line all along, a long time.
        ===============

      • RiH008, “Hasn’t Capt’nDallas been saying something similar or have I confused two subjects?”

        Pretty much, but that is not too surprising since Bjorn Stevens, Steven Schwartz and J. R. Toggweiler gave me the ideas :) Nice to see they are publishing more on the ITCZ shifts.

  32. I was a skeptic.
    Now I am denier. level 8

    ========
    Great post. Congratulations brilliant initiative.
    ========

    a) inherent variability (or intrinsic);
    b) uncertainty due to inadequate knowledge (or epistemic);
    c) statistical uncertainty.

    How good denier. It is easy to criticize the uncertainty of input information. [I suppose: pressure, temperature, winds, reconstructions .... etc etc. ..].

    I do not think this is the biggest problem.

    Thus, even if climate science is 100% resolved.

    The problem::The problem: The big problem.,

    The models provide numerical solutions of the Navier Stokes
    equations devised for simulating mesoscale to large-scale
    atmospheric and oceanic dynamics

    http://climateaudit.org/2005/12/22/gcms-and-the-navier-stokes-equations/

    In short, A GCM “control run”, is essentially one numerical run from a hugely complicated Navier-Stokes equation, the deep mathematical properties of which mathematicians say they know very little. Climatologists on the other hand appear to know the results to high degres of certainty – remarkable.

    Grigory Perelman: Maybe the guy in the patent office in Bern, Switzerland.

    When asked why he refused from the prize of one million dollars, Perelman responded: “I know how to control the Universe. Why would I run to get a million, tell me?”

    LESSWRONG:
    http://lesswrong.com/lw/5ow/grigori_perelman_refused_prize_because_he_knows/

  33. Do you think that “Confirmation Bias” is primarily what governs a hearer’s response as to which track they jump to upon hearing a new edict from science?

    Without directly engaging an audience who begins on a foundation of doubt (meaning, without denigration of their intelligence or application of the scientific method), how can their message penetrate? How can their clarion call be sounded more loudly?

    After all, who is intended to be convinced/awakened if a likelihood is increased from 90% to 95% on a qualitative basis? No matter how small the minority, they certainly would not be responsive to a now more urgent appeal to the same self-authority.

    What could follow next if the IPCC doesn’t engage skeptics on their turf..? I’m picturing the stern but hopelessly permissive parent warning their child to get upstairs by the time they count to ten: “7… 8… 9…………. 9 1/2….. 9 3/4….” at some point you got to get in there or people are just going to dismiss what you’re setting out there even without looking at it, while sharing only a portion of the blame.

  34. “The discrepancy between models and observations is not a new issue…just one that is becoming more glaring over time.” Dr. Roy W. Spencer

  35. Western academia played all it chips on ‘humans-cause-everything-bad-that-happens,’ and when the wheel stopped spinning many years later the public came a cropper having paid the cost of tens of thousands of filing cabinets full of government-funded junk science.

  36. “There is high confidence that aerosols and their interactions with clouds have offset a substantial portion of global mean forcing from well-mixed greenhouse gases.”

    But if there is an equally high confidence from an equal number of other climate scientists that the offset was from something entirely different and that these two alternatives are mutually exclusive then everything rests on the passive “there is” part of the sentence. ie who says so and where are the numbers?

    Usually they would put in the weasel words “may” or “might” or “could have” or my favourite “is not inconsistent with” and then the statement is of course utterly valueless but eminently more quotable.

  37. Pingback: The WUWT Hot Sheet for Monday October 7th, 2013 | Watts Up With That?

  38. Logical fallacy: Appeal to consequences of belief.

    Hmmm…

    Let’s look at the CAGW premise, as outlined specifically by IPCC in AR4 and summarized below:

    Human CO2 emissions will cause global warming with potentially catastrophic effects unless they are curtailed drastically now.

    If people do not accept this as true there would be negative consequence.

    Yep.

    Looks like we nailed it.

  39. “The appeal to the consequences of belief” are illustrated in the IPCC charter statement. http://www.ipcc.ch/organization/organization_history.shtml

    ‘ Today the IPCC’s role is as defined in Principles Governing IPCC Work, “…to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy, although they may need to deal objectively with scientific, technical and socio-economic factors relevant to the application of particular policies.” ‘

    • Think of the IPCC in the same way as you would in a discussion about the institutional changes that would be required to change church doctrine.

    • Aint nothing there but nonsense.

    • The Booker article is curious for its attempt to sanitize the part of politicians in creating, funding and staffing the IPCC, as well as drafting its charter. Unless he thinks Bolin and Houghton, chose themselves and funded themselves, and passed the legislation providing their funding themselves.

      Like Hansen turned down the thermostat in the congressional hearing room himself.

      Booker ought to read Delingpole’s more accurate assessment of who is the calling the shots. The IPCC scientists he describes are the means by which the politicians achieve their desired PR ends.

      • They’ve used each other and will abuse each other.
        ===============

      • http://notrickszone.com/2013/10/05/swiss-journalist-predicts-climate-catastrophe-will-soon-be-forgotten-like-all-other-environmental-scare-stories/#comment-778333

        The endgame of AGW will be much like the glacial fear movement of the 70′s or other historical and academically supported fear meme’s. They will move on to refreshed themes, ignore the actual history of events
        and behave like a group of victims in the process.

        The Rosenberg’s, Hollywood Ten and Alger Hiss are all hero’s to this day in many similar circles. AGW was never really about science and will not be treated as such historically by tribal members who supported it. The gains for state advocates were so great they will likely seek to refine the technique and avoid science falsification topics all together next time. As post normal (political) educational and academic standards have been vastly increased the opportunity for greater and more numerous fraud causes like AGW increase. AGW was a great victory even in final tactical defeat to the Greenshirt Left, they only are going for more next time. Much of the AGW infrastructure will be transferred and reallocated to other causes seamlessly.

        AGW was just a tactic as is Dr. Curry’s isolation and treatment of the topic which validates a fallacy that the advocates were driven by “science” instead of a “cause”. Simply by avoiding the topic and specifics of the AGW political cause and focusing the discussion on “science” she is falsely validating preposterous snake oil science and helping the net AGW agenda. She remains a “useful idiot” in that regard to the warming cause. Her position is morally and intellectually reprehensible at this point. There was never a sound science argument supporting AGW only past political momentum of a totalitarian nature (Greenshirt mob culture) that frankly she contributed to either in collusion, silence, distraction or disinformation at different phases of her career.

        Delingpole is correct.

      • cwon,

        Even if the catastrophes fail to emerge, they will still claim that they were right.

        Based on what we knew at the time…

        Given the state of the science…

        The best tools of the time said…

        Our intentions were good so…

        It is no different from the snake oil salesman who rides into town ten years after selling his last batch to the rubes.

        If they got better, he says “See? It worked.”

        If they got worse, he says “You didn’t take enough medicine.”

        If they stayed the same, he says “You would have gotten worse if you hadn’t taken it.”

        No matter what happens, he has an answer ready to sell more snake oil.

  40. Nullius in Verba

    Judith,

    Regarding ‘internal’ versus ‘external’ confidence levels, I think this may be akin to the distinction the IPCC makes between ‘likelihood’ and ‘confidence’, as I noted previously.

    “In box 1.1 of IPCC AR4 WG1 chapter 1, “The uncertainty guidance provided for the Fourth Assessment Report draws, for the first time, a careful distinction between levels of confidence in scientific understanding and the likelihoods of specific results. [...] Confidence and likelihood as used here are distinct concepts but are often linked in practice.” They then introduce *two* different sets of terminology: one for confidence, and one for likelihood. The former would use the term “very high confidence” whereas the latter uses “very likely”.”

    “Why is this significant? Well, ‘confidence’ (or “degree of confidence in being correct” as the IPCC put it) expresses the final belief in the truth of a hypothesis or statement taking all the uncertainties into account. A likelihood is the probability of a particular outcome or observation **given that the hypothesis is true**.”

    Isn’t that the same distinction? As I noted previously, I thought it possible that the IPCC was actually being very precise about what they were saying.

    • NiV, what you suggest seems a sensible way to approach this, but it is not clear to me that this is how the IPCC looks at it.

      • Nullius in Verba

        It’s not entirely clear to me either. Sometimes they seem to slip, or make odd choices. But it’s what they *say* they do, and if they use the word “likelihood” in some controversial statement I think one should at least consider the possibility that they’re only counting the *internal* uncertainty, and that the confidence is potentially low even where the likelihood is high. It’s an elegant get-out.

        They’re not entirely rigorous in their usage of statistical terms, though. I noted in the SPM they said in footnote 3: “In the WGI contribution to the AR5, uncertainty is quantified using 90% uncertainty intervals unless otherwise stated. The 90% uncertainty interval, reported in square brackets, is expected to have a 90% likelihood of covering the value that is being estimated.” As anyone knows who knows their Bayesian maths, this is not true. This is a description of a “credible interval” rather than a “confidence interval”. That’s a particularly important distinction when they’re quoting confidences based on a linear trend+AR(1) model of global temperature. What’s their “confidence” in that model, do you think?

        So they may have got it confused, and meant it the way people usually interpret it – i.e. as statements of how probable a thing is to be true. How can we possibly tell?

      • As far as i can tell, they mostly focus on internal uncertainty when discussing sensitivity or attribution. They seem to consider the external uncertainty on other topics.

      • I will repost part of what I said from elsewhere on this thread
        “…On the first part [of the main post], if you look at the IPCC attribution histogram in Chapter 10 (Figure 10.5), the lower limit of their anthropogenic total and GHG 95% confidence bars are both well above the 50% point of the observed change, implying from this graph alone it would be much higher than 95%, so for their summary to state just 95%, they have clearly taken more into account than this attribution.”

        That is, using their Figure 10.5 alone, would give confidence levels probably in excess of 99%.

      • Pekka, thanks for this link.
        This looks very much like something that might be concocted by a committee of politicians and lawyers. I simply cannot imagine that this could possibly provide guidance on how science should be done. This ‘uncertainty guidance’ would seem to have the effect of turning the IPCC Report into mostly a political document as opposed to a climate science assessment report.

      • Expressing uncertainty properly is a very difficult issue.

        On the one hand giving numerical estimates is favored, because that’s the most precise way of telling what the authors are thinking.

        On the other hand it’s most often not possible to calculate confidence limits objectively, when uncertainties are as large as they are for most important parameters in climate science. When the uncertainty ranges are broad in relative terms, selection of the prior starts to affect the result significantly, and in some cases very significantly.

        The only Finnish lead author of AR5 WG1 gave a short presentation of his work at the time the SPM was released. He mentioned that they have been required to follow very strictly the guidelines. I hope I’ll have at some moment a change to ask him to tell more on the practical difficulties in doing that.

  41. Some examples of high certainty that were wrong:
    1) Epicycles were superior to Kepler’s models at first, and had no obvious flaw (except for being overly complex perhaps). The astronomers of the day were 100% certain they were right.
    2) In 2007 99% of economists and investors were 100% certain that the investing basis of the economy was solid and that the risk of a meltdown was near 0.
    I could go on.
    I find it remarkable that Andy Lacis seems to think that when talking with a room full of engineers and scientists (I mean this blog) it is sufficient to pull out the term “basic physics” as if it were garlic being held up for a werewolf (or pick your mythology). Dozens of the denizens of this blog do modeling (including me) and know perfectly well about simplifying assumptions, kludges, fixes, and approximations. If the GCMs are basic physics and at an adequate level, why do they disagree with each other (to the tune of 4 deg C absolute global mean temperature) and why can’t they do PDO or ENSO or the polar vortex or clouds or rainfall (I could go on) in anything like a realistic manner? Because of complexity, turbulence, boundary conditions, and spatial scale.

    • Y2K…

    • ” Craig Loehle | October 7, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
      Some examples of high certainty that were wrong:
      1) Epicycles were superior to Kepler’s models at first, and had no obvious flaw (except for being overly complex perhaps). The astronomers of the day were 100% certain they were right.”

      Loehle is displaying massive amounts of projection, as we high-information scientists realize that Loehle himself has co-written a paper with Scafetta that features epicycles heavily.

      This is expectedly brazen on Loehle’s part because we realize that the low-information skeptics do not care that he works for a lobbying organization, whose business it is to throw FUD into the discussion of natural resource issues.

      • Well, there are epicycles, and there are epicycles. And there is FUD, there is, on the WEB.
        ================

      • Craig Loehle

        WEB: you seem to not like me personally. You call yourself a “high-information scientist” but post anon and no one can check your credentials. Have you published anything? Your web site brags about a great model but no publications that I can find. I have 145 at this time.
        As far as myself being in the business of lobbying, please point out which political point of view my recent papers support:

        Loehle, C. 2012. Relative Frequency Function Models for Species Distribution Modeling. Ecography 35:1-12.

        Loehle, C. 2012. A Conditional Choice Model of Habitat Selection Explains the Source-Sink Paradox. Ecological Modelling 235-236:59-66.

        Loehle, C. and N. Arghami. 2013. Reduced-Variance Methods for Detectability Correction of Population Abundance. Communications in Statistics: Simulation and Computation 42:1343-1351.

        Loehle, C. 2013. Differential Sorting of Individuals in Territorial Species Affects Apparent Habitat Quality. J. Wildlife Management DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.574.

      • Matthew R Marler

        HubbaBubba: Loehle is displaying massive amounts of projection, as we high-information scientists realize that Loehle himself has co-written a paper with Scafetta that features epicycles heavily.

        You routinely ignore large amounts of scientific information. And you here single out a few papers from a large body of published work. You should be ashamed of that insult to Craig Loehle.

      • Loehle did not deliver the goods. That paper is based on epicycles that he dreamed up or massaged or cherry-picked into place.

        It isnow beyond obvious to take the SOI time-series as a correction term to pull out the rather obvious warming trend which has nothing to do with epicycles.
        http://contextearth.com/2013/10/04/climate-variability-and-inferring-global-warming/

        Check out Kosaka & Xie and lots of others who have seen the connection.

        This essentially lays waste to what he tried to do, so I guess it is back to the drawing board.

  42. Craig,
    A point we taken. Interestingly, some of the most persistent doubters of global warming that I have encountered have been engineers, meteorologists, astronomers, and theoretical physicists, as opposed to, say economists or doctors. Why should that be the case?

    Some years back, I had several discussions with Bill Gray of hurricane forecasting fame in regard to the causes of global warming. As we talked, it seemed that he was understanding how the growing strength of the greenhouse effect (due to increased CO2) was causing the global temperature to rise. But the understanding did not seem to last. I found that puzzling, but then Bill Gray was not really dealing with radiative transfer modeling, or with the effects greenhouse gases, in his work on hurricane forecasting.

    Similarly, engineers whose work is modeling heat transfer in warehouses or steam turbines, or astronomers who model stellar atmospheres, may actually be handicapped in applying their knowledge to atmospheric radiative transfer that is relevant to climate modeling.

    Meteorologists may think of climate as not much more than averaged weather. But there is a very fundamental difference. Weather is a initial value problem where accurate representation of atmospheric dynamics is paramount. Climate on the other hand is a boundary value problem where the precise initial conditions don’t really matter (accurate treatment of dynamics is important, but not as critical as for weather), while precise rendering of radiative effects is of paramount importance.

    Similarly, theoretical physicists may have full understanding of Planck radiation and of vibration-rotation quantum transitions that produce absorption and emission by atmospheric gases. But they have not put all the pieces together to calculate the radiative heating and cooling rates that are used in global climate modeling.

    Mathematicians can bring to bear sophisticated statistical analyses to analyze and interpret the available climate data. But as I have noted before, the available climate record is relatively short and incomplete, the climate system is quite complex to start with, the climate system has significant natural variability superimposed on a long-term trend, and climate measurements are subject to observational errors, uncertainties, and poor sampling. So much so, that statistical analyses alone are not sufficient to provide unambiguous interpretation of the climate record.

    It would appear that all of these individuals, despite significant technical backgrounds, are applying the technical tools of their trade to analyze and interpret the happenings of the climate system. In the process, their technical analyses are not coming up with the robust and relevant results that they think they are getting.

    This is where studying the existing climate science literature is important. A great deal of detailed climate science research has been done (verified and validated against a great deal of observational data) in the study of global climate change.

    To deliberately ignore and minimize the research work that has already been done, and already validated against observational data, is most illustrative of the pathetic shallowness and lack of understanding that is displayed by most all of the climate critics.

    • Andy

      I asked a question on a previous thread about a graphic that shows the logarithmic effect of co2.Could you please provide one? Thank you

      http://judithcurry.com/2013/10/05/skeptics-vs-academics/#comment-394134

      tonyb

      • Tony,
        There is an analytic formula for CO2 forcing over a wide range of absorber amount in a Hansen et al. (1988) JGR paper. Unfortunately, because of the government shutdown, I don’t have access to it at this time.

      • Andy

        Thanks. If you remember (or can give me the full reference) I would be grateful to see it.. This Govt shut down and apparent refusal to talk about the debt ceiling completely baffles us Brits!

        tonyb

      • Tony,

        I have done some calculations based on an slightly improved version of a radiative transfer model of Science of Doom (the model could be considered a toy model as it has been built for presentation in blog posts, but it’s actually pretty good and fairly realistic). Those calculations are for specific atmospheric clear sky profiles and thus not fully representative of the real world. Doing those calculations made it clear that the logarithmic behavior is closely followed over the range of concentrations considered possible for future Earth atmosphere, but that deviations start to be significant, when even higher concentrations are considered.

        Furthermore it became clear the extensions to the highest concentrations starts to be significantly dependent on the details of the line shapes of the absorption lines in a range where the shapes are not known very well, and where few radiative transfer codes are even close to the best understanding. One example of my results is given in a comment at SoD.

        I wish to emphasize that those problems are not significant for any projection of the Earth Climate, but they have some significance in the calculation of the Venus atmosphere as an example.

      • ” climatereason | October 8, 2013 at 2:42 am | Reply

        Andy

        I asked a question on a previous thread about a graphic that shows the logarithmic effect of co2.Could you please provide one? Thank you”

        dT(X) = f(x)-f(x_o)
        f(x) = ln (1 + 1.2 x+ 0.005 x^2 + 1.4×10-6 x^3 )
        x_o = 315 ppmv, x < 1000 ppmv

        Wolfram Alpha

        This is only CO2 with none of the control knob behavior that will push the real sensitivity from about 1.2C for doubling of CO2 to a sensitivity > 3 C with the feedbacks included.

        Notice that the log dependence only goes to 1PPM, so the doubling of CO2 starts from 1PPM and with a sensitivity of 4 PPM the progression is as follows:

        1 PPM 0C
        2 PPM 4C
        4 PPM 8C
        8 PPM 12C
        16 PPM 16C
        32 PPM 20C
        64 PPM 24C
        128 PPM 28C
        256 PPM 32C
        512 PPM 36C

        One can thus see how this log sensitivity explains the current elevation of atmospheric temperatures to +33C above the expected blackbody Earth temperature without GHGs

        I hope this helps.

    • Andy

      I am fortunate in my work as a historical climatologist in that I live very close to the met office and can take advantage of their excellent library and archives. The latter includes hide scrolls in Latin and medieval French dating to the 12th century so we do have excellent resources including crop records from the great landed estates often with observations of the weather during the seasons. I am currently reconstructing CET from its instrumental record of 1659 and have reached 1538.

      Having looked at 1000 years of British weather what I find difficult to reconcile is this continued statement about extreme weather events today being worse than ever due to AGW.

      It is evident that past weather events were far more extreme than today with rain levels and storms being the most notable outcomes.. Most of the worst events-as also noted by Hubert Lamb-appeared to occur during the episodes of extreme cold we know as the LIA.

      This is perhaps not surprising as the temperature gradients-freezing winters and often hot summers-would have presumably caused energy imbalances.

      There is very little research going on reconciling past weather extremes with those of today although it is an area the Met office are interested in.

      tonyb

      • tonyb,
        Sometimes serendipity plays a part in history’s seesaw.
        Galileo lived in Venice with access ter master glass blowers
        ter make his telescopes. You live close ter the Met office with
        it’s archival climate records. Praise be …
        Beth the serf.

    • A Lacis,

      IPCC – “Climate is generally defined as average weather, and as such, climate change and weather are intertwined.”

      Whether you like it or not, it is so. A reasonably intelligent 12 year old can compute averages, with or without a digital computer. Astrology, on the other hand, requires more knowledge than possessed by the average 12 year old.

      Nobody has yet managed to heat anything by surrounding it with CO2, at any concentration.

      If you believe such nonsense, I suggest the following simple test.

      Bring a beaker of water to the boil. Remove the external source of heat. Now, revent the water from cooling. You may surround it with pure CO2, and expose it to the unconcentrated rays of the Sun if you wish.

      The Earth has been cooling for the last four and a half billion years. No amount of hot air emitted by climatologists, nor the heat generated by their frenzied attempts to bend Nature to their will, is capable of halting this process.

      It is, of course, blatantly obvious that any temperature readings taken of near surface thermometers whose locations remain fixed over the period 1900 – 2010 will show a rise. Unless you believe that four times as many people using far more energy per head somehow creates less heat!

      As far as I can see, climatology as a pseudo-science, has produced precisely no benefit to anyone, apart from those slurping from the trough of the “climatology industry”. You will no doubt disagree, but I surmise that the taxpayers that fund you, and others of your ilk, might prefer that the billions (or lesser amount) expended, would have produced more benefit is used for medical research, additional teachers or nurses, and so on.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

      • Flynn,
        You have no knowledge of science and are simply an Aussie larrikin with a deep-seated need to mock any kind of authority that doesn’t meet your approval.

        “Astrology, on the other hand, requires more knowledge than possessed by the average 12 year old.”

        This is typical of an ignoramus — someone who thinks “astrology” is actually a science. Astrology requires the “skill” of reading a horoscope. Astronomy, which is what I think you meant to say, requires more knowledge.

        “As far as I can see, climatology as a pseudo-science”

        Flynn, you don’t realize how foolish you look, and why you would ever show your face on this site again, I have no idea.

      • > Astrology requires the “skill” of reading a horoscope.

        You’d be surprised how hard it is, Web:

        http://www.real-astrology.com

        ***

        One important asset of science is that it’s easier than art.

        It is faster, better, stronger:

        At least as far as knowledge is concerned.

      • Willard, Isn’t it amazing how the equivalent of F students have the same authority as someone as credentialed as Dr. Lacis in this forum?

        You have Mike “Astrology is Hard” Flynn as exhibit A.

    • Andy
      I am an engineer who is skeptical that:
      1. CO2 will have as large of an impact on temperature as claimed by the IPCC and
      2. That we understand the net long term positive and negative consequences of any warming that does occur and
      3. That actions to immediately lower CO2 emissions do NOT make economic sense to those who will incur the cost, or that it will reasonably possible to stop CO2 emissions from rising for decades at a minimum.
      The additional forcings that could increase the basic warming impact of CO2 from 1.2 degrees to 3 or 4 degrees is hardly undisputed science. We do not understand the impact of the deep oceans and it is certainly possible that the impact of CO2 could be as low as 1 degree net to the system.

      I do not understand how you or anyone else can claim to know that a warmer planet is worse overall for humanity or the US specifically over the long run. If you base your conclusions on models that describe conditions that would be unfavorable, but those models have been shown to have less than the needed accuracy to reach the stated conclusion- what is the basis for your conclusion?

      There are over 3 billion people worldwide who want regular access electricity and personal transportation. If the lowest cost method of providing both is through the release of CO2 these countries are not going to incur higher costs or delay development due to CO2 unless they are subsidized. US taxpayers are not willing to provide these subsidizes. These 3 billion people are what will drive the world’s CO2 emissions and not the US’s actions on mitigation.

      • Ringo,
        Go to the Wkipedia entry for Denial.
        There you will find the denial mechanisms known as Minimization and Projection.

        Talk about the science or you are left to defend why you choose to use rhetorical devices.

    • Craig Loehle

      Andy: you say: “To deliberately ignore and minimize the research work that has already been done, and already validated against observational data, is most illustrative of the pathetic shallowness and lack of understanding that is displayed by most all of the climate critics.”
      I can agree that there has been a lot of work done, and it is impressive, without agreeing that it is useful or accurate, especially when a key component (cloud behavior) is so poorly understood/modeled. Note that you did not answer my question about the models differing by 4 deg C (coldest to warmest) in global mean temperature, which since long wave emittance is a 4th power of temperature seems to be a big problem for the “basic physics” meme. Nor did you answer about the models differing from data on ENSO etc etc. Just because you as a scientist feel confident that you understand the physics does NOT mean that you can predict anything–ask geologists how efforts to predict earthquakes or volcanic eruptions are going. Or ask the psychologists who are confident that they “understand” people but can’t predict psychotic breaks or cure depression.

      • > Just because you as a scientist feel confident that you understand the physics does NOT mean that you can predict anything [...]

        I predict that this remark presumes a jejeune epistemology.

        Geologists certainly can predict that volcanoes will erupt.

        Psychologists certainly can predict that people will depress.

      • Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are a strain relief mechanism — predicting a release point is vastly different than predicting the accumulation of energy built up to store the energy. There are parallels between accumulating energy in plates and accumulating thermal energy in climate, which is far easier to predict deterministically than a specific earthquake or lightning strike

        Please quit while you are behind Loehse

    • Matthew R Marler

      A Lacis: To deliberately ignore and minimize the research work that has already been done, and already validated against observational data, is most illustrative of the pathetic shallowness and lack of understanding that is displayed by most all of the climate critics.

      Perhaps.

      I base my skepticism on specific limitations (cavities, holes, etc) in the knowledge, and draw attention to why they are important. Numerous reviews have highlighted the fact that even the sign of the “water vapor feedback” (if it exists at all) is in doubt. The effect of CO2 doubling on the rate of non-radiative heat transfer from the surface to the upper troposphere is also not known. Also not known is the exact relationship between a calculated equilibrium change and the actual mean temperature change in a non-linear high-dimensional dynamic dissipative system which will not ever be in equilibrium (or at least has never been in equilibrium and isn’t in equilibrium now.) Serious liabilities in the overall science are well documented. It is no insult to the scientists to point this out.

      • The only person I saw stating this about the sign of the water vapor feedback being in doubt had, on further investigation, been confused with cloud feedback or had deliberately confused the terminology with a poor phrasing.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Jim D: water vapor feedback being in doubt had, on further investigation, been confused with cloud feedback

        You are not asserting, I hope, that water vapor and clouds are unrelated? Maybe you’d like to rephrase..

      • Jim D:
        “The only person I saw stating this about the sign of the water vapor feedback being in doubt…”

        Vonder Haar: “there are no sufficient data sets on hand with a long enough period of record from any source to make a conclusive scientific statement about global water vapor trends.”

        http://www.staatvanhetklimaat.nl/2011/04/22/water-vapor-feedback-still-uncertain/

        I don’t know how current the above is.

    • “A great deal of detailed climate science research has been done (verified and validated against a great deal of observational data) in the study of global climate change.”

      Unfortunately, the “great deal of climate science” that has been “verified and validated against a great deal of observational data” does not include the climate models. Which is what the debate is all about.

      A. Lacis has been taking obscurantism lessons from Steve Mosher.

    • A Lacis,

      I suggest you are missing the point. From a policy perspective we need to know so what? What is the impact of AGW? Not in degrees, or watts or photons. We need to know in units we can use to estimate costs and benefits. When I asked you this before you dodged the question. So, there is no valuein you trying to say that only physicists get it an no other discipline does get it. I assert it is the physicists that don’t get what is important and relevant for policy development

  43. @ALacis
    “theoretical physicists may have full understanding of Planck radiation and of vibration-rotation quantum transitions that produce absorption and emission by atmospheric gases. But they have not put all the pieces together to calculate the radiative heating and cooling rates that are used in global climate modeling.”

    Climate scientists appear to have misinterpreted absorption/emisison frequencies measured entirely within IR reflective measuring apparatus as being applicable to the ability of IR absorbing/emitting gases to trap heat without radiating it to space at zeroK. The thermodynamic properties of IR absorbing/emitting gases have not been experimentally verified except in computer programs.

    • blouis79,

      Like you, I am somewhat confused as to the mechanism by which CO2 refuses to cool, when exposed to 0K or thereabouts. Maybe I should seek guidance from a climatologist. Physicists of the stature of Feynman seem to be similarly confused.

      Maybe it’s magic?

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

  44. Re: “catastrophe:” Bjorn Lomborg writes in the Telegraph: “Bad news sells – that’s why we hear so much of it. But it can leave us with a panicked sense that the world is full of problems that urgently need to be fixed. And panic is rarely a good basis for smart policy. …

    “If we truly want to make a difference, the world’s biggest environmental problem is air pollution, caused by using dirty fuels in indoor cooking and heating. In the 20th century, 260 million people in the Third World died from this. The good news is that things are getting better. As poverty has receded and clean fuels have become cheaper, the risk has fallen eightfold. It is set to decline further. But indoor air pollution still kills more than three million people a year, and costs around 3 per cent of global GDP.

    “Only if we dare to step away from the torrent of bad news can we see where the future needs us to focus our attention – on boring indoor air pollution rather than scary global warming. Such clear analysis will also help us realise that, on most accounts, the world is getting to be a better place.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/10362717/Keep-calm-and-save-the-Earth.html

  45. Of course, 260 million people dying is not bad news. The number does not cry out for money. Not at all.

    It’s getting better. 260 million died in the last century. At the current rate, 300 million will die in this century.

    How does one determine cooking fajitas killed somebody?

    • Lower rate on higher number.

      A little used but easily monitored metric might be the number of water buffalo discs plastered to the side of Indian dwellings, drying in the sun. Size, content, and siting are relatively stable for these quaint instruments of science.

      One benefit of the old fashion was decreased kitchen mortality, because desiccated feces haven’t anything near the explosive potential of kerosene.
      ====================

      • It’s most likely a typo. The number dying per year appears to be 2 million, not 3 million.

        She was found to have clinical evidence of severe airflow
        limitation, a hyperinflated chest and a bilateral wheeze. A severe,
        obstructive ventilatory defect was confirmed on spirometry. The
        airway obstruction could not be reversed with inhalation of 200 μg
        salbutamol and a standard oral corticosteroid trial (prednisone 40
        mg daily for 14 days).
        This implied a diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
        (COPD) and was supported by a reduced transfer factor for
        carbon monoxide (diffusion test). She had never smoked and was
        a housewife, which prompted speculation about the aetiology of her
        COPD. Review of the history revealed that she spent most of her life in
        a rural environment and was in charge of cooking food over an open
        wood fire in the communal hut in which she lived with her family of
        6 children and her husband who smoked tobacco indoors. …

        So when she dies will it be her husband’s tobacco, or cooking? Lol. In 1900 most American homes had fireplaces and wood stoves. My parents used fireplaces and wood stoves right into the the 1990s. Dad died at 93. Mom is 90.

        These numbers are highly suspect. Typical of Boing Borg.

      • Clearly, it was the drying dung discs dehors.
        ===========

  46. In summary, the IPCC purchased internal confidence at the expense of external confidence. Unfortuately, they are not additive in effect, but multiplicative.

  47. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?